In the Korean film "A Taxi Driver," German actor Thomas Kretschmann, whose works include "The Pianist" and "Avengers: Age of Ultron," was cast to portray the role of Peter, a German journalist whose character was based on Jurgen Hinzpeter.
Hinzpeter came to Korea to report on the Gwangju Uprising in 1980 that was the basis of the movie. In the film, Peter hires taxi driver Kim Man-seob (played by Song Kang-ho) to take him to Gwangju.
The movie is currently No. 1 at the Korean box office and has earned US$30.74 million from August 2 to 6.
In an interview with the Korean Film Council, Kretschmann talked about working on his first Korean film and the difficulties he faced during the shooting.
Kretschmann said he spent four months in Korea for the filming.
"We shot according to the weather, which was rough. It was either hot or raining, or both. We constantly moved all across the country. I remember spending more time in a car on the highway than on set. It was so hot and everyone was sweating bullets. Me even more so as I wasn't used to it," he said.
He is used to shooting films in different countries and languages but he reached his limit in Korea.
"It was completely different and I was not expecting it to be that foreign to me," he said. "First of all was the language barrier. I'm working with actors who don't understand what I'm saying and I don't understand them. I had a director who didn't understand what I was saying. Not only was he interpreting, he also needed to judge my acting in a language that he doesn't understand."
He was cast after director Jang Hun and producer Park Un-kyoung went to Los Angeles to see him.
"I got the script from my agency, read it and I liked it right away. First of all because the script was very good. For me it's very simple, I like a script or I don't. I want to see the movie or I don't. Then Director JANG and Producer PARK (PARK Un-kyoung of production company The Lamp) visited me in Los Angeles and I thought to myself that that was quite a trip to come and meet an actor. I felt humbled that they came over and during our first interaction, as I always say, we smelt each other. I knew right away, and he told me later on that he did too," he said.
Kretschmann said he had no idea about the Gwangju Uprising.
"Usually I know quite a bit about what's going on in the world. I didn't know about Jurgen Hinzpeter (Kretschmann's character), I didn't know about anything. When people asked me what I was doing and I told them, nobody knew about it.
He said foreigners would be able to relate to "A Taxi Driver."
"I don't think the political environment is a problem to pick up on. It's more about the culture and how people talk and react to each other. There's a barrier with the culture, but not with the subject, which is universal," he said.