When you first read this script, did you see any similarities between the character of Sam and yourself?
Daniel Henney: Absolutely, they stick out – the similarities are very prevalent.
So I guess he won’t be bawling his eyes out on cue then?
However, all that is unlikely to become a major obstacle for someone who looks like he does.
Also unlike Sam, Henney immediately saw his career grow exponentially after settling into his second home and shooting the Korean drama “My Lovely Sam-soon” in 2005.
Seven years later, he has learned Korean and now juggles projects across the globe, ranging from “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” to Kim Jee-woon’s upcoming American debut “The Last Stand.” Before the New York premiere of “Shanghai Calling” at the Asian American International Film Festival, Henney spoke with about the movie, how his very first television shoot nearly ended in disaster, why Korea will play a permanent role in his career, the production that he is currently considering and much more.
Over the last seven years in Korea in particular, I’ve said many times to my friends, ‘God, I wish they could film a movie about this,’ because there’s been so many times that I’ve experienced things that are just indescribable.
It’s just hard to describe the experiences that you have as an American in Asia.
I knew a few things: she’d saved the outfit that she came over in when she was a baby, she’d hung onto a few little dolls and things.
It’s a geographical migration that Daniel Henney, the actor who plays Sam, can relate to, but with a couple of major differences.
For one, the relocation was Henney’s choice, as the Michigan native – wanting to learn more about his mother’s country of birth – headed to South Korea with the goal of building off of his already immense popularity in Asia as a model.
So we had a lot of moments where you just imagine things [such as] you don’t want people to find your house sometimes, and she’d always find it. So when I was told, ‘He wants to do this interview in English,’ I’m like, that’s NOT a problem – I’m not going to choose another language. To be completely honest with you, she was adopted after the [Korean] War.
A lot of embarrassing times, but it’s been a lot of fun. Your English is pretty good – I don’t think my Chinese is as good as that. That’s the only place I can go and, once I walk through the door, I feel like my high school self again. She was in an orphanage in Busan, on the southern tip of Korea. In the States, she was raised on a farm in the Midwest.
When I came to Korea, I was ready to experience what my culture was [like], and that’s when I started learning.