From playing a cunning lawyer in Vincenzo to essaying the role of a woman battling grief in Be Melodramatic, Jeon Yeo-been is one of the most versatile actors out there. The actor, who is known to play strong characters on screen, has a particular knack for coming across as real and relatable. Her impeccable comic timing is the cherry on top.
Now Jeon Yeo-been’s recent film Cobweb, which received rave reviews at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, is all set to premiere at the International Film Festival In Goa on November 27.
In the movie, the actor plays the role of Mido, a producer. The story follows a director, played by Parasite’s Song Kang-ho, who wants to reshoot the end of his latest melodrama. When he faces opposition from the crew and the censor authorities, Mido vows to railroad the production of the film as she firmly believes in the director’s vision. Directed by Kim Jee-woon, Cobweb is a dark comedy offering an indulgent glimpse into the world of filmmaking.
In an exclusive conversation with HELLO! India, Jeon Yeo Been talks about her film, being a fan of India and her craft…
In conversation with Jeon Yeo-been
HELLO!: With a ten-minute standing ovation at Cannes as well as rave reviews, Cobweb has been the talk of the town. What was it like working with director Kim Jee-won, who has such an eye for detail and style which goes beyond genres?
Jeong Yeo Been: “It was a time when I shared an intense sense of passion for my craft and work along with the rest of the crew. It was a stimulating moment. Director Kim Jee-woon possesses not only a discerning perspective. He keeps an open mind towards people, events and things. I was positively influenced by his attitude.”
H!: Your character Mido is someone who believes in her convictions and is willing to defy anyone, she is like a moth who is unafraid to get burnt. What was it like essaying her and what drew you to this project?
JYB: “I’ve always wanted to participate in a film that explores the process of cinema or poses questions about cinema itself. When I encountered Cobweb, I was strongly drawn into the character ‘Mido’, a person who fearlessly runs towards her beliefs. I was captivated because she might be the only person who, when everyone else says it’s impossible, insists that she can do it. Moreover, she is a remarkable character who not only holds such convictions for herself but also knows how to deliver that belief to others.”
H!: What was it like working with Song Kang-ho, the dynamics are interesting. Since you are the one who believes in his work when the rest don’t...
JYB: “Collaborating with amazing artists always brings me a delightful sense of excitement and learning. He has provided me with inspiration and courage at every moment.”
H!: It’s interesting to see the characters you have portrayed whether it was the lawyer Cha-young of Vincenzo, Eun-Jung Of Be Melodramatic, Ji-hyo of Glitch or Jun-hui of A Time Called You. You portray women who know their minds, have a strength of character and are so real that they strike a chord. Are you drawn towards such characters, and like to represent independent women on screen?
JYB: “As an actor, my desire is simply to encounter stories and characters that make me curious and draw me into them. It’s not about expressing a preference solely based on their actions being independent; their personality and behaviour are secondary reasons.”
H!: You are by far one of the most versatile actors, you have wonderful comic timing, and you emote so naturally. What is your process or method towards your craft, and has it changed over the years?
JYB: “As an actor, I believe that an actor or an actress expresses oneself, using his or her body, mind, and soul. Therefore, while it may be challenging to step outside of oneself, I think growth is continuous as long as one tries one’s best, much like other artists in different fields. I don’t think efforts are simply limited to mere skill improvements. What is important first and foremost is to have a flexible mind, mainly one that approaches characters and stories with an open heart, seeking to understand and come closer and closer to the characters.”
H!: Is it easy to switch on and off from your roles, because you have played some very intense characters too? What has been your most challenging project to date?
JYB: “I simply do my best in each moment. Throughout all the work I’ve done, there have been moments that required surpassing lots of challenges. I feel happy and thankful for challenging each moment and successfully overcoming them.”
H!: What draws you to a project, is it the story, your character or the story? Is there a genre you want to try or hands in?
JYB: “The moment I come across a film, it becomes simple. When I decide to choose which one to do it’s similar to what one does when one falls in love. Just as one would jump into love, I run towards the film. I would like to experience films that touch the artist’s life, ask questions about love, or even portray roles that completely twist and turn, much like the character ‘Joker’.”
H!: Korean movies and content are a huge favourite across the world, breaking records and creating history in entertainment. How does it feel being an actor at these exciting times?
JYB: “I don’t believe that excellent films are only about breaking records in terms of numbers or securing top-ranking content. However, it’s a fact that in this era, there is an abundance of amazing films that can be enjoyed both qualitatively and quantitatively. That is why I want to fully enjoy this era and contemplate what fundamentally constitutes good content with performances in films and dramas that I can be proud of, contributing to the essence of quality content.”
H!: You have a huge fan following in India, are you familiar with India, our movies and food? Any plans to visit?
JYB: “I used to enjoy a Bollywood film called 3 Idiots a lot when I was a student. I also like curry with various types of Indian bread, such as roti, and naan. I enjoy drinking chai, too. Whenever I get the chance, I would love to visit India.”
H!: When not working, what do you enjoy doing the most?
JYB: “I enjoy waking up early even on days when I don’t have to work. These days, I find it delightful to watch and feel the dawn breaking in the sky.”