Chapter 190

Hatred seemed to have surged out of the man. Moonjoong struck the bag with a bestial roar, the bag of rice was torn apart a little more with each strike from the hammer. After spitting out many horrific, nigh unspeakable words, he finally collapsed to the floor exhausted. Maru approached Moonjoong out of worry. Despite it still being winter, Moonjoong was sweating furiously.

“Sir, are you alright?”

“I’m good. Don’t worry about me.”

Moonjoong spat out a breath of air as he fell back. He was healthy, but he was still in his seventies. Maru was worried. Who knows if something goes wrong here?

“Have some water, sir.”

Maru put a bottle of water next to the old man before turning to look at the rice bag. The rice was spilling out from the tears. To Maru, the rice seemed like blood.

“What do punches full of hatred and evil look like? What do punches of despair look like? I can only imagine it so much. At some point, I need to take it into my hands and put it into action.”

Maru helped the man get up, who stood with a groan.

“A foolish method indeed, but there’s nothing better than this. I’d have to talk about the actual movements with the stunt coordinator, but it’s all up to the actor to put emotions into these strikes.”

Maru looked at Moonjoong’s trembling hand.

“Let’s go back now, sir.”

“Yes, let’s. It seems I’ve taken up far too much of your time.”

Maru got onto the car with the empty bag and the hammer. Moonjoong caught his breath at his seat for a second before starting up the car. It was now 8pm.

“Dear. It’s very late already.”

“It’s fine sir. I can just sleep at school.”

“That wouldn’t do. Your studies are important.”

“I may not look it, but my grades are actually on the higher end. Besides that, are you alright?”

Moonjoong’s eyes were bloodshot, probably from the way he swung that hammer. His face was completely pale too. Worst of all, his driving got pretty rough as well. This wasn’t like his normal self, he resembled himself when he came into the house last night. Those uncaring eyes. The way he spoke was polite, but he raised many red flags in term of his condition.

“I’m just calming myself. Don’t worry.”

Moonjoong turned the wheel violently, the car left the lakeside and back onto the road. As they drove on the four-lane road, a bigger car suddenly tried to switch lanes in front of them. Moonjoong clenched his teeth and pressed the horn multiple times. He was looking violently angry, angry enough to try to cause a car crash.

“...Sir?”

It was incredibly worrying watching someone who was usually very calm act like this. At the same time, Maru was confused. Actors often talk about “getting in the mood”. To not just understand the main character, but to mentally and emotionally become that character as well. Looking at Moonjoong gave Maru the feeling that the man wasn’t just trying to act the ‘old man’, but rather become the ‘old man’. Maru didn’t know much about acting, but he had a feeling that these were two very different things. The latter sounded much more dangerous as a matter of fact.

Moonjoong slowed down after a few minutes, he leaned back on his seat like an exhausted person.

“Um… sir?”

“I’m sorry. I lost my cool for a bit.”

The man looked exhausted. Maru wanted to drive in his stead, but of course with his age, he couldn’t. After a while more, the car finally came to a stop. Maru quickly got off and opened the driver’s seat.

“Thank you.”

Moonjoong stumbled out of the seat, Maru walked over to open the front door of the villa as well. Geunsoo came out from the kitchen, having heard all the noise.

“Sir!”

Geunsoo grabbed the man with Maru and headed up to the second floor. Moonjoong repeatedly said he was alright, but he really didn’t look the part. He was completely pale, even more so than Maru originally thought.

“Sir, please think about your age.”

Geunsoo put the man on the bed carefully, Maru ran downstairs to boil some water.

“What? What’s happening?” Suyeon asked in confusion.

Maru didn’t have the time to explain, so he just took the warmed water and ran up to the second floor. He could hear Suyeon walk from behind him.

“Please have some water.”

Moonjoong took a sip with a little smile. He repeatedly brushed himself off as alright, but Maru didn’t believe him one bit.

“I’ll be better once I catch my breath. No need to worry.”

Moonjoong spoke with beads of sweat dotting his face.

“This is too much. Please just rest at home tomorrow.”

Geunsoo took away the books, scripts, and the notebooks away from Moonjoong. He didn’t forget to take the laptop as well.

“I said I’m fine.”

“You saying that is what worries me the most. Please listen to me this time. I’ll call Mr. Junmin if you don’t.”

“Hey, don’t do that. He’s going to make a huge fuss out of it if you tell him.”

“So just rest tomorrow, sir. It would be terrible if the main actor in a movie collapsed before the filming even started. You always told us that rest is another form of training, so please listen to yourself.”

Geunsoo turned off the lights and stepped outside.

“Ugh, his stubbornness is something else.”

“Stubbornness?”

Moonjoong and stubbornness, it sounded like a foreign concept to Maru. Here he thought the word that suited Moonjoong the most was ‘conviction’, Geunsoo shook his head as he made his way down.

“The president of the acting association told me before that ‘he’s really bad at being lax on himself’ before. I thought that was a plus side, and not something to complain about at the time… I understood why it was a bad thing once I actually met Mr. Moonjoong.”

“What does that mean?” Suyeon asked from the back.

“He’s incredibly bad at treating himself well. It’s an incredibly dangerous attitude to have, especially with a perfectionist like him.”

“Ahh, I get it.”

Maru understood as well, Ganghwan had talked to him in the past about immersion. Immersion was about forgetting yourself, he still remembered. If a very talented person attempted to immerse themselves into their role, they would erase their own persona. How dangerous was that?

