Lee Je-hoon creates the 'God Do-gi' syndrome, Riveting Performance and Emotional Journey in the Highly Acclaimed 'Taxi Driver 2' Leaves Viewers in Awe
Actor Lee Je-hoon ©companyon
The highly anticipated and successful SBS Drama 'Taxi Driver 2', which has been hailed as the essence of Korean caper dramas, has come to an end. Actor Lee Je-hoon, who brought about a stronger 'God 'Do-gi' Syndrome' than Season 1 with dazzling action and versatile supporting character portrayals, recently introduced his emotional moments in an interview with Glenda Park. He said, "When the final episode ended, I recalled the hard times and shed many tears."
"When it was announced that Season 2 would be produced, I was extremely worried about whether we could match the love we received in Season 1. However, now that Season 2 has received even greater love, I am honestly amazed. I express my gratitude to the viewers who have shown us so much love and interest, as well as to all the actors and production staff who worked passionately to create this work."
Although his character 'Do-gi' is calm and serious in the drama, he becomes more relaxed and animated around his Rainbow Taxi family. The same was true on set, where he and his co-stars from season 1 laughed and chatted so much that maintaining their calm demeanor during filming was difficult. But as soon as the director called for action, they all became serious, showcasing their incredible teamwork.
"Actors often feel tense during filming, but the relaxed atmosphere on set helped alleviate a lot of tension. I also pondered on how wonderful it would be to work together every day in a place like this. Since this was our second time working together as the Rainbow Taxi family, I believe we developed an unspoken sense of affection for each other."
With a change in director from the previous season's Park Joon-woo to this season's Lee-dan, along with a change in writer, Lee Je-hoon praised his new director, saying, "It couldn't have been easy for a rookie director like Lee-dan to create new variations on the genre and characters for each episode of 'Taxi Driver 2,' but she led the team carefully and meticulously, giving her best effort in the latter half of the production, for which I am extremely grateful."
The remarkable action scenes were all choreographed by Yoon Dae-won, who also supervised action scenes in movies such as "Escape from Mogadishu" and "Hostage: Missing Celebrity." Due to his flawless execution, Lee Je-hoon laughed and said he simply followed instructions.
"The most nerve-wracking moment was in the first episode when the first Taxi appears. We had to shoot a car-chasing scene in one take. There was pressure to get it right in a single attempt, but fortunately, there were hardly any retakes, so I felt proud and had fun."
From school violence to voice phishing, long-term trading, serial killings, the production and distribution of sexual exploitation materials, scams targeting the elderly, child abuse, cults, and proxy surgeries, the cases that Rainbow Taxi handles in each episode of the 'Taxi Driver' series are all based on real incidents. The retribution delivered becomes even more severe as the cases become more unfortunate. Perhaps viewers wished for them even more because they cannot exist.
"I believe the reason why 'Taxi Driver' is popular is that there are still numerous incidents and accidents that need to be brought to light in the future. By addressing various societal issues, the drama prompts deep reflection on social problems and seriousness, serving as a catalyst for me to become more conscious. I have pondered greatly about paying attention not only to the people around me but also to the situations surrounding me."
'Taxi Driver 2' is a private revenge proxy drama in which Rainbow Taxi's private detective, 'Kim Do-gi' (played by Lee Je-hoon), and the Rainbow Taxi company seek justice on behalf of innocent victims. The drama captivates viewers with its fast-paced and thrilling direction, unique to caper works, episodes that appeal to a wide audience, cathartic development, and the fantastic teamwork of the Rainbow Five.
The supporting characters portrayed by the Rainbow Taxi members in 'Taxi Driver 2' are a significant highlight that should not be missed. Lee Je-hoon has introduced a new supporting character in each episode to the extent that it wouldn't be an exaggeration to call him the 'humanization of a chameleon.' Starting with the intense opening of Season 2 with 'Prisoner Do-gi,' his natural transformation into characters like 'Overseas Employment Youth Do-gi,' 'Outcast Do-gi,' 'Farmer Do-gi,' 'Love Expert Do-gi,' and 'Shaman Do-gi' has elicited laughter from viewers.
"The character I enjoyed portraying the most was 'Farmer Do-gi.' At first, I had concerns because it was my first time speaking in the Chungcheong province dialect, but I practiced diligently while listening to the dialect guide recording. The costume was also splendid, and it was fun to act, although I wondered if I performed well. Fortunately, the viewers seemed to appreciate it."
The most impressive character was 'Shaman Do-gi.' Je-hoon paid close attention to the costume, and the props on set felt authentic. Actual experts taught me how to play instruments and perform rituals for shamans. The scene where we performed the ritual at the end of the episode was more challenging than any action scene he had done before. He even fell ill after filming due to the physical exertion. It surprised him to realize the amount of stamina required for such performances.
