Deeply moved by State Honored Actress I.Odonchimeg’s hardworking attitude and her charisma, one of Mongolia’s most sought-after artists, B.Khulan, followed her role model’s footsteps and debuted as a theater actress immediately after graduating university in 2006. Now, she’s challenging herself in the film industry after leaving the comedy company, X Tuts, one of the most successful Mongolian comedy groups.
At the age of 14, B.Khulan became Mongolia’s top photo miss and started training as an actress from seventh grade. She’s a diligent mother of three and her work and private life balance is impeccable. This year, she has been given roles in four films. The 33-year-old actress, who is extremely guarded with her private life, shares about herself and her career in the interview below.
2016 is coming to an end. How was this year for you?
It was a wonderful year. I was able to take part in four feature-length films this year, specifically “Turshiltiin Khosuud”, “Urtuu”, “Uvliin Tuuj”, and “Uvliin Shuniin Zuud”.
These four films don’t overlap in genres. “Turshiltiin Khosuud” is a comedy while “Urtuu” is a romantic-adventure film. Your roles in all of them were very different from one another. Was it difficult to portray so many characters within a year?
It was hard to render and create each character. It also took some time. Right before starting the filming of “Urtuu” and “Turshiltiin Khos” films, I broke my leg. All four films were filmed during the winter.
“Uvliin Tuuj” was slightly more challenging than the others because its scenes were shot in the countryside. Practically every staff member had frost bites during the making of the film. My character was entirely different from my previous roles. I think it changed my image a bit. Right after we finished filming, I felt very satisfied.
You played the role of a woman bent on revenge after being badly treated and wronged by others in “Uvliin Tuuj”. Do you think you were able to fully express the depths of the character’s nature and emotions? Was it difficult to act out the role of a mother who lost her child?
I’m sure that anyone would know that a mother who lost her child wouldn’t be in the best condition. I turn into characters while imagining what the character would have done in a particular situation. Personally, I don’t like to imagine such incidences occurring to me or my children. It leaves a scar on my heart.
When you’re worried about something, do you seek professional or spiritual help? Is your family religious?
We have our spiritual readings done once a year. I don’t constantly pray when things go wrong or doesn’t work out – neither does my family.
You play a role who often get mistreated and get into accidents in the film. How does your family feel about this?
Whenever I’m offered a role in a film project, I look over the script with my mother and decide whether to accept it with her. I had to perform a scene where I am being murdered in “Minii Akh Ataman”. My mother dislikes me taking on such roles. When we were reading the script, she was shocked at the murder scene and method. A knife was put on my back as if it had been stabbed and the makeup artist did an extreme makeover for me for the actual shooting of the scene. I asked my colleagues and staff members to take my photo and sent it to my mother. She scolded me a lot, telling me not to joke around like that. No matter if it’s a film, I’m sure she didn’t like seeing her daughter die in that manner.
Personally, I avoid lighting a candle in front of a photograph and getting into a coffin when filming. I’m not scared but it just doesn’t feel right. Besides that, I don’t have any complaints about getting shot, stabbed or getting beaten for a film project. In fact, it’s quite amusing and interesting. I can learn new acting skills from it.
Are you a thrill seeker? Do you enjoy testing your luck and doing dangerous things?
Not much. I’m more of a mellow and gentle person.
Have you done any dangerous action scenes in a film project?
There are some things I want to do but I fear it might not suit me. Regrettably, I never got to do them because directors mostly gave me timid, modest and humble roles.
Is there a particular role you’d like to challenge yourself in?
I’d like to play a villain. You know those characters that look innocent but secretly stir gossip and instigate trouble. I want to try that kind of role, which requires a lot of facial expressions. That kind of role really brings out your acting skills.
What do you feel and think about during your film’s premier?
I feel very strange. Rather than focusing on the film itself, I look out for any mistakes I made and worry how the viewers would react to it. I can barely sit in my chair because I feel so nervous and anxious. A few days ago, I sat next to State Honored Actor L.Chaminchuluun, G.Zolboot and State Honored Artist N.Gankhuyag at the premier of “Uvliin Tuuj”. It felt like I was taking an exam in front of such amazing people.
While watching the film, L.Chaminchuluun occasionally glanced at me and then, nodded her head and in other times, she sat without any facial expressions. I couldn’t tell whether she was pleased with the film or not. I was breaking out in cold sweat throughout the film.
I’m sure she spotted tons of mistakes and lacking areas in my acting, but after watching the film, she encouraged me saying that I was improving with every new film I play in. To be honest, I prefer getting criticized more than receiving compliments. There’s a saying that open criticism is better than false compliment. Criticism is more beneficial to actors in my opinion.
Were you ever embarrassed to see yourself on screen?
Embarrassing is the wrong expression, but I do feel weird watching my films. My mother is very straightforward, especially when she sees my mistakes. She tells me in which parts my laugh wasn’t natural and which parts my acting looked realistic.
By the way, why did you decide to leave X Tuts Production?
During my third year at university, I performed “Khoriotoi Jujig” play with my classmates. I joined X Tuts immediately after graduating. I worked there for over six years and learned how to work in a team and how an actress should behave.
My mentor N.Gankhuyag even told me to try auditioning at the State Academic Theater of Drama. But it wasn’t the time so I decided to focus on films.
Do you miss the theater?
Yes, I do. Sometimes I want to do a nice play.
What was it like to become a solo artist after leaving X.Tuts? Were you lonely?
Yes, I felt very lonely. It felt like I had nothing to do, but got used to it shortly after. I get new friends and acquaintances whenever I join a film project. So I no longer feel lonely. I’m glad I chose to start my solo career.
Are you an outgoing person?
Yes, I’m pretty outgoing. I get along with whomever I meet. I have a wide social network, but I have only a few close friends. I try to be a loyal friend.
The media say all kinds of things about your private life. Have you been stressed about gossips and rumors?
I do get upset. It’s very difficult to go around trying to correct rumors and give explanations to everything that is misrepresented. It’s a complete waste of time though. I prefer just doing my job and going with the flow.
Wouldn’t people think that the rumor is true if you stay quiet?
My close friends and family know me very well, so as long as they don’t misunderstand, I don’t care what other people think.
Acting requires one to lie and pretend. You probably study people’s behavior and expression. Are you good at reading people’s expressions and spotting lies?
I’m quite good at noticing when people are telling the truth and when they aren’t. But I’ll have to observe for a while – I can’t read their mind or expression straightaway.
I like people who stay the way they are instead of pretending to be someone they aren’t and exaggerating things.
Only a few days are left until the New Year’s eve. Will you celebrate the New Year’s with your children?
My daughter is nine-years-old and my son is four. They’re get very excited and happy just by seeing a Christmas tree. I will spend the New Year’s with my family and children – it’s something that I put a lot of effort into.