Home Film & TV Past Lives: A Conversation with the Cast

Past Lives: A Conversation with the Cast

by Neil Bui

I had the pleasure of speaking with the talented cast of the film Past Lives. During this interview, I delve into the characters, the impact of the film’s Korean dialogue, and the personal connections the actors developed with their roles. Greta Lee, Teo Yoo, and John Magaro share their insights and experiences, giving readers an exclusive look into the making of this captivating love story.

Character Depth and Authenticity:

When asked about her character Nora, Greta Lee highlights the authenticity they aimed for in portraying a woman who is practical and unburdened. Nora’s traits are a blend of necessity and genuineness, showcasing the complexities of a fully formed adult faced with challenging circumstances. The cast aimed to capture a realistic representation of how someone like Nora would handle such situations, creating a character that viewers can relate to on a deeper level.

Impact of Korean Dialogue:

I ask about the significance of Past Lives as an American film featuring a substantial amount of Korean dialogue. Teo Yoo acknowledges the importance of cultural representation, but he also emphasizes the universal nature of the film’s story. Love, heartache, and questioning destiny are emotions and experiences that transcend cultural boundaries. Teo expresses his hope that the film will inspire future generations, regardless of cultural background.

Strength in Relationships:

John Magaro shares insights into his character, Arthur, and his unwavering support for his wife, Nora. In their marriage, there is a strong sense of security and trust that allows both partners to thrive individually. John emphasizes that healthy relationships require partners who can put aside their insecurities and encourage each other’s personal growth. The film explores the complexities of adult love, and Arthur serves as an example of the strength found in a mature and supportive relationship.

Embracing the Characters:

During the interview, the actors reflect on the parts of their characters that have become part of their own lives. John humorously mentions his continued struggles with speaking Korean, a skill he developed for the film. Greta Lee expresses how deeply personal the movie was for the entire cast, restoring her faith in the collaborative process and the importance of creating films like Past Lives. Teo Yoo agrees, stating that the experience has left a lasting impact, although he doesn’t elaborate on any specific aspects.

The Influence of Director Celine Song:

Greta Lee had the opportunity to closely interact with director/writer Celine Song due to the film’s basis on Celine’s own life. However, John and Teo also had conversations with Celine, which influenced their portrayals. John shares how spending time with Celine and her husband allowed him to observe the real-life person his character, Arthur, was based on. Teo emphasizes focusing on the script and discussing the vision with Celine, staying informed and inspired by her story without being directly influenced by it.

Childhood Selves and Chemistry:

The actors discuss the importance of their characters’ childhood selves in shaping their performances. Greta mentions that matching the emotional depth of her childhood self’s crying scene was integral to her portrayal. The chemistry between the adult and child versions of the characters was crucial, and Greta expresses gratitude for the talented young actors who brought so much maturity to their roles. Teo adds that the connections formed with the childhood selves were instrumental in setting up the chemistry and dynamic within the film.


My interview with the cast of Past Lives provides a fascinating insight into the film’s characters, cultural impact, and the personal connections forged during its creation. Greta Lee, Teo Yoo, and John Magaro offer glimpses into their characters’ authenticity, the significance of cultural representation, and the bonds formed with their on-screen childhood selves. As fans eagerly await the release of Past Lives, this interview offers a glimpse into the depth and complexity that awaits them in this mesmerizing love story.

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