Kim Woo-bin is back with a bang. After starring in the film Alienoid and the series Our Blues last year, Kim is headlining a new show on Netflix: Black Knight. In Black Knight, the South Korean actor is taking on the role of the legendary deliveryman, 5-8. The upcoming K-drama is set in a dystopian future, when the world is ravaged by pollution and survivors rely on an oxygen mask to breathe. With resources limited, deliverymen like 5-8 become a lifeline.
Since stealing (and breaking) the hearts of many for his role as Choi Young-do in The Heirs, Kim Woo-bin has become one of the most sought-after actors of his generation. The model-turned-actor is a literal head-turner, not only for his tall stature and handsome looks but for his memorable performances. Who could forget his breakthrough role in School 2013? Viewers were also smitten by him in Uncontrollably Fond, which also happens to be his first leading role.
Kim proved that he could steal the show despite working with senior actors in movies like The Con Artists and Master. It’s no surprise then that his return to the screen after a four-year break from the limelight was welcomed with open arms. Now, the Jaeger-LeCoultre ambassador is jumpstarting his career—not from the beginning but continuing on its unyielding rise.
Ahead of the release of Black Knight on Netflix, Lifestyle Asia chatted with the actor during a roundtable discussion about bringing his legendary character to life.
Image credit: Kim Jin-young/Netflix
What preparations did you make for the role of 5-8? And in general, how do you approach research when it comes to playing a character?
When I was offered the role, I read the webtoon. But even if it’s based on a webtoon, it’s still a whole different story and a whole different universe. Actually, the director told me to take a look at the webtoon since it’s going to be very different. So, I did read it, but I focused mostly on the script.
In general, when I prepare for a project and when I’m building my character, I first try to get hints from the script. And then, I talk a lot with the director about the character. From there, I try to imagine the parts that are not there in the script. As every character has so many different sides to him or her. I think I do too. When I play a character for the first time, I try to find some common ground. I then try to expand from there. So, I think as time goes by, I become much closer to my character in that way.
You’re working with director Cho Ui-seok again after Master (2016). How was the experience like this time?
When we were working on Master, it was just pure joy and a lot of fun. So, I really loved this chance to collaborate with him once again. When he offered me the role, I was incredibly happy. He told me to just trust him because we both know how each other works. So, I did have that trust in him. Overall, it was an exceptionally good and wonderful experience.
Just reading the script, I thought this was a story that could happen in the far future. It shouldn’t but it could happen. So, that’s why it was a lot more intriguing to me. I was also very curious about the thoughts and actions of 5-8. I was very reeled in by this character. I just really loved the entire process of working together with him on this project.
This is your first science fiction series, although you did Alienoid Part 1 (2022), which is also in a similar genre. Does it feel more familiar doing it the second time around or are there challenges to doing this genre?
Science fiction is of course a challenge for the actors because you have to act based on your imagination. But then as you said, it hasn’t been long since I worked on Alienoid. For 13 months, I was flying around and had beings coming out on my palms (laughs). So I think it was easier this time around.
And after working on Alienoid, I thought everything would be possible for me and I could take on any role. I felt particularly good about taking on this project. I also worked with the same team on this show, so it became much easier.
When it comes to playing 5-8, are there any similarities or differences to other characters you’ve played?
I think all the characters that I played so far have just one thing in common, which is my face because I’m them. I think this character was totally different in the way he thinks, the way he acts, and the rationale behind all of his actions and words. His energy is also very different. So, I tried to approach he characters in a very different way. And my little hope is that people watching the series would feel 5-8 is a totally different character from the ones I’ve played so far.
Tell us more about that working dynamic with Esom and Kang Yoo-seok and how you worked to bring out the best in each other’s characters.
Esom was actually in my debut series about 13 years ago, so I have this special feeling when working with her. I was very happy to see her once again on this project. I think we somehow have this kind of camaraderie because we both debuted in the same series.
Yoo-seok, is a very good actor, very upbeat, and he has so much energy. I kind of understood why the director chose him because he was just so good. I didn’t really need to help him out in any way. He was great and just shone on his own. I just tried to immerse myself in the moments and just savour all the moments that I have on set with him. We’d also have lunch and dinner together after the shooting was over. We talked a lot to make sure that we had this bond that would show on screen.
How would you describe Black Knight and why would you want viewers to watch it?
I always think that everyone deserves to be loved and that everyone has the right to be happy. When I was first offered the role, I felt that I had a lot in common with 5-8 because we think the same way. That’s why I was really curious about him, and I wanted to get to know him more. I wish that everyone who sees this series would feel and be reassured that we all deserve to be loved and that we all deserve to be happy. My hope is that everyone becomes happier after watching this series.
Black Knight is now exclusively streaming on Netflix. Watch Kim Woo-Bin in action via the Netflixtrailer below: