Actor Won Bin
began his military service in November, 2005 but he had to receive medical treatment for six months due to a knee injury. After more than two years, he has made a comeback to the big screen in the movie "Mother" by director Bong Jun-ho. In "Mother", Won plays the simple-hearted 28-year-old Do-jun, whose mother loves him unconditionally. This movie drew the spotlight for being directed by Bong Joon-ho
, whose previous movie "Host" drew more than 10 million viewers, and for starring actress Kim Hye-ja
, who represents an ideal mother.
We met with Won Bin
on May 24 upon his return from Cannes. In a composed and quiet voice, he told us about how "Mother - 2009"
opened a new chapter in his acting career and about his first visit to Cannes. "I had heard a lot about Mr. Bong's talent as a filmmaker. I thought working with such a renowned director would be difficult. I was even worried that I might get scolded for my poor acting", said Won.
With regard to his long hiatus, Won says he needed time to undergo rehabilitative treatment after finishing his military service and that he didn't like any of the productions that he was offered back then. But in the fall of 2008 Bong called him saying that he had the role of a son for him and wanted to meet up. Won said, "Back then, I hadn't been cast yet to play Do-jun, but later when the script came out, I saw that Mr. Bong reflected my personality in Do-jun".
Do-jun is a naive and silly character who is everything to his mother. But later he turns out to have a complex personality. Bong gave much credit to Won for perfectly portraying this difficult role, adding jokingly that in reality Won has a simple heart and kind personality but can also be timid and obsessed with things. But that joke was also meant to praise to Won.
During the shooting of one of the main scenes of the movie, Bong approved the scene after four takes but Won wasn't satisfied and continued to shoot four more takes. "The last thing I wanted to do is to cause any inconvenience to the director and Mrs. Kim Hye-ja
. I was determined to do my utmost to repay their trust in me", said Won. "When the director okayed the scene, I thought of it as 'not bad' but I wanted to try more to come up with a better expression".
Won says that when he first read the script, he thought of Do-jun as a lovely character who is difficult yet fun to establish rather than to portray. Won said, "At first I even wanted my character to have some kind of disability. But I didn't want to focus solely on his looks. When I started focusing on his naive personality and inner side, my gestures, way of walking and the look in the eyes came out naturally in line with this character. I tried my best to empty my head of any thoughts because Do-jun is a very free-spirited person who shouldn't be confined".
Won picked the scene in which his character hands over a needle case to his mother as the highlight of the movie. He said, "It was the most difficult scene for me. By handing over the needle case, I had to look as if I knew everything yet nothing, and had put everything I had collected so far in that case".
Won says he was surprised to see the new image of Kim Hye-ja
in the movie. He said, "It was even more difficult for me to act because of Mrs. Kim's acting, which was out of this world. I was stunned by how hard she worked and how she spared no effort. She invested all her energy into every single scene. No wonder people regard her as the symbol of an ideal mother. She inspired me to preserve my determination to do my best as an actor".
Won says he felt enormous pressure appearing in a movie produced by a renowned director and starring one of the most prominent actresses. He said, "I was nervous and scared but it was fun to shoot every single scene after discussing it with the director. Every day I looked forward to the upcoming shoot. I'm grateful to the director for respecting the actors' opinions".
Won's first visit to Cannes was an exciting experience, but he had his hands full giving interviews. The actor says he has yet to choose his next role. He said, "Be it a movie or a TV drama, I'm always ready to play genuine roles regardless of genre. I can think of my next production only after I wrap up my current work. I'll start pondering my next role only after this movie opens and after I meet with viewers".