The Neo-Realist: Ario Bayu

The following actor is in a class of his own, from the roles he chose, the approach he applied in acting, to his preferred director and actor. Letter F had an exclusive interview in early August with the 32-year-old actor who developed his passion in acting since he was only 17 years old, back in New Zealand. To him, acting is a fascinating subject that can always be explored, from his first movie back in 2005 Belahan Jiwa directed by Sekar Ayu Asmara, Drupadi with Dian Sastrowardoyo, Tarix Jabrix, Laskar Pelangi, Pintu Terlarang, Catatan (Harian) Si Boy, Soekarno, Ada Apa dengan Cinta 2 to HBO TV series directed by Joko Anwar Halfworlds. Recently, the actor has been occupying himself with 5 new movies to be released this year: a horror flick The Returning, Cinta Dua Kodi, 5 Cowok Jagoan, Buffalo Boys –as explained by fellow F Thing Muse: Yoshi Sudarso-, and Hanung Bramantyo’s biopic Sultan Agung. Right, too much to take? Well, you’re in for another treat as Ario revealed a lot of interesting point of views below. Read on.

So, the number one most-asked question: current activities?

“Well, after my two years hiatus in the movie industry after Soekarno, I finally dove in again in the acting world through Halfworlds, a project with HBO and Joko Anwar. And it got me thinking to try new roles, including a role in a horror movie with Laura Basuki (The Returning), a romance film with Acha Septriasa called Cinta Dua Kodi, a comedy called 5 Cowok Jagoan, Buffalo Boys – an exciting project partnered with neighboring countries and one of the most celebrated movie applications. And also, a biopic of Sultan Agung directed by mas Hanung Bramantyo.”

 

So why the various genres?

“I was kinda idealistic when I was younger, I gotta admit, basically cause I chose roles that I feel comfortable with. But then I thought, performing arts is all about exploring roles, that’s why I explored the horror genre with Laura Basuki, a family drama with Acha, while 5 Cowok Jagoan is a really really fun movie to be honest, I couldn’t stop laughing when I was on set – I’m hoping people will enjoy this movie. Whereas Buffalo Boys, it’s about 3 people – 2 young male characters (brothers) with his uncle, sets in 1800. So the three of us once lived in US and we return to Indonesia to avenge the death of our father. What unique is that this is a cowboy film. Piqued your interest there, right? We have international team: the crew is from Singapore, the assistant director is from Aussie, the wardrobe team is from Thailand, and our director actually has the biggest studio in all Indonesia and Singapore.”

We can clearly see that you’re really passionate about what you do, which is one of the most interesting aspects in interviewing people. So share us more, the thing about acting that simply fascinates you?

“The food on set. There’s so many good food there! Tofu, tempe, my energy to deliver good acting comes from there, you know. (laughs) Just joking about that.”

“To be honest, it all started back when I lived in New Zealand. I got myself a scholarship to UK when I was 17 years old, I represent New Zealand. I got selected among 4500 participants, they narrowed it down to top 20 and I was one of them. I got the chance to study acting for 6 whole months in UK, an intense workshop with fellow Shakespearean actors. I also played in the theater plays in Globe Shakespeare.”

So you’re a theater actor? When did you decide to switch to film?

“I got my first movie role when I came back here in Indonesia. All I did in New Zealand and UK was all about theaters.”

Say it ain’t so, do you also sing?

“Yeah, I can sing…a little. I was actually a member of punk band back then, I played the guitar and sing, all that. Next year, I wanna try something new with my cousin, it involves me playing the guitar though, not singing though. (laughs)

That would be awesome if you end up being a punk rockstar. But anyhoo, back to the movie topic: if your life were a movie, what genre would it mainly be?

“My god, that’s a really, really hard one to answer. Maybe it’s…I don’t know, maybe every genre? Because sometimes life can be a horror movie, and life has its ups and downs, I mean our life isn’t linear, it’s non-monotonous. So my life would be a circus genre?”

A circus genre, interesting.

“Oh no wait, I got it: neo-realism. It kinda represents my life – it’s reality based. The point is, it’s about how the main character is given something that’s promising and blissful, but in the end he will go back to his starting point.”

Who would direct your life then?

“Myself. Why would I let others direct my own life?”

But who’s your fave director?

“Paul Thomas Anderson. His movies resonate with me, and technically the way he tells a story that really gets me thinking. If we’re talking about local directors: Joko Anwar is one of my fave cause I’ve worked with him. Angga (Filosofi Kopi) is also very young and very energetic. I also like Hanung.”

Fave movies from your fave directors?

Modus Anomali and A Copy of My Mind are my fave from Joko Anwar. And this may sound a bit narcissistic, but I like Soekarno from Hanung. From Angga, I really like Cahaya Dari Timur.”

Ever thought of the wildest possible scenario if you could direct your own movie?

“Shooting something in space. Have you watched Gravity? Can you imagine the constrast. Living in this over populated planet while up there in the stratosphere the universe is very wide, infinite, yet looking back to Earth, we argue about a lot of stuff like morality, religion, not to mention the crimes – all that for what? Parallel to that, up there in the vastness of universe, we feel so little. Kinda makes me think, do we have to draw the fine line in the middle? It’s something that got me thinking, so if I could, I would wanna try to make sci-fi movies. You know, it’s funny cause actually I wanna be an alien but my parents wouldn’t let me. (laughs)

Now choose: playing in a movie with a great script VS playing in a movie with a challenging role?

“I think those are the same if you think about it. A great script will have a challenging role. Because roles or characters play a part in making a great story, a symbiosis relationship. I cannot choose one, so both.”

Our fave question to ask to all actors and actresses: if you could play with a fellow actor, dead or alive, who would that be?

“I really like Daniel Day-Lewis. I like how he’s not affected by the social media world. During his spare time, when he’s not busy acting, he’s actually a carpenter. For me, it’s cool because in a way, he feels like his existence as an art worker does not have to be filled with glam. He likes substance, and that’s what I really respect about him.”

Last question: your top 5 movies.

There Will Be Blood, Manchester by the Sea, Punch-Drunk Love, Magnolia – that’s another Paul Thomas Anderson’s by the way, and umm.. what else? Oh, Doraemon.

Photographer: Moody Wijaya
MUA: Nadia Renata
Stylist: Hilarius Matthew
Digital Imaging: Rendra Martin
Wardrobe: McQ, available at The F Thing

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