ON BECOMING AN ACTOR:
“To be honest, never in my wildest dreams would I have thought of being an actor. Growing up, my focus was always on sports and athletics with Taekwondo first catching my eyes from a very early age. Besides catching local Taekwondo tournaments with my friends, I think I must have seen a couple of Chuck Norris movies when I was younger that piqued my interest to be a skilled athlete just like him. “From then on, I picked up Taekwondo when I was just eight years old and I took to it like a fish to water! I loved the action and training that I went through practising Taekwondo which instilled my spirit of never giving up and improved my confidence for the long-run. My strong passion for Taekwondo drove me to eventually getting my black belt through hard work and ultimately, representing Selangor at the 2004 SUKMA games. From there on, I continued to hone my Taekwondo skills, which led me to my first dream career as a stuntman. “While it’s certainly not glamorous, I took great pride in the profession as it was the perfect blend of athletics and entertainment that charted a viable next step to my career. I worked really hard to get better at it in order to break into a relatively close knit and niche industry. I’m proud to say I succeeded after numerous attempts and preserving through the hardships.” “Having worked my way up the industry, I eventually landed my first role as a stuntman in local tele-movies and films. It was certainly tough work but I really enjoyed it by getting in the rough and tumble action! After being involved in several smaller productions, I managed to land my first supporting role in a drama series – Rona Roni Macaroni. From there, things started looking up for me with 10 other drama and tele-movie roles in that year alone. “Since then, I’ve continued to work on my craft by brushing up on my acting skills whilst continuing to maintain my physical condition at its peak. Ultimately, it brought me the leading roles I am fortunate to have today.”
ON ACTING IN ACTION FILMS:
“Action movies generally take a toll on the body and can be tough with the intricate coordination and complicated stunt work. The important aspects to keeping my co-workers and I safe come from careful planning and years of experience along with discipline and meticulous care. We all undergo training to ensure we know what to do and avoid when performing an action scene.” “Being the ambassador for Sun Life Malaysia has opened my eyes to the importance of keeping my family protected through insurance or takaful coverage. While I always understood the risks as an actor, I never had a chance to truly understand how insurance/takaful could significantly help secure my families’ future before being their brand ambassador. “Since my appointment as their ambassador in June 2019, I have taken the liberty to increase my knowledge on financial security. With the coverage provided by my Sun Life Malaysia plan, I have some peace of mind knowing that I can fully commit to my work without fear of leaving my family in a lurch should anything happen to me.” “As shown during this COVID-19 pandemic, we never know what could happen on any given day. This is similar to action movies where something unexpected could just occur despite all the preparation and practice we had. Therefore, I strongly urge Malaysians to take better control of their personal and financial situation in order to be better protected for the future.”
ON STAYING FIT AND HEALTHY:
“Being fit, active and healthy have been the cornerstones of my life and career. With that mindset, it helped me to improve my skills at martial arts when I was younger. Then as I got into acting, I would dedicate myself to fitness for the betterment of my career as I could land those action roles that I thrived on.” “These days, I am committed to staying fit and healthy for the most important reason of all – my family. As I want to be able to live a long and healthy life with my wife and children, I know my dedication to fitness and health today will lay the foundation for that future. I also dream of being able to run around with my grandkids one day.
“So, no matter how busy my days get, I will squeeze in at least one thorough workout per day – even if it means getting up extra early or staying up late. I find that the exercise routine provides me with increased energy that drives greater productivity. Regular exercises also give me more energy and help to combat other health issues and illnesses that could impact my work as an actor.”
“While I’ve always had this dedication, the past year working with the team at Sun Life Malaysia has really driven it home for me. Through the exciting wellness-focused events organised by Sun Life Malaysia, I’ve learned first-hand that almost every aspect of our lives can be tweaked to be healthier. I had so much fun running alongside over 3,700 Malaysians in the Resolution Run 2020 as we kick-started the year in the best possible fashion – keeping fit!
