|Director E J-yong [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]|
E: Lee Mi-sook was supposed to suffer from depression, according to my original scenario -- an actress who is extremely plucky on the outside but someone who will wipe off the depressed look on her face right before she walks into the studio. The problem was that there was no gloominess to her face. (laugh) She's never actually suffered from depression before and when I asked her, "Didn't you just say you're depressed?" she said, "I just said it for the sake of it. I wouldn't actually say it if I really was." Of course, her looks and character probably got her whatever she wanted in her 20s and 30s. And now, she probably does feel frustrated over it not always happening anymore but I think there's an ongoing struggle about it within her. She'll let out her stress about aging by saying jokes like, "I'm developing a new medicine right now so call me later if you're interested." And she'll work out for five to six hours a day and eat her vitamins. It's not that she's not stressed about it -- she's the type that overcomes it by showing it on the outside. Yoon Yeo-jung seems to be coping with her aging by constantly calling herself "old lady" and "old actress" which will probably help her to objectify herself. It's as if she's telling everyone, "I know I'm old so don't go at me about it" before they say, "Why is she so old?"
Beck: So it's like when Yoon says in the movie, "Don't talk about skin in front of me"? I think everyone has their own form of mental therapy for aging since it's a natural phenomenon that they can't go against.
E: It'll be difficult to bear through without one because society is always mentioning actress' ages. People often wonder why Korea doesn't have actresses like Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Meryl Streep but the problem is within Korean society, not the talent of the actresses themselves. Once they pass a certain point and step down from stardom, people easily view them as 'done' which makes it difficult for them to maintain their great egos.
Beck: I think the we'd see a completely different sight if you made a similar movie with male actors. That we'd probably see peace being made according to their ranks? I think "Actresses" showed me that women make peace in a cool way.
E: Men tend to feel awkward about expressing themselves so I don't think the story would be as elaborate. If I got the chance to make a similar movie with actors, I think I'd want them to be of similar ages rather than from different age groups. Like Lee Byung-hun, Jang Dong-gun, Jung Woo-sung, Lee Jung-jae... Or maybe do a story about Hallyu stars. (laugh)
Beck: Do you really think it'll be possible to get them together like the actresses?
E: That I don't know. But I don't think I was able to get these actresses together because of the fact that they were women. It's because of who these actresses are. Some actresses said they're just scared of the fact that a group of actresses were getting together. And that's why there were quite a large number of actresses who weren't able to take part in this movie. Ultimately, the ones who did participate are the ones who refused to remain trapped in the stereotypical image of actresses.
Beck: "Actresses" reaffirmed the evident fact that films are mediums of record. The value it has in that it made a record of a gathering of this generation's top actresses and spoke of the truth about them to as close as possible.
E: They say in the movie, "Let's take a photo to celebrate us gathering here today on December 24, 2008." I think the two weeks they spent filming "Actresses" in June this year will be a memory they will cherish many years later. They too will change someday and some may even no longer be here. But I think this movie will be something they can open up and look back on, like a school yearbook. I think the actresses who took part in this movie will have also been healed in some ways.
E: I think it would be correct to say that the ones who were willing to speak up on behalf of all actresses took part in this movie rather than to say that I chose Korea's top six actresses. In any case, they talk about the things that all actresses have always wanted to say at least once.
Beck: How would you feel about shooting a film with these actresses again 10 years later? Like a reunion on the Christmas eve of 2018?
E: Ah! Should i really? I think it would be a good idea to try shooting a documentary then. Let's see... Yoon will be 73 by then. I'm quite curious to see how every will have changed.