If you do catch the latest Korean dramas, you may find David No a familiar face. Yes, he is the cold-blooded killer who has sent chills down your spine in the currently airing drama Three Days, featuring Park Yoochun.
David No is a Korean-Australian, who has represented Australia in both judo and taekwondo. With his impressive martial arts ability, he also has been given the opportunity to work in major Hollywood projects, such as Jackie Chan’s Mr Nice Guy, the Mel Gibson / Jet Li-produced Invincible, The Matrix Reloaded and Enter the Matrix video game.
Besides being a martial arts actor (and stuntman), David No has also maintained and cultivated his skills as actor, producer, action director, screenwriter and screen director – indeed incredibly all-rounded!
KAvenyou had the opportunity to interview the talented David No to find out more about him and his work. Read on to find out about the real David No beneath his tough exterior always portrayed on screen.
Who is/are your role model(s) that inspired you to become who you are today?
David: I have never had “heroes” that I wanted to be like. That said, I must say I can remember many instances where I thought “that quality is something to emulate” about many people. My parents both have amazingly strong qualities, they could never be forgotten. Also, when I worked with Jackie Chan, I found him to be very humble. We were shooting in Thailand once and were walking back to our first position after a take, when he swerved to the side and picked up some rubbish. It was not his rubbish and no cameras were rolling. He again swerved towards a bin and threw the rubbish away. I liked that moment very much.
You used to be more involved behind-the-scenes, but now you are appearing in front of the cameras. Is there a reason for the change?
David: Actually, from my very first film, I’ve always been involved both behind and in front of the camera. My move to Korea coincided with the Hollywood Union strikes of 2008 and the fact at that time my grandmother had serious abdominal surgery. I decided I wanted to learn the language and communicate with her before she passed. I didn’t think I should start acting in Korea until I had a better grasp of the language. I had done a lot of international production work for Korea, so people here knew me mostly as a producer, but the universe has swung back around and I am once again enjoying my acting.
As a stuntman and being involved in stunt work personally, have you choreographed stunts for any well-known actors before, and what was the experience like as compared to working with fellow stuntmen?
David: Apart from hardcore martial arts films, not many actors actually get to do their own stunts. Nikolai Nikolaeff had no action experience before playing the young sword master in Forged. We trained extensively for months before we started shooting. With Carolyn Bock, I choreographed a fight scene in Huntsman 5.1. She had never done martial arts, but had a classical dance background. I made the fights take advantage of movements she was already used to. Fight scenes are just dance scenes and there is a learning curve to everything. For stunt guys it could be a couple of minutes, for actors it could be a couple of days or weeks.
You are known as an actor, producer, stuntman and action director. How do you juggle between these roles and if you can only choose one of them, which one will you choose to do?
David: ☺ I have to smile at this question. We all tend to label the people we meet – for instance: “this is Bob… he’s a lawyer”. However, I’ve always been involved in multiple areas of film work – (you can add screenwriting and editing ^^) – and don’t really want to choose. I love creating the idea (ie. screenwriting) and then seeing it to through to its final product. Acting and stuntwork are extensions of my physicality. Screenwriting, directing and editing are extensions or my creativity. Producing is the means of getting it done.
As an actor, you have starred in TV dramas, movies and commercials. Of them all, which one do you prefer doing and why?
David: Movies – they normally take more care and more time to get right. Television is often about “quantity” not “quality” – so as an actor, the characters are often less well developed – although these days, things are changing and there are many TV shows that are extremely well-written. Commercials are great because the ideas can be more abstract and more imaginative. I’ve had to do some crazy things in commercials (swimming up the outside of a building, surfing a car on a giant half-pipe ramp).
The drama Three Days, where your role is a killer, is currently showing in Korea. Is there anything about your character for the viewers to look out for in the drama?
David: The character of Ahn Gyung-Nam was meant to be a pretty-boy wearing glasses. The name refers to Ahn-Gyung (meaning glasses) Nam (man). However, after I auditioned for the director he liked my take on the character and the Ahn Gyung-Nam evolved into a cold mysterious character that was a serious threat. Someone you could be afraid of. My character was also originally written as a hired gun, but the writer wanted to make the target (the President) a more personal goal. So we discussed an involvement between the President and my grandmother. However, I had several other projects that were going to clash with the Three Days shoot and so we all agreed to cut the role back so I could move onto the other projects.
I heard that you designed your own wardrobe for Three Days, which was impressive. In addition to this, is there anything special about Three Days as compared to previous productions that you have been involved in?
David: As an actor, it was great that they empowered me to design my own character. I did a lot of research into where I came from and what I had become. The character had a very stylish but practical image. I knew there would be shooting through winter and that there were fight scenes involved, so I also let some practicality guide me. However, with the change of the scenes, you won’t get to see those designs.
Can you share with us your most memorable experience while being on the set of Three Days?
David: On my last day of shooting, the crew stopped working and the director presented me with a cake! I was totally taken by surprise and was very touched by the sentiment. When you shoot long projects, you quickly become a family. It was a little sad to finish so prematurely, but I look forward to some great projects ahead.
Can you share some of your upcoming projects and will they be different from anything that you have tried before?
David: My next project will be “Dr. Stranger” which stars Lee Jong-Suk and Park Hae-Jin. I started on this within 10 hours of finishing shooting on Three Days and had to dramatically change my look as I am playing a German Cardiologist in North Korea. I have some medical knowledge but I have had to learn German for the role!
KAvenyou would like to thank David No for taking out his time for this interview despite his packed work schedule. Do look out for David No in Three Days, currently airing in Korea and also his upcoming drama, Dr. Stranger.
Article by: Zhen Zhen @ KAvenyou