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[Drama 2019] The Light In Your Eyes, 눈이 부시게

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The three strong women of Dazzling. Grandma, mother, daughter-in-law.. all Baeksang award winners. Well done and well deserved Ms. Lee! yes.gif


June 22, 2019


Lee Jung-eun is always up for a challenge
‘Parasite’ star has made a career out of scene-stealing roles in film and television


Source: INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily


Lee Jung-eun, who plays a housekeeper in Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite,” has appeared in countless films, TV dramas and plays throughout her 28-year acting career. Clockwise from top are her appearances in the movies “Parasite” (2019), “Another Child” (2019), “The Attorney” (2013) and the JTBC drama “The Light in Your Eyes” (2019). Lee will play a leading role in OCN’s upcoming thriller series “Hell is Other People.” [CJ ENTERTAINMENT, JTBC, NEW, SHOWBOX]

There are many moments in “Parasite” that make the movie a thriller, but the scene where housekeeper Moon-gwang eerily peers into the video intercom screen on a rainy day is probably what keeps moviegoers up at night. 


Yet Lee Jung-eun, the veteran actress who plays the scene-stealer in this year’s Palme d’Or winner, was worried that she wouldn’t be able to pull off the role when she first received the offer to star in Bong Joon-ho’s newest project. 


“I have a cute image, so I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to be scary,” she told the JoongAng Ilbo, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily, during an interview earlier this month. 


Throughout her 28-year acting career, Lee has starred in countless films, dramas and plays, taking on roles that transcend genre, time periods and species. She has played a Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) maidservant in the historical romance drama series “Mister Sunshine” (2018) and voiced the role of a genetically modified pig in the 2017 science fiction movie “Okja,” which was her second film with Bong after “Mother” (2009). 


Although she usually plays minor roles, Lee has received critical acclaim for her appearances, most recently snatching the Best Supporting Actress prize at the 55th Baeksang Arts Awards for her role in drama “The Light in Your Eyes” (2019). Having proved her capacity to scare in “Parasite,” Lee’s now getting ready to star in a leading role in OCN’s upcoming thriller series “Hell is Other People,” where she will play a suspicious landlord.


The following are edited excerpts from the interview, where Lee discussed “Parasite” and her colorful acting career. 


Q. This is your third time working with Bong. How were your previous encounters with him? 


A. I met Bong after my third audition for “Mother.” Even though my role was really small, Bong paid a lot of attention and that encouraged me to work even harder. After some time had passed, Bong appeared one day with Won Bin and Song Sae-byeok to watch my performance in the musical “Laundry.” After the show ended, he stood up and started clapping, leading the rest of the audience to give a standing ovation. I think he got the idea to cast me as “Okja” from hearing my voice then. I prepared a lot for “Okja” and tried to imitate the sounds of similar animals. Bong told me that I tried very hard, and suggested that we do more strange things in the future. 


How did you get the offer to star in “Parasite”?


On the day of the film preview for “Okja,” Bong told me to empty my schedule for the next year and handed me a piece of paper with the storyboard for “Parasite.” It showed Moon-gwang leaning against the wall like she was pushing something. When Bong told me it was going to be fun and weird, I got the urge to challenge myself. I read the full script last May before filming and I really liked it. 


Was the intercom scene the first thing you shot for the movie? 


It was the second. Before that, I filmed the scene where I get fired. People tell me they were scared by the intercom scene, but I actually expected it to be funny. Friends who have seen the movie tell me it reminds them of when I‘m drunk. 


What did you do to prepare for the role of Moon-gwang?


I’ve been to a similar home of a wealthy family, and the housekeepers there are really graceful, almost to the point that it’s difficult to distinguish them from the actual homeowner. They all drive nice cars and read books in their free time. I guess this behavior may be requested as part of their job, and that’s what Bong ordered me to do as well. 


In “Parasite” I throw disapproving glances at young Ki-woo when he comes to the Parks’ home for the tutoring job interview, even though my character is in the position of living off the family. I still get excited when I see that scene. 


You’ve worked before with Park Myung-hoon, who plays your character’s husband in “Parasite.” How was acting with him again? 


We first met at the premiere for the play “Liar” in 2005. We were surprised by the casting choice for this movie. We discussed a lot about what a couple without children may be like. 


How did you first get into acting?


My mom told me that I don’t really look like an actor, but I enjoyed dancing and singing in front of people. Park Kwang-jung asked me to help him with a theater production in Daehangno[, central Seoul, in the 1990s]. I made a deal with him that if I helped him out with three productions, he would cast me as an actor. 


What is your philosophy when it comes to acting? 


I generally try to be cheerful during filming. Even when I have a concern, I only express it after I fulfill my responsibilities. I also try to act like the cameras are rolling during rehearsals. I think I’ve learned how to empty myself a bit. I enjoy taking on whatever roles that come my way and contributing to good stories. People say that I was a good actor in “Parasite,” but my role had already been set up that way. It’s the directors and writers that make the projects what they are. Actors only add a bit of creativity. I want to be like Chow Yun-fat. I like how he just lives a regular life, taking the subway and mixing with the public. I would be happy to just have fans occasionally recognize me on the street and ask for a picture. 


BY NA WON-JEONG [kim.eunjin1@joongang.co.kr]


Photo: CINE21





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