Bong Joon-ho Lied to Harvey Weinstein for This Reason and We Have No Choice but to Stan
After the incredible success of Parasite around the world, Bong Joon-ho has become everyone’s favorite director overnight. The South Korean director has won fans over with not only his talent, but his witty and straightforward responses to reporters.
While there are many well-known quotes of Bong’s from the promotion of Parasite and awards season, one of his most iconic stories comes from the making of his movie Snowpiercer.
Bong Joon-ho and Harvey Weinstein clashed over ‘Snowpiercer’
Snowpiercer is a 2013 action movie directed by Bong and starring Chris Evans, Song Kang-ho, Octavia Spencer, Go Ah-sung, John Hurt, Ed Harris, Tilda Swinton, and Jamie Bell. The film marked Bong’s English-language debut as roughly 80 percent of the movie is in English, and it achieved critical acclaim.
The Weinstein Company bought the distribution rights to Snowpiercer in 2012, but Weinstein demanded Bong change parts of the movie before releasing it. Weinstein wanted more of the movie to focus on Evans and wanted to cut 25 minutes to put more of an emphasis on action.
“It was a doomed encounter,” Bong told E. Alex Jung for a piece in Vulture. “I’m someone who until that point had only ever released the ‘director’s cut’ of my films. I’ve never done an edit I didn’t want to do.”
Bong Joon-ho lied to Harvey Weinstein to keep a scene in the film
As Bong and Weinstein debated over the film edit, Bong managed to keep one scene in the movie. The scene was beloved by Bong and the movie’s cinematographer, and showed a train guard gutting a fish to intimidate the rebels. Weinstein hated the scene, so Bong came up with a lie on the spot.
Bong told Weinstein, “‘Harvey, this shot means something to me.'”
When Weinstein asked why the shot was so important, Bong said, “‘It’s something personal. My father was a fisherman. I’m dedicating this shot to my father.'”
“‘You should have said something earlier, Bong! Family is the most important. You have the shot,'” Weinstein said.
Bong told Jung, “It was a f*cking lie. My father was not a fisherman.”
The two still clashed over the movie
After Weinstein cut minutes from the movie, it received poor reviews from test audiences in the U.S. Viewers found it hard to follow, as Bong knew they would if Weinstein had his way.
“On the inside, I was happy that the scores were bad,” Bong told Vulture. He also told the publication that if Weinstein’s cut was released Bong would have had his name removed from the movie.
In the end, fans, critics, and actors rallied for Bong’s original cut to be released in the U.S. Weinstein obliged, but punished the movie by only giving it a limited release through The Weinstein Company’s boutique label, Radius.
Since then, Bong has gone on to direct Okja and Parasite. He won Best Director at the 2020 Academy Awards, where Parasite won three other awards including Best Picture. Parasite was also the first South Korean film to win the Palme d’Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.