From left, actor Kim Ji-seok-I, child actor Kim Hee-soo, actress Lee Na-young and director Lee Kwang-jae pose during a photo session of a press conference for film "Lady Daddy" at a Megabox theater in Seoul, South Korea on January 4, 2009. [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]
A son you were not even aware of being born comes looking for you one day. Yes, many things change over a decade but what has changed is the gender of the dad. Hence, there was no instantaneous recognition between the two nor a tearful reunion between Ji-hyun (played by Lee Na-young) and his son Yoo-bin (played by Kim Hee-soo). The two start living together but will Ji-hyun be able to keep his secret between his son and boyfriend Joon-suh (played by Kim Ji-seok-I)?
"Lady Daddy" is romantic comedy film which touches upon as lightly as it possibly can, on the issue of the not-so-light topic of transgenders. The main cast work in harmony with each other -- Lee Na-young who acts the role of a clumsy and soft-hearted dad, Kim Hee-soo as the chic and mature son and Kim Ji-seok-I who plays a man head over heels in love with his woman, while the excellent comical acting by supporting actors Kim Heung-soo and Kim Hee-won adds extra flavor to the film.
Below are excerpts of the press conference for "Lady Daddy" held at a Megabox theater on Monday attended by the main cast and director Lee Kwang-jae.
Q: Is there anything you focused on in particular in tell your story about transgenders in the film? It's not easy to portray such a topic with warmth and happiness in a commercial movie like yours.
Lee Kwang-jae (Lee KJ): Rather than focusing on what each character should be like, I wanted to show that people make certain special decisions in their lives and live according to that choice. And I wanted to show that Ji-hyun's decision to become a woman was just one of the many choice's that anyone could make. I wanted to portray this with warmth by basing her story on universal emotions such as love between family members or a man and a woman.
Q: How did you prepare for your role as a woman disguised as a man while playing the part as Ji-hyun's dad?
Lee Na-young (Lee NY): That's what I was worried about the most when I took on the film but it turned out that I was actually fighting against another form of stereotype I had (about men). I had to play the role of a man and a dad so I had thought about how he should sit, cry or shake his leg but I realized I didn't really need to do such things because he was very femininity of his own. I think my sloppiness in trying to portray a dad ended up fitting well with the situation within the movie.Actress Lee Na-young attends a press conference for film "Lady Daddy" at a Megabox theater in Seoul, South Korea on January 4, 2009. [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]
Q: How does it feel having played the role of a man?
Lee NY: It was one of the roles I had always wanted to play so it's a dream come true for me. I received a refreshing shock from Kate Blanchett's role as a man, not a woman in man disguise, in film "I'm Not There".
Q: There is talk that you resemble actors Gang Dong-won or Jang Dong-gun when disguised as a male. How do you feel about this?
Lee NY: I think their fans wouldn't like it if I said I think I look like them. (laugh) I'm more than honored to be told I look like them.
Q: How did you two of you become close having to act the role of son and dad?
Kim Hee-soo (Kim HS): I think we became close while shooting the scene where my character Yoo-bin meets his dad for the first time and they play computer games and assemble an electric toy gun together.
Lee NY: Hee-soo is very cool. (laugh) It was my first time acting with a child actor so it took us some time to become close but we rehearsed our lines together a lot and he became more comfortable around me when I was in disguise as his dad so we were able to become very close while on set.
Q: Kim Ji-seok-I, you recently displayed your great affection for Lee Na-young during another press conference.
Kim Ji-seok-I (Kim JS): It's actually my first time meeting Lee since that day so I've been missing her a lot but have also been excited for today. (laugh) My friends or acquaintances made fun of me for using the word 'goddess' in referring to her but I can't help it. It's the truth! No matter what, it's been a great experience working with her and I'm not as close to her as Hee-soo is but I'll keep trying until she likes me as much as she likes him.
Q: But you didn't even have a kissing scene with her and you must feel sad since this will be the last film you worked on before entering the military. If you had a chance to work with Lee again, what sort of story would you want it to be?
Kim JS: Who says this will be the last film I work on before serving for the military? (laugh) It's my personal hope that our movie does well so that we become good friends and Lee will one day come visit me at my base with fried chicken in her hands. I always envied Lee and Hee-soo who would sit together in front of the monitor. I also thought about in which aspects I lack compared to him and I came to the conclusion that I'm not as innocent as him. A guy needs a certain amount of innocence to appeal to a woman. (laugh) I'd definitely be happy to work with Lee again and the next time I do, I want to play the role of a perfect man. I think it'd be fun if she was the one after me in the movie.
Q: What did you think of Lee dressed as a man?
Kim JS: Of the many thoughts, the first thing that came to mind was that she still looks pretty. Or that her head looks even smaller with shorter hair. And that her mom must've had an easier time giving birth to her since she has such a small head... things like that. And when she played the role of a dad, I thought that I would like to be the wife to a man like her.
Q: What would you do in real life if it turned out that, like in the movie, the woman you love used to be a man?
Kim JS: I actually asked myself the same question numerous times before we went into shooting. How I would feel if what happened to my character, happened to me in real life. I still don't know. But what I thought while filming the movie was that ultimately, what you feel is more important than looks or what you see on the outside. And I don't think it would be bad at all if that person was someone like Lee.
Q: Tell us what you think are the biggest strengths and weaknesses to the actors.
Lee KJ: All three of them were great at becoming their own characters so I think they did well at expressing the essence of the scenario although we didn't go through too many rehearsals or tests. And they're all so good-looking that the camera just loves them. (laugh) I don't think they have any weaknesses.
10: Then tell us what you actors would like to say to the director, or what you hope he improves on.
Kim JS: I'm the type that loses his ground when he fails to communicate well with the director because I'm a newcomer to the screen but I was able to approach him comfortably because he listened to me and accepted everything I said while helping me understand things. I only noticed his shortcoming today -- he is like all other directors are on set -- but this is the first time I've seen him without a hat. I think he looks much better without it. (laugh)
Lee NY: I wanted to express my character with as much genuinity as possible while working on this film so there were times when I would become frustrated or think a lot but I was able to complete this movie because the director stood his ground and persuaded me. I thank him for taking the lead on set with his unique sense of humor and charisma.
Kim HS: Director, I love you.
Actress Lee Na-young [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]
Actor Kim Ji-seok-I [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]
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