[Interview] Soo Ae Praises ′The Flu′, Jang Hyuk and Kim Sung Soo
When you think of Soo Ae, the words ′calm′, ′elegant′ and ′graceful′ first come to mind. The images attached to this actress are mostly still and static, but these days she′s been trying to break through them and pull out some new sides to herself.
In the film The Flu, Soo Ae puts on a completely new image. She appears as In Hae, a single mother who works as a doctor in the division of infectious diseases. She tries to cure the many patients inflicted with the problematic virus, and at the same time find a vaccine for her daughter Mir (Park Min Ha).
In the process Soo Ae becomes a new woman.
A scene in the beginning of the film, in which she bickers with Jang Hyuk as if they were in a romantic comedy, actually fit Soo Ae pretty well also.
"I got along so well with Jang Hyuk. I want to try being in a romantic comedy some day. I agreed with Jang Hyuk to join him in one if one ever comes around."
The two actors grew really close through The Flu. They actually found they resembled each other a lot, as they were both serious yet mischievous at the same time.
Soo Ae kept pouring out praise for Jang Hyuk.
"Jang Hyuk is really considerate. He treats everyone, not only the actors, the same way. He′s a different person from how he looks. I had never met him in person before, and he turned out to be more humane than I expected him to be. He tried to understand and find solutions to any complaints or misunderstandings his costar had. Of course in acting you have to work with other people, but usually actors believe they have their own roles nevertheless. Jang Hyuk, however, tried to share everything he found. He was a big help."
During this interview with Soo Ae, Jang Hyuk, who had also been talking at an interview session nearby, dropped in.
He put up his thumb, and said in praise, "There′s no other actress like her."
The way they kept praising each other with a few jokes scattered here and there showed how warm the mood was on set.
"The mood on set was great. I enjoyed myself so much I could forget how tired I felt. We grew closer together because we beared the hot weather and from the difficulties that followed the genre of the film together."
This disaster film was a new type of challenge for Soo Ae. She had appeared in her pieces as a woman with Alzheimer′s, a pure woman and an evil one, so her decision to take up a disaster film actually came unexpectedly.
"I always liked such genres. I′ve watched every disaster film produced in Korea. I chose to be in The Flu because of my curiosity toward the genre. It was exciting to think I could be the lead in such an interesting topic, and it was also interesting how it covered the reactions of ordinary people in such situations."
The Flu, however, was different from other disaster films. It took something from everyday life and made it into a disaster, and expressed it in a unique way also.
"The Flu is different from other films in that it covers the most humane and realistic reactions from people. I hope the film will be taken as a realistic and candid film."
Because the film tried to be realistic in its depictions of people′s reactions, In Hae′s decisions may look selfish in the eyes of some. Her decisions, however, are actually the most realistic and natural decisions that come to people in such situations. Soo Ae persuaded her audience to understand why she acted this way through her character.
"It would have been different if In Hae had been selfish for herself, but [I was able to persuade] because she was selfish for her family, for a helpless child. In Hae made those decisions when everyone else had lost their strength to move on to protect her child. I believe that′s what makes her the most realistic."
It would′ve been hard for an actress who′s not even married yet to express maternal love, but Soo Ae tried to draw from how she feels toward her own parents.
"I referred to the feelings running between me and my family. I don′t know much about maternal love, but I thought they would all be on the same plane. Everyone feels the same desperation. I tried to think of how I communicate with my own parents."
She also said she depended a lot on director Kim Sung Soo. It was perhaps because directors are like mothers when it comes to film.
"I needed help because maternal love was a difficult concept to approach. That′s why I received a lot of help from the director. He later told me that I asked him so many questions during filming."
It was her first piece with director Kim Sung Soo, but Soo Ae′s trust ran strong.
When asked what she would say if Kim Sung Soo asked her to join him for his next film, she immediately said, "That would be great."
"I think he′ll do another masculine film next... (Laugh) I think he would do good with feminine films too because he′s really understanding and open. I hope he comes up with a lot of female characters. It would be great to join him in his next piece."
Photo credit: Kim Byung Kwan