‘Stoker’ director Park Chan-wook talks about coming to America

"Oldboy" director Park Chan-wook on the set of his latest film, "Stoker." Credit: Macall Polay
“Oldboy” director Park Chan-wook on the set of his latest film, “Stoker.”
Credit: Macall Polay

South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook has been a staple of foreign genre cinema since 2000’s border action film “Joint Security Area.” But he’s still best known for his “Vengeance Trilogy,” comprising “Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance,” “Sympathy for Lady Vengeance” and its centerpiece, “Oldboy,” famous for both its hallway hammer fight barnstormer and a scene where its lead slurps up a live octopus. Park makes a perhaps belated debut in America, but he does it his way: “Stoker,” starring Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode and Nicole Kidman, is a stylish Gothic thriller about family secrets, outre sexuality and serial killing.

What made you want to make a film in America?
It took me 10 years to make [my previous film] “Thirst,” from the very inception to finish. After that, I had done all the films I wanted to do. I felt I was in need of a turning point in my career. I was on the lookout for a good script, and this was just a case of good timing.

It seems like the script, though not by you, shares a lot with your previous work.
There are many ways to link this to my previous work — but when I first came across the script, I noticed the characters were different [from my previous films]. They don’t seem to have much in the way of ethical dilemmas, whereas the characters in my other films are wrought with dilemma. In “Stoker,” the characters don’t seem to have any sense of guilt. But actually it’s not that they don’t have any dilemmas or sense of guilt — they’re just better at hiding them.

What’s it like working in the U.S. versus South Korea?
The presence of the studio is stronger here. There’s a greater exchange of ideas and opinions. I found myself having to explain why I wanted certain things to be a certain way. The sheer volume of opinions is something I wasn’t used to. I found it to be quite arduous. But in the end, it proved very productive.

There’s very little violence in “Stoker.” Was that a response to your reputation as a maker of violent films — which aren’t, it should be noted, even that graphic?
It wasn’t a function of me pulling any punches. What sparked my interest in this script was that my daughter was the same age as the protagonist here. I wanted to make a film that girls the same age as India [the lead character] would come to see. Anything that came across as overly disgusting just wouldn’t do. I simply wanted to make an elegant and beautiful film [that] girls the same age as India would enjoy



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Mayor pledges lower greenhouse gas emissions from New…

Just hours before the start of the People’s Climate March on Sunday, and two days ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit, Mayor Bill de…

National

The best places to see the Northern Lights…

A large solar storm hit the Earth's atmosphere and will tonight illuminate the skies with aurora borealis -- also known as the Northern Lights.

Local

Police officer killed Sunday morning Bronx crash, 8…

One NYPD police officer was killed and eight other officers were injured early Sunday morning when the van they were traveling in crashed  in the…

National

Pennsylvania police shooter manhunt near home of suspect's…

A police manhunt intensified on Friday for the gunman who killed an officer and wounded another in an ambush at a Pennsylvania police barracks a week ago.

Television

'How to Get Away with' mischaracterizing Shondra Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes read Alessandra Stanley's New York Times piece about her being "an angry black woman" and "a romance writer" and it did not sit well with her.

Gossip

New nude celebrity selfies leak … and Clay…

A new batch of nude selfies of Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Hudgens, Lake Bell and Avril Lavigne hit the web and Clay Aiken has something to say!

Television

James Spader's route to villainy on "The Blacklist"

In honor of the second season premiere of "The Blacklist" tonight, where James Spader plays good guy/bad guy Raymond “Red” Reddington, it’s a good time to look back at Spader’s…

Television

True Detective

NFL

Jay Cutler takes Marc Trestman's coaching to heart

While Jay Cutler turned to an autobiography on the man who would be his head coach, Trestman had personal experience with the player.

NFL

Jets vs. Bears: 3 things to watch

Jets fans likely chalked up Monday's matchup with the Bears as a loss when the NFL schedule came out. But given their team's play so…

NFL

Rashad Jennings carries Giants in first win this…

Rashad Jennings, who came to New York from Oakland last year, by way of Jacksonville, was highly coveted this offseason by general manager Jerry Reese.

NFL

3 things we learned as Giants pick up…

The Giants picked up their first win of the season over the Texans.

Career

Here's how to make the most of visit…

You’re primped, you’re looking polished, you’re prepared with a stack of resumes. Job fair hunters, unite! There are a few things to keep in mind…

Education

Learn how to study effectively and stop cramming…

Picture this: It’s midterm week, and college students everywhere are trying to frantically memorize all of the math formulas, political theories and historical facts that…

Parenting

How motherhood inspired Bethenny Frankel's new book

Bethenny Frankel's new children's book is about how her daughter and dog didn't always get alone.

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.