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Whether as Greek tragedy, a surrealist art piece, or, depending on who you ask, a pitch-black comedy; director Kim Ki-dukís castration epic, Moebius has blazed a trail of controversy.  At the heart of the film is a bravura performance by Lee Eun-woo, in a dual role as a mother who is equal parts Medea and Mommy Oedipus, and a hapless mistress caught in the twisted family dynamics.  We chatted with this delightfully, disarmingly sane lady at the New York Asian Film Festival.

Dig it!

 

Moebius

Lee Eun-woo

 

The Lady Miz Diva:  If you were describing Moebius to someone, what would you say?

Lee Eun-woo:  Karma.  Moebius is karma.  Director Kim Ki-duk has his own interpretation of the film about family and religion, but I have my own interpretation, which is karma.  If I may, Iíd like to read Director Kimís statement of what the film is about:

ďWhat is family?

What are desires?

What are genitals?

Family, desires, and genitals are one from the start. I am the father, the mother is I, and the mother is the father. Originally we are born in desire and we reproduce in desire. So we are connected as one like the Moebius strip, thus me envying, hating, and loving myself.Ē

 

LMD:  That actually brings me to your playing the two roles.  Did Director Kim always see the mother and the mistress is being played by one actress?

LE-w:  At the beginning, there was supposed to be two actresses, but somewhere in the middle of production, I ended up taking on both roles.

 

LMD:  What was that like for you to know you are going to play these two different people?  How did you prepare?

LE-w:  I was initially hired as the shopgirl and later on, the director called me and offered me the motherís role.  The motherís role is a very large role, itís a tremendous role, and so I was quite happy to hear that.  I wanted to take it on.

 

LMD:  In their own ways, each of those characters is an emotional mess.  How were you able to leave these two wrecks behind at the end of the filming day?

LE-w:  Director Kimís typically are shot very fast, so I was within those roles for very short time.  Had the shooting gone on for a prolonged period of time, it wouldíve been more difficult for me to come out of those emotions.  However, it wasnít so psychologically burdensome; it was more physically burdensome.

 

LMD:  How so?

LE-w:  Moebius was shot in one week and so that goes to show how intense the production mightíve been.

 

LMD:  What you think the motherís motivations were for what she did to her son?

LE-w:  My interpretation is that the mother, she is a woman who craved love.  She hung onto the husband in a very dire way, and so when she found out that her husband was having an affair with another woman, she was quite distraught.  So when she found out that her son also had this manhood in him, when she discovered that, she was quite saddened by that, because it was her husbandís initial manliness that had begun the affair that had made her so sad.

 

LMD:  Was this your first time working with Kim Ki-duk?

LE-w:  Actually, this was the second time.  The first time I worked with Kim-Ki-duk, he was writing the script and taking care of production {Godsend}.

 

LMD:  What kind of director is Mr. Kim?  Does he have a very set idea of what he wants his actors to do, or is he open to your ideas and contributions?

LE-w:  When Kim Ki-duk and I and the staff first sit down to have a reading of the script; that is the first time that we do it, and also the last time we do it.  Moving forward, we never go back to that kind of scene again, because off set, all he wants to do shoot, so heís busy shooting the entire time.  On set, his energy is very intense; he had a very small camera and he was shooting in a very short period of time.  So what it felt like for me, for example, was like he just provided me a place, like a kitchen for me to do the cooking and I just arrived.  He creates a space where the energies can thrive.

 

LMD:  The film has no spoken dialogue.  Was that experience freeing for you, or was it a challenge?

LE-w:  The fact that this film has no script was the best thing for this film.  It was the most fitting.  The fact that has no dialogue, itís able to describe a very low personís frustrations at a primal level.  Itís a constant repeating element.  And so for this film not to have any dialogue was proper, because those feelings of frustration precede dialogue.

 

LMD:  You mentioned having only one reading before shooting, but the chemistry amongst the actors is fantastic.  Can you speak about working with Mr. Jo Jae-hyeon who is a veteran of Director Kimís movies, and with the young actor, Seo Young-ju?

LE-w:  In the first scene, Mr. Jo was very kind.  Heís very familiar with the camera.  There were times when my emotions would precede the movements of the camera, and whenever that would happen, he would kindly just shift my body with the angle of the camera, so that I would be within the frame.

And without Seo Young-ju, we would not have been able to make this film.  Heís quite young, but he was very responsible with his role as an actor, and he was very devoted to displaying that male role.

 

LMD:  Kim Ki-duk asks uncomfortable or risky things of his actors.  Was there ever a point where you felt hesitation about what he was asking and what did director Kim do to create that trust and confidence to go on?

LE-w:  The fact that the director was there alone was enough for me to trust him.  Also, when I was displaying these very large emotions, starting from anger and going beyond that threshold of anger, I had to really pierce through and find another level of emotion where I can display it physically.  That took a lot of thought.

 

LMD:  What has the experience of making Moebius given you as an actor?

LE-w:  I was very happy that I was able to be on screen and be seen by so many people.  A role such as this for women doesnít come very often, and so, having been able to play two roles with just myself was a tremendous blessing.  And also I was able to meet you through this experience.

 

~ The Lady Miz Diva

July 2nd, 2014

 

 

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