Ok Taecyeon Is Good at Being Bad

Culture
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Spoilers for Vincenzo below.

Among the ranks of Korean idols-turned-actors, Ok Taecyeon is a clear standout. A member of the South Korean boy band 2PM, Taecyeon proved his acting abilities in K-dramas like Dream High and Save Me before taking the lead role as Vincenzo‘s menacing villain Jang Joon-woo. The dark comedy, which premiered on Netflix in late February and aired its finale last weekend, became a global success and TVN’s 6th highest-rated show in broadcast history.

We first meet Joon-Woo as an intern at Wusang Law Firm, hired to defend and protect the corrupt and murderous pharmaceutical company Babel Group. His superior is Hong Cha-young (Jeon Yeo-been), a cutthroat and beautiful lawyer who uses bribery and blackmail to win her cases.

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Joon-Woo’s first few episodes are spent following Cha-young around and dropping funny one-liners like “Can you feel my heartbeat?” (a cheeky reference to 2PM’s 2009 hit “Heartbeat”). But his innocent image is shattered in episode 4 by one of the show’s many plot twists: Joon-Woo is actually the true heir to Babel Group and responsible for its corruption and bloodshed—including the murder of Cha-young’s father Hong Yu-chan, a human rights lawyer hellbent on taking down Babel.

Seeking revenge, Cha-young takes on her father’s mission—joined by Vincenzo Cassano (Song Joong-ki), an Italian Mafia member, lawyer, and murderous villain in his own right. Consumed by his evil ambition, Joon-Woo embraces his true identity and real name, Jang Han-seok.

“I wanted the role the moment I learned that the naive legal intern Jang Joon-woo is the ultimate villain and the transformative, surprising character in Vincenzo,” Taecyeon told ELLE.com. “I loved that Jang Joon-woo is two-faced. Behind the innocent face of a young lawyer who is infatuated with Cha-young lurks an evil mind that uses people and ruthlessly kills them after they serve his purpose. I thought Vincenzo was a good opportunity to show a different side of me, so that was also a deciding factor.”

netflix ok taecyeon vincenzo

Netflix

Ahead, Taecyeon talks his favorite scenes from Vincenzo, working with Song Joong-ki and Jeon Yeo-been, and 2PM’s new music.

What was it like playing the villain?

Jang Han-seok is far from being a simple villain. He’s a multifaceted character who has opposing sides, hot and cold. This is my first role as a villain; there were challenges. In portraying Jang Han-seok, I tried to draw upon certain aspects of myself and emphasize expressions of evil from deep within.

Joon-woo’s true identity was kept under wraps before the show’s release. Was it difficult keeping that secret?

When we were promoting the show, I couldn’t introduce my character except as a legal intern with a crush on his mentor, Hong Cha-young. When the program aired, I worried that viewers would catch on to Joon-woo’s secret. I was relieved when so many people reacted in complete surprise to episode 4, where Joon-woo’s identity is revealed.

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What was your favorite scene to film?

An unforgettable scene for me is when Jang Han-seok is giving a lecture and gets doused in pig’s blood, a homage to the film Carrie. I had a hard time keeping my eyes open with blood trickling into them. This was a tough scene to film. It was also tough mentally, trying to express Jang Han-seok’s rage at realizing that Vincenzo got the better of him again. The visual footage was shocking when I saw the scene after it was released. It’ll stay in my memory for a long time.

Another memorable scene is Joon-woo’s ”Evil Powerpoint,” where he reveals himself as the true heir of Babel. Did you improvise at all?

All of the dancing and singing were ad-libbed in the scene where Joon-woo makes the big announcement that he’s the true leader of Babel Group. I had long talks about this with the director. I wanted to portray Joon-woo as someone who breaks out into a song and dance in that situation, an unpredictable villain who doesn’t fit into the mold of a serious and scary psychopath.

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2PM members Nichkhun and Chan-sung made cameo appearances in Vincenzo. How did you feel about their acting?

Due to my schedule, I could not be there when they were filming. But I did see the scenes they were in after the show was released. I’m very appreciative that they agreed to the cameo appearances and as a co-member, wish that they had bigger parts.

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What was it like working with Song Joong-ki and Jeon Yeo-been?

They always livened up the set! It was great working with them. We often ate and talked together. Although this was my first collaboration with them, I always felt comfortable. Song Joong-ki was always considerate of his fellow actors and staff members, and Jeon Yeo-been always brought her own energy and charm to all of her scenes. Thanks to them, I was able to focus on my character Joon-woo.

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In the beginning of the show, Joon-woo and Cha-young are close friends. But when Cha-young discovers Joon-woo’s identity, she ends the relationship. What do you think about Joon-woo’s changing feelings about Cha-young as the story progresses?

I think Joon-woo must have been attracted to Cha-young’s work ethic and her belief that ends justify the means, her concern over pros and cons rather than good and evil. He watches her as she develops feelings for Vincenzo. His animosity toward Vincenzo—who takes away everything that Joon-woo has, including Cha-young—is greater than his resentment toward Cha-young for ending their relationship. I think that from Joon-woo’s perspective, getting rid of Vincenzo would have solved all his problems.

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What’s next for you?

The film Hansan: The Rise of The Dragon will soon be released. It was my first experience with a historical period piece. And later this year, you’ll see me in the tvN series The Royal Emissary and Jo-i. I’m excited about this period drama series with a longer filming duration. I’m doing my best to prepare for the role. 2PM is also working on a new album so please keep an eye out for that!

Watch Vincenzo on Netflix

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