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Dogged Cha Seung-won: Movie “Tears of Blood”

Posted April. 13, 2005 23:19,   


“He utters the funkiest of lines with a serious face. That’s why he’s so funny.”

That’s what the people in the movie business say about Cha Seung-won (35, photo).

Cha is finally trying his hand at a role that suits his serious facial feature although he has firmly established his image as a comical character in movies such as “Kick the Moon” and “Ghost House.” He stars in this historical thriller plotted in the 19th century Joseon Dynasty, “Tears of Blood,” as a very logical investigator Won-gyu. Director Kim Dae-seung, whose debut film “Bungee Jumping of Their Own” won both the box-office tickets and the hearts of the critics, took the megaphone for this film.

We met up with Mr. Kim and Mr. Cha at an Italian restaurant on Shinmun-ro, Jongro-gu in Seoul on April 12. Cha was taking the “Road Not Taken” at the peak of his career in comical acting while Kim was about to break the jinx of Korean cinema, in which not many managed to be successful in both their debut film and their second flick.

6’6” with the Headpiece… Tears of Blood is the Bout of My Life—

In the beginning of 2004, Ms. Kim Mi-hee, the representative of the producer of “Tears of Blood,” a Fun & Happiness Film, sought out Director Kim.

“Mr. Cha Seung-won is showing great interest in the main role.” “What? …I’ll think about it.”

Mr. Kim thought to himself, “She must be kidding.” “He’s over six feet with gaht (a traditional Korean headpiece for men). He can’t be in a historical piece.” Still, Mr. Kim watched all of Cha’s feature films, thinking highly of his enthusiasm. Only then did he realize how Cha became a star.

“His presence is superb. Usually, when we try to film someone after setting the camera, the angle will come out all wrong. But when Mr. Cha is in the frame, the angle is pronounced just by having him in it. His presence overpowers the screen and the artwork.”

Actor-Director Conflict and the Reconciliation over a Can of Coffee—

On the first day, they were filming a scene where Cha was having a conversation standing next to another character, Choi Jong-won, while he sat and ate watermelon. The director did not allow Cha to move even an inch on his own. One day, Cha asked the director to join him for a drink.

“Can’t you just leave me alone?” “No, I can’t.” “Why are you so hardheaded about this?” “I’m the director.” A few days later, Cha came for Mr. Kim with a can of coffee. They talked for four hours about their differences of opinions about the character Won-gyu and where they wanted to take this film to, ultimately resolving any acrimony.

Perfectionist… Never Seen Such a Dogged Person—

At a studio within the general filming station in Namyangju City, Gyeonggi Province, a re-shoot took place for two days for the parts that were found to be flawed during the simultaneous recording session. When director Kim went to the bathroom, thinking that was enough, Cha was in the booth yet again after convincing the recording engineer.

Also, Cha was acting a scene in which he had to drop from the second floor, even with his cracked ribs that he suffered after falling off of the horse during a shoot. The director gave him an okay, but Cha re-did the scene 10 more times, saying he didn’t fall hard enough. His ribs gave in and broke before he did.

“I’ve never seen such a determined person. I realized that was what he used to get to the top. Nothing beats a hard-working person.” (Director Kim)

“It’s just that I’m not good enough. I will be really hopeless if I don’t do as much.” (Cha Seung-won)

Even His Breath is Exquisite… I Should to Try a Melodramatic One with Him—

A scene from the end of the film in which Cha and a supporting actor, Park Yong-wu, are exchanging some heated lines with each other.

Director Kim is deeply inspired saying, “Mr. Seung-won can show even the delicate vibrations of the breath between the lines. Aside from his exquisite looks, he has this delicateness of the emotions as well.”

Cha never skipped his exercises while filming being afraid that any excess fat on his face may hide the delicate vibration of facial muscles from the camera. For that, the director says he wants to film a melodramatic flick with Cha.

Near the end of the interview, Cha spilled his beans saying, “I am nervous, to be honest.”

“When people just look at Cha Seung-won, they sense the ‘tension’ on the face. That’s what I made use of this time. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Opens on May 4. For 18 and older.

Dong-Yong Min mindy@donga.com