The success of movies and dramas are partly judged to be due to the chemistry among and between actors. Without it, lackluster performances is noted and blamed for their troubles afterwards.
If it is that important, what is it about ?
What is it about chemistry and not physics when we speak of actors’ character relationships on screen? Chemistry as we know is the science that studies the changes or reactions and transformations of matters. However,in movies and dramas instead of the interactions of atoms and molecules we have the exchanges and reciprocity happening between the actors immersed in their characters. It is that bond between actors responsible for the magical on screen persona. As they are embedded in their roles they can be falling in love, hurting, ecstatically happy, sadder than sad, disappointed and so on. You might say they can verbalize them in their dialogues. Of course they can and they will. But the most effective are those that can be conveyed through facial, eye expressions and body language. Some actors who can cry with quivering lips are more effective than seeing them tearing up, facial muscles tensed up with anger, eyes that have the look of being betrayed which the camera hungers for a closeup.These you cannot fake. That is also why the audience must pay attention to the unspoken emotions. Silence when used effectively are heavily laden with meanings much more than histrionics.
When you as audience suspend disbelief and are carried away by the actors’ facial expressions and other non verbal cues, it means the actors have chemistry with you. According to an academic film professional this is the most important chemistry of all, what happens between you,the audience and the actors. If you have developed the chemistry with the actors you become willing to accept what is going on before you,and then enter their magical world unconditionally. Their truth and their lies become yours. Their situations and emotions affect your heart, wring your guts not only your tear glands dry. These translates to your willingness to follow through to the last drop of the final episode (with or without extensions).
It seemed most of the time we have applied the word chemistry solely to the love pairings in the drama or movie. Actually, there should be chemistry among all the actors, the protagonists as well the antagonists and their cohorts so that it is a cohesive production. Of course it starts with them behind the scenes -genuine liking and enjoy working with one another. In short, they have rapport and compatibility even those playing enemies who end up killing each other. Should they have sparks-physical and emotional? By all means ! They should be working as a team, supporting and helping each other come up with the winning outcome. Remember Emperor of the Sea and Jumong ? That is why when actors receive awards they thank their co-workers because they know it is not a one person’s job after all.
The PD people know how to give the best angles, the best shots (long and close shots,filterd shots, fade outs,etc.) spending many takes to bring out the moods and essence of the actors’s roles in the scenes. Also not unlike the chemical changes that can happen in a laboratory, what we see on the final screen could have been the product of enhancement made in the film laboratory.
Now the love pairings. In some dramas,you can find several love stories not only of the main lead. Some love stories may not be romantic or already past that stage. Some are romances but not lovestories. Some happened almost too soon after one or two episodes like in Iris. Some started on the bickering mode then the episodes slowly almost painfully unfold their relationship while we audience never knew or were kept on guessing how they will end up in the Feast of the Gods. At the Boys Over Flowers the almost love pair of Jandi and Jihoo is given a twist with that soulmate idea instead. But towards the end even after Jun Pyo offered her the ring,whose arm is it that she is holding on in one of their last scenes?
The audience concentrate their attention on the story’s main love pair. Why ? We are hooked on romances, we are hopelessly love inspired, that is why. We are excited to see if there is sexual tension between our bias and his/her partner. Maybe entertain some illusions, ship them together afterwards and become lifelong supporters. Woe to the pair if we decide they didn’t have the sparks. If their eyes did not speak of love. If their hand clasps and skinship did not feel that electric bolt from one warm body to another. If their kiss only touched their lips but not their soul. That is why, it is often said, actors must fall in love during the filming. Can we sense that?
Released pictures, reports and interviews that came from the City Conquest drama revealed actors like each other, are happy and having a good time. Experts in the acting field say those are good indications and signs we will be seeing them have on screen chemistry. This early, what did you feel when you saw KHJ with his strained and full of apprehension look while hugging JYM in a tight embrace? How much unease in you did that one picture alone evoke? The waiting period for the drama seem forever.