“Decline as a model, rise as an actress”
was an issue maker at the 14th Jeonju International Film Festival
). It was sold out in just 32 seconds after online booking started and won the CGV Movie Collage Award. Here is a conversation with RIE Young-zin
, the actress who played the protagonist struggling to get away from her guilt in the film about grief.
- What made you join the film?
My role was not fixed when I first received the scenario. So I focused on the drama rather than characters. As I felt sad about Gi-ok, I started empathizing with her.
- Specifically how did you feel?
Her friend dies although she never wanted it to happen, then she is agonized when she feels close to the her dead friend’s boy friend. I heard other actresses considered Gi-ok as an unfavorable character after reading the script. Yet I could understand her. She is just a girl struggling to survive. At the same time, she is in deep pain because she is confused about whether to forgive herself or not. In the end, she decides to stand and live a hard life, which is probably what makes readers think she is a weird girl. (Laughs)
- The scene where she fought with Cha-gyeong’s elder sister in the rain after a quarrel about Cha-gyeong's death looked very desperate.
It really was. That was the most intense fight I ever had. (Laughs) It was really cold when shooting the scene. After the hustle In the water spray dropped from a sprinkler truck, my entire body was stiff. Later, I figured out that I lost a handful of hair. I solely depended on my mental strength to barely complete the scene. (Laughs)
- Each of the characters in the film eventually admits their friend is not there any more and starts a new life. Does it stimulate you in any way?
I have always thought that grief is meant to wear out somehow. I know what the sense of loss feels like because I lost father at an early age. Some people break up with partners and others have to let go of beloved pet dogs in the end. But when such a sad thing happens, we cannot sit down and cry till the end of the world. I think this film is consolation for grief. Let’s say a loss leaves a hole in heart. The hole might not shrink over time, but we can at least have the ability to decide its size.
- Have you gone through any similar experience recently?
A close person passed away lately, I knew him since childhood. I was very sad and felt empty because he worked so hard through his life. I think it is good to work hard and enjoy what I like because you only get one chance at life. This idea has to do with the theme of this film in a way. We need to look for delight in something minute and try not to be stressed out. I used to getstress from caring too much about what others thought about me, but I’m more free from it now.
- Other than acting what makes you happy?
Teaching students does. I have worked as an adjunct professor at the Paekche Institute of the Arts for four years. At first, I doubted if I could teach them, but I enjoy working now. I have been a fashion model for 17 years, and I think it is about time that I start declining as a model. However, I don’t think I’m merely going down because I can teach what I have learned to others.
- People say a model has a short career. What is the secret that kept you going for 17 years?
I always tell students that it is important how you debut as a model, but not as much as how to maintain the position. Establishing a firm identity as a model and improving yourself are crucial. Everyone needs to have their own strength.
- Is acting your own strength then?
When on a photo shoot, I sometimes need to be dramatic. In such cases, my acting experience makes me strong. I am not very happy when people see me only as a model sinceI have acted for quite a while.
- KONG Hyo-jin acted with you in your debut film Memento Mori in 1999 and LEE Yo-won appeared in A.F.R.I.K.A with you in 2001. Now they play lead roles.
I am not jealous. I think jealousy only offends my feelings, but I’m not that ype of person. (Laughs) I simply find it interesting to see my old colleagues having established their unique paths as actresses. One day, director YANG Ik-june
said to me, “You have a unique path. Most actors start acting with independent films and then act in commercial movies, but in your case, it seems to be the other way around.” I’m at the stage of widening my stride. I don’t want to distinguish between independent films and commercial movies. Now that I am stepping back as a model, I can rise as an actor in return. I want to try to play various characters in many different films.
- What kind of role do you want to play?
I think I can handle a comic character well. I am ready to look silly! (Laughs)
- Any plans for marriage?
Not yet. Marriage is way too far from me now. I started living alone not long ago. At the moment I want to enjoy living alone with my pet puppy.
Photographed by KIM Gyeong-bin