Flying high

19 Apr 2019 / 10:39 H.

LOCAL actor Fabian Loo has critics praising his brilliant performance in director Zahir Omar’s multilingual film Fly By Night, which opened in cinemas last Thursday.

Some have even suggested that Loo might be the next big thing to come out of the Malaysian film industry.

In Fly By Night, he plays the brash and hot-headed Sai Lo, who runs a con game with his brother Tai Lo, played by veteran Singaporean actor Sunny Pang. The two, along with partner-in-crime Gwai Lo (Jack Tan), are taxi drivers who extort money from their wealthy passengers.

Unfortunately, the brothers do not see eye to eye on the direction of their ‘business’, and their disagreements lead to a fierce confrontation.

“My character is angry all the time,” says Loo, 29, who was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur. “He is angry with everything, and with everyone.”

Loo adds that his character is extremely jealous of his brother and always wants to outshine big brother by being a bigger success.

“I have to get in touch with my dark side to play Sai Lo,” Loo recalls. “There is a Sai Lo in all of us. We all have been jealous of someone in our lives. We have [had] some disappointments that make us bitter.”

Though Sai Lo is far from perfect, Loo admits the character has some redeeming qualities.

He explains: “Sai Lo is courageous and dared to speak up about his grievances. Unfortunately, he channelled his courage the wrong way.”

Loo’s favourite scene in Fly By Night is the one he shares with Bront Palarae (who plays the determined Inspector Kamal out to nab the gang).

In the scene, Sai Lo is being interrogated by Kamal, who is not above using torture to extract some information from him.

Both actors were so dedicated to the realism of the scene, that Loo recalls spitting on Bront.

“That was the first scene to be shot,” says the actor. “I remember Bront telling me not to hold back my emotions, and that I should go all out to show my anger. I really admire Bront for his commitment to make the scene look real.”

Loo says his foray into the world of acting was all due to American acting legend Al Pacino. Loo was just 14 when he watched Pacino in Scarface, and the 1983 film sucked him into a whole new world.

“I did not know who Al Pacino was [before],” he recalls, adding that back then, he hardly watched Hollywood films. But after a friend introduced him to another Pacino movie, the seminal Godfather (1972), he was mesmerised by the actor once again.

Soon, he was watching more Hollywood films featuring actors such as Robert De Niro and Denzel Washington. The more films he watched, the more impressed he was with the world of films and acting.

But instead of immediately pursuing a course in acting, Loo took up a bachelor’s degree in psychology. In the end, he never made use of that degree.

While in college, Loo took up modelling to earn some extra pocket money. And after graduating, he ventured into doing stage plays, followed by roles in TV series.

Fly By Night is his third feature film to date, after making his screen debut in a 2011 Singapore-Malaysia joint film titled 23:59, and starring in last year’s Think Big Big.

Loo, the youngest of three siblings, admits that his father, a feng shui master, was not happy with his career choice at first.

Laughing, he says: “I cannot blame him. My father paid for my psychology course.” However, he adds that his dad is now proud of his achievements.

Loo’s next film is a horror-comedy directed by Muzzamer Rahman, due out by the end of the year. He will play a film student who wants to direct a horror movie with his classmates.

Others in the cast are Nabil Aqil, Ika Nabella, Arwind Kumar and Han Zalini.

As for his future plans, Loo hopes to be a director in two years’ time. In the meantime, he is shooting short films to gain some experience.

His next short, Love Story – which he plans to shoot in June – “explores what it means to be vulnerable in an artistic world”, he says.

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