Janna Nick is cheerful and buoyant as she sits down for a chat with Star2, cracking jokes and letting out bouts of laughter throughout our interview. But the 22-year-old actress’ jaunty demeanour betrays the immense expectation and responsibility she feels as the lead actress of My Coffee Prince. For the uninitiated, My Coffee Prince is the highly-anticipated Malaysian remake of the 2007 hit K-drama, Coffee Prince, which airs Nov 27.
“In the very early stages (of this project), I was really scared. So much so that in the first or second week of (filming), I cried,” Janna shares in between takes at the set of My Coffee Prince in Seremban. “Every behind-the-scene shot of us filming that came out on social media, people were comparing them with the scenes from the original K-drama. That really stressed me out.”
In the series, Janna plays Dani, a tomboy who disguises herself as a guy in order to work in a cafe that only employs men. “I felt I wasn’t good enough. Especially at the start of the project when I was still trying to lock this character down, I was afraid the expectation people had of me didn’t meet what I was doing,” she explains.
Thankfully, the actress, who rose to prominence after starring in 2015’s Syurga Nur and Kau Aku Kita, gradually regained her confidence.
“After a while, I saw that what we have is a good script, and we are in the hands of a good director, helped by good actors. So my worries started going away,” she adds.
Indeed, My Coffee Prince has been laden with controversies even before filming commenced. For starters, when Fattah Amin was cast as Janna’s co-lead, many took to social media and questioned his acting abilities.
Later, a video taken by an actress visiting the set showed Fattah and Janna’s characters supposedly kissing went viral. Director Michael Ang eventually clarified that the actors weren’t kissing or even touching each other but the way the phone was positioned made it seem so.
1. You had to bind your chest for your role in My Coffee Prince. What was that experience like?
Basically, I had to get rid of whatever gave me a womanly shape. So, I had to bind my chest when filming, which could go on for more than 10 hours every day. It was quite painful. My body hurt every day.
A month before we started shooting, I took up Muay Thai to make my thighs and legs look leaner. I lost about 4 to 5kgs.
2. What was the most difficult scene you had to shoot?
The story required me to carry Fattah on my back in a scene, so I did it. It was to show that my character is physically strong but emotionally sensitive (as) she cries a lot. Fattah weighed more than 70kgs. It took three to four takes to get it right but I managed to carry him. My back was hurting after that.
Another difficult moment was when I fell sick; I was coughing and I had the flu. So, there was a scene where I had to cry. But because I just took flu medication before the scene – and one of its side effects is dry eyes – I couldn’t shed a tear!
3. Fattah Amin’s acting has often been criticised. What is your experience working with him?
Maybe at the start, we found it a bit hard to understand our characters but after a while, we both got into it. Fattah’s acting kept improving. Acting is about giving and receiving. And I could see that with Fattah. There’s that balance between the hero and heroine.
4. Your first single, Mungkin Saja, was quite well-received last year. Will there be any new material?
I will be releasing two singles soon. The recording process was delayed because I was admitted to the hospital for a lung infection on the week that I was supposed to record them; I’m still recovering.
One is a pop song like Mungkin Saja while the other is a ballad with Alvin Chong. It’s my first time singing a ballad, but since it’s a duet, it should be OK.
To be honest, in terms of polishing my singing skills, I haven’t been able to find time to go for vocal classes. Almost every day I’ve been shooting on set.
So, I’ve chosen songs that are suitable for my vocal range. It’s not that I don’t want to challenge my vocals but I’m still new and I want to perform according to my abilities.
5. Will you be going on a break after this? What do you usually do in your free time?
I don’t have a break. The day after I’m done with My Coffee Prince, I’m filming another drama for RTM. I will only be getting my break between Dec 21 and the first week of January. I’ll be going on a vacation with my family.
If I have any free time, I love watching movies. So, if I finish shooting at 10pm, I’ll catch a movie till around midnight. I enjoy watching movies because it’s also a way to learn my craft. Otherwise, I go home and spend time with the family.
My Coffee Prince airs Mondays to Thursdays at 10pm on Astro Ria (Ch 104).