It’s quite hard to find a way to address actresses in their 40’s. How do people usually call you?
My close hoobaes call me “Unnie” or “Nuna”. If not, they call me “Sunbaenim”. Shouldn’t one be over 60 to be called “Teacher”, right? I’m not an actress with a force strong enough to be called “teacher”. If you keep looking out for me a little bit more, you’ll get to know it soon.
Uma Thurman is a 70-liner, Cate Blanchett is a 69-liner, Nicole Kidman is a 67-liner and you’re the same age. It’s not just about the age, you have a similar image too. All of you are very fashionable and elegant women.
They are really charismatic women! But I’m not a fashion person. I do my shopping at the mall. Of course, when I start shooting a movie or a drama, I’m more cautious about my outfits, my hair and my make-up. I try a few things here and there. When I go to the beauty salon, I check the photo shoots in the pile of magazines. When I find something I like, I take a picture and upload it on the Kakaotalk chatroom I have with my stylist. But it’s just fashion to express a character.
But you were truly more charismatic than I thought in your rider leather jacket in the movie “Target” that was released recently? Where does this preconceived idea that you’re “fashionable” come from?
The thing about this leather jacket is that it’s not a brand item, it’s a jacket that was made. Stereotypes are just stereotypes because I don’t prepare everything just to look cool. If I really want to give credit to something, I must be thankful for having good proportions and a well-maintained body.
What is your secret to maintain your figure? I can’t imagine you enjoying snacks often.
Hoho. My nickname is [newborn] “Baby” because when I’m on set, I eat well, I work hard and I go to sleep when I’m tired. I’m not picky, I eat everything. I enjoy the simple fact of eating. I’m cautious about the quantity I eat. And I really work out hard. I’m even amazed that I managed to go this far and do well, but I think I’ve reached a limit. Taking care of my body is becoming harder. It’s time for me to work out more intensely and reduce what I eat. When the menopause starts, it will be even harder, right? This is tragic.
Now that it’s brought up, tell us your secret to have this skin that doesn’t age.
I was born this way. I don’t have acne or things like that , so it’s a gift in some kind of way. And I receive intense care. I constantly get massages. Before going to a CF shoot, I do a high-frequency laser session. When I start an important project, I even get HIFU (High Intensity Focused Ultrasound). The first time I did it was before “The Chaser” and I do it once a year now. I have yet to have big skin problems, so even if I undergo a surgical procedure, it’s light.
Two movies you did premiered at the same time. I was surprised to see your character die in “Target” when I thought it wouldn’t. I was surprised that your number of scenes was so little in “Fatal Encounter”.
I can niptick about my amount of scenes in dramas, I can niptick about the importance of my character, but strangely enough, I don’t nipctick at all when it comes to movies. I knew from the beginning that my characters in these two movies were of small importance. My character actually dies earlier in the movie “Point Blank” which “Target” is based on. “Fatal Encounter” has a big significance because I definitely wanted to work with director Lee Jae Kyu.
“Target” is the movie you went to the Cannes festival for, right? “Grace of Monaco” with Nicole Kidman who is the same age as you was the opening movie.
Well, that’s because it’s the Cannes festival! It’s great. I was totally anticipating this moment. I wondered about what I would do or what I would see over there. I don’t know what the Cannes festival atmosphere is like, so I asked about it to the people around me and they said “you’ll know when you’re there”.
It’s a seaside village overflowing with champagne and the silk dress trail of the actresses.
Omo, there will not be “somaek” [t/n: soju + beer], for sure. You can see actors, take a lot of pictures, I’ll enjoy any party. Hoho. Marion Cotillard, she’s a very good actress, so I definitely want to see with my own eyes. I don’t know if she’ll come to Cannes this year.
Does your red carpet dress preparation go well?
I take my time to try things on one by one and my motto is “let’s be bold”. Wearing a red dress on a red carpet is taboo, but I tried on a bright red dress a couple of days ago and it was so beautiful, so I’m thinking about it. Well, I could wear it for another party, though…
Isn’t your schedule overlapping with “Miss France”, the play you’re currently working on, and the Cannes festival?
