Raja Ilya has been experiencing a peak in her popularity in recent years, she can often be seen on the small screen in several popular TV dramas including "Cinta Masam Manis" and "Tuan Anas Mikhail".
Raja Ilya, born Raja Ramilah Begum Raja Mohammad, is synonym to antagonist characters. However, her acting has brought quite an impact to audiences and she has started to receive the chance to play protagonist roles.
The actress proves that she can pull of the roles and now fans want more of her.
Recently, Raja Ilya shows a different side through her latest movie "Soulmate Hingga Jannah", in which she stars with Singaporean singer-actor Taufik Batisah.
Apart from herself and Taufik as the lead, the movie by Dato' Prof. Dr A Razak Mohaideen also features a stellar cast that includes Erra Fazira, Douglas Lim, Dato' Rahim Razali and Reen Rahim.
During the recent press preview of "Soulmate Hingga Jannah" at mmCineplexes, eCurve, Cinema Online took the actress aside and she shared with us her experience in working in the movie.
Cinema Online: Firstly, can you tell us a bit about your character in the movie and why you decided to accept the offer for it?
Raja Ilya: I play Rokiah, a 'kampong girl' who acts like a man and dresses messily but manages to get an assistant job at a company. What made me accept the acting offer is because this is the first time for me to play a comedic character. To me it is very challenging since previously, I was more synonym to antagonist characters.
Aside from that, I also accepted the offer because I get to act with Taufik Batisah as well as other great actors such as Erra Fazira, Reen Rahim, Dato' Rahim Razali and more.
Can you elaborate on what makes the comedic character a challenge to play?
It is hard when it comes to the acting because it is like we were joking around with our friends. To play the part, I was a little nervous and worried because I didn't know how audiences will react to my character.
This is the first time for you to work with Taufik, was it hard for the two of you to find common ground?
Yes, this is the first time for us to work together. I didn't really struggle to make myself compatible with him but Taufik was the one who was too worried about not being compatible with me. However, by the second day of filming, I felt that we were getting more compatible. I want to also praise Taufik's attitude of always asking me to rehearse an upcoming scene when we had the time, because he wanted to give the best to Malaysian audiences.
What were the other challenges that you faced during filming?
From an acting perspective, not much, but I think the challenge to me and the rest of the cast and crew was the weather during our filming in Chiang Mai, Thailand. This is because at the time the temperature there was very cold, around five to six degree Celsius. There were also some scenes that had to be delayed due to bad weather.
One of the hardest scenes was going around the lake in a boat because that really tested my physical and mental abilities. It was so cold until my feet, hands and lips were blue.
Since you've played a comedic role in this movie, are you open to playing a similar character after this?
If offered I will not decline because I seldom get any other roles apart from antagonist ones. I also will not decline any acting offers and will only do so if I already have other commitments. If not, I would definitely accept. I also do not mind playing any character as I want to challenge myself by portraying a different role in each of my work.
What are you up to next?
After this, I will be producing an Indonesian movie in collaboration with our neighbouring countries' production. The idea to produce the movie came to me spontaneously when I was filming "KL Vampires" in Jogjakarta, Indonesia. I voiced out my wish to produce a movie to one of the actors there and discussed it with him.
First they asked me to finish the synopsis and in the end it was accepted because they liked the concept pitched to them. So the filming for it will begin in March. Apart from that, I am also set to film in the United States.
A Hollywood movie? Can you share a bit more about it?
Yes, it's a movie from the Marvel franchise. It has been confirmed that I will start filming it at the end of this year but for now, I cannot divulge further details about the movie because they haven't been decided. In fact, I also have to undergo training for eight months in Indonesia with popular Indonesian star, Yayan Ruhian ("Star Wars: The Force Awakens", "The Raid") before I go on set.