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If Bill Murray is looking for revenge, Park Chan Wook is waiting.
The Korean master best known for his Vengance films and the original Oldboy, as well as the psychological thriller Stoker, starring Nicole Kidman, mentioned Murray as the one American actor he would really like to work with.
The two met this week at the Marrakech Film Festival, which they were attending for career tributes, and the encounter put Murray at the top of Park’s list, he said.
At the moment though, the director is working on The Handmaiden, inspired by Sarah Waters’ novel Fingersmith, he told reporters in Marrakech.
Based on a loose adaptation of the work, Park moved the story from Victorian England to the Korean peninsula in the 1930s and changed the title. He’s taken liberties that have changed the story quite a bit he admits, calling it “decadent” in tone. “The film is a lesbian crime thriller,” he said. “There’s a strong element of eroticism and of course some humor.”
Park noted that during this time period Korea was under Japanese occupation. “It was a very dark time for Korea,” he says. The two-time Cannes jury prize winner doesn’t know if he will complete it in time to submit it for Thierry Fremaux’s deadline for next year’s Cannes, as he is only in the early stages of post-production.
During his tribute, Park joked that he was surprised when he was first offered the Marrakech career achievement award, “but then I realized it’s been 20 years since I have been making movies, and it is a good opportunity to look back.”
Looking forward, he is also currently working on several English-language projects. “I have read hundreds of scripts, and of the hundreds, there are a few I am working on,” he said. The simultaneous prep approach comes down to financing with the right partners. “It will have to be the right amount in order to make the best version of one of those films as possible and whenever that is ready, I can go straight into production,” he said.
He’d happily work with the production team at Fox Searchlight again, despite well-documented creative differences and competing cuts on 2013’s Stoker. He said the production team, which included Ridley Scott and Michael Costigan “aren’t idiots.” The process, while “painful,” created a better film in the end. “These people are very intelligent, and at the end of the day they have the goal of making good films.”
“I’d work with Fox Searchlight again if the same set of people are still there. I’m not saying I had a good experience with the company itself, but I had a good experience working with those people,” he said. “I don’t know if I worked with other studios what would happen.”
Park’s being attached to The Revenant before Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu came on board is little more than rumor, according to the filmmaker. Helming the Leonardo DiCaprio film had been brought up in conversation once, he says, while he was trying to get another Western made so he didn’t follow up.
As far as comparisons with Quentin Tarantino, he says the two remain good friends, but keep their common themes on screen and not in conversation. “Certainly when we meet we talk a lot, but we don’t sit down and talk about violence or vengeance,” he said. “We just talk about life and Korean food.”
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