The play will premiere on May 15th. It’s a good thing there was a double casting, so I’ll be able to be at the Cannes festival starting from the 19th. It’s the Cannes festival. Although we’re not in the competition and we’re not running for an award, I would have been so sad if I hadn’t been able to go. It’s really great.
Are you at the peak of the rehearsal time for “Miss France”?
I’m rehearsing 10 hours a day without taking a break. I feel like I’m about to die. Really. We’re really going into details, so we couldn’t start the reading for the last scene and there are only 10 days left now. The rehearsals are really detailed. Being on stage isn’t the problem, the problem is if I will be able to endure or not the rehearsals.
Stamina can definitely be a problem.
I work out, I eat well, so I endure it. I arrive two hours early than the rehearsal time. It puts me at ease to be there first. After I cleaned the rehearsal room, played some music, lit up some candles and read the script, I usually sleep for a brief moment. Before people start coming in, I take my time to get up with my face all flushed.
Besides, you play three different characters. Even performing on stage must be physically hard.
There are Fleur, Miss France committee chairman who suffers from a speech disorder, Samantha the strip dancer, Martine the hotel employee. They’re all different, they all have their own charm, they’re all interesting characters. I didn’t know it’d be so hard, but choosing to play three characters in the same play is a big merit because it’s not a challenge easy to find for an actor. The story itself is about the Miss France contest, so I have practice. I also intended to choose another project. Theater is philosophical and hard, so I thought “don’t do theater and go for something light”, but “Miss France” is a French play that was a major hit as a fun B-comedy. I’m working hard to turn it into another kind of classy comedy different from the theater you usually study in college.
You shot the dramas “The Chaser”, “Yawang”, “Heirs” and they were one hit after the other. Your movies “Fatal Encounter” and “Target” premiered at the same time, so you’re even on the road to be a “prolific actress”. Seeing you go for theater was a great surprise. Did you want to take a break from dramas and movies?
More than taking a break, I wanted to experience a change of air with theater. Doing theater isn’t an escape for me, it’s a challenge. Doing theater isn’t something easy, it’s quite hard. I think it won’t be good if I don’t overcome this. It’s like a crisis that got me back to my senses because it became something I had to do. I gave a rest to reading the scenarios I received. Right now, this play is my only focus. If I can overcome this hard challenge, something about me will be different, right? This change will be expressed through my energy, right? This is what I hope. I want theater to help me to find the same energy that women like Uma Thurman, Cate Blanchett and Nicole Kidman have. It’s an energy I wasn’t able to get from dramas and movies until now. Ah, and Jung Woo personally asked me a favor, so I will do a cameo in his movie next month.
Are you talking about Ha Jung Woo’s second directed film “Chronicle of a Blood Merchant”?
Yes. I play a fortune-teller and the filming takes two days. There are just two scenes, so I have no pressure. Since it was supposed to be a shaman/psychic, I had to be good like the one in “Mansin: Then Thousand Spirits”, but the set-up was changed. It’s a fortune-teller who is dressed in Western style. No matter how much we talked about it, he didn’t grab my attention. Jung Woo got me when he said “nuna, it’s because you don’t look like a fortune-teller”. I enjoyed reading the novel the movie is based on. I read “Brothers” first, then I read “Chronicle of a Blood Merchant”.
Do you want to shoot another drama or movie once you’re done with the play in July?
Of course. I had to turn down all offers because I was in this play, so I will have the time to do anything. When this play is over, I will become a better person, so I’ll be able to show better acting.
Is being a good actress is about being a good person?
As an actress, one thing that cannot be lowered is who I am. It doesn’t matter the role, the character is something that comes from inside of me, Kim Sung Ryung. So showing good acting is important, living well is a bigger directing point. Making yourself a good person to live well is important for being an actor. It’s the same when it comes to life. I tell my two kids “be someone nice, be dignified, you must be strong in order to understand and take care of others”. This is what I’m teaching them.