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Cha In-pyo hopes to overcome slump with Netflix comedy film ‘What Happened to Mr. Cha?’

A screenshot shows actor Cha In-pyo on Monday during an online press conference to promote the Netflix production “What Happened to Mr. Cha?” (YouTube)
A screenshot shows actor Cha In-pyo on Monday during an online press conference to promote the Netflix production “What Happened to Mr. Cha?” (YouTube)

Cha In-pyo is an actor who enjoyed immense popularity in the 1990s. Now living on his past glory, Cha hopes to make a comeback but no one is willing to cast him.

This description is true both for the 53-year-old South Korean actor and the fictional character of the same name in the upcoming Netflix production “What Happened to Mr. Cha?”

“Instead of creating a completely fictional character, I wanted to use Cha’s existing image. I thought that it would make it easier for the audiences to engage with the movie as they are already familiar with Cha,” director Kim Dong-gyu said during an online press conference held Monday.

In the movie, while Cha is taking a shower at the gym, the building suddenly collapses. Cha gets stuck in a pile of rubble and knows he has to get out before the humiliating news about the actor, naked, trapped in a collapsed building goes on the air. He frantically calls his manager Kim A-ram (Jo Dal-hwan) for help escaping.

Cha said when he first read the script, which uses the public’s perception of him as well as his name, he felt puzzled.

“Around five years ago, director Kim and film production company About Film CEO Kim Sung-hwan brought me this script with my name as the title. And I was not sure about their intentions,” Cha said. “I was reluctant to take the role because the Cha In-pyo character in the movie was in a slump. And, at the time, I was not willing to accept that I was in the same situation.”

Cha, who debuted 26 years ago, said he changed his mind four or five years later.

“I found myself in a slump just like Cha in the movie. I felt that I was not moving forward and thought doing this movie could be the solution to breaking out of this slump,” Cha said.

He joked about how his wife, actor Shin Ae-ra, who also appears in the movie with her voice, encouraged him to take the role. “She was also doubtful about this role at first. But after five years, she was like. ‘Take whatever role you can,’” Cha said.

“And also CEO Kim Sung-hwan’s success in producing ‘Extreme Job’ helped me change my mind as well,” he added.

Korean comedy film “Extreme Job,” which opened in January last year, racked up more than 12 million moviegoers.

“To teens and people in their 20s, Cha is known for his funny memes like the one with him aggressively brushing his teeth, but for my generation, he was a star,” said Cha’s co-star Jo, in his late 30s, adding that it was an honor to work with Cha.

The director also commented that he expects more memes to be created for sure once the comedy film is released.

The movie will be available on Netflix on Jan.1.

By Song Seung-hyun (