It’s been six years since your last time at Cannes, right? What changed compared to when you came for “A Brand New Life” six years ago?
I feel like it’s not that different. Except for the fact that it’s my second time coming here.
That’s all? The atmosphere around you must be very different between this time and last time. Starting with your airport pictures being uploaded. It will sound snobbish, but how many actresses here can pick a dress in the Chanel showroom?
I’d say it’s more about the way I feel about it than a change in the situation around me. I visited places on my own that I had been with when I came to Cannes the first time.
How did it feel to come back again?
Should I call it the completion of the times I was longing for as I dwelled on times that passed? I felt something similar to a sense of accomplishment. I went back once to the apartment in Prague where I lived while I was filming “Snowpiercer”. I was delighted to find the diary I had left behind a picture! It seems that going back to places I have already been to is some sort of craving, some basic desire for me.
It’s been exactly 2 years since we met for the premiere of “Snowpiercer”. After that, around the time “Elegant Lies” premiered, you said you refused the offer the first time because you were not confident about portraying in a realistic way someone who lost their family. Meanwhile, you chose “childbirth” as an example of a situation that you can’t portray because you didn’t experience it yourself.
It seems that “childbirth” was already in my subconscious back then. That’s why I just threw it out there and I chose “Heard It Through The Grapevine” which keyword is “childbirth”. What occupies an important place in my life these days is “the link between my consciousness and my subconscious”. It’s the influence of director Hong Sang Soo.
“The link between my consciousness and my subconscious”, what is it? Isn’t it a special occasion like filming “Elegant Lies” you rejected once?
I just felt the connection to the line “ahjumma” and that pulled me in. Because I also like movies like “Poetry”, “Mother”. I feel that portraying a pregnant woman is something special. In “Snowpiercer”, Alison Pill was pregnant, right? This was my idea. Someone who couldn’t been brainwashed who teaches children, and she even carries a child in her, how much of an hopeless future can it be? I was aware of the special equipment a pregnant woman role requires and it’s very interesting that I got to do it. When I first said that I would play Seo Bom, people around me really tried to stop me. However, breaking this kind of concerns made me feel some catharsis.
Ah, one of the things you expected the most during this Cannes festival was to see Xavier Dolan who was a jury member this year? I saw him swimming in the sea yesterday.
I saw him too after the photocall event? Haha. The best movie I watched last year was “Mommy”. I might have watched it 5 times. While I was watching the movie, I was thinking to myself “what directing did these actors receive to allow them to play like this? I feel liked I’ll never be able to do something like this…”. I went to see it once with other actors and everyone was “I’m so jealous. I’m so upset”.
How was the atmosphere on the “Heard It Through The Grapevine” set? Dramas are different from movies since you can receive feedback right away, so the stress is probably not average.
There’s this main channel drama pressure indeed. However, the set of “Heard It Through The Grapevine” was different. Not one single person talked about the viewer ratings. The goal was just to bring together strong-minded people and to do things “our way”.
You mean a drama set like this can exist these days?
I think it’s thanks to director Ahn Pan Suk’s persistence. And we relied a lot on the camera director while shooting this drama. It’s not that the camera director followed the movement, he captured our acting. No matter how good your acting is, it’s useless when it’s not captured by the camera, you must do an “acting that is shown”. There was no burden about having to go overboard with emotions.
You have mostly portrayed strong characters. However, the character of Lee Mi Rye in “The Office” is quite unexpected from you. Should I say that despite being an intern, she can be seen as someone weak, but it’s a heavy character?
I was attracted to Mi Rye’s character because it’s three-dimensional. I really liked thriller characters, but I got tired of portraying them at some point. Just when I was thinking that it’d be nice if a new type of thriller movie would come out, I received this scenario.
This movie premiered for the first time during the Cannes Festival. How did it feel to read your own name on a big screen at the Louis Lumiere theater?
I didn’t feel anything. I was too anxious about how the movie would look.
No matter how scary the movie was, I was even more scared of the audience. The character was desperate or was going through awful situations, but people actually clapped and laughed?
I was also very confused back then. However, I was told later on that thriller fans were usually the ones attending the “Midnight Screening” and they burst out laughing during scenes when a corpse is chopped off and internal organs are taken out.
So you’ve been writing in your diary since middle school, without missing one day? What was the most exciting day of this year, for instance?
The first day of filming of the movie “Right Now, Wrong Then” directed by Hong Sang Soo. I was very nervous on my way to the set. I was thinking “should I just go home? should I say I’m sick? Feels like my heart is less into it, what to do?”. I was so nervous that I went there without even sleeping. As soon as I arrived, I fell asleep. Haha. Anyway, this day I wrote “I had started losing this thrill at some point and I was quite nervous while I was on my way to the set today”. To be honest, it was the day I went through the most tension this year. I don’t write lies in my diary. I said I’d keep my pride.
You started filming the movie “Thinking About Oppa” right after you finished filming “Heard It Through The Grapevine”. So you worked again with director Lee Han?
Yes. I think working again with a director I had already worked with was a great experience. When we were filming “Elegant Lies”, I chased director Lee Han around by asking so many questions like “why is it this way? why is that way?”. Every time, he listened to me and answered. I think our second time working together will be even better.
You were happy in the Chanel showroom because of your red carpet outfit and you asked if you didn’t look like a circus kid. You said once that you kind of wanted to play in a movie related to a young circus girl. Is there a day when we’ll see you like this?
I have a Maginot line, though. My age. Feels like I should do it this year at the latest?
Age aside, is there a role that you think you’ll never be able to play? Like a taboo role.
On the contrary, my worry is “what if I only play really shocking roles?”. Because I know all about the delight of such shock and I feel like it lost a bit of its flavor.
I can’t wait for our next meeting when one of your movies will be about to premier.
How about we meet in Venice? Deal?