Indonesian actress Chelsea Islan remembers feeling emotional over the movie Ayat Ayat Cinta when she first saw it 10 years ago.

“I was 12 when the first movie came out and I cried watching it. It was a story about unconditional love that I thought was really touching,” she said during an interview in Kuala Lumpur.

She stars in the sequel, playing a young girl who hates Fahri (Fedi Nuril), the pious university lecturer that everyone falls in love with because of his kindness.

“It’s really hard to play someone who hates Fedi because he is really nice in real life!”

Chelsea, 22, shares more about her role as Keira in Ayat Ayat Cinta 2.

1. Why does Keira hate Fahri?

Her father died in a terrorist attack so she has a lot of prejudice towards someone like Fahri.

It’s a very challenging role. Usually, I’m the protagonist. I wouldn’t say Keira is a villain but she is under a lot of emotional distress.

Her frustrations is reflected in how she treats Fahri. My character has to learn how to overcome her own bad perceptions and be tolerant of others.

2. In this film, you play the violin. How did you prepare for the role?

I had to learn how to play the violin for at least three months. It’s quite hard because I think three months is not enough to learn how to be capable with a musical instrument. Plus the songs that my character has to play are not easy.

But at the same time, I do feel good about it because I got to learn a new skill.

I’ve gotten some feedback from musicians who saw my performance and they liked it. So, it makes all that learning worth it. I know that as an actor, I could fake those violin-playing scenes but I personally felt that I should learn to make it look more believable for the audience.

3. Talk us through the most challenging scene.

There is a scene where I had to play the violin in a public area. I was really nervous about playing in front of strangers.

A lot of people actually just stopped and decided to watch me do the scene.

My director kept telling me to focus and concentrate as he didn’t want me to get distracted by the crowd.

It was raining lightly on the day of the shoot in Edinburgh, so I had to get it done in as little takes as possible.

4. How did you get into acting right after high school?

I was actively involved in theatre before moving to film. I think that’s how I got spotted by some film producers. My first role in a film was in 2013 in Refrain.

When I was offered to act (in film) the first time, I declined because I was already comfortable doing stage shows.

I never thought I would be passionate about doing movies or television. Then, I just decided to try one and now … I’m stuck!

It’s been five years since I graduated from high school. It really feels like I’ve been on a very long gap year (laughs).

5. Do you have any regrets not furthering your education?

It’s funny when I think about it, because all my friends at this age have graduated.

If I did decide to further my studies, I would have enrolled in an international relations course or something to do with political studies.