[ENTERTAINMENT]Actor Grabs Hollywood Breakthrough

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[ENTERTAINMENT]Actor Grabs Hollywood Breakthrough

Park Jung-hun, the first Korean actor to win a significant role in a major Hollywood movie, returned to Korea this week after shooting the movie in Paris. Park, 35, looked composed but focused as he talked about the film in which he worked with Jonathan Demme, director of "The Silence of the Lambs." Actors in the movie included Tim Robbins and Mark Wahlberg (who Park said was the only one to call him Park Jung-hun instead of Jung-hun Park).

Filmed on a budget of $50 million, "The Truth About Charlie" is a remake of the 1963 thriller "Charade," starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. Park plays a Korean-American solider, Lee Il-sang - a name the actor gave himself and which he took from his father. Though he has only a supporting role, Park appears in a third of the scenes in the movie. Park said he had a hard time at first meeting Demme's expectations. Park arrived in Paris rather behind schedule, having come from shooting another movie, and felt unprepared. Park also had the extra difficulty of making himself understood in English, which made matters worse. Another shock, he said, was the lack of recognition he received outside Korea. "On the set, everyone looked coldly at me, as if they were worried that this Asian actor would screw the movie up."

It did not take long for Park, who quickly adopted an attitude that he had "nothing to lose," to find a breakthrough. He was filming a scene in which he cries at the death of his coworker. "I was so desperate to prove myself that I resorted to thinking about when my father passed away," Park remarked. His work in the scene left both the director and scriptwriter in tears.

But prior to that scene, Park's stubbornness as actor verged on stupidity. He was seriously injured after shooting one scene in which he tumbles down a flight of stairs with Wahlberg, but Park made no fuss and just went back to his room for some painkillers. Park describes this not as stubborn, but "steadfastly determined."

Park's strong will paid off when Demme asked him at the end of filming to take a role in his next movie. Park said of that invitation: "I asked him for more lines then, please." Demme has said he would like to make a film in the same style as the Korean action thriller, "Injeong Sajeong Bol Geot Eopda" ("Nowhere to Hide").

There is a big difference in atmosphere between Hollywood and its Korean equivalent, Chungmuro, Park added, and he pointed not to quality of acting but to filming environment. Though his role in "The Truth About Charlie" was relatively minor, he had seven, and sometimes more, assistants. This allowed him to focus entirely on acting. "Watching a director work unconstrained by budget made me feel envious," Park said.

But he does not forget his debt to Chungmuro. "Well, I shouldn't complain, after all, I owe so much to the Korean movie industry."

by Shin Yong-ho

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