|Director E J-yong [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]|
E J-yong (E): I actually didn't start this movie with the grand idea of making a film which can speak on behalf of all actresses. I just wanted to share my story about actresses with the audience. Yoon Yeo-jung once said, "If you look at the Chinese characters for the word 'actor', it actually means that they are people who are not really humans but make people sad." A job where after a certain point, you start losing popularity, you age, but have to continuously compete with your looks and acting skills. And that whole process is shown in its entirety to the public. I think that's why their lives cannot help being entirely different from normal men or women.
Beck: Who provided you with the most inspiration to start the film?
E: I met up with Yoon and Ko Hyun-joung often while taking a break from filmmaking. And they were great fun. Ko in particular -- I bet you there is nobody like her out of all the men and women in this world. I realized that actresses are people who really have a lot to say.
Beck: So much that it would be a waste to watch alone? (laugh)
E: That's right. The actresses who appeared in this film, or who said they would appear in the film, are those who deviate quite a lot from the typical idea I myself or the public have of actresses. In other words, they are actresses who are not like actresses. We usually think they'll be goddess-like, are mystical and would be sensitive or have outrageously nervous temperaments. But these people broke a lot of the preconceptions I had about actresses.
Beck: "Actresses" seemed closer to a nature documentary shot by a director who has been observing creatures called 'actresses' for a long time, rather than being a film with a dramatic story centered around them. When did you first start thinking of making such a movie?
E: This wasn't exactly the picture I had in mind in the beginning. I had been wondering how it would be to shoot a noir film where the main characters are all female. The men are usually always the main character and the women the femme fatale so I wanted to see what would happen if I flip that around. "Actresses" started from a spontaneous idea but I think it has ended up being the film I have always wanted to make in its totality.
Beck: You were probably an admirer of actresses too, before you became a filmmaker. Who is the first actress you ever noticed?
E: The first person who made me think 'She is a real actress' was Lee Mi-sook although of course, there were many great actresses before her time. I was amazed at how well she could act when she is so pretty. And she seemed to be someone who constantly goes for new roles rather than maintain a certain image. I was young but I still thought she was great. And I was psyched when I got to shoot my debut film with her!
E: You're right. That's what it is. The setting in the original scenario was a theater play. But like you say, the words that pop up when you think of actresses are 'star quality, fashion, facial features, competition'. I was able to show this most economically and effectively by changing the setting to the scene on a photoshoot.
Beck: The audience may be surprised at certain characteristics some of the actresses in the movie will show and some people who know them in real life have been saying that the actresses are really being themselves in parts of the movie. There seems to be a very thin line between what is fact and what is fiction. And not everything is probably the truth.
E: Basically, it's about the incidents I have seen occur regarding actresses during the time I've spent in this industry and I've equally stationed the elements I've observed. Even if such occurences may not have happened to them in real life, it still works because the situation arises from the common characteristics that actresses have. How they keep each other in check about the timing each actress arrives on set, excuses they come up with because they want out from the shoot, favors to have their solo shoots added to a group photo... (laugh) I showed stories that I've heard about or are most likely to have happened.
Beck: In a way, the quarrel Ko and Choi Ji-woo have in the film is the climax of this movie. (laugh) It seemed that envy or competition are the force which drives actresses forward. Not in a bad sense but in that it makes them work harder and become better.
E: But doesn't that actually apply to every human being? All reporter want to write better stories than other reporters -- they want to do one-on-one interviews, not in groups. (laugh) I think this is a characteristic which is found in every society regardless of gender. I wanted to show how attractive these individual actresses are on more of a humanistic level which would then reveal how such sides to them are covered by their jobs as being actresses, which would then tell a story about all women and ultimately show what our society looks like.