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‘Cassiopeia’ director focuses on father-daughter dynamic

A scene from “Cassiopeia” directed by Shin Youn-shick (Triple Pictures)
A scene from “Cassiopeia” directed by Shin Youn-shick (Triple Pictures)

Although “Cassiopeia” might seem like a woeful movie about a young lawyer in her 30s suffering from Alzheimer’s, the film’s director Shin Youn-shick said he focused more on portraying the father and daughter dynamic.

“When I was working on the script. I watched the movie ‘The Intern’ to cool my head. That was also when I had a desire to work with (the actor) Ahn Sung-ki again,” the director said during a press conference held at Megabox theaters in Coex on Tuesday. “As I was watching the movie, I thought of creating a movie that features a relationship that is similar to the one that Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway have.”

Although De Niro and Hathaway are not a father-daughter duo in the film, the director said it was their relationship that inspired him to come up with the two protagonists in his new movie.

“I wanted to focus on creating a father who could not be there for the daughter when she was growing up and who finally gets an opportunity to spend time with her in a reverse chronological order. Because of the Alzheimer’s, Soo-jin gets younger and younger in the movie,” the director said.

In the film, Soo-jin (Seo Hyun-jin) is a successful lawyer who raises her daughter (Joo Ye-rim) on her own. When she is busy, her father, In-woo (Ahn Sung-ki), helps out. Soo-jin tries to lead the perfect life at home and at work. After sending her daughter to the US, where her ex-husband lives, she finds out that she has Alzheimer’s.

Seo, who played Soo-jin, said she cried reading the script two years ago.

“At the time, I did not think that it would be difficult to play the role. I was preoccupied with the thought that I wanted this role,“ Seo said during the press conference. “After we gathered to read the script together, I realized that it would be difficult to perform my role and thought I had been too fearless. I called the director and told him about my fear, crying, and he calmed me down by saying ‘let’s go on this fun journey with me.’”

Seo also talked about how she prepared for the role.

“My character suffers from Alzheimer’s. It would have been nice to have actually met some patients but I could not due to COVID-19. So I watched some videos. Also, I have an acquaintance who suffered from the disease. I performed based on those materials and experiences,” Seo said.

The actor also talked about her “interesting” experience working with the veteran actor Ahn, referring to one scene she shot with him in a car.

A scene from “Cassiopeia” directed by Shin Youn-shick (Triple Pictures)
A scene from “Cassiopeia” directed by Shin Youn-shick (Triple Pictures)

“My character learns from her dad to say ‘My dad will get upset. My daughter will get upset. Don’t do it. Don’t touch me’ (in the scene). I was not sure about the tone of my voice in the scene,” she said.

However, once shooting started, Seo found that she need not have worried because she was able to easily become her character with help from Ahn.

“I could not tell if I was talking to Ahn Sung-ki or father In-woo. Maybe because he became the character. My tone of voice was unexpected even for me and I was surprised. It was such an honor to work with him,” she said.

Ahn was not present at the press conference as he had recently come into contact with a COVID-19 patient, the event’s organizer said.

During the press conference, the director also explained the title of the movie, “Cassiopeia.”

“I had a hard time deciding on the title. I thought about it for years,” Shin said. “There is actually a children’s song titled ‘Cassiopeia.’ It was my daughter who sang the song to me. It was neither a sad nor a bright song.“

The song “Cassiopeia” is about how people are able to find direction because they are guided by a polar star, but in order to locate a polar star, first they have to find the constellation.

“I think Cassiopeia is like the family in the movie who does not directly help you find the direction but can lead you to the way. So I used it as the title,” he said.

“Cassiopeia” will hit local theaters on June 1.

By Song Seung-hyun (
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Korea Herald daum