By Lee Hyo-won
Actress Lee Na-young
, a symbol of cheery Audrey Hepburn-esque grace and femininity, was thrilled to have her looks compared to male stars such as Jung Woo-sung
In the upcoming family comedy "Lady Daddy
", the screen beauty dons a "handsome look", complete with a necktie and mustache. She plays the role of Ji-hyeon, a charming photographer whose perfect life is disrupted with the sudden arrival of a young boy who claims she fathered him, before her sex-change operation. Ji-hyeon is forced to spend a week with the boy, and tries to fulfill a "more conventional" role as a dad while her boyfriend, played by Kim Ji-suk
, grows suspicious.
In a press conference Monday in Seoul, Lee expressed appreciation for comparisons to pretty-faced actors. "But I'm afraid fans (of the male stars) might not like it, but it's the best compliment for me", the 30-year-old actress said shyly.
The unconventional role, moreover, fulfills her longtime personal wish of playing a man onscreen. "I've always wanted to play a male character. Ever since seeing Cate Blanchett impersonate Bob Dylan in `I'm Not There' I dreamed of not simply dressing up as a man but playing a real man", she said.
It was challenging, however, to cast off prejudices for her role. Lee said she initially thought about such details as shaking a leg like a man, or the way she would sit or cry, but eventually felt no need.
"My character onscreen is a very feminine transgender so she doesn't need to possess such masculine habits. So when her son comes knocking at her door, she awkwardly disguises herself as a man. It wasn't too difficult to pull off because I thought a clumsy attempt to act masculine would be natural", she said.
Lee thus focused on having to play the role of a father of a child.
She added that she never questioned her gender identity but was felt comfortable with the shoot because she prefers sporting a boyish style.
was still pretty and goddess-like even when she cross-dressed as a man", complimented her co-star Kim. "I think I would be able to fall in love with a cross-dresser if she is like Lee Na-young
Kim, who starred in the 2009 summer hit "Take Off"
, will be enrolling in the army at the end of the year. The 28-year-old added that he would be ecstatic if Lee came to visit him.
He had said during a previous press event that he didn't even know his co-star's phone number. He has since succeeded in getting Lee's number and ignited laughter from the room by saying his next mission would be to become good friends with her so she would actually visit him during his service.
Meanwhile, Kim said he plans to appear in a TV drama or movie before enrolling in the army but has not yet made any concrete decisions.
In theaters Jan. 14. Distributed by Showbox/Mediaplex.