February 10, 2007 / 8:40 AM / 12 years ago

Korea pop star Rain learns to yodel for film debut

BERLIN (Reuters) - South Korean pop star Rain not only learned to act for his film debut.

He also spent three months practicing table tennis for scenes in the off-the-wall comedy “I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK” and having voice coaching in order to be able to yodel.

The 24-year-old heartthrob, dubbed Asia’s answer to Justin Timberlake, said he was pleased with his performance as a young man in an asylum who tries to rescue a fellow patient from the brink of death, and he plans to do more acting in the future.

“I love films and I want to continue working as an actor,” he told reporters late on Friday after a screening of the film, which is in the main competition at the Berlin film festival.

“If I’m offered something (in movies) I would most probably accept it.”

Made by revered director Park Chan-wook, the romantic comedy provided light relief in a selection of largely serious films that is typical for the hard-hitting Berlinale.

Rain, also known as Jeong Ji-hoon, found it liberating to play a quirky character far removed from his slick stage image.

“A lot of people were quite surprised when I took on this part, because the character is a bit loony,” he said, speaking through a translator.

“For me it was a transition, because I could move away from the image I have and become a real actor.”

WORLD DOMINATION

Rain, who has sold millions of records across Asia and has made it his stated aim to crack the notoriously difficult U.S. market, did some unusual training for his role that more established method actors would be proud of.

“Yes, that was me yodeling in the film,” he assured journalists. “The character I play is someone who can steal others’ characteristics and skills, so he steals the ability to play table tennis.

“It took me three months of private lessons to play table tennis ... That (yodeling) was new for me, and I took private lessons and again I had to practice for about three months.”

For Park, “I’m a Cyborg” was a welcome change after his last film, the dark and violent “Sympathy For Lady Vengeance.”

There are scenes of killing in the comedy, but Park argues they are so heavily stylized and obviously hallucinations of a woman who thinks she is a robot that they are not disturbing.

He also has a serious point to make with “I’m a Cyborg,” which he says addresses one of the most fundamental questions of all - why do I exist?

Park said the lead character, played by Lim Soo-jung, looks at machines with envy, to the point of wanting to become one, precisely because they had a clearly defined purpose.

He also sought to shrug off mediocre box office returns at home for “I’m a Cyborg,” which he had expected to be his biggest hit so far.

“If one or two million people see this film, if you think about it that’s something quite magnificent,” he said. “When I think about that it consoles me.”

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