Often actors are so good at one type of role — the funny friend, the scheming chaebol heir, the handsome male lead — that they get typecast and tend to play similar characters. But some actors are so talented that they can skillfully play totally contrasting roles, which can come as quite a surprise to the viewer! Imagine seeing your favorite wholesome good guy suddenly playing the villain, or an actor known for his evil characters trading in his sinister glare for a squeaky-clean leading male role. The following nine actors have done just that, so read on to learn more about their captivating portrayals of these diverse roles!
Kwak Dong Yeon has proven himself in a variety of dramas, from his role as the dashing swordsman Byung Yeon in “Love in the Moonlight” to his recent hilarious cameo in “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay.” Kwak starred as a graduate student named Woo Young in the 2018 drama “My ID Is Gangnam Beauty,” where he melted our hearts with his friendly charm and sweet, well-mannered demeanor. But the actor did a complete 180 in his next drama, “My Strange Hero,” playing the disturbed and nefarious Oh Se Ho. As a high school student with a tough upbringing, Se Ho lies to get his classmate Kang Bok Soo (Yoo Seung Ho) expelled. Nine years later, Bok Soo decides to finish up his diploma at the school… of which Se Ho is now chairman. Kwak Dong Yeon brings Se Ho’s shaky mental state to life, making us hope he goes for more villain roles in the future!
Start watching “My ID Is Gangnam Beauty”:
And “My Strange Hero” below:
2. Yoo Seung Ho
Speaking of “My Strange Hero,” Yoo Seung Ho has also taken the challenge of a role reversal. Generally cast as the squeaky-clean good guy lead (With that smile are we surprised?) Yoo took on the role of psychopathic murderer Kang Hyung Joon in the 2012 drama “I Miss You.” Hyung Joon is genuinely in love with his girlfriend, but when his jealousy gets triggered there’s no telling how far he’ll go to exact punishment. Yoo Seung Ho’s youthful, expressive face somehow makes this role all the more villainous!
Check out “I Miss You”:
Or catch Yoo Seung Ho at his wholesome, rom-com best in “I Am Not a Robot“:
Who could forget Hong Jong Hyun in his “Scarlet Heart: Goryeo” role as the scheming, evil third prince Wang Yo? Prince Yo was bad to the bone, with an ambitious eye to the throne and the willingness to manipulate palace politics to his favor. Most importantly, he sported some majorly sinister bad-guy eyeliner. But Hong Jong Hyun switched it up in his next historical drama role, playing the sweet yet shy Wang Rin in “The King Loves.” Rin is Crown Prince Wang Won’s (Im Siwan) loyal best friend since childhood, and the only person Won can rely on — so naturally Rin is conflicted when he starts to feel flickers of romance towards the woman Won loves. Hong Jong Hyun plays Wang Rin with such nuance and subtlety that you’ll literally feel his pain; especially because he’s such a good guy!
Catch “The King Loves”:
Lee Sang Yeob is finally getting the recognition he deserves after his role in the recent family drama “Once Again,” which deals with the theme of finding happiness out of a divorce. Playing the role of a doctor, Lee Sang Yeob carries this heartwarming and empathetic story, marking a huge contrast to his sinister character from “While You Were Sleeping.” In this 2017 drama, the actor plays a lawyer who will do whatever it takes to win — even if that means manipulating evidence to help a client who is a known murderer. Lee Sang Yeob’s talent shines through as he brings this character to life through little details, like his nervous habit of rolling up scraps of paper.
Catch “Once Again”:
And start watching “While You Were Sleeping”:
5. Park Bo Gum
Park Bo Gum is the king of swoon-worthy nice-guy characters, from his role as the thoughtful and charming crown prince in “Love in the Moonlight” to his free-spirited, youthful character in “Encounter.” He’s the epitome of the sweet romantic in these roles — which makes it even more surprising that he played a psychopathic serial killer in the 2015 drama “I Remember You.” Park earned praise for his acting in the drama, and we can safely say that his innocent good looks made this dark role all the more terrifying!
Start watching “Love in the Moonlight” here:
And don’t miss “I Remember You”:
6. Namgoong Min
Namgoong Min was famous for his villains, particularly in the dramas “Remember” and “The Girl Who Sees Smells.” In the former, he takes on the role of a ruthless CEO whose temper leads to plenty of legal issues for his company… and many other crimes. In “The Girl Who Sees Smells,” he is a psychopathic serial killer who cleverly masks his acts by posing as a chef. After these chilling roles, it came as quite a surprise when Namgoong Min switched things up for some seriously lighthearted characters! He’s well-known for his role as the manager in the office comedy “Good Manager,” but his part in the rom-com “Dear Fair Lady Kong Shim” is equally endearing: he plays a lawyer who charitably works for those in need.
Check out “Remember”:
And watch “Dear Fair Lady Kong Shim”:
Shin Sung Rok is notorious for his nefarious roles, but he’s also a low-key genius when it comes to rom-coms. Sometimes he even manages to blend rom-com elements into his villains, like in his role as the rotten yet surprisingly funny Emperor Lee Hyuk in “The Last Empress.” Perhaps his most famous evil role was as the scheming chaebol heir from “My Love From the Star” (although “Liar Game” has another good Shin Sung Rok villain). But if you want to check out a whole new side of this talented actor, he plays the dorky CEO of an entertainment agency in “Trot Lovers.” As his character falls for the newest trot singer signed to the agency, comedic gold ensues. Bet you didn’t see that coming from our favorite villainous actor!
Start watching “My Love From the Star”:
And catch “Trot Lovers”:
Lee Dong Wook is so good at playing both heroes and villains that he played both in the same character in his famous “Goblin” role! Lee’s modern-day Grim Reaper is naive and mild, whereas in his past life he was… not so much. Lee embraces his rom-com side even more in “Touch Your Heart,” playing a perfectionist, workaholic lawyer in a sweetly blossoming romance. But the actor switched it up majorly for his role in the psychological thriller “Strangers From Hell,” where he plays a seemingly friendly dentist — but as his creepy smile suggests, there’s more than meets the eye under this character’s unassuming exterior.
Start watching “Touch Your Heart”:
9. Jang Ki Yong
Jang Ki Yong gained popularity as a good guy in his supporting role in “Go Back Couple,” but he promptly switched this up by playing a ruthless loan shark in “My Mister.” Since then, he’s continued to play a diverse array of characters, from the cheerful and upbeat detective in the melodrama “Come and Hug Me” to the ruthless assassin in “Kill It,” where he hides his dark history behind his unassuming job as a veterinarian. He changed things up again for his part in the hit 2019 drama “Search: WWW,” a sweet and playful romance role. Now that’s versatility!
Catch “My Mister” here:
And watch “Search: WWW” below:
Hey Soompiers, which of these actors is your favorite? Do you like him better in his good guy role or his villainous one? Let us know in the comments!
hgordon stays up way too late on weeknights marathoning K-dramas and trying to keep up with the latest K-pop releases.
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