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[COUNTDOWN TO HISTORY] Lee Joon-Ik and Jung Jin-Young Talk to Cine21

- by X @ TwitchFilm

[Reproduced herein with kind permission from X and Twitchfilm]


junglee.jpgIt made stars overnight, it entertained people of all target demographics, it caused controversies over alleged plagiarism. It even brought to the mainstream a trend which was slowly evolving in the last few months, that of 'cross-sexual' fashion. A longer International version is being prepared, and foreign companies are already inquiring about the film, with distribution sales expected to reach very high figures. All Lee Joon-Ik's sensation 왕의 남자 (The King and The Clown) needs to do now is hold its 'breath' for another day or two. Distributors Cinema Service announced the film sold a total of 11,616,067 tickets as of March 2, with just over 100,000 tickets remaining to beat the current holder of the record, Kang Je-Gyu's 태극기 휘날리며 (Taegukgi). The company expects the film to become the most successful Korean film of all time by March 5, and netizens rewarded it once again, pushing it near the top of pre-order sales along with Kim Dae-Woo's 음란서생 (Forbidden Quest), which is close to the 1.5 Million mark.

Of course all the people involved in the making of one of the biggest success stories in Korean Cinema history have been busy with their new projects: Director Lee is preparing his new film 라디오 스타 (Radio Star), a very promising bittersweet comedy pairing Ahn Sung-Gi and Park Joong-Hoon together for the first time since Lee Myung-Se's 인정사정 볼것 없다 (Nowhere To Hide); Lee Joon-Gi is already enjoying his first leading role, starring alongside Lee Moon-Shik in the human Drama 플라이, 대디, 플라이 (Fly, Daddy, Fly); Gam Woo-Sung will soon debut with the TV Drama 연애시대 (Alone in Love) with Son Ye-Jin, and Jung Jin-Young will soon join the huge cast of the Fusion Drama 태왕사신기 (The Four Gods) as they start the long awaited shoot.

But two of the people who made this incredible story possible, Director Lee Joon-Ik and star Jung Jin-Young, took time out of their busy schedules to say a few words about the film's success and their working relationship. The two first met on the set of the 2001 comedy 달마야 놀자 (Hi, Dharma), with Jung playing the role of the Buddhist Monk, and Lee acting as producer for his company Cineworld. The two joined hands once again in the 2003 Fusion Drama 황산벌 (Once Upon a Time in the Battlefield), and later in the sequel to the 2001 gangster comedy, 달마야 서울가자 (Hi, Dharma 2). But it was with last year's Historical Drama that they made the biggest impact. This time as a Director, Lee, and as Prince Yeonsan, Jung. Director Lee often calls Jung his own 'persona', just like what Marcello Mastroianni represented for Federico Fellini, Robert DeNiro for Martin Scorsese, Mifune Toshiro for Kurosawa Akira, and man-sized monster costumes for Shim Hyung-Rae. As a way to congratulate them for doing so much with so little (4.3 Billion Won, peanuts compared to other Korean blockbusters), and waiting for the new record, here's a few highlights from a recent interview with Cine21:


Director Lee Joon-Ik: It was while doing casting for 달마야 놀자 (Hi, Dharma). When I was looking at possible casting choices for Monk Cheong-Myung, most people told me Jung would be perfect. Especially Park Shin-Yang, who worked with him in 약속 (A Promise), strongly recommended him. But then he called me politely saying he wouldn't do it (laughs). So I just told him we'd talk it over, and I went looking for him.
Jung Jin-Young: I wasn't that kind, but honestly I just misunderstood the entire film at the beginning. I was like... 'now are you even using Monks to do business?', I felt it was too much to take. But that was because I didn't know they'd deal with the issue with such sincerity. Then the guy comes to my house to have a cup of coffee, and I just planned to meet him and politely refuse. The first thing which caught my eye when we met was he drove a red [Hyundai] Sonata. That's not the kind of car you expect a film company president to drive...
Lee: That was something we used in Jang Jin's 간첩 리철진 (The Spy). Some used car which cost, like, 700,000 Won or something?
Jung: But then I hear this guy talking, and he surprises me even more. He started talking endlessly about all sorts of things: 아나키스트 (Anarchists) [2000 film produced by Lee, written by Park Chan-Wook and directed by Yoo Young-Shik], left wing politics, Shin Chae-Ho [a famous national hero, journalist and historian during the Japanese Colonial Period], 'The Spy' and 선택 (The Road Taken). You know, I felt strange, as if he was some kind of genius, and certainly that they weren't going to exploit monks to make a film.
Lee: Anyway, you gave a rough look at the script before. I just came to convince you, to give it another chance, and said later I would meet you at the office. Then that day, without saying a word, he asks me to play a little baduk [a traditional Korean board game]. Then, go figure, we start playing, and suddenly out of the blue he tells me he gave it another read, and liked it. That's when we decided to work together.


Jung: Now that I think about it, when I shot 'Hi, Dharma' I was really happy, probably because I had to carry the kind of spirit Monk Cheong-Myung showed in the film. It really changed me. But 'The King and The Clown' was just mentally draining, and the aftershock was huge. I think I became a little like Yeonsan. At the end, I just kept throwing up after eating, and I had to get treatment.
Lee: When we shot 'Battlefield' I lacked just about everything. I debuted with 키드 캅 (Kid Cop) without knowing a single thing about this profession, and here I am, back in the game ten years later and giving veteran actors directions. It was all a lie, I was rather relying on the actors, and made decisions based on their input. People like Jung Jin-Young showed me how to direct actors, and it was the same with Park Joong-Hoon. I mean, it was obvious a young director like me would learn from actors who've been in this business for 20 years.
Jung: Come on, now you're praising me too much. 'Battlefield' wasn't really the type of film which needed relying on actors that much. Since it felt like you were debuting, there were a lot of risks involved. But you did really well, and adapted faster as you kept going. Still, we shouldn't compare it to 'The King and The Clown'. That's a whole different story.


Lee: Fundamentally, I see all actors as the director's persona. They're the mouthpieces and models of the director's worldview, the keep intact the line with the writer, that's what we call persona. Calling Jung Jin-Young my 'persona' is just the culmination of my arrogance. He doesn't share with me the kind of filmography you'd associate with a director's 'persona'. But then what should I call it? Inspiration, mutual understanding? That's what we share. Being a persona is being able to understand what the director wants, and show it on screen. Just the fact he proved that is intriguing, and I enjoy it.
Jung: That's just an embellishment, you know. Persona? Whatever... we just like to work together...
Lee: I guess he doesn't like it. Then you can write it as my one sided-love for him (laughs).
Jung: That's not what I mean. I'm thankful for those words. To be honest, our personalities are really different. But there's something that's identical: we both are not mainstream, and we don't think of becoming so. But then again we are people outside the mainstream, who don't just easily ignore or avoid mainstream on purpose. We both want to try new things, we don't like taking the easy way out, and constantly need to improve.
Lee: There might be people asking me if I think I'm mainstream now that 'The King and The Clown' passed the 10 Million tickets, but there's no burden about that, really. Mainstream is like a constant struggle to kick the ball inside the goal, and many times you just hit the post. But it feels like I just happened to be in front of that ball, and gave it a kick with all my strength. Turns out it went in, beat the competition and suddenly made me MVP. Isn't it?

[Sources: Cine21, Yonhap News]


Original Link : (Posted by X at March 3, 2006 04:51 AM)



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