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Kim Hye-soo is Eleventh Mom

Posted November. 20, 2007 03:03,   


A woman with bad health and a broken bank account lived just to pity herself, until she met a young boy who had it worse than she did.

The woman is the 11th mother for the boy, whose stepmothers had come and gone after the death of his real mother. Eleventh Mom, to be released on November 29, is a film about the bonding between a stepmother and stepson, each of whom insists they are more pathetic. The mother is played by actress Kim Hye-soo.

During the filming of The War of Flower, Kim accidentally came across a script that was originally meant for another actress. Kim Jin-seong, director of the movie Eleventh Mom, was brainstorming for a low-budget film under 500 million won at that time, but didn’t have a specific production plan. Kim then politely suggested herself as the female lead even while thinking, “Production won’t be easy.” As luck would have it, she was given the part. Ryu Seung-ryong and Hwang Jeong-min joined the cast, and Kim Yeong-chan, who played Kim Jeong-eun’s young cousin in Lovers in Paris, jumped on board. Investment started rolling in; though the film remains a low-budget movie at 1.8 billion won, it started off with nothing else but hope.

“Hollywood actors don’t always star in blockbusters. It’s just that only the blockbusters are shown here in Korea. A-list stars like Nicole Kidman and Kevin Spacey appear in independent films as well. If I really want to work on something… even if the money’s not that good, good experiences can be just as valuable. And I’m thirsty for some good projects.”

Now that she doesn’t feel the need to be “pretty,” Kim says she needs to broaden her scope as an actress, and that she’s been given her chance. In Shim’s Family, she scratches her head and yawns as a jobless thirty-something woman, and in this movie, she plays an ill woman with a yellowish cast who snatches a food ticket from a boy on welfare and curses as she buys her own food.

“If I get made up I look fabulous, but when I’m at home I’m not like that. If I don’t talk to people, they wouldn’t recognize me. Now that I’ve been in this business for so long, people can notice me by hearing my voice.”

The woman she plays is the lowest of the low, who has let her life rot after being abandoned by everybody. Kim says, “People have loved me and have been interested in me since I was a child. Doing this movie I felt that everybody has their difficulties, but each of us selfishly wants everyone to acknowledge our hardships.” She admitted she knew someone who fit this description.

Kim has played a mother before, but this time her mother role is unique. She says instead of portraying maternal love, she focused on how two alienated people can become closer. “The characters have been neglected for so long that whenever someone shows affection, they become defensive. They desperately want to be loved, but don’t know how to react because they haven’t had any experience with it. They’re also instinctively afraid of being hurt again.” The two main characters in the movie give each other the cold shoulder at first when the other shows interest.

Kim, 37, debuted as a child actress and has now been in the business for 22 years. In contrast with the charisma she exudes on screen, she is at ease these days. She kept repeating throughout the interview, “Maybe it’s because I’ve been in the business for so long.” She has indeed shown herself to the audience for a long time. And now, past her twenties, which she says “oppressed her,” and into her thirties, she is very comfortable in her skin. Even while filming five movies in two years, she has not lost her leisurely air. “A couple of years ago, I didn’t have much confidence. But now if I want to do something, I just do it.”