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Bong Joon Ho Is Too Exhausted From Oscars to Start New Films: ‘I’m a Shell of a Human’

Bong says he's trying to get back to work on new scripts, but post-Oscar season exhaustion is proving tough to overcome.

Bong Joon-ho poses for photographers upon arrival at the BFI Fellowship reception for actress Tilda Swinton at a central London hotelTilda Swinton BFI Fellowship, London, United Kingdom - 02 Mar 2020

Bong Joon Ho

Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Bong Joon Ho is back in South Korea after a whirlwind Oscar season that saw him moving to Los Angeles in order to campaign full time for “Parasite” and dominating the Oscars with wins for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best International Feature Film. Bong is in the early stages of developing two new films, plus the English-language HBO limited series adaptation of “Parasite,” but he tells fellow director Kelly Reichardt in a conversation published on The Atlantic that he’s having a hard time overcoming the exhaustion of Oscar season and getting back to working on new scripts.

“Now that I finally have time, I’m trying to get back on it, but I’m so exhausted, mentally and physically,” Bong says. “I’m just a shell of a human.”

Bong told press backstage at the Oscars following his Best Picture win, “I have to work, it’s my job. So I’ve been working for the past 20 years, and regardless what happened at Cannes and Oscars, I had been working on two projects before then, I’m continuing to work on them, nothing has changed because of these awards. One is in Korean and one is in English.”

Not much is known about the two film projects Bong is planning. The director told Variety last year that both projects “are not big films” and he compared them to the scope of “Parasite” and his previous feature “Mother.” Bong said the Korean film is set in Seoul, South Korea and “has unique elements of horror and action.” The English project is a historical drama “based on a true event that happened in 2016.” The setting of the English-langauge project is split between the United States and the United Kingdom.

In his new interview with Reichardt, whose latest drama “First Cow” is now playing in select theaters, Bong says he has not figured out which project will happen first. He’s only in the early stages of developing the scripts, but when he starts working on one of the screenplays he will not be working on the other. “Once I start writing, I can only work on one project, and the same goes for preproduction,” Bong says. “I’m always jealous of directors who can do projects in between TV shows.”

Bong also hinted that his English-language project would reunite him with his “Okja” cinematographer Darius Khondji, who most recently earned acclaim for filming the Safdie brothers’ “Uncut Gems.” Bong said, “I think any foreign productions I do now will be with Darius, and any Korean films will be with Hong Kyung-pyo.” Hong served as cinematographer on “Mother,” “Snowpiercer,” and “Parasite.”

“Parasite” continued to play in theaters nationwide, where it’s grossed over $50 million at the U.S. box office to become the fourth highest grossing foreign-lagnauge release domestically. The film will begin streaming exclusively on Hulu starting April 8.

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