2006, May 10
By Kim Tae-jong
Actress Uhm Jung-hwa is well known for playing a single, successful career woman in many feel-good romantic comedies. But in recent years she seems to have tried to step away from the stereotype.
Uhm Jung-hwa, left and Shin Ui-jae star in "My Piano (Horowitz-rul Wihayo)."
After her role as a serial killer in last year’s thriller "Princess Aurora," the 34-year-old actress is back in a challenging new role as a piano teacher who must pull-off skillful piano performances.
"I wasn’t really into classical music, so I was really worried about scenes in which I have to play piano skillfully," Uhm said during a news conference on Tuesday, after the preview screening of her new film "My Piano (Horobichurul Wihayo)" at Daehan Theater in downtown Seoul.
In the movie, Uhm plays a 30-year-old single woman who used to dream about becoming a world-class pianist but ends up opening a small neighborhood piano school in the outskirts of Seoul.
She meets a troublesome boy with great musical talent and her goal becomes turning him into a renowned pianist like Vladimir Horowitz _ but what she really wants is a reputation as a great piano teacher. However, she realizes what the boy really needs is love.
In preparing for the role, Uhm underwent two months extensive piano training and spent much of her time practicing what she learned. The result is quite satisfying as she skillfully plays some classical pieces in the film.
"It was so hard to learn how to play classical pieces, but the atmosphere on the set was so great as we could listen to classical music all the time while we were shooting, and now I know why so many people enjoy listening to classical music," Uhm said.
Although she said her main concern in the film was the music, no one could have done a better job given Uhm’s career as a singer.
She started her show business career in 1989 as a singer with a local television station chorus then released a string of dance albums starting in the late 1990.
She went on to pursue an acting career in soap operas and gained huge popularity starring in a series of hit films including "Marriage Is a Crazy Thing (Kyolhon-un Michin Chissida)" (2001), "Singles" (2003), "Mr. Handy (Hongbanjang)" (2003) and "My Lovely Week" last year.
Uhm co-stared with popular veteran actors including Gam Woo-sung in "Marriage Is a Crazy Thing," Kim Ju-hyuk in "Mr. Handy" and Hwang Jung-min in "My Lovely Week."
But, in "My Piano" her young co-star Shin Ui-jae is making his big screen debut.
Although the film also stars Park Yong-woo, who plays a man with a big crush on Uhm’s character, the plot revolves around Uhm and her 11-year-old co-star.
Uhm said she believes age is merely a number and that she didn’t have any difficulties working with the child actor.
"But as you can see, the only problem is he sometimes does things you don’t expect," Uhm said jokingly, as Shin playfully answered questions during the conference.
Although she found the film a good opportunity to experience the character of a thoughtful mother, the single actress said she does not have any specific plans for marriage yet.
"My Piano" opens in theaters nationwide May 25.