'Halfworlds' to premiere 29 November on HBO Asia

'Halfworlds' to premiere 29 November on HBO Asia
The eight-episode television mini-series is directed by acclaimed Indonesian director Joko Anwar. - File Photo
KUALA LUMPUR: HBO Asia‘s highly-anticipated Halfworlds will be premiering on HBO all across Asia on November 29.

The eight-episode television mini-series is directed by acclaimed Indonesian director Joko Anwar.

Exclusive, behind-the-scenes content from the series will premiere on the show’s Facebook page, and the first episode will also be available for streaming on the 29th of November. As of now the trailer — which was first shown in Jakarta Comic Con last weekend — can be found only on the page.

An original HBO Asia production, Halfworlds is set in the hidden alleys and dark corners of present-day Jakarta, where a colony of demons known as Demits have existed for centuries. The series begin as we witness the ecosystem in which humans and Demits have co-existed become disturbed, sealing the fate of the city’s inhabitants.

Halfworlds stars a long list of notable Indonesian talent including Reza Rahadian, Tara Basro, Ario Bayu, Arifin Putra and Adinia Wirasti and Malaysian actor, Bront Palarae.

“You know,” Bront Palarae begins, “It’s just like going to the office," said Bront in an interview with Daily Seni conducted earlier.

Or so he says when asked about filming upcoming HBO Asia series, Halfworlds.

However, The Daily Seni heard cast member Salvita Decorte claim that Bront’s intense case of nerves was contagious, so we sought an explanation from him. After all, hasn’t he been acting since he was only 25?

“No, I have this same thing every single time. Even after twelve years of acting,” he sheepishly informs us.

“So on the first day of filming, I got her to read lines with me. She ended up feeling nervous as well, and that kind of helped, the fact that she was nervous too.”

Bront is sitting on a couch right next to Indonesian heartthrob Reza Rahadian. Both highly-regarded nusantara actors were in Batam to provide media members an opportunity to ask them about Halfworlds.
In the Halfworlds universe, Bront is the mysterious Detective Gusti, a veteran cop whose weapon of choice is a “.45″ and “a gnawing conscience”.

Reza, meanwhile, didn’t seem to flinch when handed the role of Tony, an immortal. Strong and powerful, the character of Tony is a homicidal demit fighter who utilises huge blades in combat.

“There was not much preparation for me to play this role. I talked to Joko [Anwar] and told him like, I want to do this and that,” Reza cheerily admits.

Reza has often been deemed Indonesia’s most popular actor of his generation. He is highly prolific, appearing in between three to six movies a year since his breakout role in Hanung Bramantyo‘s critically-acclaimed Perempuan Berkalung Sorban.

“This is my first time working with Joko. He’s a very funny guy, and he makes us laugh on set. He knows how to bring out the best in his ensemble and cast!”

Halfworlds also marks Bront’s first time working with renowned director Joko Anwar, although he has been exposed to Indonesian work ethics prior to this, through collaborations with the late Alex Komang for Gunung Emas Almayer (better known locally as U-Wei Haji Saari‘s still-unreleased Hanyut).

Both actors seem to have struck a close bond, constantly teasing one another while having their own private jokes nobody else understood. Throughout the interview session, they are seen passing each other dollar bills back and forth whenever someone said something of note to the other.

Reza and Bront, though appearing largely mischievous thus far, are extremely honoured to be involved on a project of such a scale. Both of them through Halfworlds will finally have the opportunity to leave an impression on regional viewers.

“It’s one step ahead for me,” acknowledges Reza.

“[The process of] working with another actor from the region is really exciting to me. We share our experience together and as actors on set, we are having fun. With Halfworlds, we are not only representing our own countries but we are in fact representing the region of Southeast Asia.”

Bront on the other hand jokingly notes that much like his character who is trapped in between all the on-goings in the Halfworlds universe, his real-life self is trapped in between all the Indonesian actors while on set.

Bront also points out that while the show tries to be as authentic as possible in depicting Indonesian culture, it’s not going to alienate anyone.

He states, “We are trying to make it as universal as possible. At the end of the day this show can be watched by anyone; the human factor is shared pretty much across the globe.”

Like Reza, Bront fell in love with the script the moment he read it.

“One of the reasons I was attracted to this project was the fantasy element, its not something Malaysian film are used to. This is conceptual fantasy with action and gritty drama and a splash of romance here and there,” Bront explains.

Reza likens his character Tony to “paper with so much colour in it”.

The award-winning Indonesian actor confesses, “I never played a character like this in Indonesia; it’s a first for me to play this kind of character and finding the perfect way to deliver lines and handle my the role.”

“[The story] is very organic and it feels very original. It came from our own culture as well.”

On the subject of fight scenes, Bront hopes that his character doesn’t have any which involves Tony.

“I was a junior black belt when I was like 11,” he reveals, “but I don’t have many fight scenes. I don’t have to fight him — well hopefully not, because he’s got all these cool moves.”

On top of having to film action-pumped scenes, Bront also has to get his Bahasa Indonesia up to scratch but he thanks his co-stars and Halfworlds production crew for their assistance.

“That’s when the friendships comes in,” Bront laughs.

“That’s when you can get someone from the set to help you say your lines the right way. Some of them even force me to speak in Bahasa.”

It’s barely two weeks into production down at Infinite Studios but Bront couldn’t envision undertaking the project with anyone other than the team they’ve got now.

“It used to be that the character in a story has to be a good one, that it didn’t matter if it was a bad story. With time, you realize that the script can be super awesome and the role can be super awesome but at the end of the day you still need great people to share the plan,” Bront observes.

“I would say Halfworlds is a cutting edge kind of series. It will be the first of its kind in the region and hopefully it will be enjoyed by the locals too.”

Reza agrees, and wants to add just a little bit more to that.

“We’re doing something special and we’re not trying to be anything else,” he asserts.

“You’re going to have a new cinema experience on screen. It’s not just set-wise or cast-wise; it’s something new and not a copy of anything that’s been produced.”