I want to be more active in co-produced films.
in Dangerous Liaisons
is not what he used to be. Shedding the previous image of righteous and modest man, he turned into a cold-hearted and decadent homme fatale.
- I heard you said “Now I’m confident.” after the shooting of Dangerous Liaisons finished.
Compared with previous works, I was very satisfied. It certainly is the audiences who decide if the film is good or bad, but I did all I could as an actor. I usually have regrets after shooting a film, but this time, I didn’t have many.
- XIE Yifan is stained with desire, cold-hearted and decadent, which is very far from your previous roles. What made you take this role?
(the novel)’ has been cinematized many times, and I think greatest actors of the time acted in each of the films. An actor will have a character in mind he wants to try to act at sometime and XIE Yifan was such a character to me. I wanted to act out the complicated psychology of XIE described in the original story and thought HUR Jin-ho
’s specialty in expressing delicate emotions would well fit it.
- XIE was acted by Leslie CHEUNG 10 years ago. It is a role that great actors like John MALKOVICH and Colin FIRTH have played. Didn’t you feel pressure?
As a matter of fact, I felt sort of burdened when I heard CHEUNG had acted as him. But at the same time, I thought a character in one story could be portrayed differently. Each actor will have his own way to express characters, so I decided not to view another version before shooting because I didn’t want to be biased. I rather watched other versions later when I understood XIE’s personality and characteristics. I personally think the one released in 1988 with MALKOVICH in it was the most impressive.
- HUR is know as a director who gives very few directions. How was the relationship with him?
You are right. Even though I had already heard a lot about his working style beforehand, it was uncomfortable and awkward to work with him at first. It would have been much easier for me if he had told me to do this and that, but he is a type of director who discusses a lot with actors until they feel and understand what he wants. He asked me a number of questions while shooting. I think it was the process of finding answers.
- The level of nudity in Dangerous Liaisons is quite high. It was not hard to guess from the context that XIE raped a young girl although it was not explicitly described and he was relatives with a woman he seduces.
I had my mind totally open to nudity level at the first place. One of the reasons that this story has been constantly cinematized is because the emotions of the leading character stained with desire are attractive. Considering that the film is based on such a story, a certain degree of nudity was inevitable. How far XIE can go as a bad guy and how to portray extreme situations were very important settings.
- You spoke in foreign languages partially in The Promise
(2006) and My Way
(2011), but Dangerous Liaisons
is the first film you had to speak in Chines the whole time. What did you find the hardest to act speaking in Chinese?
When I received the scenario, I had about 2 weeks before the shooting started. The director said it would be to hard to speak in Chinese through the entire film. There were actually a couple of scenes I spoke in Korean, but ironically, I couldn’t express emotions well enough in Korean. So I covered all the scenes in Chinese, but the problem is that I was not capable to imitate the Chinese intonation no mater how perfect I memorized the lines.
- This was your second film with Cecilia CHEUNG after you met her in The Promise while you worked with ZHANG Ziyi for the first time. What was your impression of them?
It has been 7 years since I met CHEUNG last time. She looked like a little girl to me at that time, but she has grown up and become mature in the mean time. Having been through many things for the 7 years, she looked kind of sorrowful. She didn’t seem to falter easily by minute matters. Most of all, her acting was really good. Chinese people even said it was the very best acting of her entire career. ZHANG is a perfectionist. She takes pride in her filmography, which motivated me a lot.
- You have often been in co-production films like Warrior’s Way and My Way. What do you like about co-production?
I tried to be in as many co-produced films as possible partly because I can show myself to more fans. It means I can approach new audiences one step closer. At the same time, I find it strange and curious at the same time to work with staff in different language, emotions and culture aiming at one common goal, filmmaking. On the other hand, I have regrets sometimes.
- What do you feel regrets about?
It’s a matter of depth. Acting in a foreign language definitely forces me to have limits. Dangerous Liaisons helped me a lot to cope with such a problem. I think I expressed deep enough emotions acting in a foreign language. So I became more confident and I want to be more active in co-produced films.
- I heard you are very much interested in film production.
I’m only ‘interested’ in it at the moment, but I could make a film some day. When I am forced into a situation that I am physically not capable of playing a role I want, I would probably make a film. In a sense, I’m setting a future goal in the long life as an actor. I cannot imagine myself running a restaurant. I want to remain as a cineaste till the end of my life.