Actress Tara Basro admits that she is not really into horror movies. “I don’t hate horror movies. I know there are a lot of well-made horror movies but I don’t have the guts to watch them,” the 27-year-old actress said in an interview in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

However, she stars in the current No.1 horror film in Indonesia, Pengabdi Setan, directed by the visionary auteur Joko Anwar. While shooting the film in an old house in Bandung, Indonesia, Tara kept her mind occupied on the role instead of thinking of scary stuff.

“I didn’t have the chance to think about weird things because I was focusing on my work. Having the production team for company also helped. Thank God, I wasn’t there when all the weird stuff was happening,” she said.

Overcoming fear is a recurring theme in Tara’s blossoming acting career and the actress will never tell anyone that she is too scared to do anything. From doing high-flying stunts to putting on weight for her roles, there is nothing the award-winning Indonesian actress won’t do in the name of art.

1. Is it true that you have to put on 10kg to play Rini in Pengabdi Setan?

Yes. I love doing sports like boxing, yoga and weight training. So, I basically had to stop doing all that and focus on eating more. I had to do that for about three to six months. According to Joko, girls in the 1980s (when the film was set) were not as skinny as they are today. So he wanted Rini to look the part. I didn’t hesitate at all. It’s something you have to do as an actor. When the director wants you to look a certain part then you have to work to achieve that.

 2. When you filmed A Copy Of My Mind (2015), also directed by Joko, you had to film scenes in an illegal DVD processing plant secretly. I’m pretty sure that was dangerous and scary at the same time. Do you remember what that experience was like?

It was kinda like a do or die thing. I trust Joko … so I was ready for what he wanted. When it comes to work, I try to conquer a lot of things. I have this ego; I want to complete what I have signed up for, even if I am afraid of it. Back when I did (martial arts film) The Golden Cane Warrior, I was scared of heights. But I mustered the courage to be hung on a wire for some scenes.

3. Since making your feature film debut in Catatan Harian Si Boy back in 2011, you’ve achieved so much. You’ve worked with directors like Ifa Isfansyah, Nia Dinata and of course, Joko himself and even won the Festival Film Indonesia award for Best Actress in 2015. What do you wish that people know about your seemingly overnight success?

It amazes me to hear people say that I popped out of nowhere and got all the success easily. No. There were so many tears, much blood and bruises to get me here. I auditioned so many times, went through so many heartbreaks and experienced all kinds of betrayal. I’m grateful that I learnt it all the hard way. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be who I am today. It doesn’t bother me that people think I get all this easily. If anything, I would love for people to just appreciate the work that I’ve done.

4. What drew you into acting in the first place?

Here’s the funny thing, I never had any intention of starting an acting career. How it all started was I auditioned for a musical that Joko was directing because I love to sing. I passed the singing part but not the acting portion, so I didn’t get to be in the musical. That led me to meeting a casting director who told me they would contact me someday. Then, I got a call to audition for Catatan Harian Si Boy. Honestly, my first three roles were all just for fun. Then when I started getting bigger roles, I realised that this acting stint is getting serious.

 5. How did you come to realise that acting is something you want to pursue seriously?

I fell in love with the creative process of it. And I discover so much about myself through the process. I learn a lot of things about people, the environment, friendship, love, and I cherish these moments. Recently, I did my first theatre performance (Perempuan Perempuan Chairil). It was what I needed, because I was starting to get comfortable in the film industry. I wanted to do something to challenge myself and the stage was the perfect medium. Plus, I believe that when one feels too comfortable then you’d stop growing and I don’t want that. That’s why, I want to feel constantly challenged.

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