It has been almost five years since Lee Je-hoon starred in the hit thriller Signal. Since then, the fierce actor has tried his hand at two romances: Tomorrow With You (2017) and Where Stars Land (2018), but most K-drama fans still remember him as the resilient and determined criminal profiler Park Hae-young. It’s not Lee’s fault that Signal was just that iconic, but despite being a fan of the actor, I was starting to think that he might never surpass that.
All this changed when promos of his upcoming show Taxi Driver were released. Clad in head-to-toe in black, Lee Je-hoon is at his brooding best as the vigilante taxi driver working for a company that offers revenge services to its clients. As I watched him whizz past in his model taxi, doing car stunts while burning with rage at the injustice around him, it finally began to look like Lee Je-hoon is ready to carve out a whole new identity for himself.
The GQ Korea photoshoot features black and white portraits, showcasing the actor’s rugged features and intense expressions that lend to his charm, allowing him to play the anti-establishment hero in his films and dramas. The next set of blue and white-toned images are crisp and metallic. Lee looks dapper in a suit, posing with a stylish blue car in the background—a nod to his new role as Kim Do-gi, a special forces officer turned vigilante taxi driver in his upcoming drama.
Lee describes his character as “not an obvious hero. He is an ordinary taxi driver by day, and on the wrong side of the law at night. Although he is punishing bad people, he will make you wonder if his actions are right or wrong.” It seems that Lee has honed playing innately good characters that end up being victimized by the law into an art. The actor also reveals that he makes a point to take on unfamiliar and challenging roles because that’s the only way he knows to make acting fun. I, for one, am not complaining, especially if he continues giving us excellent dramas.
When asked to compare his life to a season, Lee remarks, “I feel like I’m running on hot asphalt on a summer day. I’m sweating a lot and having a hard time, but I go on in the bright sun without giving up.” It is perhaps this determination to not give up in face of hardships and his courage in the face of challenges that most of his characters have in common—from Park Yeol of the film Anarchist from Colony (2017) to Park Hae-yeol, and finally, Kim Do-gi.
An Instagram video of Lee Je-hoon’s interview with GQ will be released soon. Till then, fans of the actor await April 9, when he will return to the small screen with a bang.