As a young boy, South Korean-born actor Jay Kim wanted to be a police officer, a Jedi and a myriad of other occupations one could simply not accomplish in one lifetime.
He recalled, “In the 6th grade, I had an epiphany and realized I that could be all those things if I became an actor. Over the years, the reason I kept to this path has changed, but that was the initial starting point.”
After serving his country as a Korean Special Forces commando, Jay Kim went on to become an actor, an occupation that, even if only for a few months at a time during the shooting of a film, has allowed him to fulfill a wildly diverse range of professions through his characters.
The young actor is absolutely devoted to his craft, and he has continued to prove his ability to blend into any role he is cast with natural ease. His work on both the stage and screen over the past decade has also put him alongside some of the most prestigious names in the business.
In his latest film, Purgatory, Kim gave a truly heart-wrenching performance. The film takes place in purgatory, and follows a man who was killed in a horrific car crash. Kim’s character Tod was an addict, a man with a hard habit and a harder life whose suicide brought him to the realm of repentance. Kim said the challenge of playing such a tormented character was an experience that was equally as dark as it was fulfilling.
“I loved the part and fought hard to get it. It was dark, and ‘getting inside’ the character required a lot of unpleasantness,” Kim said. “The character was miserable, but it was intriguing to attempt to really, really live in Tod’s shoes.”
Several years before Purgatory, Kim worked with award-winning Greek stage and screen actor Yorgos Karamihos whose credits include Without Borders, Beware of Bear, Matomena homata, Tale 52, Bang-Bang Wedding!, El Greco, Fugitive Pieces and over 30 other film and television shows.
Not only were Kim and Karamihos costars in past projects, but Karamihos also had a huge impact on Kim’s development as an actor in the early stages of his career.
After seeing Kim’s performance as Tod in Purgatory, Karamihos said, “Dark stuff, and I absolutely enjoyed watching. Amazing, superbly organic and truthful, disturbingly beautiful to watch… I feel honored for having been [his] teacher once, and I am looking forward to watching [his] new film.”
Kim’s prior work with Karamihos included the gripping film Maestro, in which Kim played Ken, the “tough guy” and right hand man to Karamihos’ character, the titular “maestro.”
About working with Karamihos, Kim recalled, “I learned an incredible amount from him, not just acting technique-wise, but how all aspects of life apply to acting… I truly looked up to him and admired his knowledge, so it was a thrill to work alongside him.”
Maestro was a thrilling, fast-paced story of manipulation, greed, and backstabbing.
“The film was about a conniving, snake-like ‘maestro’ who stole his colleague’s lover and work clients,” Kim said. “Luis Fernandez-Gil also starred in the film and he was a fantastic actor to watch. The intensity he brought was genuine and proved that his talents are of the highest caliber.”
In 2014, Kim’s talent caught the attention of esteemed playwright and actor Tim McNeil, who cast Kim in The Straight Bozo, a one act play about a Wall Street man with a secret which gradually comes to light as the audience follows him in his commute from Long Island to Manhattan.
Other plays on Kim’s impressive list of stage works include Tennessee Williams’ The Rose Tattoo, Federico Garcia Lorca’s Blood Wedding, and Bertolt Brecht’s The Irresistible Rise of Arturo Ui.
Kim’s upcoming releases include Purgatory and The Dragon’s Lair, which is set to finish production later this year. Audiences should brace themselves now, because the world will soon be seeing a lot more of this young phenomenon’s face.