Interview With South Korean Actor Robin Deiana

Robin, can you tell us a little about yourself?

Currently, I am based in South Korea, and I am an actor. I came to the country 11 years ago, and since then, I have appeared in different TV shows and Kdrama series and, as of lately, in a Korean movie.

How many languages are you fluent in?

I can speak French, English, and Korean fluently.

What made you decide to move to South Korea?

A lot of reasons made me interested in Korean culture, but the initiating factor was when I stumbled upon Korean TV shows and Korean movies in middle school. From that, I started searching more and more about the country, and I finally made the big step in 2010 when I joined Konkuk University as an exchange student.

Can you tell us about your first gig?

I did a lot of extra gigs before, but my first breakthrough as an actor was in the sitcom Sunny Again Tomorrow (내일도 맑음), where I played Italian son-in-law Leo. As it was an everyday show that lasted 120 episodes, I learned a lot during that time (approximately 7 months), and I’m still in contact with some of the cast.

Can you tell us about your experience working as a foreigner in the South Korean film and TV industry?

The first thing I can share is that the Korean film industry changed a lot during the time I started working as an actor. The roles are still limited, but I now get more diverse scripts for auditions, and the roles are getting less caricatural. The way you are treated as a foreign actor has changed a lot too, where they now see you as a “real” talent compared to before. There’s still a lot of competition, and the roles are still limited, so getting a part is a real challenge.

Do you also work as a model in addition to being an actor?

I used to do modeling on the side, but now my main focus is acting and TV work. I still do commercials when the opportunity presents itself.

Do you have an agent or agency, or do you look for work on your own?

I have been working with an agent/agency for more than 8 years, but I now work as a freelancer. I find work on my own.

Is there ever a time when you felt typecast?

Of course, in Korea, typecasting for a foreigner happens almost every time a foreigner is needed. Knowing this, my main focus is always to show that my acting and preparation are on point during auditions or test screenings. It happened to me quite a few times when they completely changed the character’s image because of what I could bring to the role. In short, accept it exists and do your best in those predetermined parameters.

Can you tell us about the most demanding role you’ve ever played?

I think my role as contracted killer Karimov in the OCN series “Kill IT” was my hardest one yet because I had to do a lot of action scenes, which was a first for me. Weeks of preparation and rehearsals and a lot of bruises, too.

Is there a role you most enjoy playing?

I like the work we did in the movie “Birth,” it was a vast learning experience not only with acting because I had the privilege to work with really well-respected Korean actors, but also as a foreigner in Korea, I had the privilege to learn more about Korean history, especially relations with my country France.

What are your methods of approaching a character you’re playing?

I like to take my time with the character. I read the script thoroughly, and after that. I do a lot of research (especially if it’s a historical figure) on my own, and then I like to rehearse a LOT with friends. I react positively to criticism, so I like it when someone tells me what they want and especially what they don’t.

What or who inspired you to become an actor?

Watching movies as a kid on the big screen, I remember thinking I wanted to be a part of this and be able to tell stories and portray characters and all the greats in the business.

What would be your dream role?

I would love to be able to act in Romantic Comedy.

Would you consider yourself a celebrity?

I like to say to Korean people, “I’m just your friendly neighborhood foreigner,” ha-ha.

Is there a moment in your career that you are most proud of?  That you felt like, yeah, the industry recognizes me.

My first was presenting at the Seoul International Drama Awards in 2022, and my second was being invited to the Vatican to meet the Pope for the movie Birth; I was so proud to be able to share my movie experience along with working with amazing actors. My meeting with the Pope was truly unforgettable, something I will cherish for a lifetime.

You acted in the movie Birth, directed by Park Heung Sik. How did you feel about working on such a large-scale film, and how did you land the role of Father Libois?

I got cast when I met director Park Heung Sik after I sent my audition tape. As I mentioned before, it was a project I enjoyed working on. We met a lot with all the actors months beforehand during rehearsals, and it helped the cast obtain a chemistry that I think is shown on screen. Acting in several languages (Latin, French, and Korean) was also a challenge that, I believe, made me grow as an actor.

Do your friends all work in the entertainment industry?

Many of them do, but not all my friends are in the business.

Could you provide some information about your fitness routine and dietary habits? How frequently do you exercise, and what does your typical diet consist of?

I work out four times a week in the gym (weight training), and the other three days, I do a type of cardio (primarily fast-paced walking). My diet is simple; chicken breast and rice, rice, eggs, and veggies. Now and then, when I meet people, I enjoy a regular meal (mostly Korean food).

Would you like to film in America someday?

Yes, one of my dreams is to enter the American market someday.

 Are you currently working on any projects or attached to one?

I just finished shooting a drama that will be aired on Disney + called Royal Loader, which I am excited about. The story is about a power struggle between two families fighting over the Chaebol District, starring Lee Jae Wook and Lee Joon Young. I also just returned from France, where I attended Mipcom in Cannes and presented the new Korean IPs to foreign production companies. There is also a horror movie called “The Trouble With Zombies” that I’m attached to. It’s about a group of survivors in South Korea who discover that the living can be just as dangerous as the undead. The project is currently in pre-production.

Can you tell us how you became a part of “The Trouble With Zombies”?

Noella Jung, known for My Dinner with Noella and her best-selling book “A Moment that Painting is Audible and Music is Visible”, is a famous South Korean violinist and upcoming actress. Noella introduced me to Terrell Holden, the screenwriter, and producer on the project we connected with immediately. He sent me the script, and I liked the atmosphere he was trying to portray.  Just a side note: it was from a short film that Terrell wrote into a feature script.

And I would like to say it will be an honor to work with you once financing finally comes through.

I’m excited that I’ll get a chance to work with you too. Hopefully, this will begin more collaborations like Martin Scorsese with Leonardo and De Niro.

I can dig that.  Now, who else is part of the cast?

Besides Noella Jung and I, we are discussing with several talented individuals. Japanese actress and model Eihi Shiina is best known for her roles as Asami in Audition and Tokyo Gore Police. Additionally, we are in talks with Ryo Ishibashi, who is recognized for his work in Suicide Club, Audition, The Grudge, Grudge 2, and War alongside Jason Statham, as well as Seo Hyeon Ahn, known for her performances in Okja and Sweet Revenge.

I want to express my gratitude to you and all the cast members and other individuals involved in this project. I appreciate your emotional maturity in understanding that the most challenging aspect of filmmaking is moving past pre-production and obtaining investors. Thank you once again and to everyone else for demonstrating patience. Some projects remain stuck in pre-production for years despite having A-list talent attached to them. So, I am grateful the team is still together.

No problem. You are welcome. In this business, there are often factors beyond our control that can lead to disappointment or frustration. However, it’s essential to stay positive and focused on our shared goals. By keeping busy with other projects, we can continue to make progress and remain productive until things improve. Remember, we are all working together towards the same objective.

Thank you. Well said. Tell something about yourself that your fans don’t know.

I love chocolate and hate corn.

How can people follow you on social media?

I am active on Instagram and TikTok at @robindeiana