Actress Behind TV’s Creepy Kim Jong-il
Actress Behind TV’s Creepy Kim Jong-il, A well-known star is unrecognizable on “30 Rock” even though she doesn’t wear much makeup. Emmy nominee Margaret Cho: ‘The most alarming thing’ is that I look like Kim Jong-il, Margaret Cho was recently nominated for her first-ever Emmy … but it’s for a guest role most viewers don’t even realize she’s playing. After all, who would ask a 43-year-old woman to portray North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il? “30 Rock” star and executive producer Tina Fey would (and did!) and Cho jumped at the chance.
“It seemed like a good fit. I was absolutely flattered. People don’t expect it to be me because I’m so disguised. But the way I’m disguised is just that I’m not wearing any makeup. That’s actually enough to transform me into him,” Cho, whose parents both emigrated from South Korea, explains of the comic-infused version of the notorious leader she’s played on the NBC sitcom for the last two seasons. “The most alarming thing is that I just look like that. There are a couple of different fat suits I wear, and I guess it’s in the performance, so that’s good. I’m proud that I get to play a man and be nominated as an actress. I feel like Cate Blanchett.”
Cho’s fictional version of Kim Jong-il kidnaps the TV news anchor wife (played by Elizabeth Banks) of Alec Baldwin’s narcissistic network executive and, in “30 Rock’s” signature bizarre fashion, shows up everywhere from the local news weather segments (where he tries to convince the world that’s it’s “sunny all the time” in North Korea) to a cocktail party where he tries to pass himself as a waiter. After his death, Cho quickly began playing the dictator’s son Kim Jong-un (who incidentally looks very much like his father).
Researching the role turned out to be a little difficult, Cho found, since few outside of North Korea have actually ever heard the guy speak. “I was trying to research like what he actually sounded like. But, there’s no way to find out. He has no real images connected to sound. So, you have to invent it. And so I just based it on my family. And it seemed to work,” she says. “The weirdly ironic thing about playing that role and playing that character is that that government has been responsible for keeping my family apart for now many generations. It’s the kind of thing where I can’t really find out any of my real ancestry because there’s such a block.”