What made you fall in love with acting? Did you go to acting school?

I started acting in 2005 in Alexandria, albeit without any acting experience—before that, I starred in commercials. Before the shooting started, we had a month of workshops where I learned the basics from acting coaches, and the team also gave me time to take short classes. After I got more into the profession and met more people, I found my passion in acting and decided to go further and to explore more.

How did you land your first commercial job?

How I got my first commercial job is actually a funny story, which happened back in 2005 when I was still in junior high. I was in Cilandak Town Square to watch a movie with my friends and suddenly someone came up to me and said: “Excuse me, but are you interested in doing a casting? We have a TV commercial and we’d love you to try it out.” The agency representative turned out to be casting for Biore’s facial wash commercial, which I earned after a few tests.

What movies are coming out this year?

Last year I shot two action movies that will be released this year, The Night Comes for Us and Foxtrot Six, and I’m also starting a new comedy project that will start shooting in May besides two more later in the year.

Tell us the experience on being in a movie set for the first time and what you’ve learned from the first time you acted.

That was a nerve-wracking experience because I was new to the job and I did not really know anybody quite that well yet, and all of a sudden you have a camera pointed at you. After a while I got used to it and didn’t feel the camera’s presence anymore—I just roll with my character and interact with the movie’s other characters in a scene. Excluding myself from the outside world despite distractions outside if we’re shooting in a public area, for example, is the hard part that requires focus and training.

Today, I feel more comfortable in front of a camera than on a stage because, all in all, acting is about being honest. Even though you are another character outside of yourself, that character has its own emotions and different layers of personality. If I can’t be honest in expressing and owning the emotions, my acting will not be natural, and the audience will not get the character and his/her story.

When you are in character, such as the memorable Hammer Girl role in The Raid 2, how do you step out of it at the end of the day?

Well, that role was really something else. To be the Hammer Girl, I trained in pencak silat for six months to do all the fighting choreographies. I had to train much harder almost every day because I have no background in martial arts whatsoever—plus, I was training with professionals and was the only girl in that project. Then I would carry my hammers around with me, the fake ones, of course [laughs], to the gym or to run around the complex. All this is to become one with the character, to the point where the neighbourhood kids laughed at me and pointed out why I was running with hammers.

After six months of intensive training, my behaviour became more boyish from the way I walk to the way I talk—and everyone around me was quite surprised. So, to detach myself when the project was done, I went back to my daily routine despite taking a few months to return.

You are known as a martial arts/action and horror movie star. Do you want to continue to be known in those roles, or do you want to venture out?

People mostly see me in action or horror movie roles because those created quite an impact or left memorable impressions, but actually if you trace back to the beginning of my career I’ve explored almost every genre. I started with a romantic drama, then romantic comedy, thriller, and in May I’ll be shooting a comedy. As an actress, I am open to exploring different genres and do different roles—never did I think in the beginning that I would play in action movies, but the offer came, and I like the challenge to give my best performance.  

How long have you been a vegetarian and how did you come to be one? Do you plan to be a full-time vegetarian?

Actually, I’m partly vegetarian—it’s just how I do my diet at the moment to be healthy. I call it my detox days where, in a week, I try to have two or three days in which I eat only vegetables and fruits. At the moment, I don’t plan to be a full-time because it’s too difficult—I enjoy food too much [laughs].

What do you think about the perception and understanding of vegetarianism here?

It’s not that the people here don’t understand vegetarianism. But the market is niche, and the concept is not as popular as in Europe or America—even more so for the vegan concept. It’s hard to find vegan and vegetarian menus if you go to a restaurant here, but in Bali there are a few places.

You have an organic, healthy food business named The Kale Tale—how is the reception so far? Do you plan to expand?

We started the Kale Tale—my younger sister Cassie and I who are quite health conscious—to share a cleaner lifestyle, and we saw that the market is growing here. It has been going for two-and-a-half years, and so far it’s doing alright. We don’t have a store yet although lately we’ve been selling through SaladStop! besides the online store. In the future, we plan to have more distribution channels and to add more flavours to our chips.

How do you define your success?

Success for me is as long as I’m happy with what I do because I do not wish to be successful yet feel miserable. I feel grateful that I can do things I’m passionate about and do look forward to go to work—success really is to do what you love.

See also: Julie Estelle as Nonita Respati's PURANA woman


Tags: Indonesia Tatler, Society, Actress, Interview, Lifestyle, Movie, Healthy, Julie Estelle