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To play by heart

Malaysia-born, Indonesia-based actor Miller Khan won his first major award as he continues to define what makes a good actor

25 Jan 2021 / 12:10 H.

SHORTLY after starring in a Petronas TV commercial directed by the late Yasmin Ahmad for National Day in 2003, Yasmin saw an untapped potential in Miller Khan that was yet to be fully realised. Then at the age of 16, Miller made his acting debut in Yasmin’s award-winning film Sepet in 2005, alongside Sharifah Amani, Ng Choo Seong, Ida Nerina, Adibah Noor and Harith Iskander.

The 33-year-old artiste said: “Being an actor means the world to me, it changed my life. It is not just about being on screen, but to be able to inspire many others and motivate people to do good is to me, satisfying.”

The duality relationship between the actor self and the character self could be described as akin to one looking to the distant horizon where the sky and sea meet at dusk and the two appear to blend, presenting the viewer with an illusion of a portrayed identity on screen.

He said: “A good actor is a free actor with a strong identity, one who is able to immerse himself and make a good and memorable impression with his character for the viewers in front of the TV. He is someone who plays by heart and pours his soul out entirely into a character role.”

We can all agree that 2020 has not been a smooth year, and while we continue to remain sanguine about the present and the near future, Miller believes that tough times do not last and better days are on the way.

“I truly hope for the world to heal soon, and for us as Asian artistes and performers to rise even higher and soar above the storm amid what we are facing right now.

“For one, I am incredibly excited and looking forward to this year as I hope to get married.”

By the age of 17, Miller had appeared in more than 30 TV commercials in Malaysia. – PICTURE COURTESY OF VICKAR ADAM
By the age of 17, Miller had appeared in more than 30 TV commercials in Malaysia. – PICTURE COURTESY OF VICKAR ADAM

What part of the process in acting brings you immense satisfaction?

There is a sense of contentment that I relish whenever I dive into a new role for a film. To be able to embrace and absorb the character’s identity and personality, and I guess it is the whole idea of playing and being a fictional character that is not me.

Each new role broadens my horizon as an actor. Each role has its own level of charm and charisma that is very different and I find it very fun to explore these distinctive personas and how their storyline could also affect other characters in the film.

You moved to Indonesia in 2007 to grow as an actor. What does Indonesia’s showbiz industry offer that you do not find in Malaysia?

I remember receiving a casting call for an instant noodle television commercial in Jakarta back then. Upon airing, the campaign, which was huge, quickly became a hit, and it wasn’t difficult finding other opportunities after that. I got sucked into the scene and stayed ever since.

Honestly, showbiz in Jakarta is a little more intense but with broader employment opportunities and the freedom to explore your character. I still work in both countries for modelling and acting gigs.

What are some of the challenges you have faced and are still facing since you started out?

Public speaking. I get excessively nervous and often feel lost no matter how well-prepared I am. It is even more devastating especially during social occasions, press conferences and large-scale events. Basically, anything that has a massive amount of people. I always get a sudden surge of panic attack and overwhelmed with anxiety.

You mentioned in a previous interview that you are an introvert. Due to the nature of your career, how do you get yourself comfortable while braving various acting terrain?

I still struggle with it sometimes, although I’ve come to manage it better now. One thing I’ve learned over time is to create an anchor and to hold onto a person so that I feel comfortable being around other people, or me creating a nice zen spot while filming on set. I just need to feel comfortable and I would be fine.

Miller got his big break in 2007, in his second Indonesian film Cintapuccino. – PICTURE COURTESY OF WINSTON GOMEZ
Miller got his big break in 2007, in his second Indonesian film Cintapuccino.
– PICTURE COURTESY OF WINSTON GOMEZ

It is easy to lose oneself in the spotlight of the showbiz industry, how do you remain grounded in this journey?

Don’t get distracted by the spotlight or you might risk losing yourself in the process. Fame and fortune is not everything, even if you have attained them, it is important to not judge and look down on others. Always be humble and help lift those around you.

Congrats on winning the Best Supporting Actor (The Bridge 2) at the 2020 Asian Academy Creative Awards. How do you feel about that?

I am beyond grateful as this is my first major win after 14 years in the showbiz industry and I am so honoured to represent both Malaysia and Indonesia, and thankful for those who have been with me on this journey.

Hats off to the Asian Academy Creative Awards for making it happen during these difficult times.

What advice would you give to an aspiring actor?

Act good and do good. Be in love with what you do, and know that you’re doing it for yourself and no one else. And to grow as an actor, you have to really believe in yourself in order to move forward.

$!Miller won his first award after 14 years in the showbiz industry for Best Supporting Actor (The Bridge 2) at the 2020 Asian Academy Creative Awards.
Miller won his first award after 14 years in the showbiz industry for Best Supporting Actor (The Bridge 2) at the 2020 Asian Academy Creative Awards.

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