RISE AND SHINE. For his third appearance in DAMAN, actor, model and presenter Richard Kyle talks about his journey in the Indonesian movie industry
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Richard Kyle is doing very well. Having made his acting debut only a couple of years ago, Kyle is technically still a newcomer in the Indonesian movie industry. But, then again, as the saying goes: don’t judge a book by its cover. Or in this case, by how many pages it has. Despite being relatively new, Kyle’s early years were filled with notable roles in notable productions, including the likes of “Ini Kisah Tiga Dara,” “The Professionals,” “Moammar Emka’s Jakarta Undercover,” “Jomblo Reboot” and “Insyaallah Sah.” and, of course, he’s also done quite a few TV commercials.
It’s not just looks or talent that has gotten Kyle this far—although he certainly has both in spades—but also personality. We first had the chance to chat with him back in 2015 for the Fall/Winter issue of DAMAN Style and then later on for our October/November 2016 edition. Now, he’s back with more stories about himself, the industry he works for and what lies ahead in the chapters yet to be written. It certainly has been quite a journey for the English-Indonesian model-turned-actor, but it’s also safe to say that Richard Kyle is just getting started.
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DA MAN: How are you doing these days?
Richard Kyle: I’m great! I finally settled down in Jakarta, Indonesia. It’s been three years now. It feels like I’m finally enjoying my lifestyle here in Jakarta.
DA MAN: We last caught up with you back in 2015. What have you been busy with since then?
Richard Kyle: Since then? Wow… I think I’ve done a few more films, I’ve been presenting and hosting one of my travel shows, and also doing a lot of photo shoots and a lot of traveling for myself. Skateboarding, paragliding and going to the gym every day to keep myself in shape. So, yeah, in a nutshell, I’ve been busy.
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DA MAN: Let’s start off with your “origin story,” so to speak. what was it that brought you into acting?
Richard Kyle: Actually, when I was in Australia, I met my manager from my agent management. He saw something in me and thought: “You know what? I think you should come back to Indonesia, and kind of give it a shot in the acting world.” Then, I came to Jakarta and just kind of put myself into a whole new role. I’m trying to adapt to characters and learn Bahasa Indonesia again, learn lines and this was like a whole new world to me. But, I think, I adapted really quickly and it just became really natural and normal. And I learned a lot on the way. Before that, I’ve done a couple of short films, a few other gigs in the acting scene; but I was always more of a model. I’ve been modeling since I was 16, so, when it comes to being in the front of camera doing TV commercials and shoots around the world, it was always kind of normal for me even at a young age. That was always my first light into understanding emotion, feeling—especially in the front of camera.
DA MAN: Looking back at last year, you made two movies: “Jomblo Reboot” and “Insyaallah Sah.” what would you say are the best parts of these two?
Richard Kyle: What was special about “Jomblo Reboot?” Well, “Jomblo Reboot” is a remake from the early days of [director] Hanung Bramantyo. For him to make a new one for this generation—more millennial and reflective of the kids of this era—I was interested straight away. Why? Because that young-at-heart feel, obviously. Exploring an idea with this film is just great. For me, I think even though I already grew up, it felt good to be back in university and acting like I’m still young. [Laughs] On the other hand, “Insyaallah Sah” was completely different. This movie is great in its own ways, because the general idea of this movie is based on religion—Islam to be precise. But, it’s got that comedy feel to it. It was great that we had Pandji Pragiwaksono as a comedian in this movie, so that just kind of broke a lot of barriers. having that comedy feel really makes the film fun, happy go lucky and doesn’t make it too serious. All in all, it was a fun and great film.
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DA MAN: By the way, do you have any memorable on-set stories from your time working on those movies?
Richard Kyle: From all of the movies I made so far, the one thing I kept in mind was when shooting “The Professionals.” There were a lot of stunts and choreography for this movie, and I did choreography for couple of weeks—learning basics parkour and fighting. Then, there was one scene with the pro stunt driver and we were supposed to be in the car for the stunt, where she does a drift around a roundabout. She was practicing and I remember saying to the director: “We should put a safety belt in it.” But, with a continuity edit at the last shot on the green screen, we can’t have a seatbelt. At the end of the day, we have to trust the driver. Anyway, for two rounds of her test drive it was fine and for the third round, she actually crashed the car and wrecked it. We ended up not using it and we had to re-shoot that scene a few months later. That was very memorable for me because we could’ve been in the car and anything could’ve happened. I will never forget that.
DA MAN: For your last three titles you jumped genres quite a bit. How did you prepare yourself for each role?
Richard Kyle: Number one for me: everything starts when we have a reading process for a good month or a few weeks before we start shooting. So, the best way is to meet the cast, get to know them really well and we ended up becoming good friends. We got close to each other and learned each others personalities. That way we got to play around while we were reading, and as you start improvising, playing the roles with your other co-stars, you start to get into the characters that you’re supposed to be. And then, you just try to adapt to the script. You know, we have to remember our lines and we have to prepare for many different scenes. For example, if it was comedy, there are many scenes that we can make more fun. Even on set we sometimes tend to think about how we could make a scene even funnier than it is. Because the more and more you play different characters, the more you know exactly how to reply, how the characters do this or that. So, the reading process and preparations before the shoot, for me that’s the best way to be confident and prepare for the role.
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DA MAN: Besides the three titles we’ve already talked about, are there any upcoming movies or TV series you’re going to appear in?
Richard Kyle: At the moment, I’m about to start on a new film. It’s a horror movie and a new genre for me after action, romantic comedy and drama. Now we are just waiting to get other actors involved. The rest is still a secret, to be honest. I’ve already read the script and I really like it. We will be shooting in exotic places and it really suits my active lifestyle. And it’s a sequel to an old horror film. That’s all I can say. I think that’s the trend now. Indonesia is focusing on horror and I think that’s what the market wants.
