Shaheizy Sam’s extreme work ethic took a toll on his body while filming Polis Evo 2 (PE2) early this year.
A day before shooting one of the final scenes of the action film in Port Dickson, the 36-year-old actor decided to head to the gym at night to squeeze in one last workout.
Prior to this, Shaheizy had devoted 15 months to pack on muscles to reprise his role as the cold-hearted, highly-skilled cop Inspector Khai.
“I was worried that my body didn’t look ready for the shoot, so I pushed myself. I went to the gym and started running,” he remembers.
Around the same time, Shaheizy had started reducing his water intake, taking a cue from bodybuilders who dehydrate their bodies a day before a bodybuilding contest to increase muscle definition.
“I started feeling dizzy. And the sole of my feet and my finger tips started feeling numb. That numbness travelled all the way to the rest of my body,” he says.
Shaheizy, who was alone at the time, called the production crew for help.
“When they saw my face, they said I looked as pale as a corpse and took me to the hospital immediately.”
Shaheizy says his condition was a combination of feeling stressed, a lack of nutrition and with no water in his body, his kidneys were feeling the effect.
As soon as the doctors gave him the green light, Shaheizy was on set 12 hours later.
“I told the doctor, I can’t stay long. I have work.”
This isn’t the first time Shaheizy went to great lengths to play a role. In 2016’s romance drama Pinjamkan Hatiku, he lost 8kg in a month and a half, consuming only vegetables, fruit and water to play a cancer patient.
“Whatever comes my way in life, I can deal with it. But when it comes to work, the stress I go through is at a whole other level. I feel scared because films live on for the next 100 years. So if I don’t appear my best, it will haunt me forever,” he explains his method acting.
Shaheizy, who won Best Actor at the 2011 Malaysia Film Festival for Kongsi, adds: “Acting is not as simple as people think. It’s not just about memorising scripts. That preparation process is what makes your character believable.
“I want people to know that there are actors in the industry who are willing to put their heart and soul into making a film successful.”
Pressure to top the original movie
Perhaps another reason for Shaheizy’s dedication to PE2 is the immense pressure to top the success of the original. Polis Evo, which documents the adventures of two cops with clashing personalities, was the highest-earning local film in 2015, raking in over RM17mil in ticket sales.
The actor turned down all other acting opportunities throughout his 15-month long preparation process for PE2.
“I think if people see that my work is good to the point that they talk about it, I believe that’s where my popularity comes from,” he replies when asked if he fears his popularity will take a dip, spending so much time on just one job.
Shaheizy also addresses rumours about being one of the most expensive actors in the country. “Where got expensive?” he says with a laugh.
“I think I’m paid according to the work and sacrifice I put in. For 15 months, I was focused on making this film only. So throughout that time (with no other source of income), I have my own overhead costs. And if the salary covers this, I’ll do it.”
The actor has been taking some time off after filming PE2 to grow his newly-established branding company.
“I’ve been branding myself as an actor since day one, like determining how I want people to know me. So the application is almost the same,” he talks about venturing into a field unrelated to showbiz.
The father of one will only get busier when wife, fellow-actress Syatilla Melvin, gives birth to their second child next year.
“I want a football team,” he enthuses. “I’ve always wanted a big family because I come from a small one.”
In the meantime, Shaheizy is focused on the release of his other “baby” in two weeks.
Asked if he is satisfied with his performance on PE2, the actor lets out a chuckle before responding: “You’re asking this question to a perfectionist. Of course I will never be satisfied.”
Polis Evo 2 hits GSC cinemas nationwide on Nov 22.