South Korean actor Choi Woo-shik’s career spans indies (“Set Me Free”) to hit mainstream films (“Train to Busan”) to international productions (“In the Room”) but it’s Bong Joon-ho’s “Okja,” which bowed at Cannes and is screening in the BIFF’s Korean Cinema Today — Panorama section, which put Choi on small and big screens worldwide in the Netflix film that also stars Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano and Steven Yeun.
You first rose to fame with Kim Tae-yong’s “Set Me Free,” for which you earned multiple awards including actor of the year prize at the Busan festival in 2014. Have more opportunities arisen for you ever since?
Yes, thankfully. Until “Set Me Free,” I had to pass auditions to [get] roles but fortunately, these days there are quite a few roles that I am offered directly. Yeon Sang-ho and Bong Joon-ho had approached me for “Train to Busan” and “Okja,” respectively, [telling me] that my performance in “Set Me Free” was impressive.
“Okja” is an American film and was the biggest international production that you have ever been involved.
The production scale of “Okja,” which I had never experienced before, was jaw-dropping. Not only the actors but also all the staff were experts in their fields. If I ever make it to Hollywood, I assume that there must be even more for me to learn and feel.
Speaking of which, having spent your teenage years in Vancouver, Canada, you’re bilingual. With the opportunities for bilingual Asian stars getting better, you must be keen to make a leap to the U.S.
I have always dreamed of working in the U.S. There are already some audition offers [from overseas] and I am going to almost all of them, whatever the roles might be. For now, I think the most important thing to do is to try for what could be done.
Are there any specific characters that you want to play?
Cho Seung-woo’s role in recent Korean TV series “Strangers” is what I would really love to play: a character that’s both smart and manly, like those in BBC’s “Sherlock.” “Strangers” feels somewhat like the series’ Korean version.