Actress Lee Ji-eun shows how she is an ever-growing actress through the movie “Broker” by director Koreeda.
Herald Business got the chance to meet Lee Ji-eun, the heroine of the movie “Broker” which was released on Jun 8th, through an interview. It is her first challenge in a commercial feature film. The editor, who met Lee Ji-eun when the 15-year-old her had her first interview at the Herald Business Editorial Office wearing a school uniform, was surprised to hear that Lee Ji-eun is already 30 years old.
“Broker” has made Song Kang-ho the first Korean to win “Best Actor” at the recent 75th Cannes Film Festival. Here, Lee Ji-eun played the role of So-young, who abandoned the baby (Woo-sung) she gave birth to in the baby box and returned to accompany Sang-hyun (Song Kang-ho) and Dong-soo (Kang Dong-won) on a journey to find new parents to raise her baby. Lee Ji-eun said, “First of all, I am grateful that the filmmakers, including director Hirokazu Koreeda, believe in me.“
“I also saw the movie for the first time at Cannes. I was so nervous, thinking how I would appear for the first time after this scene. And I watched the whole movie. It was a much more interesting movie than I expected. Mom asked if the movie was fun before I went to Cannes. But I said director Koreeda’s standards of fun may be different. But after I watched it at the premiere, I immediately texted my mom that it was fun.“
Lee Ji-eun said, “I am also a fan of director Koreeda. He always gives the audience something to think about while capturing heavy things in his movie,” she said. “’Broker’ was also a challenge for director Koreeda. He values the emotional lines of every character, and his way of telling the actors that ‘It’s important from this part here’ is special.”
In Cannes, there were media reports that Lee Ji-eun was a candidate for the Best Actress. Lee Ji-eun’s local fans then gathered at the event venue after hearing about the news.
“They said myy seniors and media officials said a lot of good things about actress Ji-eun, but I thought they only said that to me out of courtesy. When I searched for related articles after coming to Korea, I was surprised that they really mentioned me.“
Lee said, “I didn’t think I would have fans in France. Thank you for your hospitality right from the airport. There were fans who were standing with my albums in their hands,” she said. “It was impressive and so surreal. I’ve never even performed in Europe. Even though I’m not a singer who can perform grand stages, and I don’t have the language, they still cheer for me. It was a surprise to me.”
Song Kang-ho is also a big presence in “Broker.” He is an actor who has enough power to lead such a work. What did Lee Ji-eun experience acting with Song Kang-ho?
“At Cannes, Song Kang-ho was one of the criteria. Even movie officials asked Song Kang-ho, “Is this right?” I was so nervous that I couldn’t enjoy it at the filming site. Before the shoot, I wondered if I could act face-to-face with Song Kang-ho without fainting. This opportunity didn’t come to me easily just because I said would start acting. Director Koreeda’s offer was very surprising. Acting with Song Kang-ho was a valuable experience to me.“
Lee Ji-eun is said to have communicated a lot with director Koreeda while filming “Broker.”
“I kept asking and bothering the director about So-young’s past history, such as why So-young made such a choice and regretted it, but the director still kindly told me everything I need to know. I asked a lot of questions, but there was never an ambiguous answer from him. If there was any question that he needed to think more about, he would say “Can I answer it next time?” and answer me later to solve my curiosity. I felt that he was not a person who avoided conversation.”
Lee Ji-eun was a true fan of Koreeda. “I watched all of his early works. In this work, the lines are more straightforward, and I assumed that more straightforward lines were included in the translation process.”
Lee Ji-eun appeared in many scenes, including the opening scene where she had to keep getting rained on. The scene where she said “Thank you for being born” to the characters was also special. The most memorable scene to Lee Ji-eun was the ferris wheel scene.
“The viewing car was narrow, and the sun was still going down once the ferris wheel turned, so we cannot have any NG. I was nervous and very immersed, but I had good chemistry with Kang Dong-won. It’s my favorite scene. I was about to cry, but when the tears didn’t come out, Kang Dong-won showed his wit by covering me, and we got an OK at once.”
In the movie, there is a scene where Lee Ji-eun uses swear words that she has never used before. It is said that she was able to show such a refreshing swear scene by changing the Japanese swear words in the scenario to Korean swear words.
“I thought Japanese-style swearing was mild. I wanted to express that Korean curses are more direct and reckless. I asked the director if I could change the curse words. I even had a few rehearsals in front of my mom and manager. The director also found it interesting.“
When Lee Ji-eun wanted to play the role of a mother, “So-young” suddenly appeared. “I wanted to understand the emotional lines of people who have experienced childbirth. Next time, I want to act as another mother”.
“I went in after practicing hugging Woo-sung, an 18-month-old baby, but So-young didn’t hug the baby. I got closer to the baby parents. The baby have grown up enough to walk around. The baby walked in at the premiere and didn’t seem to know me at all. He’s my first child, but he might not be able to remember me later.”
Lee Ji-eun has shown her impressive acting in dramas such as “Hotel Del Luna” and “My Mister.” She definitely has a good eye for choosing her scripts.
“I’m not an actress with clear standards, but I have role that I want from time to time. “Broker”’s mother role also came to me right when I wanted to. If it wasn’t for that, I’d have been so worried. I think the offers came to me right when I was thirsty. Rather than thinking deeply about it, I ask myself if I’m in the right condition to do it.“
Jang Man-wol of ‘Hotel Del Luna’ is a role where the filming crew tried to bring out everything that they can from IU. She shared, “I also actively utilized the fact that that character was derived from IU, such as stage costumes that she does not wear in daily life because she is a singer. Jian of “My Mister” is likely to live somewhere. She shouldn’t be me, so I felt at ease,” she said, recalling her previous works.
Lee Ji-eun said she has the pleasure of living as an actress as she can touch things that she didn’t even think about before.
“I usually live in inertia, but after I played the role of So-young, I think about the background of society that I didn’t think much about until I was 30, and I think about single mothers. And I reorganized my thoughts. It’s great how such movie roles make us think.”
Lee Ji-eun also said, “As a singer, we move as a team, but when I become a producer, I feel lonely. On the other hand, acting is where I’m clearly given a role, and there is a sense of stability that comes from it. We all go together with one goal,” she said.
Lee Ji-eun recently enjoyed the movie “Three Sisters” and said she wanted to play all the roles of the three sisters. She shared how she would do better if she was given a role that was heavy and had a story. She also revealed that she will soon play such a role in the movie “Dream,” which will be released this year.