Bong Joon-ho, the Korean director best known for his monster film “The Host,” is now bringing us “Snowpiercer,” a sci-fi action film that focuses on Earth’s survivors after an experiment to counteract global warming went wrong. The film is the director’s English-language debut, and it features some major stars, including Chis Evans and Tilda Swinton. With “Snowpiercer” hitting theaters today, Joon-ho took the opportunity to chat with the Reddit community to dissect his latest project. Here are some highlights:
He doesn’t like sticking with one tone.
He LOVED working with Tilda Swinton.
With Tilda Swinton starring as a very over-the-top villain in “Snowpiercer,” a fan wanted to know what it was like working the acclaimed actress. “So she had new ideas every second, and from a director’s point of view, she had even more ideas than me, and I was busy picking up the fruits that were left behind by her. You will see in the film, she has a very unique look, and her transformation is so extreme you can barely tell that is her, and most of that was Tilda’s idea. And at one point, I had to bring it back a little bit,” he said.
He likes hands and feet.
Symbolically speaking, of course. “So character’s feet, in my films I often use feet or hands to talk about the characters. For example in ‘Memories of Murder,’ there is a detective who kicks the innocent suspects with his boots, and in the end, his foot gets cut off. As you mentioned there are feet in ‘Mother,’ but also hands, like after the ‘Mother’ kills the old man witness, she looks down at her guilt-ridden hands. And also when she is chopping the herbs, it’s almost as if her fingers are going to be cut off. And in ‘Snowpiercer,’ regarding Chris Evans there is something involving his arm, I don’t want to spoil it for those of you who have not seen the film yet. If you watch it through to the end, you will see what happens to his arm.”
He’s not involved with “The Host” sequel.
After much speculation about a sequel to his 2006 monster movie, “The Host,” Joon-ho addressed the rumors. “Actually, there is a ‘Host’ sequel that is in the works. And I actually gave all the rights to ‘The Host’ to the production company that made the first film as a thankful gesture for making such a successful and great film. Apparently there is a new director but it seems like the script is taking a long time. It has not been shot yet, but they have made a 3-D demo skull that you can see on YouTube. I have no involvement on that project. As far as the monster genre, I do enjoy that genre and would like to return to it sometime because it can be so unique and funny and you can add all kinds of symbolism into a monster film.”
He likes Korean filmmakers.
When asked about films he likes on an international scale, the director replied that he was a fan of filmmakers from his home: “Both are Korean films: one is called ‘The Yellow Sea’ by Nahong Jin, and it’s a really unique and different thriller which I highly recommend. And by director Kimjee Woon, he made a film called ‘The Good, The Bad and The Weird’ which I think IFC released, and it is a sort of hybrid western, a Manchurian western, if you will, which is very thrilling and exciting.”
He’s a fan of Spike Jonze (and Scarlett Johansson).
“So recently I saw Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’ and really enjoyed it. It’s kind of sci-fi but not really, about loneliness and the voice of Scarlett Johansson, listening to her speak was kind of addictive and I wanted to listen to her voice.”
He got dinner with Quentin Tarantino.
A fan, who knew that Tarantino is a fan of Joon-ho’s “The Host” asked about the relationship between the two directors. According to Joon-ho, “I first met Quentin at the Busan Film Festival, it’s the largest film festival in Asia, and when we were both in LA recently we had dinner. We are both movie buffs and when we talk movies, we don’t feel time passing, so before becoming directors we were film fans. And Quentin was very interested in the Korean genre masters from the 60’s and 70’s, so I found some of my rare DVDS and gave him a box set of the films, and in return Quentin gave me an old TV series called ‘Garrison’s Gorillas’ which is about WWII. It’s a very old show. It can slightly remind you of ‘Inglourious Basterds.’ I don’t know how he found it but it’s very rare and he gave it to me so it’s a good friendship that started.”
He didn’t have the problems Park Chan-wook had while making “Stoker.”
Park Chan-wook faced issues making his first English debut, “Stoker,” which stars Mia Wasikowska and Nicole Kidman. “So actually in the case of director Park, it was a project that was developed by Fox Searchlight and others and he came onboard as a director. In the cast of ‘Snowpiercer,’ I developed it myself and it was all financed and produced out of Korea with Korean financing, and the actors and the crew were a combination of people form various countries. I did not set out to make an international film, it just turned out that way because the film is about all of mankind existing on a train.”