Han Ye-ri won over global viewers as the struggling mother of an immigrant family in Korean-American director Lee Isaac Chung’s autobiographical film “Minari.”
The film tells the story of a Korean family who move to a small town in Arkansas in the 1980s in pursuit of the American dream.
The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in February last year and won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award. Since then it has bagged 157 nominations and picked up 74 awards at a number of international film festivals and film critics’ awards.
Han herself also garnered favorable reviews for her portrayal of a mother everyone can relate to. Hers was mentioned among the “Great Film Performances of 2020” in the Hollywood Reporter, while film website Collider said Han “could definitely land in the Best Actress race” at this year’s Academy Awards in April.
“When I first read a translation of the script, I didn’t really understand the story. I couldn’t wait to meet the director and ask for his thoughts,” Han said during a Zoom interview with Korean media on Tuesday.
“Then I met Chung, and he was a really nice man. His childhood wasn’t very different from mine. Many of his childhood experiences were the same as those of any ordinary Korean family. We could understand each other. The script was so great, and I became fond of the story.”
Now the film is even more special to her. “It’s one of the best projects in my life. It would be great to have another chance like this,” she said. “Personally, I will be happy if viewers think of me as a person who does her best with whatever role she takes on.”
Asked about the Oscar nominations, which will be unveiled in March, she said, “In fact, I really hope to be nominated and win an award. I hope ‘Minari’ will get good news.”
She also said director Bong Joon-ho, who won four Oscars last year, is giving her a lot of support and encouragement.
Veteran actress Youn Yuh-jung, who plays the eccentric grandmother of the family, has amassed some 26 awards so far for her supporting role in the film and is considered a strong contender for a supporting Oscar.
The film has sparked some controversy in the U.S. because it is categorized as a foreign-language film at the Golden Globes despite being American-produced and written and directed by an American director. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, however, insists it is not eligible for Best Picture as most of the dialogue is in Korean.
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