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Suae Sounds Off on Her Role in “Family”

Posted August. 25, 2004 22:07,   


“Misfortune specialist,” “Queen of tears,” “Little Jeong Yoon-hee.”

Suae (Park Su-ae, 24, photo) is making her feature film debut in “Family,” which recounts the love-hate relationship between a pickpocket daughter with four prior convictions and her ex-cop father. When people think of Suae, they always picture her face marked by tears; they remember the calamity and hurt she embodied in TV dramas like “Love Letter,” “Merry-Go-Round,” and “April Kiss.”

“Family” is also a determined tearjerker of a movie. We met with Suae at a café on Sejong-ro, Seoul on August 20 to talk about her role.

● “I thought about my dad often during the shoot”

“How does it look?”

“It’s cool and stylish!”

The exchange occurs before a shoot, between Juhyun (63), in the role of Ju-seok, and Suae, who plays his daughter Jeong-eun. Juhyun asks the question after having his head shaved to portray his leukemia-inflicted character. Although she is simultaneously shocked, awestruck, and grateful that an actor with so much seniority in the business (Juhyun is over 60 years old) has taken this drastic step for the good of the picture, her response pops with a distinctively youthful sensibility.

She confesses that her own father’s face often overlapped with Ju-seok’s throughout the filming of the movie.

● “I caused Dad a lot of distress by setting my mind on an acting career”

“I constantly told my mom that I loved her, but I never managed to say those words to my dad. It’s not that I didn’t love him, but…”

One day, her father—who had always felt distant and uncomfortable for her—suddenly looked small, old, and worn out.

“I happened to glance at my dad’s face while wolfing down breakfast one morning in the ninth grade, and was amazed to see so many lines etched into his face.”

This particular daughter was never much interested in studying. She often tormented her father with her “extracurricular” ambitions—to join a dance group, to become an actress, and so on. The most recent acts of filial devotion that she could recall included making him a home-cooked meal about 10 days ago, and buying him hiking shoes “for his health.” But these days, her father is the one that always tapes the TV dramas that his “prodigal” daughter stars in.

● “I was fighting back tears all through the shoot”

Suae made the decision to take the role in “Family” upon her first reading of the screenplay—after shedding copious tears over it.

“On TV shows, I cried because I was torn between two men. But this film has no ‘men’ in it besides the father and a younger brother. My character, Jeong-eun, cries over the misfortunes of her family, but she’s independent and strong. The tears she sheds are of a different shade, so to speak.”

However, the shoot was a constant struggle against the urge to cry: the director, Lee Jeong-cheol, had asked the actors to be frugal with their own tears, as the film itself was heavily saturated with sorrow.

“My eyes were dry, but I’d cried so much on the inside that my whole chest felt hollow and echo-y.”

● “I don’t look pretty onscreen, but that’s okay”

Tackling her first movie made her give up her desire to look attractive. To reflect the tough and hardheaded character of Jeong-eun, she never even used lipstick, let alone eye make-up. She couldn’t even wear a skirt.

“I don’t come across as very pretty onscreen. It upset me at first, but now I’m indifferent.”

Suae, who considers her ears to be her best feature, is far more attractive in real life.

“Seol Gyeong-gu’s ‘Oasis’ and Maggie Cheung’s ‘Comrades: Almost a Love Story’ are the two best movies I’ve ever seen. I want to convey a character’s inner world with as much intensity as they do.”

“Family” opens on September 3. For audiences 15 and over.

Gab-Sik Kim dunanworld@donga.com