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Bae Doona Ice Cool Ahead of Hollywood Debut

2011/09/26 Source

All it took was a video call and a short home movie, and the Wachowski brothers -- the brains behind "The Matrix" trilogy -- were sold on actress Bae Doona.

The Wachowskis had been looking around for someone to fill a role in their upcoming movie, "Cloud Atlas", which has a star-studded cast including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon and Hugo Weaving.

They sent Bae a script at the end of March. One week later, the young actress was talking with them on a video-link and they asked her to send her some clips of her acting out a couple of the scenes from the script.

"My brother, who directs adverts, filmed me in my room and sent it to the Wachowskis, and they suddenly became very interested", said Bae in a telephone interview with the Chosun Ilbo on Sept. 17.

Bae was speaking while on the way to Incheon International Airport, where she was set to fly to Germany to begin work on her Hollywood debut, a collaborative effort between the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer.

Based on the eponymous novel by David Mitchell in 2004, the US$100-million blockbuster is composed of six episodes set in different time periods and locations dating from the 19th century Pacific to a decadent future. Bae will play the role of cloned human Sonmi-450 in a dystopian Seoul in 2144 in the sixth episode.

She recalls meeting the directors in Berlin at the end of May as a fun experience.

"I wasn't nervous at all when I met them. I just told myself that it would be a good experience to meet with American film directors for the first time", she said. Her casting was confirmed in June.

Bae has one of the most impressive filmographies among Korean actresses, having already worked with Park Chan-wook in "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance", Bong Joon-ho in "Barking Dogs Never Bite" and "The Host", and Hirokazu Koreeda in "Air Doll".

When asked why big name directors are so attracted to her, Bae humbly replied that she still has a lot to learn and is not to everyone's taste.

"I think there's a big void to fill in my acting", she said. "And I think that those who dislike my acting really dislike it".

Last month, the entire cast of "Cloud Atlas" gathered in Berlin to read through the script. "It was fun because everyone was so good", said Bae, who has to speak British English for the role.

"I spent six months in New York learning English after filming 'Air Doll' in 2009, but I didn't make any special effort in terms of language to try and get cast for the film", she said.

"When the casting was confirmed, I went to a linguistics professor to learn how to make the right intonations and how the mouth and vocal chords look and work [when imitating British English]". She also practiced with a dialogue coach from "Cloud Atlas" on video-call software Skype.

"People expected me to be really nervous about shooting this movie with a foreign production team and actors, but to me, a film set is a film set, wherever you are. That way of thinking gives me more composure", she said. "I'm confident that whatever I put my mind to, I can do well".

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