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[Herald Interview] Bae Doo-na regrets not taking part in Cannes

Bae Doo-na stars in Hirokazu Kore-eda’s new film “Broker.” (CJ ENM)
Bae Doo-na stars in Hirokazu Kore-eda’s new film “Broker.” (CJ ENM)


Korean actor Bae Doo-na, 42, expressed regret over not being able to take part in promotional events for “Broker,” as she is currently filming Zack Snyder’s new sci-fi saga for Netflix, “Rebel Moon,” during an interview with local reporters via Zoom on Wednesday.

Bae also could not be present at the 75th Cannes Film Festival where Song won the award for best actor for his role in “Broker.”

“It is too bad that I could not make it to Cannes this year,” Bae said. “I tried adjusting my schedule but it did not work out. As an actor, film shooting schedule had to come first.”

Even though she could not be there to enjoy the fest, Bae added that this year’s Cannes was particularly meaningful to her because two of her works -- “Broker,” directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda, and “Next Sohee,” directed by Jung July -- had both been invited.

“Next Sohee” closed Critics’ Week, a sidebar event dedicated to showing directors’ first and second films.

“Broker” centers on relationships formed through baby boxes installed at churches or institutions in Korea where desperate parents can leave their newborns anonymously.

Bae plays police officer Soo-jin, who is investigating two men-- Sang-hyun (Song Kang-ho) and Dong-soo (Gang Dong-won) -- who steal a baby to sell the child to a family who cannot legally adopt.

Bae talked further about Song’s Cannes win during the interview.

“After I saw the news, I immediately sent him a text message. But I have not received a reply. Maybe he got too many messages or maybe my message got lost since I am in the US,” Bae joked.

She then talked about how special Song’s win is to her, as Bae has worked on four movies with Song -- “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance” (2002) directed by Park Chan-wook, “The Host” (2006) directed by Bong Joon-ho, “The Drug King” (2018) directed by Woo Min-ho, and the most recent “Broker.”

“Our first film was ‘Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance.’ I was really young back then like 21 or 22. Since then I have witnessed him perform with all his heart in each and every film. So I was really happy that he won the award,” Bae said.

She was tougher on her own performances.

“I am never satisfied with my acting, and I only see flaws,” Bae said. “I just accept it when the director says ‘OK.’ I don’t usually watch my performances at the shooting site either. I feel shy and embarrassed.”

While Bae is modest, the “Broker” director has praised her performance multiple times in press conference and interviews. According to Kore-eda, Bae was the only actor who asked for the Japanese version of the script the director originally wrote. 


Bae Doo-na stars in Hirokazu Kore-eda’s new film “Broker.” (CJ ENM)
Bae Doo-na stars in Hirokazu Kore-eda’s new film “Broker.” (CJ ENM)


Reading the Japanese version was crucial for Bae, due to missing ellipses in the Korean version of the script. The Korean actor believes that punctuation marks can contain a lot of the emotions of the characters.

“I think it is good that I can read more than one language,” Bae added.

During the interview, she also recalled the moment that IU, also known as Lee Ji-eun, asked her about the director and whether she should take the role of unwed mother So-young in “Broker” via text message. Bae said she was filming the Netflix series “The Silent Sea” at the time and replied to her simply saying, “Of course, you have to do it,” out of trust for the director as well as the fondness has for Lee.

“I love her (Lee Ji-eun) because she is a good actor. Also, she is a top singer and actor but there is something about her that makes me want to take care of her,” Bae said. “She makes me want to ask her if there are any difficulties.”

Bae was also asked to talk about Korean heartthrob Gang, with whom she worked 19 years ago on MBC drama “A Confident Girl.”

“Gang Dong-won debuted through ‘A Confident Girl.’ And now he is a veteran actor,” Bae said. “He used to be like a boy and now he is the one that leads and lightens up the mood at the shooting site. Seeing him like that made me think a lot of time as passed.”

Rookie actor Lee Joo-young, who plays a subordinate police officer working with Soo-jin, was the person whom Bae spent most time during filming “Broker.”

“We played Yutnori (a traditional Korean board game) a lot when filming. We also cooked and ate together,” Bae said. “Except when she teases me for not being a great cook, she is a smart and affectionate person.”

“Broker” is in theaters now.

By Song Seung-hyun (ssh@heraldcorp.com)
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