DA MAN: As an actor who used to live overseas, what’s your take on the Indonesian movie industry?
Richard Kyle: I think it goes with trends and what the market wants to watch. After all, Indonesian movies are competing with Hollywood films for the screens and at the end of the day, we still need to capture the audiences as they walk into cinemas. Surprisingly, last year, we’ve only just realized that everyone seems to be attracted to horror films. Now, all the production houses know that. All the directors and producers realized that people want to watch horror flicks again. So, that’s quite interesting. And from what I’ve heard, horror films of the past had a bit of a stigma or a bad reputation and didn’t do so well. I guess they painted horror films in a bad light. But now, many creative people make interesting stories that actually scare people.
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DA MAN: Are there any filmmakers in Indonesia that you’d like to work with in the future?
Richard Kyle: I’d love to work with Nia Dinata. She is such a real person—humble, creative, fun, outgoing. and to me she’s a very close friend as well. I have very good energy with her. Everyone I’ve worked with has been lovely, from Fajar Nugros to Hanung Bramantyo. Since I’m still new to the industry, I’d love to meet with all of these directors and producers. But so far, I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the best.
DA MAN: By the way, when you’re considering a possible role in a movie or a TV show, what do you usually look for? How do you choose your projects?
Richard Kyle: I just look at what works with my style. I’m not saying that I have a particular style, but if it involves traveling, hiking, doing extreme sports, then obviously I’m already attracted and interested. So, when I choose something, I just make sure I like the idea and hopefully it suits me well.
DA MAN: On the flip side, when you’re not busy filming, what do you usually do?
Richard Kyle: My daily routine, gym and cardio workout is number one. That’s, like, the story of my life and everyone knows that. My friends and family know that. Something that I care about is fitness and staying in shape. That’s one of my main interests and that’s always been a part of me since a young age as a model. It’s kind of natural and right know I’m happy because I have a lot of people asking me about tips and suggestions regarding fitness, and I’m more than happy to give it. Besides that, I like sports as well. I love skateboarding as well as paragliding in Malang and Bali. So, whenever I have the chance, when I’m not working, I always seek adventure.
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DA MAN: Speaking of which, all things considered, are you happy with where you are now?
Richard Kyle: I’m very happy with where I’m now. I’m back in Indonesia, where my mother came from, and it has been a very good move for me. And the endless opportunities are giving me more ideas to explore more and, you know, strive for more.
DA MAN: What is your number one secret to being happy?
Richard Kyle: It’s kind of easy for me. I don’t know why, even when something bad happens, I try to overcome it quickly. Then I’m happy again and I don’t let it get to me. I’m never ever depressed. All of my friends know that I can never get depressed. I’m always happy. I think it relates to my sign. As a Sagitarius, I’m usually always happy and always enjoy life.
DA MAN: And what keeps you motivated?
Richard Kyle: I have to be better than I was yesterday. Though, in some ways, I say that literally every day. I’m trying to reach for a challenge or do better than anything I’ve done. At least I challenge myself to do better, even if I may fail. I’m trying to make it not too repetitive every single day, and I’m always trying for something different. I believe that if you continue to explore, you will always find something new.
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DA MAN: That being said, what do you see as the best part of doing what you do?
Richard Kyle: The best part, I think, is traveling— not being in an office, or having many offices everywhere. and I think the ability to live out my passion. So, I still have the time to do my hobbies and my sports, to adventure and do my own creative things. I also study production and now I got a lot of jobs where I get to create. What is there not to love as you wait for the next film, or the next travel opportunity, the next new places to explore? It’s always fun.
DA MAN: From your point of view, how much of an impact does having an active social media presence have on your career?
Richard Kyle: I think so. Social media seems to be the number one driving force in the digital world. It’s a fact that in Indonesia people spend eight hours a day on social media through their phones. For TV, it’s only two hours a day. So, if you look at those statistics, everything is going towards your smartphone, your tablet and everything is going digital. So, less and less TV but more creative content for daily users in the life we live. I think anyone who’s involved in this creative industry should be a part of that.
“At least I challenge myself to do better, even if I may fail”
DA MAN: Still related to social media, we saw on your Instagram account you’re involved in a campaign with UNICEF and Louis Vuitton to help raise funds for Syrian children. Can you tell us more about that?
Richard Kyle: There is a campaign called “Make a Promise” initiated by Louis Vuitton Indonesia hand-in-hand with UNICEF, in order to raise funds for Syrian children. The aim is obviously to help refugees in Syria and it is still an ongoing campaign. Louis Vuitton made these beautiful little silver lockets and all the proceeds go to helping children. It was a great campaign.
DA MAN: You have inspired a lot of people. What is it that inspires you?
Richard Kyle: Well, hopefully people that know me would want to follow the path that I take. And I think it’s my obligation to give back. When I say give back, I mean in so many things. Not just educating people, maybe giving back to society through charity or simply giving back towards a good cause. So, in my position, it’s good to be involved, give back and contribute. Because doing that actually gets other people to join the cause. I’m forever grateful.
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DA MAN: Taking all of your talents into account, what would be your dream creative project?
Richard Kyle: I think my dream creative project would be doing something along the lines of “Fear Factor Indonesia.” To create stunts and challenges for people and challenge them to do something radical. Maybe the location would be based in Bali or Lombok, somewhere more exotic. Creating a show that connects adrenaline sports … that will be a fun project I think.
DA MAN: Last but not least, if Richard Kyle from a couple years ago, right after his debut, could see where you’ve gotten him today, what would he probably say?
Richard Kyle: He would probably say: “Yeah, you deserve it and meant to be where you are right now.”
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