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Chi - May 23, 2001


I tell you about my friend DiCaprio

The Italian actor of Korean origin Yoon C. Joyce reveals the secrets ot the movie event „Gangs of New York": „I’ve played next to Leo. He was a role model of punctuality and professionalism, different from a spoilt star! And the director Martin Scorsese, a main figure in Cannes with the documentary „My journey to Italy", has given me a great lesson of life and humanity."

On the set of the movie event Gangs of New York of Martin Scorsese, with Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz and Daniel Day-Lewis as protagonists, there have been born a lot of extraordinary stories and encounters. So it has happened that Yoon C. Joyce, Italian actor of oriental origin, born in Seoul, Korea, with a Korean father and a Canadian mother, but adopted at the age of three months by Gabriella and Renato Cometti, from Bergamo, was chosen by the director of the movie, Martin Scorsese, and has experienced the emotion to share the scene with a star like Leonardo DiCaprio. Yoon C. Joyce (C. is the initial of Cometti, and Joyce is the name of his real mother) is indeed among the actors of Gangs of New York, the colossal movie of Scorsese expected in the American cinemas on Christmas and in Italy in the next season, which tells the story of the fights between Italian and Irish gangs between 1846 and 1863, in New York City. Yoon, who has made 15 movies, among them Kundun and Nirvana, who in the movie interpretes the role of an imprisoned friend of Amsterdam Vallon (DiCaprio), tells in „Chi" exclusively his encounter with the myth Leo, the lessons of life given by Scorsese (who was in Cannes with the documentary „My journey to Italy") and the challenge to be the only oriental actor in the year book of the Italian cinema.

Q: How was it with DiCaprio, as much famous for his talent as for his „capricci" (moods/tempers)?

Y.C.J.: DiCaprio has struck me in reality with his punctuality on the set and with his professionalism. We have repeated a scene again and again, but I’ve never seen him complaining. Rather, he put more energy into each new shot. I haven’t got to know him in the version of a spoilt star.

Q: Tell us about your role in Gangs of New York.

Y.C.J.: I play the role of a prisoner, friend of Amsterdam Vallon, who meets him in the yard of the prison shortly before Amsterdam returns to liberty and gives him a precious map. On the set, they have razed my head, applied a long plait and put on me a grey suit of a prisoner. All the costumes are splendid and they recreate with loyalty and perfection the style of the New York of the 19th century. The production designer Dante Ferretti is unbelievable: he has reconstructed with the smallest details a complete city.

Q: Your most beautiful (and most ugly) experience on the set.

Y.C.J.: It was a fantastic experience. Nothing negative comes into my mind. The greatest emotion was to work with Martin Scorsese. It was as if a dream became reality.

Q: You had already met Scorsese during the shooting of Kundun.

Y.C.J.: Yes. I’ve met him for the first time in 1996, on the set of this film dedicated to the life of the Dalai Lama, shooted directly in the desert in Quarzazate, in Marocco. I played the role of the commandant of the Chinese troups that invade the village where the Dalai Lama is born. Scorses conquered me at once with his kindness and his humanity, apart from his genius.

Q: Tell us your first encounter with the „genius".

Y.C.J.: He has surprised me. Scorsese, the director of masterpieces like Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, New York, New York, on the set he managed to establish a real contact with everybody, as well with the stars as with the simple extras (there were more than 2000). He his very loved on the set, because he is a person with great sensitiveness, education and humour. At his arrival, he started to make jokes with everybody. Exactly like a friend.

Q: Not one moment of tension at all?

Y.C.J.: The only thing which Scorsese doesn’t support is being late.

Q: From Kundun to Gangs of New York: How was the second encounter?

Y.C.J.: He has surprised me this time as well. He had recognized me at once after seeing me. In Gangs of New York, I had the possibility to get to know him more exactly. During the breaks between one scene and another one, he came to me, he asked me how I was. If the shooted scene worked, he congratulated himself, when it had to be repeated, he explained to me with calm the right way how to do it. And he behaved in this way with the whole cast, from simple actors like me to stars like DiCaprio. He has given me a lesson of life. I’ve learned that the greatness of a person doesn’t depend on the power, the fame or the success. Scorsese is really great, for his genius and his humanity.

Q: The female protagonist of Gangs of New York is Cameron Diaz. Your impression?

Y.C.J.: She is a love. She isn’t the classic, very beautiful and unapproachable star. She has an irresistible charme, she is full of humour, she radiates femality from all pores.


(In the following, Yoon C. Joyce speaks about his carreer and his life: He has had acting courses in New York with Susan Strasberg, he has made 15 movies so far, he mostly plays Chineses, his parents were killed in a plane explosion in 1975 when he was a baby, he was adopted by an Italian family, he has moved a lot during his childhood in the whole world with his new family, he has faced a lot of intolerance, he hadn’t any friends in his home town, he is single at the moment and he wants to be „an example of the international spirit of the Italian cinema".)

Thanks a lot to Mona Lisa for the translation and the picture !


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