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Jeon Jong-seo discusses her first Hollywood role in 'Mona Lisa and Blood Moon'

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A scene from the film, 'Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon' / Courtesy of Pan Cinema
A scene from the film, 'Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon' / Courtesy of Pan Cinema

By Kwak Yeon-soo

Jeon Jong-seo said she found it liberating to play Mona Lisa Lee in her Hollywood debut feature "Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon."

The sci-fi thriller film follows a mysterious woman named Mona Lisa Lee (Jeon) with supernatural abilities, who escapes from a closed psychiatric ward and makes her way to the streets of New Orleans. Once out in the world, she befriends Bonnie Hunt (Kate Hudson), a local stripper and single mother.

"It was liberating to star alongside Hollywood actors. Because music plays an important role in our movie, there was always a big speaker on set playing punk music. We were all in a festive mood," she said in a written interview released by distributor Pan Cinema, Wednesday.

Her audition process was rigorous, with Jeon going a week without sleep to prepare for the audition.

"I submitted an audition tape and was cast without any in-person meeting. I had to join the cast right after I finished filming 'The Call,' so there was a lot of anxiousness. I flew to the U.S. to meet director Ana Lily Amirpour. I stayed at her place for two nights and we discussed the film," she said.

"After meeting everybody on set and watching the way they worked and how chill they were, it kind of eased all of my worries and my nervousness."

Actress Jeon Jong-seo / Courtesy of ANDMARQ
Actress Jeon Jong-seo / Courtesy of ANDMARQ

Jeon described her character Mona as the most innocent character she has played so far. The actress made her debut in auteur Lee Chang-dong's thriller "Burning" (2018). Since then, she has appeared in the Netflix series "Money Heist: Korea ― Joint Economic Area" and tvN's "Bargain."

"Mona has supernatural powers, but I felt she was more like a newborn baby taking her first step out into the world. She sees what others don't see and feels what others cannot feel," she said.

Jeon went on to talk about shooting the film in the exotic setting of nighttime New Orleans.

"The weather in New Orleans is very unpredictable. The city is a mecca for jazz lovers. I haven't been to many countries, but it was by far the most exciting and memorable place. I think the atmosphere of New Orleans is well captured in the film," she said.

"Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon" had its world premiere at the 78th Venice International Film Festival in 2021. The film was nominated in five categories, including best film, and received three awards, including best soundtrack.

The film hit local theaters on Wednesday.

Kwak Yeon-soo


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