Did you know these Malaysian actors were in international movies?
Writer: Casey Lee
Did you see these Malaysians in these movies?
Malaysians are a talented lot if they are given the opportunity to shine and they don't necessarily need to do that while at home.
Some of our best talents have found their fame outside the country, but we still celebrate their successes all the time, not only out of national pride, but also we see a part of ourselves when we see them on our big screens. It reminds us that Malaysians can be sought after talents in the international arena of movies.
Malaysian actor Pete Teo will be seen in the upcoming "Ghost in the Shell".
Malaysians have not been a stranger to being seen in movies that are not made in Malaysia, and with Pete Teo becoming a familiar face in Rupert Sanders' upcoming "Ghost in the Shell", starring Scarlett Johansson, we thought it'd be a good time to bring up the Malaysian faces we've seen in movies from abroad.
The Malaysian cast of "Anna and the King"
Off the bat, we went for a little cheat but we thought it's worth mentioning the Malaysian actors and extras that appeared in Andy Tennat's "Anna and the King" from 1999. Thanks to being shot in locations around Malaysia, it was a good chance for many Malaysians to appear on a Hollywood budget film that would be their sole appearance on an international stage for most of them. They were a few, however, who got more notable screen time and went on to make smaller appearances in later international films that were shot in Malaysia, So if you ever go back and watch this Oscar-nominated picture for Jodie Foster's dress and Chow Yun Fatt's exquisite accent, pay a little more attention and you might catch a glimpse of our very own Keith Chin, Mano Maniam, Deanna Yusoff, Harith Iskander, Afdlin Shauki, Ramli Hassan, or Kee Thuan Chye.
It cannot be said that Malaysian talent was not recognised by the world stage before "Anna and the King". A Malaysian actor who first got into the international spotlight much earlier on was actor Ibrahim Pendek, who is the first Malaysian actor to appear in a Hollywood movie. While he was acting in "Ali Baba Bujang Lapok", Ibrahim was spotted by visitors from Universal International, and was offered to appear in Robert Mulligan's "The Spiral Road" in 1962, starring Rock Hudson, Burl Ives, Gene Rowlands and Geoffrey Keen. Ibrahim also appeared in 1988's "Pikoy Goes to Malaysia" directed by Celso Ad. Castillo.
Malaysians may best remember actress Tiara Jacquelina for her magnificent performance as the titular princess of "Puteri Gunung Ledang" that went on to represent Malaysia at the Oscars (but was not shortlisted), but she had already made her international debut before then. In 1995's "Beyond Rangoon" which is based on true events of the Burmese uprising, Jacquelina played a small part as a hotel clerk in the hotel where leading lady, played by not-yet Oscar winning actress Patricia Arquette, stayed in before the tragic military massacre followed.
Discovered when she was 19 during a film audition in Kuala Lumpur, Kedah-born actress Angelica Lee made her breakthrough after leading in the Pang Brother's "The Eye" which earned her the Best Actress from the Golden Horse Awards. Since then, Angelica has become a mainstay in movies from Hong Kong, Taiwan and even making a small comeback to Malaysia for Ah Niu's "Ice Kacang Puppy Love".
We saved the best for the last and it is none other than Malaysia's undisputed queen of the silverscreen; Michelle Yeoh. After winning the crown as Miss Malaysia in 1983, Yeoh started her acting career in Hong Kong. Making her career out of the demanding roles in action and martial art films (alongside Jackie Chan) in "Yes, Madam", "Police Story 3", "The Heroic Trio" and "Taichi Master", her acting repertoire extended far beyond into dramatic roles for "Memoirs of a Geisha", "The Soong Sisters" and taking the leading role as Aung San Suu Kyi in "The Lady". On the Hollywood front, she became a household name with the distinction of being a Bond girl for "Tomorrow Never Dies", and her most celebrated role was in Ang Lee's Oscar-winning "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon".
Cinema Online, 15 January 2017