Tony Eusoff: "Malaysian films are worrisome"

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Born of a Sarawakian heritage, Malaysian actor Anthony Joseph, son of Hermas Rajiman is better known as Tony Eusoff, a name that is well-known among fellow members of the entertainment industry. Best known for being involved in stage plays such as "Tunku The Musical" and "The Secret Life Of Nora", films such as "Akhirat" and "Sepi" as well as the ntv7 television show, "Frontpage", it is not unusual for Tony to be picky with the roles that he is offered and demanding of the industry in general. With an upcoming theatre performance in Singapore and a film in Malaysia, it is clear that this uniquely tattooed star's career can only go up, not down. Cinema Online managed to get up close and personal with this opinionated yet spontaneous actor to find out what bones has he got to pick with the Malaysian industry!

The interview with Tony Eusoff was held in Cinema Online's very own office.

Q: So what have you been doing after your stint in theatre for "The Secret Life Of Nora"?
Well, I've just finished filming for "Pecah" by Black under Grand Brilliance. Right now, I don't have any new updates except just practicing for my theatre play in Singapore. Rehearsals officially start sometime in April. Besides, I have plans to start my own business, although I have no definite idea in mind what. I have a few vague ideas, but then again, it all boils down to money, which, if I had more of, I would like to open a car body shop and a restaurant.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your role in "Pecah"?
Tony: I play Herman, a successful lawyer whose wife is having an affair. As this is an action film, it's my job to exact my vengeance on the both of them. My wife is played by Azreen Asminda while the other man is Ako Mustapha. After his downfall, he then plans a large-scale robbery of an important bank in Malaysia.

Q: What is your personal opinion on Malaysia's film industry today?
Tony: I'm proud that we are taking a step forward with films, such as making films using high-end technology for CGI. However, there are a few things that we need to fix in order to be on par with foreign film industries. The main issue we face is the lack of budget for production. Some may think that RM1 million is a lot, but in reality, it's not enough at all if we want to make films like James Cameron's "Avatar". We have a lot of good, original ideas, but because we don't have the budget for it or for these people, so they keep quiet. Secondly, our own people in the industry are the ones who are ruining the art by making low-grade films with no message for the sake of making money from films. If this goes on, I'm worried that our film industry will regress. Besides, there's also the problem of royalties that hasn't been settled until now. Our artistes need royalties in order to survive, what with television channels airing and re-airing their shows but they do not get paid for it.

Q: Dain Said's latest film, "Bunohan", is now making the rounds among film critics. What do you think of it?
I haven't had the chance to watch the film yet because I haven't had the time, but I'll be sure to watch it as it is something that Malaysians should be proud of, given its track record overseas. I've heard about it a lot from film critics and friends that I trust who've watched it, and they told me that "Bunohan" is one of the best film ever made for our country. The team managed to create something within their budget that works, such as the beautiful cinematography. Cinematography is especially important overseas because it differentiates your film from the others. However, in Malaysia, cinematography doesn't really do much for us, which is probably the reason why the reception for it is lukewarm here; we are focusing more on the quality of the story, dialogue and actors.

Q: On the other hand, "Nasi Lemak 2.0" managed to obtain a high total gross and can be enjoyed by everyone. What do you think of it then?
Tony: I think this is something new in our film industry. I'm proud to say that we have made this kind of film, although it rode on the controversy of its director. Everyone can watch this film because of its honest, sincere and humorous story because this is a film that is made for the audiences as opposed to getting awards. So while "Nasi Lemak 2.0" may not gain any international recognition, but everyone in Malaysia, or Asia even, would have heard of it and watched it.

Q: So what do you think is the most effective film?
Tony: I would have to say "Ombak Rindu". This is because the director and producer managed to strike a good balance between adapting what's in the novel to the film without lengthening its running time or sacrificing details. They've also put together a popular and likable cast. I'm very satisfied with this film because it gave audiences what they want in a film.

Q: What do you feel is still lacking in our film industry?
I feel that we lack expert scriptwriters. We need people who can write better scripts than what we have now and also be able to describe a scene more creatively without being cliché.

Q: Have you ever regretted being an actor?
Not at all because I feel that being an artist is not a chance that can be given to everyone. I've met a lot of people and experienced many different situations. I also have a lot of friends who make me happy.

Q: Do you have any advice for budding stars or individuals who want to become a star?
Tony: Stop trying to compete with me! [Laughs] I kid, I kid. I welcome anybody who is interested or talented in this industry, although I strongly urge them to value themselves and their craft. Don't let anyone treat you like you are worthless in this industry.

Q: Thank you Tony and we hope to see you again.
You're welcome and thank you too.

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