Burst onto the scene as the charismatic Galih in Galih & Ratna, a 2017 remake of the 1979 beloved film Gita Cinta, people got to see the presence of Refal Hady as an actor first hand. From there on, it seems like his charisma on screen lingers as he quickly rose to be one of Indonesia’s promising actors. He starred in Critical Eleven, Susah Sinyal and the hit Dilan 1990 in the span of just two years after his debut. Although, mostly played as a supporting role in those movies, Refal has the ability to steal the spotlight whenever he was on screen. It’s a testament to his talent, and it is exciting to see his next leading role following Galih & Ratna, because he really is a force on screen. We conversed with the 24 year old to figure out his beginnings, himself off-screen and where he’s going.

Text by Lala Claudia. Photographs by Ikmal Awfar

Tell us how did you started as an actor?

Basically I studied Broadcasting, and right after I worked as one of the creative team at a private TV station. My first experience into the spotlight was as a host at one of the shows I was working on. I was super insecure being in front of the camera. Then one thing led to another, where I auditioned for the role of Galih [for the 2017 film Galih dan Ratna] and got the part. It was the gateway to the exciting acting world that I was thrown into.

Have you ever thought of being an actor while growing up?

Not at all! But I’ve always had a strong relationship with film. I could really be into the films I’ve watched. Like really into it, that I could cry for two days after watching a film.

Okay, now we’re curious, what films made you cry for two days straight? 

The Notebook, The Vow, and The Lucky Ones [laughs]. Oh, and Her, that’s a good one!

You came into the scene just a while ago, but you’re already in so many high profile films. Why did you think that happened?

I’m not sure [laughs]. I think I owe a lot to Lucky Kuswandi [Director of Galih dan Ratna], he thought that I can be shaped into these characters so I started to believe in it too. Being observant also really helps, that’s how I learn.

What has been the most challenging role for you?

Each role is different, but maybe the answer would be Galih because it was my first foray into acting. I’m not that much of an introvert like the character, but I started acting like him in real life while preparing for the movie. People thought that I was depressed [laughs]. For Susah Sinyal, I also had to talk like a person from Sumba, it takes getting used to, but with the help of the acting coach, Arie Kriting and Ernest Prakasa [his co-stars], I just started to talk like that all day.

What have you learned so far about the acting industry?

That it’s definitely not as small as I thought, and not as easy as it looks. Making these characters that I played to be believable is damn hard, it is challenging but very rewarding. I love doing it!

We’re wondering, how are you in real life?

I think, I’m friendly! [laughs] Well, it depends on the people I meet. I’m a straight up family guy, simple and don’t like crowds too much.

Who inspired you professionally and personally?

Johnny Depp for sure! And of course, my Dad.

In the long run, what do you aim for? 

To give it my all and to always be the person who’s eager to learn. Being cocky and easily satisfied with what you have are literally the worst thing that anyone can do. And definitely I hope that I’m able to do whatever it is I love doing, for now it’s still acting, but we never know where time would take me.

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