You could say that Palarae, who turns 43 in September, was blessed by the acting god the moment he stepped into the industry. He won the Best Actor award at the Malaysia Film Festival as well as the Anugerah Skrin for his debut leading man role in Belukar in 2010.
“The Malaysia Film Festival was my very first award and that felt like a personal victory,” he quips. A string of award-winning performances later, including Best Actor at the ASEAN International Film Festival for the 2015 Malaysian blockbuster Ola Bola, Palarae has calmed down significantly and sees any awards that come his way these days as a team recognition.
“Over time, you think less of it in terms of your achievement; it’s more about the team, an acknowledgment of the team’s effort. Now if I win an award, it feels like I represent the whole group.”
His next screen appearance may be his most international production yet— directed by Michael Haussman, Edge of the World tells of the rise of the first Rajah of Sarawak, James Brooke and stars Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as Brooke. The cast also includes Dominic Monaghan and Hong Kong actress Josie Ho.
Palarae portrays Pengiran Indera Mahkota, the ruler of Sarawak whose position of power is threatened by the arrival of Brooke. When asked how he landed the part, Palarae reveals that he happened to be filming in Sibu when they were auditioning local actors in Kuching.
“The casting director found out I was in Sarawak and asked me to come in for an audition to fill his quota!” he laughs. “But I told him I wouldn’t be able to go to Kuching for the next two weeks because I was shooting. I asked him to send me the script so that I could do a casting video instead.”
He didn’t have any illusion about landing a meaty part. “I thought it was going to be a small character who gets shot or stabbed,” he jests. “But the script they sent me was quite significant so I asked for them to extend the deadline for my video submission.”
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