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She May Not Look Like a Killer...

2005/07/22 | Permalink | Source

She looks like she couldn't harm a fly, but Lee Young-ae, who plays perhaps the most alarming female character in Korean cinematic history in Park Chan-wook's "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance", can be a handful off-screen as well.

"It was a movie and a part I really wanted to do", Lee says. "I thought if I gave action a try, I'd learn why male actors like to do action films so much. The director also said I was strong. When men fire guns, they blink, but not me".

Lee remembers an article this newspaper did on her several years ago, and repeatedly during the interview she takes out a notebook and scribbles notes. "It's not my character to live easily", she explains. "My blood type is AB, but I think I'm closer to A than B. I tend to consume a lot of energy in just one interview. But living in the entertainment world my ability to adjust has improved and I've become more amicable. In the past, I used to be somewhat introverted -- and I didn't eat chicken because I thought it was gross".

It's been 13 years since Lee's debut. She's been in the entertainment would for as long as her character Geum-ja was in jail. Many stars have risen and fallen in that time, and only a handful have managed to keep their image as pure as Lee.

"I was chatting with viewers on a TV program not long ago, and I got asked questions like, 'How many times do you eat a day'. I was taken aback. I thought, do I really seem that remote from ordinary life? There was a time when I hosted a morning show and appeared on entertainment programs, so I don't know why I seemed so distant".

Perhaps it is because now actresses like Kim Sun-a, the star of "My Name is Kim Sam-soon" who put on weight for her role, have overtaken stars like Lee who are thought of as stick-thin beauties who wouldn't be seen dead with an extra ounce of flesh.

"With Geum-ja I play a killer; you don't think I could gain weight for a role?" she says curtly. The story goes that Lee frightened the wits out of her costar Choi Min-sik when she yelled for another take on the film. So what is she? Gentle or tough as nails? One thing is certain, if it wasn't for Lee Young-ae's skill at looking like butter wouldn't melt in her mouth even as she commits the most vile onscreen atrocities, "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance" would not be what it is.

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