IN THE slow burn thriller Motif which opens in cinemas on Sept 26, Rosyam Nor pushes the envelope with the role of Hussein, a rich businessman who is suspected of killing his teenage daughter Anna (Khayrani Kemal).
“I have to keep the audience guessing whether I am guilty or not,” says the 52-year-old multiple award-winning actor.
“The audience will be curious [about] what would motivate a father to kill his own flesh and blood. That is the selling point of Motif.”
Others in the cast include Sharifah Amani, Mustaqim Mohamed, Iedil Putra, and Emma Tosh.
Initially, Rosyam refused to take on the role. But the film’s director, first-time filmmaker Nadiah Hamzah, kept imploring him to reconsider.
“Her perseverance appealed to me and I finally agreed to be in her film,” he says.
“She has her own vision. Some people have said she is the next Yasmin Ahmad.”
Despite his 35 years of experience in the film industry, Rosyam says he has no problem taking instruction from directors who are much younger from him, such as Nadiah, and Syafiq Yusof (KL Special Force, Misteri Dilaila).
“Once I am on set, I make myself ‘zero’,” he explains.
“My director is the captain of the ship, I follow their instructions without objection. I want to learn from them.”
But if the age of the director is not a factor, one wonders why Rosyam hesitated to accept the role in the first place?
He says: “I loved the script and I loved the role. But I was not comfortable with the genre. It has family drama elements.”
Rosyam believes that actors of his age tend to get typecast in family drama genre films.
“If you see, in the last few years, I have only [accepted roles in] action genre films. I wanted to connect to a new generation of filmgoers and [they] love watching action films compared to family drama films. An actor must always re-invent himself and find new audiences.”
In recent years, Rosyam has been choosy about his roles, only appearing in one TV drama and one film a year.
He says: “There was a period during the early years of my career [when] I was everywhere. You could see me in commercials, on television shows and in films. People were getting fed up of watching me.
“I learned my lesson. I should not be overexposed. I must make people ‘rindu’ (miss) me. When people rindu you, they will be eager to see you.”
Of course, he admits he has the luxury to be choosy, compared to some of his peers.
“[I am] fully aware that fame will not last forever,” he says.
“One day I will get old, and plum roles will stop coming my way. The entertainment industry is very youth-orientated. I do not want to be in a situation where I have to accept roles I am not excited about.”
To prepare for the future, Rosyam began investing in other fields.
In the mid-90s, he established a production house named Suhan Movies, focusing on producing TV shows. This was followed by an agricultural farm in Lanchang, Pahang which grows jackfruits and soursop.
More recently, he became the co-owner of the supermarket ST Rosyam Mart, which opened in Taman Setiawangsa. There are plans to open a second branch in Shah Alam in the near future.
“[I] was prepared to be forgotten,” he says. “Luckily, I am still getting offers.”
When asked the secret to his career longevity, he says: “You must never get lazy. You must not let yourself go. You must look after yourself. I am not a gym freak. I am careful of what I eat. I spend a lot of money on my wardrobe so I don’t look outdated. You must always [adapt to] current trends.”
Rosyam is going to be even busier in the future, with two upcoming film projects, the sequel J Revolusi 2, and Deleted, a Singapore film about human trafficking.
He is also looking to produce an action film titled Seven Brothers, but is keeping mum on the storyline.
“All I can say [is that] it is going to be an action film that will bring tears to your eyes,” he says.