Recently, an interview with actor Ahn Jae Hong from the Netflix original series ‘Mask Girl’ was conducted at a cafe in Gangnam-gu, Seoul.
‘Mask Girl’ is a Netflix series that depicts the story of Kim Mo Mi, an ordinary office worker with appearance complexes, who becomes an internet broadcast BJ, hiding her face with a mask every night and getting involved in unintended incidents. In the series, Ahn Jae Hong played the role of Joo Oh Nam, a colleague of Kim Mo Mi (played by Lee Han Byul) and a fan of BJ Mask Girl. Joo Oh Nam is a character who becomes obsessed and delusional after learning that Kim Mo Mi is Mask Girl. Ahn Jae Hong’s portrayal of Joo Oh Nam, which is deeply integrated with the character and exudes a chilling performance, has been notable.
Regarding the visual of the character Joo Oh Nam, Ahn Jae Hong explained, “Honestly, at first, I didn’t actually think about bringing the webtoon character exactly as it was. However, the character Joo Oh Nam had a unique and special aspect even within the script. I wanted him to have an appearance that feels as strange and unfamiliar as the character himself. So, I told the director, ‘Rather than revealing my face as an actor, it might be better to hide it, allowing viewers to feel more unfamiliar and approach the character from a slightly different perspective.’ The director strongly agreed with my words, and the makeup team provided many ideas, resulting in the current appearance of Joo Oh Nam.”
Upon seeing the initial transformation, Ahn Jae Hong mentioned feeling unsure, saying, “I wondered if this would work. We tested multiple versions to create the current appearance and physique of Joo Oh Nam. When that form was established, from the moment I left the dressing room, I felt that something solid as a character had taken its place. This actually greatly helped me.”
For ‘Mask Girl’, Ahn Jae Hong gained an additional 10kg in weight and also underwent special makeup to emphasize Joo Oh Nam’s physique. He spent about 2 hours on external makeup for each episode. Asked about the decision to include balding makeup, Ahn Jae Hong said, “I know it was a suggestion by Director Kim Yong Hoon.”
He continued, “What I suggested was that distorting Joo Oh Nam’s gaze might be effective, so I suggested wearing thick glasses. But when I suggested this, the director said, ‘I don’t think we need to go that far.’ The production team also said that wearing strong glasses could cause difficulty in concentration and even headaches, so we didn’t do it. Instead, I applied lotion to my hand and deliberately left fingerprints on the glasses to make them appear blurry.”
He also shared behind-the-scenes of the popular ‘I’m Sorry’ scene. Regarding the setting in which Joo Oh Nam uses Japanese when he is alone, which differs from the original, Ahn Jae Hong explained, “Originally, the script I received from the director didn’t have any Japanese lines. After receiving the script, I read the original webtoon that served as the basis for the show. In that webtoon, there was a brief moment where Joo Oh Nam mumbled in Japanese while alone. Watching that scene, I felt curiosity, unfamiliarity, and a chilly feeling about the character. I suggested to the director, ‘There’s such a part in the webtoon, so how about we incorporate similar moments of Joo Oh Nam speaking to himself in such situations?’ The director also liked the idea, and we discussed which parts would be suitable. As a result, we changed two scenes: the birthday party scene and the scene where Joo Oh Nam speaks Japanese alone, replacing the Korean lines with Japanese lines.”
He continued, “I’m not someone who is good at Japanese, so the production team introduced me to two Japanese teachers. One was a Korean who had studied in Japan, and the other was a Japanese person working in the Korean film industry. I learned specific nuances from these two teachers, and they helped me create the details. Especially the Japanese teacher suggested a more ‘Joo Oh Nam-like’ Japanese nuance, so I recorded the lessons they taught me and used those recordings to act out the scenes.”
He further explained, “The ‘I’m Sorry’ scene was not originally in the script. Originally, the script only included lines like ‘I love you, Miss Mo Mi,’ while tightly closing the eyes. However, I thought, ‘What if Joo Oh Nam really confessed?’ and during the rehearsal before the shoot, I said ‘I’m Sorry.’ The director seemed a little surprised at the moment. The point of surprise was that the scene might be Joo Oh Nam’s imagination or delusion. The word ‘I’m Sorry’ might come out at the moment of confession, so the director hesitated, thinking that it might reveal too soon that the scene is imaginary.”
Reflecting on his role, he said, “When I was first offered the role in ‘Mask Girl,’ I had usually done bright and comedic roles, and I’m grateful for that. This time, however, the work was entirely filled with dark and heavy energy. Particularly when this character was suggested to me, I felt a sense of freshness. The suggestion wasn’t something easy to approach; it was a precious opportunity as an actor to show a new face.”
Ahn Jae Hong has two upcoming projects confirmed, one to air on Netflix and another to air on TVING.
Did you enjoy Ahn Jae Hong’s performance in “Mask Girl”?