[Interview] 'Pieta' star says she now has something to hold onto

Posted on : 2012-09-22 12:02 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
At 47, Cho Min-soo is old for a Korean actor, but riding the success of Pieta's victory in Venice

By Song Ho-jin, staff reporter

For actor Cho Min-soo, this year must be very special. She probably had the most success of any Korean actor, receiving rave reviews and praise not only in Venice but also at home. But Cho remains relaxed about it all. "Soon, Pieta will come down from the screen and it will be sooner or later forgotten and people no longer will be curious about me. So I will enjoy it, this whole situation, while I can," the Cho, 47, said.

The lead actress of Pieta, which won the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival, met with the Hankyoreh on Sept. 20. Cho began the conversation by saying that she walked like "an actor" with her chin up and shoulders straight in order to look confident and tall among the famous actors and celebrities in Venice. She laughed remembering the film festival.

She said that she can talk with affection about director Kim Ki-duk and the movie Pieta, but at first she had reservations about jumping into the role. "I was not very comfortable with Kim's movies. In movies like 'Bad Guy,' 'Island' or 'Time' women are victims. And there is nudity, much nudity. So I didn't really like his movies."

She was also concerned about working with a director that she was not familiar with; she was veteran enough to know that when there is no chemistry between actor and director, the work can be difficult. But she decided to meet him anyway, just to see. When she first met him, she recalled, "There was someone that looked like an eccentric." Contrary to what people imagine or say about Kim Ki-duk, being ferocious or challenging, Cho said that he did not seem like "a fighting cock so much."

Cho said that Kim told her that she was the first actor who agonized about a part in one of his movies for more than one week. Pieta is less violent and has less nudity than Kim's other movies. But Cho said that when she first got the script it was much more heavier and more intense. "I didn't think I could handle it. I told him that. And he said, 'let's just do it to a level you are comfortable with' and he adjusted it for me."

Cho wants to thank Kim Ki-duk for giving her the chance "to work with new material from what I was used to in the past."

She said, "There aren't too many roles that women my age can do. They all seem the same. But this role was different." And she added firmly "I will not play roles that aren't good or work that is not good. If he [Kim] tried to squeeze the same kind of role out of me again, I would not do it."

Cho Min-soo graduated from a vocational high school and first entered the entertainment business by doing a television commercial for 120 thousand won (about US$100). Her movie debut was 'Blue Jean Sketch' in 1986 but her public profile grew more through her television roles than movies.

"At the time I was at the peak of acting, the movies in Korea were becoming more erotic. Production companies were asking actresses to get breast enlargement surgeries. So I did not do movies. It was not a genre that I could get comfortable with. But by the time that passed and there was a new generation of movie directors, I had already become absent on the silver screen."

But she was not absent in Pieta. Her presence in the movie was as gigantic as it could have been expressed by Michelangelo's Mary. The spotlight that shone on this actress who first came to the silver screen 26 years ago and is now in her mid 40s is brighter than ever.

This spotlight, she said, is just something to remember. "Someone somewhere has given me something to remember, a memory to hold onto. 'Ah, that is the actor that went to Venice.' That's what will remain, I suppose," she smiled.

Please direct questions or comments to [englishhani@hani.co.kr]

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