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INTERVIEWBae Suzy shows another side in 'Anna'

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Bae Suzy plays the title role in the Coupang Play's new original series
Bae Suzy plays the title role in the Coupang Play's new original series "Anna." Courtesy of Coupang Play

Coupang Play's series revolves around woman living in lie

By Lee Gyu-lee

Actor and singer Bae Suzy, who has typically played a protagonist in romance series like "Start-Up" (2020), has taken a step toward expanding her acting repertoire with the title role in streaming platform Coupang Play's new original series, "Anna."

Actor Bae Suzy / Courtesy of Coupang Play
Actor Bae Suzy / Courtesy of Coupang Play
"I had this desire to show a new side of myself," Bae said during an interview with The Korea Times, held at a cafe in Jongno-gu, Seoul, Wednesday. "I wanted to show a different type of acting that I've never done before. And this is a series that any actor would want, so I didn't want to lose the chance. It was vague at first but since I made my decision, I felt the pressure and responsibility in making this a good one."

The eight-part drama series, which released its first two episodes on June 24, revolves around a woman named Yu-mi (Bae), who was born to poor but loving parents. She is intelligent and beautiful, but life doesn't seem to go in her favor.

While trying to make ends meet for herself and her mute mother after her father's death, she stumbles across a chance to live under a new identity as a girl named Anna, experiencing the affluent, sophisticated life she always wanted.

It is led by filmmaker Lee Joo-young, who directed the 2016 drama film, "A Single Rider."

The series has created a buzz among viewers with Bae's performance in the first two episodes, portraying Yu-mi's past life from adolescence to how she came to live under the name Anna.

The actress shared that she is thrilled to receive such a positive response from the viewers.

"I really resonated into the role while acting, so hearing hear people saying that I've met the best role in my career feels so surreal and exciting … I thought this was an opportunity for me to show different sides of me so it will be remembered as a valuable work," she said.

A scene from the series
A scene from the series "Anna" / Courtesy of Coupang Play

Bae expressed that she sympathized with her character while reading the script and tried her best to draw the same feeling from the viewers.

"When I read the script, I felt for Yu-mi and came to root for her. But I was worried if viewers will also see from Yu-mi's perspective and support her like I did," she said. "There are several points where she crosses lines. So the director said the audience has to empathize with her for this series to work."

She added that she put in a lot of effort to try and understand the complex psychology behind Yu-mi's actions, turning to a psychologist for input.

"I sought advice (from a psychologist) on what Yu-mi's fundamental state of mind would be, and came to the conclusion that her motivation is anxiety," she said. "She always had that anxiety that pushed her to take action … and led her to study harder than anyone around her."

Bae said she took time to reflect on her own life to build her character.

"As I studied the character in depth, I tried to portray that anxiety," she said.

"So building the character of Yu-mi, for me, was a time to reflect on my own anxiety. Since people need to see things through Yu-mi's eyes, I tried to focus on the feelings that we would all have."

She noted that the series is not about the wrongdoings that Anna commits, but rather a story of a woman's life.

"'Anna' is not about a person with Ripley's Syndrome. The director and I talked a lot about how people who grew up being complimented for their intelligence tend to be vulnerable to becoming incompetent," she said. "Rather than judging whether she is good or bad, I would like people to think 'maybe it was us that made Yu-mi like that' and empathize with her."

"Anna" will release one episode every Friday.
Lee Gyu-lee

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