EXCLUSIVE: Taec-yeon On ‘Heartbeat’, 2 PM & What The Future Holds

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Puja Talwar

Most of us know Taec-yeon as the cold-blooded villain Jang Jun-woo from the popular Netflix K-drama, Vincenzo. The actor’s signature sinister smile and eyebrow twitch can successfully send chills down your spine. However, in his latest drama Heartbeat, the actor is seen in a totally different avatar. This time, Taec-yeon is playing a 400-year-old debonair vampire, Seon Woo-hyeol, who wants to become human to experience true love for once, giving us a chance to appreciate him as the traditional romcom hero.

A multi-hyphenate artist, Taec-yeon is someone who needs no introduction. Besides his upcoming acting stint, he is also coming together with his boy band, 2PM, for their 15th-anniversary concert in September, and fans cannot keep calm.

In an exclusive chat with HELLO! India, Teac-yeon spoke about his latest drama Heartbeat, his process of multitasking and more. Here’s an excerpt of our conversation…

HELLO! India: It was not very long ago we heard you sing ‘Heartbeat’ and here you are doing a series of the same name. Did it feel like this was kind of fate for you?

Taec-yeon: When I learned that the English title of the drama would be Heartbeat, I thought, “This is really destiny, I’ve met a destiny-like project.” Just as the 2PM song received a lot of love, I hope that many people will love the drama too.

H!: We last saw you as the menacing supervillain in Vincenzo, and now we have you as Seon Woo-hyeol, a half-human and half-vampire. What was the transition like? What drew you to it?

T: Many international fans first came across me as a villain in Vincenzo, so I think they’d find it interesting that I am portraying a vampire in search of love. I chose this title with excitement and expectations that I would be able to show different aspects of myself through the role of Seon Woo-hyeol. I think it’s most important for an actor to widen his spectrum and show different sides of himself, so I will try to show a new side of myself with each project.

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H!: How would you describe your character, Seon Woo-hyeol?

T: He is a character who has the courage to put everything on the line in order to protect what he wants to protect. He is a noble and pure person who has endured 100 years in a coffin alone, only to keep his promise to meet the love of his life, Hae-sun, again. He deeply desires to become human, in order to experience a love that makes his heart beat faster and slower at the same time. After meeting In-hae, he was not able to become fully human, but he gradually realises that love takes its time.

H!: The drama has 2PM references from the title to the dialogues. For instance, when your character says, ‘Let’s go home’ from the chorus of 2PM’s track ‘My House’. Were these genius ad-libs or were they pre-planned treats for the 2PM fans all over the world?

T: While on set for Heartbeat, I did a lot of ad-libs after consulting with the director in order to make the scene more interesting, but I didn’t create the English title nor the ‘Let’s go home’ line. Perhaps the writer or director inserted the witty reference after my casting was decided.

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H!: The Korean take on the vampire genre an uncommon theme in K-dramas. Plus, this one’s a rom-com. What drew you to this script the most?

T: I received the script for Heartbeat while I was filming the drama, Blind. Since my last series was very dark and heavy, I wanted to do a lighter genre next. While reading the script for the show, my heart actually felt lighter and I felt healed. I chose this work with the expectation that I would be able to show various characteristics through Woo-hyeol, a vampire, who wishes to become human.

H!: What’s the one thing you enjoy about being an actor? Any dream role or a genre you want to sink your teeth in (pun intended)?

T: One thing I enjoy about being an actor is being able to experience thinking and speaking as a character within a world, instead of as Ok Taec-yeon. There is a lot of fun in acting as a character who has experienced things that I have never been through or who has a completely different personality from me. I feel excitement every time I take on a new character. If the opportunity arises, I would like to play a ‘straightforward man (jikjinnam*)’. Someone who is true to his feelings and pushes forward with what he sets out to do.

(*Note: “straightforward man” or “jikjinnam” refers to a man who is straightforward about his love for someone and pushes ahead with no hesitation.)

H!: You are an artist, singer, songwriter and actor. How has it been like wearing these different hats? Are you seeing yourself gravitating more towards the acting side of things now?

T: It would not be an exaggeration to say that my 20s were synonymous with music. I feel sorry that I might have spent my 20s too frantically while juggling both music and acting. I don’t know how my life will change in the future, but I would like to be able to work in a more relaxed way, as compared to my hectic 20s. Rather than gravitating more to either music or acting, I think I’m finding my path regardless of whether it’s as an actor or a singer.

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H!: The global popularity of Korean content, from music to films and dramas, is at an all-time high. What do you feel has been the biggest reason for this rapid popularity? And, do you feel it’s challenged actors and impacted storylines too?

T: Korean content is loved all over the world, so I am really happy not only as an actor but also as a Korean national. With the development of the Internet, it became easier to experience what different cultures have to offer. I think the rapid development of K-content has been achieved thanks to the efforts of Korean content creators who quickly adapted. Therefore, I think actors also see that participation in global projects is increasing and gradually growing in line with the evolving global era.

H!: You also made a much-appreciated cameo in the Netflix series XO, Kitty. What memories do you have of this shoot? How did you come to this project?

T: When I filmed XO, Kitty, I was filming for the drama Blind. It was short, but I was very surprised when I got to experience Hollywood’s system which is completely different from Korea’s. Although it was a special appearance, I was happy to participate in a good project and I hope to be able to show different sides of myself in the future if the opportunity arises.


H!: You have also signed with an American agency. Can you tell us anything about any upcoming projects?

T: There is no fixed project in the works yet, but I will try to show another side of myself and a new charm through a wider stage.

H!: Do you have plans to visit India?

T: Unfortunately, I have not been to India yet. I don’t have any specific plans yet, but I hope to have the opportunity to meet Indian fans as soon as possible.

Heartbeat is available to be streamed on Amazon Prime Video.