July 19, 2006
Discharge from military service is right in front of the nose of 31-year-old Sergeant Kim, but finishing his PhD won’t be easy, nor will getting a job. To make matters worse, he learns about his wife’s infidelity, plunging him into deep despair. Made up of three short sketches, the final episode of "Don’t Look Back" (Dir. Kim Young-nam) seems perfect for Kim Tae-woo. Just like the characters he has given us so far, this one bumbles erratically through a dreary life. And again, it is an art-house film that seems a long way from a commercial success.
But right about the time that promotion work began on the film, the Locarno International Film Festival sent word that it would screen the film in competition for the Golden Leopard ? the third time Kim’s face will be seen at a leading European film fest after “JSA: Joint Security Area” (2001, Berlin) and “Woman Is the Future of Man” (2004, Cannes).
Since this year’s Venice International Film Festival is expected to invite director Hong Sang-soo`s "A Woman on the Beach", Kim Tae-woo will have been in films at all four leading festivals. It looks like he has an eye for picking scripts. "Well, I choose them because I have a good feeling about them,” he tells the Chosun Ilbo modestly. “Luck also played a major part."
Does he have an introspective personality? "I get asked that too much. But people who know me well would never say that. One production company head is always saying, ‘Tae-woo has to be in a comedy sometime.’” But despite his surprisingly cheerful and direct personality, the actor does not want to talk about his private life, and the multitude of PR appearances he has to make for the film weigh heavy on his mind.
Kim tells an anecdote that shows just how deep his interest in the films is, and how strong his convictions. "I once turned down a part in a soap opera because I was so concentrated on an early-morning drama. The producer of the show called me a ‘crazy man.’ He must have been vexed being turned down after giving such a good opportunity to a newcomer. But later that same man sought me out and said he was impressed with my ‘sense of responsibility’ and asked me to appear in his work." Ten years later, Kim is still working with the heart of a newcomer and still as straightforward as ever. He may be no star, but he is an actor directors can trust to turn in a memorable performance.