The Korea Herald


A Korean 'Mrs. Doubtfire'? Jo Jung-suk stars in comedy 'Pilot'

By Kim Da-sol

Published : June 26, 2024 - 14:41

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Actor Jo Jung-suk speaks during a press conference for his upcoming comedy Actor Jo Jung-suk speaks during a press conference for his upcoming comedy "Pilot" held at Lotte Cinema Konkuk Univ. in Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

Actor Jo Jung-suk, who led the 2019 action comedy “Exit” has returned with comedy flick “Pilot.” In the upcoming movie, appears as Han Jang-mi, a female pilot.

The trailer showing Jo dressed up as a female pilot and wearing colorful makeup quickly went viral upon its release Monday. In the film, Jo plays Jung-woo, a retired pilot who disguises himself as a woman – Jang-mi – to get re-employed.

The 43-year-old actor said he referenced Robin Williams’ 1993 family comedy “Mrs. Doubtfire" for this role.

“From the first time I read the screenplay, ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ came into my head. I loved watching that film when I was young. So I discussed with the director how to naturally create comedic elements (by disguising myself as a woman),” Jo told reporters during a press conference held at Lotte Cinema Konkuk University in Seoul on Wednesday.

He stressed that he hoped him dressing as a woman for the role didn't seem like a caricature.

“What I thought in terms of the level of lightness as a comedy and how to act in such a genre was in line with that of the director. You’ll find that this movie is just a comedy, not something that wanted to squeeze in scenes for laughter,” Jo said, adding that he lost 7 kilograms by going on a keto diet and got facials to play Jung-woo and Jang-mi.

Jo Jung-suk plays Jang-mi in Jo Jung-suk plays Jang-mi in "Pilot." (Lotte Entertainment)

While his 2019 comedy “Exit” sold some 9 million tickets, Jo said he feels pressured about playing leads in comedy flicks.

“I do feel pressure when I do comedy films like this. But I guess it’s just my part as an actor,” said Jo.

While the movie follows a simple plotline, the life of Jung-woo and Jang-mi and his friends, director Kim Han-gyeol said the movie is more than a lighthearted comedy. Her 2019 comedy starring Gong Hyo-jin and Kim Rae-won “Crazy Romance,” while it failed at the box office, drew many fans.

“I try to avoid making unnatural, formulaic comedies. I think it’s significant for a comedy to contain natural elements. …I also thought this movie was like a big metaphor, giving a message of encouragement and sympathy to the audience through Jung-woo's situations,” director Kim told reporters.

She also stressed that Jung-woo had to be Jo, given his experience of acting as a female character on stage. Earlier this year, Jo played Hedwig in the highly acclaimed musical “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” for the fifth time following his appearances in 2008.

“Not just internally but externally, Jo was ready for this role," the director said.

Actor Han Sun-hwa plays Jung-woo’s younger sister Jung-mi, a YouTuber who shares beauty tips, while Lee Joo-myung, who starred in “Hospital Playlist” with Jo, takes on the role of Seul-gi, Jung-woo’s pilot colleague. Shin Seung-ho of “D.P.” and “Alchemy of Souls” plays Jung-woo’s former junior colleague at the Air Force Academy.

“Pilot” hits local theaters on July 31.