A life in film

IN HIS 30-year career as an actor, Rosyam Nor has played a wide range of roles, from a ruthless serial killer in Lenjan, to an unfaithful husband in Suami, Isteri Dan ... ?

“All my characters have been fictional, and I can create them from scratch,” says the 51-year-old award-wining actor.

But in his upcoming film, Lee Chong Wei, which will hit cinemas on March 15, Rosyam is trying out something new. In the biopic about Malaysia’s current number one badminton player, Rosyam stars as Datuk Misbun Sidek, who coached Lee to stardom.

Before filming began, Rosyam tried to make an appointment to meet with Misbun. Unfortunately, the meeting could not take place, as Misbun’s packed schedule prevented him from being able to spare any time for the actor.

Rosyam resorted to other creative methods to get an impression of Misbun before facing the camera. He visited YouTube to watch Misbun’s mannerisms both on and off the badminton court.

Rosyam also spoke with several people close to the living legend.

“I do not want to imitate Misbun,” he says. “I want to interpret his persona. I do not want to do a caricature of him.”

The veteran actor feels the film has come at the right time, when there have been some tensions among the races in Malaysia.

“The film will show a close relationship between a Malay coach and a Chinese badminton player,” he says. “They did not let their differences tear them apart. We should emulate them.”

Rosyam also believes this film will introduce him to the Malaysian Chinese audience.

“So far the Malay cinema audience knows who I am,” he says. “I want to expand my circle of fans.”

Prior to this, the actor also appeared in the 2017 Tamil-language movie Kabali, where he shared a scene with world-famous Kollywood actor Rajnikanth.

“I purposely accepted the role so I could introduce myself to the Malaysian Indian cinema audience,” he says.

“An actor cannot stay in his safe zone. He should always find a new audience.”

However, this is not the only film the actor has up his sleeve.

Before Lee Chong Wei premieres, fans will be able to see Rosyam starring in another role, in director Syafiq Yusof’s KL Special Force, which opens tomorrow.

In that film, Rosyam plays a police officer who is trying to apprehend a gang of bank robbers.

The action-packed film also stars Fattah Amin, Syamsul Yusof, Shaharuddin Thamby, and Tania Hudson.

Although it is in a genre that Rosyam is no stranger to, the film presents another about-turn for him, as he usually plays the villain.

“It is a great change to play a good guy in a police drama,” he says with a laugh.

He also has no qualms accepting orders from directors who are much younger than him, such as Syafiq.

“Times are changing, and the youngsters are ruling the film industry,” he says. “As an actor, you have to change with the trend. If you do not keep up with the changes, then you will be left behind.

“I always put myself ‘at zero’ in front of my directors regardless of their age. To me, the director will have the final say, and I will follow whatever the director says.

“Even the superstar Rajnikanth follows instruction from the young directors.”

He often hears stories of veteran actors who are always complaining about young actors who do not know what they are doing on the set.

But Rosyam states: “I can tell you honestly that some young actors are really talented. They nailed their roles in their first film because they have a better exposure than us.

“In my first few films, I was a terrible actor. My dialogue pronunciation was horrible. I only got better after a few films.”

He also admits he now has the luxury of being able to select the film projects he wants.

One reason for this he says is because he does not depend solely on his acting for his income.

“I have money coming from other sources. So I have the liberty to be choosy.”