A Giant Leap for Song Hye-kyo?

Before going to see Song Hye-kyo's first film "My Girl and I" released Thursday, I wondered why she decided to go for the big screen. After I watched the film, another question came to my mind: even after leaving TV behind, why did she revisit familiar ground in the role of a girl in love for the first time, a choice that may well put more demanding viewers off.

"I'm well aware of my limitations," Song starts. "That's why I wanted to make a getaway with something I'm well versed in. Frankly, my role requires no particular acting skill. But because I'm a newcomer to the big screen, I didn't want to act poorly in my new career." It is rare to hear a young actress in her early 20s to assess herself so critically.

The film is based on the hit novel "Crying Out Love in the Center of the World," which sold more than 2.5 million copies in Japan. A sad love story of a boy and a girl in ninth grade in Japan was transformed into sweet puppy love between two eleventh graders in a coastal village on the southern Korean island of Geoje. Song stars as Soo-eun, a top student who is pretty and kind as well as brainy.

The plot, where the heroine dies of an incurable disease, is the same as in the original Japanese version, but Song appears more lively and cheerful. The part is very much a patchwork of Eun-suh in 2000's "Autumn Fairy Tale," Su-yeon in "All In" of 2003 and Ji-eun in last year's "Full House": to call the role "something I'm well versed in" is about right.

By the time we were finishing our coffee, the outspoken actress again outpaced my expectations. "I was sick and tired of my roles. To be frank, I played much the same roles until I was cast as Su-yeon in 'All In.' I was really bored, not to mention the audience. I had a slightly different part in 'Sunshine of Love' in 2004, but I concluded that my characters on TV will ultimately all be the same."

So she decided to move on. Peers such as Kim Tae-hee, Son Ye-jin and Jeon Ji-hyun, who have had longer movie careers, played a part in her decision. This year, she carried dozens of screenplays on holiday. But between a desire for career change and a keen sense of her own range, she opted for "My Girl and I."

Asked if the film community is prejudiced against TV actresses, she says, "I can't please everyone." Told she is beautiful, she replies, "I want to be an actress who can lose herself in her roles without caring how she looks." She elaborates, "I am no standard beauty. I was most flattered to hear that I'm an actress who has many different faces depending on the makeup."

The 24-year old starlet's film career has just begun. Now she has made the jump, we are bound to see her change and mature in her next films. Listening to her articulate answers, I was curious to see what character she will show us next.

englishnews@chosun.com / Dec. 22, 2005 18:42 KST