Playing the Part (June 2012)
The security guard at the Jakarta coffee shop has recognized Reza Rahadian as an “artist” from a made-for-TV film broadcast a few nights before. Television, of course, brings actors to a much bigger audience these days, and the man may not be aware of the young actor’s already considerable big-screen résumé, ranging from winsome teen romance flicks (Queen Bee, Hari Untuk Amanda) to the weightier Perempuan Berkalung Sorban (The Woman in the Turban) and 3 Hati, 2 Dunia, 1 Cinta (3 Hearts, 2 Worlds, One Love), for which he achieved the distinction of winning back-to-back Citra acting awards in 2009 and 2010.
But Reza is not interested in being a TV star, although his good looks have garnered him plenty of offers to appear in soap operas. He mentions the grueling production regime that comes with the big money.
“I’m not prepared for that daily schedule, shooting until early in the morning and then doing it again the next day,” he says.
He does not comment on the quality of the country’s soaps, often criticized for hammy acting and corny plots, simply noting that they are just not his thing.
“My choices are really about who I am. I’m someone who cannot do something unless it comes from the heart, even if there is a lot of money involved,” says Reza, who turns 25 in March. “And if you appear too often on TV, then there’s that fear you will become too well known, there are no surprises for audiences.”
He names 1980s leading men Deddy Mizwar, who directed him in the satire Alangkah Lucunya (Negeri Ini) (How Funny This Country Is) and is something of a mentor of his, and Slamet Rahardjo as his heroes for the diversity of their acting choices.
“They did not stick to the same part, so they didn’t get typecast, which is always the danger,” he says. “That is the art of playing a part for me: shaping a character into a new human being.”
He sounds seasoned beyond his years, or at least a throwback to that earlier era of Deddy and Slamet when acting was taken seriously, and being an actor did not mean necessarily being a celebrity. In further evidence of his shying away from the showier side of celebrity, he does not use Facebook or Twitter; he even makes his own phone calls about his availability for interviews instead of resorting to the standard “call my manager” spiel (his manager for work contracts and engagements is his friend, the designer Barli Asmara).
He also refuses to pander to infotainment media for information unrelated to his work. And while he is willing to discuss the influence of his movie-loving, French-speaking, arts-loving mother on his decision to go into acting (he dedicated his 2010 Citra Best Actor award to her), of his father he will say only that he is Iranian and no more.
The Reel Deal
In choosing his roles, Reza’s guiding principle is that they must reflect some aspect of the realities of Indonesia (which definitely would rule out forays into soaps).
“They have to be related to Indonesia, to some aspect of the Indonesia that I know and the life that is around us. My role has to be able to represent the community that my character is from,” he says. “I look at him as part of the screenplay. What is my character about, and what does he mean for his community? I can be quite nitpicking in trying to determine what my character is all about in the screenplay.”
This attitude was behind his decision to take the lead role in 2011’s controversial Tanda Tanya, which dealt with interfaith conflicts, a choice he recognizes as risky.
“For me, it was about the situation in Indonesia regarding pluralism on a small scale. It’s a reflection of the reality and of something that is close to society,” he says, adding that Tanda Tanya and 3 Hati (about an interfaith romance) were actually more about diversity than religion.
He has said previously that he admired Sean Penn’s performance in Milk, the story of the assassination of gay San Francisco city official Harvey Milk, and would be interested in playing a gay character one day.
“I have many friends who are gay, and I realize the many difficulties they have to go through to survive,” says Reza, who tested for the role of Surya Saputra’s very fey gay boyfriend in 2011’s Arisan 2 (it eventually went to Rio Dewanto).
“But I would want it to be a truly honest portrayal, not something that is just playing along with stereotypes.”
Starring in the biopic of composer and musician Ismail Marzuki in 2012 is a perfect fit in representing Indonesia.
“As well as being a personal hero to me, Ismail Marzuki made an enormous contribution to the Indonesian people as one of our national heroes. As an actor, playing him means that I have had to study his music, including learning to sing keroncong,” he says, referring to the traditional, Portuguese-influenced music form.
“It’s so Indonesian. And it has always been my dream to play a national hero.”
His proud patriotism extends to his take on the oft-heard aspirations of other entertainers to “go international”, as though recognition abroad is more meaningful than at home.
“For me, going international means bringing an Indonesian film about Indonesia in Indonesian to foreign audiences. We’ve had a few films like that, but you still sometimes hear people abroad asking, ‘What’s an Indonesian film really like?’ Because we still do a lot of imitating, like we think that Hollywood movies are so cool. For me, we shouldn’t do that. We have our own character and culture.”
His mother is clearly his enduring hero for introducing him to theater (he sets the record straight that while he was in a magazine “cover boy” contest, he was never a professional model). His hero of the Indonesian film industry today is Hanung Brahmantyo, who directed him in Sorban and Tanda Tanya.
He describes Hanung’s 2011 film Tandangan Dari Langit (A Kick From Heaven) as an inspirational movie with a contemporary theme – dreams of soccer stardom – that is also thoroughly Indonesian.
Reza praises him for his “courage”.
“Mas Hanung is a director who always speaks honestly through his work,” he says.
Reza recently directed his first short movie, and proudly totes his director’s chair to the photo shoot for this article. He says he does not have a grand plan for the future.
“I’m not someone who plans for the future, that I have to have done this by next year or that in five years. I believe that if we make good choices and have the right foundation, then that will nurture good things in the future.”
Ring out the old, Ring in the new (December 2012)
Actor Reza Rahadian is probably one of the busiest actors this year, starring in five productions, including Habibie dan Ainun (Habibie and Ainun).
“My expectations for the year ahead is getting offers to act in films that have good stories. I also want to master directing, which I am learning right now. I love the film world as a whole.
I personally do not make future plans. I do have dreams, but I am not capable of making a list of things I want to achieve next year. I just try to live in the moment.
In 2013, I will see the release of two omnibus films that I directed with Garin Nugroho and Irwansyah. My biggest hope next year is having my latest movie, Habibie and Ainun, screened in other countries like Malaysia and Singapore and to go around the world with big film festivals.”
Reza happy with ‘Finding Srimulat’ (March 2013)
Actor Reza Rahadian says he is happy to be in Finding Srimulat, a film about the legendary Indonesian comedy group Srimulat.
He said Srimulat was the barometer for comedy in the country and a role model for many local comedians.
“They [Srimulat members] are all there — and I feel honored and proud. They come from a different world, from a comedy world,” he said as quoted by kapanlagi.com.
He said he felt lucky performing along with, among others, Mamiek Srimulat, Djudjuk Srimulat and Gogon.
“God has been so kind to me, giving me the opportunity to perform with them all,” Reza said.
In Finding Srimulat, Reza plays Adika Fajar, the husband of Rianti Cartwright, who faces economic difficulties that almost force him to close his business. He then has an idea that involves Srimulat.
*cre: Jakarta Post*