Hubert Burda Media

Cover Story: Reza Rahadian

Reza Rahadian talks to Prestige on reprising his role as former President B.J. Habibie.

For Reza Rahadian, being an actor is so much more than just a career. After starring in several TV series and no fewer than 36 movies in the last 10 years, the 29-year-old star sees his chosen profession as a journey of maturity, one that is moulding his character and enlarging his perspectives on life.

“Here’s the thing about this industry,” says Rahadian, who already has some 35 acting awards under his belt. “As an actor, you bump into one character after another. Each one gives you values, and those values shape you. So I think those are the things that have made me grow after all these years - the roles that I play and the people I work with.”

Among the many roles and people he has encountered during his career, playing B.J. Habibie and working with the former President on Habibie & Ainun has become a life-changing experience. “I have always believed that acting is not just about playing a character. It’s

living the character,” Rahadian declares. “You have to live with it, and I think Pak Habibie has taught me how to do that. He shared a lot of his thoughts, and that’s how I ‘became’ Habibie. Pak Habibie made me realise about what I’m actually capable of in the movie industry.

He told me, ‘You have the power to do something, do you realise that?’ He has changed me. Because of him, there’s another part of me coming out. “I’m very lucky I guess, because every actor in the world would love to play in a biopic. But I think not every actor gets this chance to meet and know the real person behind that character. So I’m quite lucky to be able to know him in person. Pak Habibie is a really nice guy; he’s very humble, smart and high-spirited. It’s also nice to be able to talk to someone who is way older than me. It’s so much fun spending time with him.”

The actor’s first encounter with the former President happened after he accepted the role of Habibie in MD Pictures’ Habibie & Ainun, released in 2012. “It all started when (director) Hanung Bramantyo called and asked me to audition,” he recalls. “I was like, ‘Are you sure? We don’t look alike at all!’ I just knew him as the former Vice President and President.

I researched him on the Internet and tried everything I could to copy his mannerisms. I was originally supposed to play only the young Habibie. But after (producer) Manoj Punjabi saw the audition tape, he decided that I was going to do the full movie. Two days before the shoot, I interviewed Pak Habibie for about seven hours. I think he’s very open.”

manoj punjabi reza rahadian

Outfit by Dunhill London

Four years after Habibie & Ainun, the actor has returned to play the young Habibie in a prequel entitled Rudy Habibie. “I did not know at all that they were going to make the prequel at the very beginning,” says Rahadian of the new film. “I called Pak Habibie and asked him: ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ And he said: ‘Yes, I need to inspire the young generation because I became a President from zero. My journey from zero to hero is something that I want people to be inspired by.’ So after hearing it from Pak Habibie himself, I said yes because I think this is not just a regular movie.” 

Reflecting on his social aspirations, Rahadian declares: “One of my missions as an actor is to inspire and help others. I think I gain a lot of benefits from being an actor. One thing I can do is influence people on social and environmental issues. I see my power as the energy inside myself that can change something beyond my own life.” The actor is a Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Mover for United Nations Development Programme Indonesia. One of the agency’s projects is its Bring Water for Life programme. “We are helping the people in the village of Napu in Sumba by installing a solar-powered water pump for them,” says Rahadian. “This will give them easy access to fresh water for the first time.”

Continues the actor, who visited Sumba shortly before his photo shoot with Prestige: “Before I agreed to do this project, I said I didn’t want to just put my name on it but not actually do anything. I went to the village because I wanted to know exactly where they would put the pump. I also went to the spring water source, which is a 3-km walk from the village. The villagers were so pleased to learn that they would no longer need to walk very far to fetch clean water. I know it’s a simple thing, but seeing them smile because of what we were doing made me very happy.”

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Blazer & Trousers Dunhill London | Tie Canali

Photography Ronald Liem

Fashion Direction Peter Zewet

Styling Koko Namara

Shot on location Grand Hyatt Jakarta, Jl. M.H. Thamrin kav 28-30, Central Jakarta. Phone: (6221) 2992 1234. Website: jakarta.grand.hyatt.com

Grooming Arimbi

Hair Rindi Princelya

Fashion Intern Melisa Kohar