Jeon Do-youn [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]
Jeon Do-youn used the word "moderately" often. But doing something "moderately," meaning not too much nor too little is probably the hardest thing for creators to do. Jeon plays Cha Ha-yeon, a femme fatale con artist who sneers at the world with her beauty and brains until she gets taught her lesson, in movie "Countdown." However, Jeon herself does not live her life so moderately. Below is a record of her life, in no way moderate, where she pours the energy she will use to feel regret about her past or worry about her future, into what is most current.
<#10LOGO#> “Countdown” gave off a completely different impression in the beginning versus end. The preview had made me think the movie would be about two characters playing mind games against each other but it surprisingly turned out to be a very touching drama.
Jeon Do-youn : I know. The beginning and end to the movie were very different, right? It contained a lot of action sequences but some powerful drama as well so I think the people who promote the movie must’ve had to think hard about what sort of first impression they should give the audience. But some people have said they liked it that way because they went in thinking it would be an action movie but it turned out to contain drama and was touching as well.
<#10LOGO#> What was most appealing about “Countdown” when you first got its screenplay?
Jeon: I liked the screenplay but was drawn a bit more to my character Cha Ha-yeon. She’s actually someone who is much more appealing in the way she looks -- a con artist with a criminal record who is armed with beauty from head to toe. [laugh] That’s what I was already drawn too. And there was no detailed history on her but the fact that she kept going to see the daughter she gave birth to 17 years ago. I’m sure she could’ve lived her life ignoring her but she was constantly curious about her. She may seem like someone who is cold-hearted and cool-headed but she may be a warm and soft-hearted woman on the inside, is what was appealing about her and made her seem humane.
<#10LOGO#> I actually felt that she’s not quite the perfectionist although she may seem like the biggest trickster starting with the fact that she went to jail because she got fooled by Cho Myung-seok (Lee Kyung-young).
Jeon : Now that you say it, I only thought she was a warm-hearted woman but was also not perfect. Isn’t that so attractive? [laugh] What I actually focused more on was Cha Ha-yeon as a woman, as a human being. There’s no doubt she’s mean because she drives a person to his death but I wanted people to feel genuineness and sympathy for her. However, Cha Ha-yeon’s a character that I felt I didn’t need to add more to because she was already fully set. She was already complete. And I felt that whatever I added would be excessive and get in the way of people relating to her. So I think I did just enough with her. I think working ‘moderately’ on my role in this movie was the best way to go about her.
<#10LOGO#> That’s surprising. Moderately?
Jeon: Because “Countdown” was about Tae Gun-ho’s (Jeong Jae-young) drama. And Cha Ha-yeon was a relatively device-like character. That’s why I tried not to become too attached nor unattached to Tae Gun-ho and not too absorbed nor less absorbed with Cha Ha-yeon’s situation.
Jeon: Hmm… There weren’t any projects like that. [laugh] I actually never planned or intended to work on the projects I’ve worked on till now nor dreamt of taking on a particular character or movie. All I’ve done is go with what I wanted to do the most from what I’ve been given because it’s not like I always get handed projects where the female character stands out. I may not do a movie if it’s bad although the I like the character and I may do a movie even if I play a small part in it. I just make the choices that I think are best at those times.
Jeon Do-youn [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]
<#10LOGO#> This may be a silly question but then while you’re working on the movie, weren’t there moments you wished the story focused a bit more on your character?
Jeon : If I ever felt that, I would’ve felt it from the moment I read the screenplay, not while shooting the movie. Because the fact that I said okay to the movie and decided to do it means that I know my part and respect it.
<#10LOGO#> I think that actor Song Kang-ho may be a good example of someone who did that well through his character in “Secret Sunshine.”
Jeon: Song Gang-ho shined so much in “Secret Sunshine” and he was a completely different person in that movie. That’s what I thought was amazing about him. His character Kim Jong-chan always hovered around Shin-ae. And I think he maintained exactly that distance from her throughout the whole movie. Always a decent step away. It’s actually harder to do something moderately than excessively or insufficiently but Song Kang-ho in “Secret Sunshine” was amazing and admirable. I had always liked Song Kang-ho as an actor but “Secret Sunshine” is the moment I surpassed that point of just liking him.
<#10LOGO#> And how satisfied are you with how ‘moderately’ you acted in “Countdown”?
Jeon: Didn’t I do well? [laugh] It would’ve been a problem if I got in the way of Tae Gun-ho’s drama but I think I followed his lead well.
<#10LOGO#> You worked with Jeong Jae-young for the first time in ten years. Although you two played characters that must be sick and tired of each other [laugh] what changes did you feel in him as an actor?
Jeon Do-youn: I actually didn't know it had been that long. Only after I talked with people did I realize it's been nine years. But I think that both he and I, in our own ways, have become good actors. Back when we did "No Blood No Tears," he was a newcomer and I was basically starting anew as well. We had much more to show than what we had shown. And we actually weren't that close back then. I thought of him as someone who's just dark and serious. But it turns out I'd really just had no idea what he's like. He constantly tells the most random jokes but he'll keep going if you laugh at them so you need to stop laughing at one point. [laugh] Yet he focuses very keenly the moment he goes into shoot. So he's good at controlling that himself like that. Everyone including both the actors and crew really hard time shooting this movie because almost all of it was shot on location but I think Jeong was the reason we were able to work on the movie with a smile. Most directors are known to be cringing yet lighten up when the actress comes but the director for "Countdown" lightened up everytime he saw Jeong.
<#10LOGO#> Your character in "The Contact" was like an angel and even the characters you played in "A Promise," "The Harmonium in My Memory" and "My Mother the Mermaid" seemed like strong women who were repressing their feelings. But in "Countdown," your character does all she wants and says all she wants. How was it? Did it feel better to play a character who'd let her feelings out?
Jeon: I've never thought that it was frustrating to play characters that repress their feelings. At the same time, it doesn't feel better to scream. However they may seem to you, that's just the way they live their lives.
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