[CELEB] In 'Broker,' Lee Ji-eun had to channel her inner mom

Actor Lee Ji-eun poses during a photocall for the film "Broker" presented in the Official Competition at the 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 27. [XINHUA/GAO JING]

“I think a mother is just a person who misses her baby and wants to go see him when they are apart – someone who forever wonders what the human being that came from her own body is doing right now,”

That is how actor Lee Ji-eun, also known as singer IU, described motherhood to the press after her movie "Broker" premiered at the 75th Cannes Film Festival on Friday.

With deep smoky eye makeup, matted hair and a sullen expression, Lee portrays So-young, a young single mother who abandons her newborn child. Having second thoughts, she returns to get the child but meets Sang-hyun (portrayed by Song Kang-ho) and Dong-soo (Gang Dong-won), who convince her to sell her baby to a childless family. The three embark on a journey to find a family for the baby.

From left, actors Song Kang-ho, Lee Ji-eun, Lee Joo-young and Gang Dong-won during the red carpet event of the 75th Cannes Film Festival on May 26, in Cannes, southern France [REUTERS]

“It was challenging to portray So-young because she was a mother with such a dark and depressing past,” said Lee. “To be very honest, I was overwhelmed by the fact that I had to play a mother, which I had no personal experience of, and a single mother at that. I tried hard to understand it but at the end of the day, it was an area that I could never perfectly know. So, I depended on the script and followed it as closely as I could. I also spent a lot of the time with the baby in the film. Once the cameras were rolling, I expressed my feelings to the baby just as they came to me at that moment. I didn’t pressure myself to feel more maternal love.”

A still cut from the new film "Broker" [ILGAN SPORTS]

Lee said she had been wanting to attempt the role of a mother.

“Strangely enough, I received the casting call for ‘Broker’ when I was thinking to myself that I really wanted to try the role of a mother,” Lee told reporters. “I didn’t have any particular mother figure in mind – just someone who had turned such a huge cornerstone in life like giving birth and someone who protects another human being. But the character So-young was a special kind of mother.”

A still cut from the new film "Broker" [ILGAN SPORTS]

Director Hirokazu Kore-eda was confident that Lee was right for the role, especially after watching her performance in the tvN drama series “My Mister (2018). Lee had portrayed a desolate character struggling in a world of injustice. During the movie’s local press conference on May 11, Kore-eda said that Lee’s performance was “the perfect answer” to his film and the character.

Kore-eda is a Japanese director who won the Palm d’Or in 2018 for his film “Shoplifters.”

Lee said Kore-eda helped her concentrate on the set. “Since our director didn’t speak the same language as the actors, I noticed how everyone was paying much more careful attention to each other’s words compared to other sets,” said Lee. “I found that effort to not lose any bit of each other’s words very insightful.”

From left, director Hirokazu Kore-eda and actors Joo-Young Lee, Ji-eun Lee, Song Kang-ho and Gang Dong-won arrive at the awards ceremony of the 75th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, on May 28. [VIANNEY LE CAER/ INVISION/ AP]

When a 12-minute standing ovation erupted in the theater at Cannes at the end of the screening of “Broker," Lee said she felt “overwhelmed and dazed.

“The applause was like a pat on the back for everyone who worked on the movie. It truly felt like words of cheer and comfort.”

During the festival awards ceremony on Sunday, Song received the Best Actor Award for "Broker."

From left, actors Gang Dong-won, Lee Joo-young, Lee Ji-eun and Song Kang-ho pose during a photocall for the film ″Broker" presented in the Official Competition at the 75th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 2

“Broker” will open in Korean cinemas on June 8, and is slated for release in Japan on June 24 and France in December. It has been sold to 169 more countries, including Hong Kong, Macau, the United States, Canada, Germany and Italy.


After debuting as a solo singer in 2008 under the stage name IU, Lee debuted as an actor in 2011 in the KBS series “Dream High.” She starred in her next drama series “You Are The Best” in 2013 alongside veteran actor Jo Jung-suk. Her subsequent acting roles include KBS’s “THE Producers” (2015), SBS’s “Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo” (2016), tvN’s “My Mister” (2018), tvN’s “Hotel Del Luna” (2019) and Netflix film “Persona” (2019).

Actor and singer-songwriter Lee Ji-eun, otherwise known as IU [EDAM ENTERTAINMENT]

IU (Lee Ji-eun)

Date of birth: May 16, 1993
Zodiac sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Seongdong District, eastern Seoul
Debut: September 2008 as singer IU
Agency: Edam Entertainment

IU debuted as a solo singer in 2008 at the age of 16. Her breakthrough song was “Good Day” in 2010, which showed her wide vocal range. Her other hits include “You & I” (2011), “The Red Shoes” (2013), “Twenty-three” (2015), “Palette” (2017), “Blueming” (2019), “Eight” (2020) and “Celebrity” (2021). In 2015, she began to take creative control of her music and her fourth EP “Chat-Shire” contains music she wrote. Lee debuted as an actor in 2011 in the KBS series “Dream High” and has starred in six more drama series since. In 2019, she was cast in the Netflix film “Persona.” She made her debut on the big screen in the film “Broker,” which premiered at the 75th Cannes Film Festival.

This information was confirmed by Edam Entertainment on May 27, 2022.