Geunsoo stepped back into the kitchen to give Maru a cup of juice.

“Do you know about the story of an English actor called Bron?”

Maru shook his head, he’s never heard the name before.

“The actor was incredibly famous. Every time he was in a play, numerous famous people would come to watch. He was famous for just one thing, his incredibly realistic acting. At one point, he took on the role of a father who lost his daughter. After he took on the role, people started saying he has finally gone crazy. When worried friends came over to check up on him, Bron would respond with words like, ‘I can’t remember my dead daughter’s face’.”

“That’s a little terrifying.”

“It might be an exaggeration since it’s just a story. But there are actors who go that far into their roles.”

“So it’s the same for Mr. Moonjoong.”

“Pretty much. He takes everything seriously. It honestly worries me. He was fine doing it when he was young, but… his body can’t keep up anymore.”

Maru thought of the Moonjoong he’s observed all day today. Moonjoong blended in with others and maintained an emotional connection with them, even after getting the information he needed.

Think about it for a second, getting friendly with someone in itself was a tiring act. Moonjoong’s role for most of the day today was listening to others and consoling them. How tired must he be if he’s done this for several days straight? Even psychologists needed therapy because of their job. Moonjoong was doing all of this himself without break.

It made sense that he was completely pale, the mental strain must’ve been immense. Afterwards, he started beating away at a bag of rice saying that he needed to act cruel for his role. Even swears started feeling bad to say after a certain point. Perhaps he spent the entire day just whipping at himself.

“He told me to observe him for all of today. I don’t think he told me that to just learn anymore.”

Moonjoong told Maru to take what he could from this experience, perhaps Moonjoong knew better than anyone just how dangerous this method was.

“Perfection always comes with a cost. The only thing that can be perfect by itself is a god.”

Geunsoo downed his cup of juice in one gulp.

“Alright, let’s get going. It’ll be four in the morning if we leave now. Can you even go to school?”

“Why don’t we sleep and leave early in the morning to school instead?”

“Sounds good for me, but what about you?”

“I’m not the one driving. Plus, I can sleep at school.”

It was a six-hour drive. Maru wanted to make it as easy for Geunsoo as possible.

“You should get some sleep too, then. We just have to get there by eight?”

“Doesn’t matter if it’s by nine. Our homeroom teacher is Mr. Taesik.”

“Aha, I guess we can be a little late then.”

Geunsoo headed up with a wave of his hand, Gwak Joon peeked down from the second floor in the mean time. The man waved his hand at Maru before heading back inside, he looked tired as well. Probably from working on his second work.

“I’m jealous, Mr. Moonjoong seems to like you a lot.”

Suyeon commented with a pretty smile, Maru responded with a “yup” before preparing to head up himself. Suyeon grabbed his sleeve.

“Aren’t you being a little cold? I’m trying to be nice to you.”

“Dad always told me to be wary of people who are nice for no reason.”

“Oh, so cold.”

Suyeon lightly pinched Maru’s cheek.

“I’ve been wondering for a while now. Why are you showing so much interest in me?”

“Interest? Oh you.”

“Oh, it’s not? Thank goodness. I’m sorry for the misunderstanding.”

Just as Maru tried to turn away, Suyeon put one leg over the other. She seemed to be trying to show her sex appeal in those short shorts.

“Please don’t be so cold. I only wanted to maintain a good relationship with you. Because I think you’ll succeed.”

“I hope I do too. I want to be rich.”

“Oh, what a coincidence. Me too. We have something in common!”

Maru shrugged.

“Let’s keep in touch from now on. Try to help each other out where it counts.”

“I don’t think I can help you much as a high schooler. Feel free to reach out regardless. I don’t think there are any negatives in knowing you either, Ms. Suyeon.”

“When will you drop the formalities? Ugh.”

“I tend to act politely to people I’m not friends with.”

“We’re not friends?”

“Of course not.”

“Why not? This is our third time meeting already.”

“True. But friendship doesn’t count on the number of times we met.”

“Ugh, so tricky.”

“That’s just the way I am.”

“You don’t think that’s cool or anything, do you? Acting like that to a girl is a huge minus.”

“Of course not. I act cute in front of girls I want to look good too. I’m a man after all.”

“Look at you go. Are you sure you’re a high schooler?”

“Probably.”

“You really don’t miss a beat, do you?”

Suyeon rubbed Maru’s thighs with one of her legs with an odd smile, Maru stood there scratching his eyebrow. Suyeon’s erotic smile slowly faded away and in its place was a frown. Maru smiled.

“That’s it?”

“...What?”

“I was hoping you might show me more.”

Maru grabbed her leg lightly to put it back down, Suyeon looked at Maru dumbly.

“I’d like to request something hotter for the next time we meet. Ah, pretty legs, by the way.”

Maru turned around with a smile, it seemed that the rumors about Suyeon were true. He didn’t have any intentions of judging her for it though, it was just her way of life.

“Hahaha! You’re quite a piece of work, aren’t you?”

He could hear Suyeon laughing behind him, Maru yawned as he waved. There were a lot of things he needed to take care of at school. With the audition on top of it, he was going to be very busy.

‘Find my own way of acting… Perhaps that’s what Mr. Moonjoong wanted to show me.’

Acting that made you want to throw your entire body to test its limits. If he masters it and manages to fine-tune his body closer towards perfection… Perhaps that’s how truly realistic acting was born.

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