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Q&A: Musical actor Kim Ho-young

We met with Kim Ho-young in his dressing room before he went on stage as Sancho in Man of La Mancha

Written by
Hye Won Kim
The musical Rent marked Kim Ho-young’s debut in 2002. Now he is in Man of La Mancha as Sancho, a character who is a follower of the idealistic Don Quixote. Unlike Don Quixote, Sancho is a reasonable man, but sitting in his makeup room, Kim Ho-young speaks of his dreams like the protagonist from the musical he stars in the character. He also talks about who Sancho is, and how the character inspired him.
What is your main focus when you are on stage as Sancho? The role you are in seemingly has the innocence of a child.
I would say the song “I Really Like Him” best embodies my role in this musical. Aldonza asks Sancho why he follows Don Quixote when there is clearly nothing to be gained from doing so. And the answer is, “Because I like him.” Sancho is a rational man and yet he exhibits a sort of reckless trust and hope when it comes to Don Quixote. Sancho basically can’t take his eyes off him. I bet Ryu Jeong-han and Jo Seung-woo wonder: “Why is this guy staring at me so much?”
You made some interesting hand gestures and facial expressions when you were reading the letter to Aldonza.
I didn’t do anything unique, every actor would do this differently. I would assume that even my twin would do it their own way. I will publicly admit that I closely followed the director’s lead this time. I was even a bit more reserved than usual.
Actors Ryu Jeong-han and Jo Seung-woo both play Don Quixote—what is it like to act with two Don Quixotes?
Ryu’s portrayal of Don Quixote makes me want to protect the character, as I find myself worrying about him. Meanwhile, Jo’s interpretation is much wilder, but I still look forward to acting with him and my character is still drawn to follow him.
This musical does have a lot of comedic scenes. Have you ever burst into laughter?
I haven’t so far. As a matter of fact, I am rather nervous when it comes to Man of La Mancha. It has the darkest stage of all the musicals that I have been in so far and when you are in a place as dusky as a darkroom, you get tired. So I try hard to stay focused. Plus, the two actors who play Don Quixote have very different styles, which makes it that much more imperative that I stay sensitive and alert. They even have different timing in terms of how they deliver their lines. There is no space for laughter.
What is your favorite scene or line from Man of La Mancha?
There were lines that I didn’t notice much when I first saw the show ten years ago, but some of those are the ones that hit me the hardest now, like: “Nay, let a man be struck down a thousand times! - Still must he rise and... - Do battle, yes.” I started my business based solely on my grit and determination [Kim Ho-young recently established his own company, Hoy Company], but it is not always easy to run. That particular line gives me strength as I think: “Yes, I can still rise thousands of times more. I can do it!” Cervantes and Don Quixote impress me so much with their lines, I sometimes think: “Was this book/musical created just for me?”
It’s a play about dreams. Tell us about yours.
I have a vision. Some call me “the actor Kim Ho-young,” but others call me by my nickname of “Hoy.” I want to make “Hoy” its own brand. When I was in the military, I started journaling so as to find the reason for my being there and what I wrote became my “dream book.” In fact, more than 99 % of the things I wrote in that journal have come true. I learned how to heal myself on my own. I was fortunate enough to have counseling sessions with others soldiers in the military, give lectures and even have concerts. I came to think that listening to the stories of others helps us heal and that I am quite gifted in being able to help others get better. In the past, my dream was to become a great actor like so-and-so, but now it’s to become the male Oprah Winfrey of Korea.
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