(Scan Credits: 3 Peas In A Pod on Facebook)
The very first thing that struck us about Alexander Lee Eusebio was what a far cry he is from the other cookie-cutter K-idols. As personable as the boy-next-door, the 25-year old has none of the stiff smiles and polite pleasantness so typical of the image-conscious Korean star. Instead, the former U-KISS boybander turned soloist turned movie star, who is set to make his silver screen debut with local film 3 Peas In A Pod, greeted us with a warm handshake and affable smile.
The mood-maker, who is easily the life of any party with his bright personality, is chirpy and cheery in person, punctuating his responses with robust laughter, tongue-in-cheek humour and even the occasional "lah". Unlike other K-Pop stars who tiptoes around the bureaucratic red tape, nothing is off-limits for this doe-eyed Korean heartthrob. In fact, he even broaches the subject of U-KISS first without any promoting on our part - and to think we had our reservations about approaching that potential minefield! His easy-going nature also shines through as he banters freely with his 3 Peas In A Pod director Michelle Chong, who was lounging around in the same interview room. So it was hardly surprising when we discovered that behind that celebrity façade is a humble and down-to-earth soul who simply hankers after a normal life.
From your Twitter updates, we see that you've been to many places in Singapore. Where are your favourite local hangouts?
I like all the hawker markets because the food there is cheap, nice and very local. My uncle always brings me to Geylang. We'll try all kinds of food, like chicken rice and popiah.
3 Peas In A Pod is your debut movie project after a supporting role in Korean drama Immortal Classic. How different is it working on a Singaporean production as compared to a Korean one?
[The] Korean style (of production) is really tiring because there is no working time limit, so you have to be on call [all the time]. You have to be on the spot waiting for hours and hours because Korean dramas are ongoing - while they broadcast [the dramas], they are still shooting [them]. So the schedule is so tight and urgent all the time... But filming in Singapore was really easy [because] the working hours were really, really good. Singapore style is very casual and very comfortable because Korea has this high seniority thing, so it's really hard to relax while shooting for a drama.
Many of the scenes in the movie were shot in the Australian outback. Was it tough having to film in the outdoors?
Yeah. It was hard because the sun was really burning. We had sunburns and because we are out in the nature all the time, we have to be careful with kangaroos or wild animals. So that was really tough, especially some scenes at the [snaps fingers] with-the-seals-what's-that where there were strong winds and the sand [was] just blowing. (Michelle: Seal Bay.) Seal Bay, yeah.
Arf, arf (imitates the sounds of seals). So those were tough but the rest of it was fine. It was like [going] back to nature. Toilet, oh the toilet (laughs)! Looking for a decent toilet was a little difficult outdoors.
Were there any memorable incidents that happened on set?
We were shocked when at night, we were driving back to our dorm and a deer hopped out in the middle of the road, which is common actually because [they do that] whenever they see lights. So, now I realise how dangerous it could be driving at night. It was impressive, but that was the first time I really saw a wild deer (laughs). (Michelle: You saw a lot of roadkill.) (In mock despair) I know! But I don't want to talk about that! (Michelle: Well, you can! My other crew said she thought that there would be a lot of kangaroos on Kangaroo Island. But she didn't see a live one - she saw only dead ones on the roads.)
In the movie, Calvin likes Jae, but Jae likes you. In real life, have you ever been caught in a love triangle?
(Hesitates) Erm, no lah, am I that popular? (Laughs) There was, but for me unfortunately, I'm not looking into having a relationship yet. It was like my friend liked a girl, but the girl had a crush on me, which was awkward because I'm close friends with him. I'm supposed to be like supporting him, but she liked me more, so it was really awkward. [Did you give up the relationship because of your good friend?] No, I really had no intention to [pursue it] because I'm a workaholic. I'm more focused on my job.
The movie revolves around three students who embark on a life-changing road trip. Personally, what would you say has been the turning point of your life or career?
The turning point would be the time when I left my group, U-KISS, because that was the time when I really had to be responsible for building my own career. Before, [when I was] in a group, I just [had to] contribute to the group. But from that time [I went solo] onwards, whatever I do, it will all be credited to myself. Whether I do good or not, it all depends on myself so it was really a turning point for me - and a very stressful change.
Do you still keep in touch with the U-KISS members?
Oh yeah, not often, because we are always like here and there but like at the end of last year, we had a big gathering. [What do you guys chat about?] We joke a lot and we'll say, "Hey, how's life huh?" ... I always encourage them like, "Jiayou, jiayou (Keep going, keep going)." [Do you confide in them your work problems?] Not really (laughs)! I don't really talk about my problems to them and it's hard for them to understand because they are still in a group, whereas being a solo artiste is really hard. But, actually, I talked to one of the new guys, Hoon, about how being solo is hard and he understood because he was [a soloist] before joining U-KISS.
The public image of you is that of a very sunshine and upbeat kind of guy. Is there currently anything in your life that gets you down?
My work. It's only my work. I don't really worry about other things because that's life, you know. The only thing is work because work is stressful. I'm always worried about whether I'm good or perfect enough.
How do you unwind after work?
I usually meet up with my friends, just go crazy, watch movies and just go outside. Sometimes we go clubbing, sometimes we (Michelle: Play monopoly.) (laughs) Yeah, [and] Jenga! I always go to my friends' houses [for] sleepovers and play games, because what I really want is a normal life. You know, in showbiz it's so different, so I just want to relax.
Tell us one thing about yourself that you want the fans to know.
I read their tweets. I really read [them,] one by one (laughs). Because a lot of them were always saying, "Are you sure? Are you really reading it?" A lot of them question me, but I do read their tweets. But unfortunately, I don't like to reply personally. I just give them an overall answer. It doesn't mean that I did not read their tweets, so (with faux fierceness) watch your words! (Laughs)
Source: teens magazine, August 2013 Issue. Pg 34, 35. Interviewer, Cheryl Ong.