On the occasion of her role in “The Housemaid“, we speak with Vietnamese actress Kate Nhung about the film, her approach towards the role, Vietnamese cinema, and other topics

Why did you decide to act in a horror film? How was the casting process like? In general, which are the criteria that make you decide on a role?

When I received the film project, I was more interested in the script, the role, and the crew, it was not the genre that influenced my decision.  I went through four rounds of casting and was very excited when Derek chose me to play the part of Linh.

How did you approach the part of Linh and how did Derek Nguyen guided you for the role? Linh seems sad after the Captain dies. Was she really in love with him?

I spent a month working with the script before working with the director. I read the script many times, found the character’s motivation, connected all the key issues to determine my choice.  Then I went into the analysis of each act, each scene, each beat in the script. After working on the script on my own, I then had some meetings with director Derek Nguyen and other co-stars. In my opinion, Derek is a director who really knows how to work with actors. This was very helpful for me. The director shared a lot of useful knowledge with me and that knowledge has become my working experience for my next film projects.

After the captain died, Linh was not just sad.  Although Linh and her brother had plotted out their revenge, she felt terrible to kill him.  Linh sacrifices greatly and was in an emotional state of chaos.  For me, Linh had never experienced love before and so her feelings for the captain was an act.

The film has the French colonialism and the Vietnamese revolution as its base. Can you tell us your opinion about these concepts?

As you say, “The Housemaid” took place during the French colonial domination of Vietnam and the resistance of the Vietnamese.  Through the film, the audience can see it in a narrow angle and perhaps, from there, sense the broader perspective.  As an actor, the character I played also touches on this broader scope.  Linh herself has deep resentment for the captain and perhaps for the revolution movement, Linh finds the strength to carry out her revenge.

The film features a number of sex scenes. Was it difficult for you to act in those?

Vietnamese girls are still tied up with traditional culture, so it is difficult for me.  I cried at the start of the scene and I do not want to see those scenes again.

Can you tell us a bit about the location of the shooting, and particularly the mansion? 

Most of the scenes were filmed in the mansion, with only a few scenes shot in other settings.  The mansion is the old Provincial Governor’s residence located in the center of Go Cong.  This French building was built in 1885, with all the materials brought from France, similar in structure to that of the other governors of Cochinchina. The mansion has been abandoned for years and the set designer had to do a lot to get the look that you see on screen.

How was the shooting like? Any memorable episodes, good or bad?

For the Housemaid project, I devoted my all my focus to the character so I did not feel neither good nor bad, just like being completely into another life.

What is your opinion about Vietnamese cinema, at the moment?

Recently, Vietnam’s film industry has been developing quite fast.  The quality of the production is getting better each day.  I hope that the law on censorship will be loosened so that filmmakers can broaden their creativity.

Which are your favorite actresses/movies?

My favorite actresses are Kate Winslet and Kim Basinger.  Some movies I watch over and over again are Chicago, Les Miserables, Birdman, The Reader, Revolution road,…

Can you tell us a bit about your future plans?

I have no plans for the future.  What will be will be.

My name is Panos Kotzathanasis and I am Greek. Being a fan of Asian cinema and especially of Chinese kung fu and Japanese samurai movies since I was a little kid, I cultivated that love during my adolescence, to extend to the whole of SE Asia. Starting from my own blog in Greek, I then moved on to write for some of the major publications in Greece, and in a number of websites dealing with (Asian) cinema, such as Taste of Cinema, Hancinema, EasternKicks, Chinese Policy Institute, and of course, Asian Movie Pulse. in which I still continue to contribute. In the beginning of 2017, I launched my own website, Asian Film Vault, which I merged in 2018 with Asian Movie Pulse, creating the most complete website about the Asian movie industry, as it deals with almost every country from East and South Asia, and definitely all genres. You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter.