Actor Kim Tae-ri is learning to let go

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Actor Kim Tae-ri is learning to let go

Actor Kim Tae-ri. [NETFLIX]

Actor Kim Tae-ri. [NETFLIX]

Actor Kim Tae-ri is willing to step into every genre the Korean movie industry has to offer and she's made no exception for the latest offering — sci-fi. 
 
After she debuted with the title “an actor chosen by veteran director Park Chan-wook” in the 2016 film “The Handmaiden,” she's gone from strength to strength, starring in successful movies and TV dramas such as the 2018 drama “Mister Sunshine” and 2017 film “Little Forest.” 
 
Most recently, Kim starred in “Space Sweepers,” released last month through Netflix.  
 
“I was happy and so nervous [throughout the promotional events for the movie],” so I was very jumpy each time,” said Kim during the interview with Ilgan Sports, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily.
 
“I’m thankful that we received such a warm welcome with the movie. Whenever the actors and staff who worked on the movie get together, we celebrate on our own.”
 
“Space Sweepers” tells the story of humans trying to make a new home on another planet after the Earth deteriorates. Kim plays Captain Jang who leads a group of space pirates throughout the universe. Below are the edited excerpts of the interview.  
 
 
Q. Do you think the decision to release the movie through Netflix actually worked in its benefit?
A. It is true we waited for too long. The movie was already ready to come out, but we were uncertain about how much longer we needed to wait until it was shown to the audience. So, I like that the movie finally get to be seen through Netflix. I also like the fact that not only the fans in Korea but also those overseas could watch the movie right away.  
  
Why do you think global fans will like this particular genre of movie made in Korea?
I think what intrigued me will also grab the attention of movie fans overseas. The movie is very Korean. When you think about the sci-fi genre, many instantly think something white and silver and something very cold and serious. But this movie's content is incorporated with ideas that come with Korean culture. Even the family stories are very Korean. Also, the characters in the movie wear clothes that are torn everywhere and eat food that those on earth eat. The little props used added to what makes the movie feel Korean.  
  
What was it like to play a character whose personality seems much different from the ones you had played before?
It was quite a challenge as even I wasn’t able to picture myself as that character. I met with the director, and heard about the world he had set up and the scenes he was specifying. Then I got to understand the outline of the character. The director told me, “someone with your face playing the character would create even more synergy,” which was not following a sort of cliché look, so I gave him my trust and followed. The director took care of even the very little details. He showed the image of captain Jang after he was done making 2D images and it was very similar to the look of the character in the final version of the movie. But he asked me to choose my own hairstyle, and as I was browsing my old photo book, I liked the look of my hair all pulled back, not touching my face. So I went with it.  
  
How did you analyze your character?
I thought Captain Jang was someone that understands working for the greater good. She has a greater belief that doesn’t show in any other characters. While other characters might show how they have grown as the movie plays out, Captain Jang knows from the very beginning what she is supposed to do.
  
A scene from movie "Space Sweepers." [NETFLIX]

A scene from movie "Space Sweepers." [NETFLIX]

What was it like to be the main female character in the movie?
I got that question a lot, but honestly, I never thought about it. I never made any decisions on how to play the character based on the idea that she is the only woman in the movie. I just thought we are all the same and have all been put in this situation. 
 
How did it feel to be in the first sci-fi movie made in Korea?  
I found it difficult. When I went to the set, there was literally nothing around me. I wasn’t sure whether I was doing things right. Then I heard actor Yoo Hae-jin saying he had no idea what he was doing, and I felt relieved to know that I am not the only one. Filming was so tough and difficult, but now when I watch the final version of the movie, there are some scenes I wish I had shown bigger reactions in. Although I have some regrets, it was a good experience.
 
Isn’t the movie “Alien” you are filming right now also in the sci-fi genre?
That’s why I feel so thankful for "Space Sweepers." As the Korean movie scene is shaping itself with this new genre at the moment, I got to be in two movies of that genre. I really wholeheartedly feel that I am so fortunate.
  
Do you have your own rules when it comes to choosing what work to do?
I look at how the character I might play thinks and moves within the scenes. At first, I try to be logical and see what looks good and what looks bad. But in the end, I think my heart wins over my brain. If I feel like doing the particular work no matter what, then I choose it.  
 
Since your debut, all your movies have been well-received. Does that feel like a burden for you?
I really didn’t feel any burden. And that’s how I felt when I was filming “The Handmaiden” or even after the filming was over. I was very much aware of the fact that I wouldn’t do everything so well and how I would need to have the help of many others for my next work. So nothing felt too burdensome when I did “Little Forest” and “1987.” I was much more stressed analyzing the characters and setting my own direction of how to act rather than feeling any pressure from others. But when I was doing this movie, I felt a burden from the outside. Honestly, I felt a lot of pressure. I even wondered why I was cast for the role. Since this was released through Netflix, we still don’t know how many audience members the movie garnered, but I really felt a big burden.
 
Do you still feel that way?
I think I am learning to let go. Thinking about this is not getting me anywhere, so I end up just coming to the conclusion that I have done my best. Things that I have done before and analyzing the scenes and characters is what is more important.  
  
What makes you charming in your opinion?
Maybe because I am comfortable, maybe because I am honest, or maybe because I don’t embellish myself too much? (Laughs) I am embarrassed so I won’t say more.  
 
BY CHO YEON-GYEONG   [kjdculture@joongang.co.kr]
 
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