The Untold Truth of Oldboy
Yoo Ji-tae wasn’t exactly new to the film industry when he was cast in 2002’s “Oldboy,” but he certainly had never played such an egregious villain role as Lee Woo-jin. During the ’90s, Yoo was a successful model, and it wasn’t until 2000 that he hit it big with “Ditto,” Kim Jung-kwon’s soon-to-be-remade sci-fi romance that showed the Yoo’s sensibility and charisma. Projects such as “Attack the Gas Station” cemented his public persona as a romantically passed out leader, so it’s understandable his fan club was shocked when he appeared on screen as a vicious murderer out for revenge. . In one of the behind-the-scenes featurettes, several members of his fanbase were interviewed. “I wanted to get into the movie and bang it,” said one fan. Another added, “It wasn’t Yoo Ji-tae’s usual role. It was totally different.”
Park Chan-wook says Yoo’s surprise casting came at the suggestion of star Choi Min-sik during a time when the creative team was struggling to sort out Lee Woo-jin’s characteristics. They needed an actor who could convey his necessary complexities well, even with minimal screen time. Once Yoo’s suggestion was made, however, the crew immediately saw it as an obvious solution. His charm, style, and sweet personality were used to further develop the character, leading to an iconic portrayal of a villain that audiences love to hate.