April 26, 2010 / 7:10 PM / 9 years ago

Korea's Queen of Cannes Jeon returns as housemaid

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean star Jeon Do-yeon will be obscure no more when she returns to the Cannes International Film Festival for the first time since she won the best actress award there in 2007.

South Korean actress Jeon Do-yeon listens to a reporter's question during an interview with Reuters in Seoul April 21, 2010. REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak

Jeon was an unknown entity when she bowled over critics in her role as a widowed mother who tries to start a new life in the South Korean countryside in the movie called “Secret Sunshine.”

Now she is the main attraction of the movie called “The Housemaid,” which will be in competition at Cannes next month and is a remake of a Korean classic.

“Cannes in 2007 was my first film festival and I was taken aback by how no one noticed the actress Jeon Do-yeon,” she said in an interview with Reuters.

Jeon was dubbed the “Queen of Cannes” when she returned to South Korea, landing endorsement deals, TV appearances and photo spreads in fashion magazines. She was named by trade publication Variety as one of the 50 most influential women in entertainment in the world.

She then starred in one small movie, married and took a break from film to give birth to her first child, a daughter.

In her new movie that makes its international premiere at Cannes, she plays an innocent and educated woman who finds a job as a maid in the home of an exceptionally affluent family who is soon ensnared in a love triangle with the wealthy husband and his wife, who is pregnant with twins.

Intrigue, passion and betrayal follow as well as a scene where Jeon’s character named Eun-yi hangs from a chandelier.

“It was painful, scary and frightening,” Jeon said of the shooting where she was attached to a harness and dangled several meters in the air.

The movie also has steamy scenes that have created a stir in local media and anxiety for the new mother.

“All movies that have bed scenes are shocking and a lot of talk goes around the bed scenes whenever a movie comes out. What is different about this one is that the shock does not come from visual scenes but the emotional shock,” she said.

Jeon, considered one of the best actresses in South Korea, sees her limited ability in foreign languages as holding her back from taking a role in a major overseas production. But she still would not mind giving it a try.

“When director Ang Lee came to Korea, I had the opportunity to meet him and I was swept away. For Ang Lee, I am a bit willing to leap the language barrier,” she said.

Jeon, 37, started her career in television, appearing in dramas in the early 1990s. Her breakthrough role came in the 1997 Korean movie “The Contact,” which was one of the first major films in the country centered around an Internet romance.

She then starred in a series of movies about women who fall on hard times or are in strained romances, winning accolades at home and in Asia. She has had to readjust her life as an actor to take on her new role as a mother.

“I think I will object if my daughter decides to become an actress. Whatever she does, she will have to struggle to overcome the perception that anything she achieved came because she was the daughter of Jeon Do-yeon.”

Editing by Miral Fahmy

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