There are some things I’ve come to expect during an interview with a big-named celebrity.
Managers and personal assistants circling the A-lister, tapping their watches, reminding me about the constraints of time, and should a question be deemed too invasive, a brief shake of the head prompts me to move on to another question.
The A-lister themselves, understandably tired from the demands of their packed schedules, unconsciously bring the same tiredness into their answers.
There is none of that when I sit down with Fattah Amin, arguably the hottest actor in the country right now.
We are at a cafe in Seremban, where his latest drama My Coffee Prince is being shot. Fattah gets up from his chair and greets me. As soon as I’m introduced to him, I’m left to my own devices for the most part.
“From January of last year until today, I haven’t had a break. No weekends, no public holidays. I shoot seven days a week. I only have time to sleep and eat, that’s all,” the famous actor relates his day-to-day life.
For someone so bogged down with work, he didn’t seem tired at all. In fact, the 27-year-old TV actor answers every question throughout our 40-minute interview with interest.
“I haven’t fallen sick or anything. I’m still doing OK so far,” the hardworking actor responds when asked if he ever feels worn out from it all.
Fattah’s career has been on a meteoric rise since last year’s Suri Hati Mr Pilot became one of the most watched drama series of all time. It’s reportedly drawing in five million viewers per episode.
More high-profile lead roles followed, and so did the controversies. Fattah recounts his journey so far in this exclusive interview.
Hey, Good Lookin’
Fattah never dreamt of becoming an actor. In his schooling years, the Kuala Lumpur-born pursued athletics rather than the arts.
“I was very active. I fell in that category of students who represented my school for one thing or another. I took part in football, silat and athletics.”
After earning a degree in creative industry management, the then 22-year-old tried out modelling.
“Initially, my interest was in modelling. People kept telling me I should model, as I had the height and the looks. So I started doing a lot of photoshoots.” During one of those modelling jobs, someone recommended him to join Hero Remaja.
He placed first in 2012’s Hero Remaja, the male equivalent of popular modelling competition Dewi Remaja. As it has served as the launchpad for various actors and TV personalities such as Ashraf Sinclair, Kamal Adli and Fizo Omar, naturally Fattah tried out acting too.
The reviews weren’t kind. Many felt he was just getting by on his good looks. “I had no acting knowledge at all. It was really tough for me. There were a lot of negative comments saying my acting was kayu (wooden),” he recalls the backlash from his performance on Playboy Itu Suami Aku in 2013.
Asked if he thought being physically attractive is an important part of being an actor, the chiselled-jaw Fattah responds: “For me, it’s good if you come with the (total) package. It’s good if you have both looks and talent.
“At the same time, I don’t agree with people saying that if you’ve got the looks but no talent then you shouldn’t act at all. The acting talent can be learnt and improved.”
Fattah took the criticisms constructively and persevered. He reflects on his rough start: “I prefer starting with negative feedback rather than compliments. It makes me want to learn more and improve on my acting skills.”
Despite the harsh criticism, the jobs kept streaming in; he achieved moderate success with Hello Mr. Perfect in 2015. Still, Fattah didn’t quite make a major dent on the small screen.
Getting Off The Ground
“As an actor you cannot expect anything. Anytime you make a drama, it’s a gamble,” he talks about predicting the success of Suri Hati Mr. Pilot before it aired.
His portrayal of the suave pilot Ejaz spawned a phenomenon and cemented his place in showbiz, earning him the Most Popular Artiste title at the Anugerah Bintang Popular earlier this year.
Fans got even more excited when many speculated the chemistry between Fattah and his co-star Neelofa was not only established on-screen but off-screen as well, inspiring the moniker LoFattah.
But their romance was short-lived. Neelofa, who was slated to star opposite Fattah again in Hero Seorang Cinderella, opted out of the drama.
The loose retelling of the classic fairy tale Cinderella found its female lead in 34-year-old actress Fazura. The heartthrob continued winning the hearts of viewers through the drama, but little did we know, he had won over Fazura’s heart too (and inspired another moniker, Fattzura).
The couple, who got engaged on Nov 13, got married on Monday night.
During our interview (which took place before the nuptials), Fattah’s lips are sealed when asked about their relationship. But I caught a glimpse of what the actor is like when he’s in love.
“Originally, I’m not that romantic. I think my dad is not a romantic person either. But because I play a lot of romantic characters, somehow I’ve become a romantic guy.”
He adds the most romantic thing he’s done so far was the bouquet of 500 roses he gave Fazura on her birthday.
Ladies, don’t despair. While Fattah is officially off the market, you can still watch him fall in love fictionally in My Coffee Prince. The 28-episode Malaysian adaptation of the hit K-drama Coffee Prince started airing this week.
His latest offering has been rife with controversy from the start. Many questioned his acting abilities when he was cast in the lead role (played by Gong Yoo in the original).
He’s still plagued by criticisms in his fifth year in the industry. However, Fattah has been exemplary when it comes to handling them, choosing to keep his head down and focus on his work.
“‘How can I stay so calm?’ people may ask. Staying calm and positive is something my parents taught me since I was a kid.
“I think if you’re calm, you will be rewarded,” he explains his cool demeanour.
From all the success he’s achieved, those words couldn’t be more true.
My Coffee Prince airs Mondays to Thursdays at 10pm on Astro Ria (Ch 104).