Idris Khan

Actor Idris Khan used to be a model, a worker at the Prime Minister’s Office, a businessman…

Idris Khan first tried out acting because he thought he was going to get to play Hang Tuah.

Idris, 27, has been offered a number of acting jobs during his eight-year modelling career and finally agreed to take on a supporting role in HyppTV’s Puteri Gunung Ledang, which aired in June.

“I thought it was about the legend, Hang Tuah and everything, but when I saw the script, it was a modern-day love story. Since I agreed to take the job already, I just went with it,” he said in an interview.

Idris caught the acting bug immediately and the industry took notice, too. He landed parts in Abang Sado Kau Ado, Abang Sado Jemur Kain and Uda Dan Dara.

Idris, who lived abroad for the first 15 years of his life, says one of the most challenging things about being a new actor is ad-libbing.

“If it’s a romantic scene, my ad-libs can get poetic and really cheesy. I’ll say things like. ‘Your love is like the stars’,” he said with a laugh.

Idris sought the advice of established actor Remy Ishak who told him to read more Bahasa Malaysia novels to pick up a more colloquial flair.

“A lot of people say we look alike. One day I saw him at an event and I went up to him and said, ‘We both look alike’ (and joked) ‘but I look better’. Since then, we have been friends,” he revealed.

Idris shared stories about growing up in several countries, his upcoming projects and … chicken farming?

1. What was it like growing up in so many countries before settling in Malaysia?

My dad was a diplomat. I was born in Libya while he was posted there, and then we moved to France, Belgium, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Oman and Pakistan before he retired.

I was 15 when I came to live in Malaysia. I had to get used to changing my home, changing my friends. But it was a good way to experience new cultures and people.

We would also celebrate Hari Raya with people from Brunei, Indonesia and Singapore so it was also about experiencing our own culture in a different way. Being able to experience the world since I was young shaped me to be who I am today.

I am a person who loves to travel, the outdoors and to meet new people.

2. What did you do before you started acting?

I got scouted by a former model when I was 18. After that, I modelled for a year. Then I furthered my studies in International Business and I went back to modelling after that until I found acting this year.

In between, I worked in the Prime Minister’s Office with the Prime Minister’s advisor as his special officer for almost two years.

I also opened my oil and gas business but when oil prices went down last year, things got slow. So I opened a restaurant early this year. I’m planning to open a chicken farm soon.

3. What’s your next acting gig?

I just started filming a pilot for a 120-episode drama based on a famous Mexican telenovela called La Loba. I play the lead role with a rich background and he meets and falls in love with a tough, strong woman who works in the market. It will take over a year to film the whole series.

I’m also going to be in Bodyguard, an action TV series, which is like Charlie’s Angels but made up of four guys, each of them with their own expertise. I play an IT expert.

4. Do you find crying scenes difficult to do?

I’ve gotten to as far as getting my eyes red but no tears have come out yet. I’m still trying!

A crew once told me some actors just drink lots of water and leave their eyes open for a long time. For Remy, he says it’s easier if you stay in character throughout the filming process.

Even in real life, it’s really hard for me to cry. The last time I cried was when I broke up with my girlfriend of seven years about a month ago.

I didn’t cry when we broke up, but later when I was driving alone and I began to reminisce … I still maintained (my emotions). It was a manly cry!

I do cry but I need to dig deep into my emotions.

5. What qualities do you look for in a woman?

I love to travel so I’m looking for a travel partner. I’m not someone who’s fussy – I don’t need a nice hotel when I travel; I love to backpack and travel on a budget. She needs to be someone who can do that. I like someone who’s independent and funny.