|Actress Yoon Yeo-jung [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]|
Yoon Yeo-jung (Yoon): Well, that's probably why I took on films like "Woman of Fire" or "Chungnyeo" right? I thought they were very different types of movies. The main characters risk their life for love and end up dying together... I thought 'This is what real love is about.' But that also changed as I aged. When I was about thirty-something, the head of a theater company gave me a script where I would play an 18-year-old girl who becomes a prostitute after raped by her owner while she was a servant. But I said I couldn't do it. I thought that I would not screw up my life by becoming a prostitute at that age even if I was put in the same situation. I knew I wouldn't be able to act with sincerity because I didn't believe in it.
10: So you never take on roles that go against your outlook on life, right?
Yoon: That's right, because I know I wouldn't do a good job of it. I don't take on roles that I know I won't be good at. Actually, that's not true. I've done one before. (laugh)
10: Which one?
Yoon: I got the script for "Garoojigi" one day and I called the producer after reading about 20 pages of it. I told him that I think he sent the script to the wrong actor but he said he hadn't, so I met with him and he turned out to be this young, smart-looking director who said I must take on the role. He said he wouldn't be able to do filmmaking if I didn't. Of course, he won me over when he said that he saw me smoking on TV and thought he had never seen a woman with such sexy fingers. (laugh)
10: Of course it's not good for your health but you really do look cool when you smoke. When did you first learn to smoke?
Yoon: Not in the bathroom. (laugh) My friend got dumped when we were in college and she said we should try it. The weird thing about it is that I actually didn't smoke at all when I lived in the States after I got married. But I started smoking after I got divorced. I guess I wouldn't have started at all if I hadn't known how to smoke at all. I think I smoke about a pack a day? I smoke well. The Monopoly Bureau might call me after this article goes out. (laugh)
10: What is it that keeps you going? Why are you an actress?
Yoon: There was a time when I wasn't proud of being an actress. It wasn't what I had wanted to do and there were so many successful people around me so I had even despised this job. But as you know, my life divides into two eras -- B.D., before divorce and A.D., after divorce. (laugh) I think that's when I really became an actress. If I had been a talented employee at a large company, would they hire me again ten years after I left? There is no such organization. But dramas and films did, they gave me work and allowed me to raise my two children. I think that's when I became very grateful about acting. I wasn't picky about my roles. And that's when I realized it.
Yoon: That I'm a horrible actor. The brief popularity I had enjoyed before turned out to be a false reputation I had gained because I had been lucky. I was miserable when I had matured but I couldn't act well. I cried one day because I thought, 'Why am I so bad at acting. Why can't I do this?' Life seemed horrible. And that's when I saw myself in the mirror and realized that this is how I should be acting. I just had to try. Divorced actresses were usually never cast for a role at the time but screenwriter Kim Soo-hyun broke that common law and cast me for her drama. I thought I should compensate her for that. So if I had a scene where I would say my lines while putting down my spoon, I'd practice that in my room, making sure that I say my lines in time with my actions, and then record my voice while doing that and listen to it over and over again. Actress Lim Ye-jin once looked at my script and joked that I sure do practice a lot for what I've been given to do. But I wasn't ashamed of it. Of course I can memorize my lines like I memorize the alphabet. But there are so many ways to say the single word 'Hello'. There's no meaning to just memorizing your lines. People shouldn't be ashamed of trying hard... I don't know why people regard you as stupid if you practice a lot. The old American adage states "How do you get to Broadway?" "Practice, man, practice." I think that's the answer.
10: I guess it's because everyone expects for all artists, including actors, to be born with an innate genius.
Yoon: Some actors ask for time before shooting a scene where they have to cry. That's why actor Park Keun-hyung will tell them to go cry at home. To set their emotions at home. Everyone's talent is at different levels but this job is hard pursue without effort.
10: In "Actresses", there is a scene where Kim Ok-vin says life is boring. Is life fun for you?
Yoon: I try to make it fun. I don't have as much time left to live as younger people. Really, so many people around me are passing away. Three last year. And I felt so empty. Life and death are moments away from each other. They were all such great people. But they become so weak in front of death. That's when I realized that I should enjoy every moment of my life and have fun.
10: You must've thought of that a lot when Yeo Woon-gye passed away.
Yoon: I saw how she suffered because we were working together at the time. I got mad at the producer and screenwriter one day, asking them why they had brought a sick person on set. But I realized I had been wrong when they told me that she had wished for it. She had wanted to show people that she was alive. She's an actress. She's not alive if she's just lying down at home. Of course, you would be a nuisance to the people on set if your mind started wandering but I understood right away. Yeo Woon-gye is alive! That's what she wanted to show the public.
10: You too will probably act for as long as you can, right?
Yoon: Of course. Till the day that I can still say my lines. As long as I don't become a nuisance. I hope someone make me stop when that day comes. Tell me that I can't act anymore.