"We traveled to Vietnam for overseas filming to capture better scenes for this season, but the rainy weather and the COVID situation caused difficulties in the filming process. We had to return to Korea without completing all the planned scenes, which caused a lot of concern since it was still the early stages of filming. Many staff members worked tirelessly to make up for the missed footage when we returned to Korea. In the end, we were able to successfully complete the season."
In addition to the original Rainbow Luck members, such as Kim Eui-sung, Pyo Ye-jin, Jang Hyuk-jin, and Bae Yoo-ram, a new villain character named 'On Ha-jun,' played by Shin Jae-ha, has joined the cast. Shin Jae-ha and Lee Je-hoon had a confrontational relationship and had to act in many scenes together. Je-hoon mentioned that "Shin Jae-ha had recently completed his military service, and we were also filming 'Crash Course in Romance' simultaneously, so it must have been tough for him to adapt to the set."
"In the 16th episode, 'Kim Do-gi' and 'On Ha-jun' have their final showdown, which is an intense action scene. It took a long time to film, and Shin Jae-ha and I had to fight late into the night. The shoot was challenging for both the actors and the production staff due to the cold weather and thin costumes. However, it was a memorable scene that left a lasting impression."
"Jae-ha has a good personality, and he worked hard to approach his acting with a positive attitude. When we filmed together, it was honestly very comfortable. During the shooting of the action scene in episode 16, it was really cold, but we managed to film it well while checking on each other's well-being. Watching actor Jae-ha brought back many childhood memories, and I believe he is an actor to look forward to in the future. I am confident that he will continue to improve and excel."
'Taxi Driver 2' achieved a 6.4% viewer rating, surpassing the average viewer rating of 5.5% in season 1, and ranked first among all programs in the first quarter of 2049 viewer ratings. The protagonist, 'Kim Do-gi,' portrayed by Lee Je-hoon, caused a stir in every episode. In an interview with a reporter, he shared memorable scenes and special guest actors.
"The most fulfilling moment for me was when we dealt with the real estate fraud case in episodes 5-6. The criminals were exposed for hiding their crimes, so they kidnapped children and kept them hidden. When 'Do-gi' sought revenge against the villain who had trapped him in the fire, it was incredibly cathartic. The Rainbow Transport family found the missing children, and 'Do-gi' mercilessly punished the villain and threw him in the trash. As I have a nephew, I was especially outraged by the crimes committed against innocent children and became deeply immersed in the story."
'Taxi Driver 2' became a hot topic within the SBS Universe. From 'Hot Stove League' to 'One Dollar Lawyer' and 'Taxi Driver 2', Namkoong Min and Lee Je-hoon, who are real-life friends, made special appearances in each other's works, connecting SBS's biggest hit dramas in one universe. Namkoong Min's special appearance in this work was personally suggested by Lee Je-hoon, making the meeting even more delightful. Lee Je-hoon initially sought NamKoong Min's agreement and then confirmed his appearance with the director and writer.
"I suggested to the director and writer that it would be great if Senior NamKoong Min could appear in the medical accident episode, and they kindly accepted. I was also surprised by how well the script was written. At that time, NamKoong Min had just finished 'One Dollar Lawyer' and had gone on a honeymoon, so I felt bad for giving him such a long script. However, I remember being amazed and entranced when I saw him flawlessly deliver the long lines on set."
'Taxi Driver' has confirmed the production of Season 3, but Lee Je-hoon said he has not yet received an official offer to appear. However, he expressed his desire to appear and added, "In Season 3, it would be great if we could address the recent rise in victims of coin scams. I also hope to receive a request for a Rainbow Transport case." In the early stages of Season 2, he felt pressure to meet expectations, but he believes the weight of Season 3 will be even greater.
"Season 1 dealt with heavy themes, Season 2 explored the topic of personal revenge in an enjoyable way, and now we are contemplating the focus for Season 3. Our priority is to reciprocate the love we have received, and we will once again pour our hearts and souls into the work to avoid disappointment.”
'Taxi Driver' has an ending tagline for each episode. The ending tagline for Episode 2, which announced the beginning of the first case resolution, was 'Starting operation 5283. I want to hear your grievances.' Now, Lee Je-hoon has chosen the most touching ending tagline used in Episode 15, 'You have to remember to recover what you've lost.' He believes this captures the story that runs through the 'Taxi Driver' series.
"I sincerely thank all the viewers who loved 'Taxi Driver 2' and supported actor Lee Je-hoon. We were able to successfully conclude the drama and gain a lot of strength. I hope you experienced a lot of exhilaration and joy through the story we portrayed. I also hope that the actors and production staff, who worked together with one heart, will be remembered, and that this work will continue to be widely cherished. As an actor, I will continue to greet you in various ways and bring you joy. Thank you!"
Interview by Glenda Park, Editor-in-Chief at Avec G.
*This article is simultaneously published in Seoul Wire's 'Glenda Park's Blue Ocean'.
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