“As I strongly believe that fitness plays an important role in helping us live brighter lives, I am excited to continue sharing my experience and learnings to further empower Malaysians to live healthier lives financially, physical, mentally and spiritually across the variety of wellness-focused events organised by Sun Life Malaysia as we adjust to the new norm. Despite the social distancing guidelines in place, I strongly encourage all Malaysians to continue taking charge of their lives and adopting healthier habits to ward off illnesses.”
ON WORKOUT AND DIET DURING MCO:
“The COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent Movement Control Order (MCO) certainly threw my usual workout routine out the window! Previously, my workouts have, for the most part, been confined to the gym or at parks and out in the open (when it comes to outdoor sports and cycling). So when the MCO happened, I was completely at a lost!” “I’ve always thought that keeping my workouts separate from my family life would give me greater concentration and help me balance my family time better. But the time spent locked at home, showed me that not only can I work out with my family around, but it can actually be even more beneficial.
Being forced to work out at home, inevitably my kids and even my wife got in on the act. We would work out as a family and sure, the workouts weren’t as intense but I would not have traded that special family time for anything else. Whether it was simple cardio workouts at home with Hanis and the kids, light body exercises like push-ups, dips and crunches or even sparring and light stunt work, I found creative and fun ways to keep fit and healthy during the MCO.”
“As for my diet, it didn’t change all that much. I’ve always been partial to home-cooked food as not only is it delicious but I also get better control over what goes into a dish. At least, I can make smarter choices to have it healthier without compromising on taste. “As such, I didn’t really miss out on much in terms of food during the MCO. Though spending more time in closer proximity to my fridge was certainly dangerous to my waistline! There were many times where I had to fight the temptation to open the fridge up for a quick snack – luckily those years of dedication and discipline gained from martial arts came to the rescue.”
ON BEING SUN LIFE MALAYSIA BRAND AMBASSADOR:
“My time as Sun Life Malaysia’s brand ambassador first began in mid-2019. I have never been an ambassador for an insurance brand before this and to be honest, at the time I didn’t fully understand the importance of insurance although I had a few plans.”
“Things have certainly changed since then. In the one year I have been with Sun Life Malaysia, I have gained a better perspective on the need for insurance/takaful through the various engagements I’ve had and also during this outbreak.” “As a huge fitness enthusiast, I am proud to be the brand ambassador to leverage on my position to help empower Malaysians to achieve lifetime financial security and live healthier lives. I have also been blessed with the opportunity to become a role model for Malaysians from my acting roles as shown that healthy living by keeping fit and active is important for our overall wellness and daily lives.”
“In tough times like these, it is important for people to prepare for the unexpected and to have a solid back-up plan. I am happy that over the past year, I have played my role in helping more Malaysians embrace this and I truly hope that my words have helped some Malaysians to be safeguarded during these difficult times. I have learnt so much about insurance/takaful and the need to lead a healthier life holistically – financially, physically, mentally and spiritually. From what I’ve learned, I now go out of my way to encourage my family and friends to get insured when previously, this would not have been a topic I would even speak of.” “I’ve also been really impressed and inspired by the way the team at Sun Life Malaysia. With its business purpose of helping empower Malaysians to achieve lifetime financial security and live healthier lives, they put in tremendous efforts to ensure everyone in the company provides exceptional client experience by placing the client at the centre of everything they do. They go the extra mile to truly connect andunderstand their clients’ concerns and needs. This is why I love working with them.
“For example, during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak in March, they responded quickly with several COVID-19 relief programmes such as their RM1 million COVID-19 relief fund that provided direct financial support to affected clients and also extended complimentary medical coverage for hospitalisation and treatments related to the virus.”
ON BEING MALAYSIAN:
“I’ve always had great respect for Malaysians in uniform as evident from my recent roles in Paskal and Wira. Whether it is the navy, army or police, they have all sacrificed so much and put their lives on the line to protect the rest of us. I am eternally grateful for their service and hope my roles do some justice to the immense dedication and devotion they have for our country and our people.” “But more than that, we have learnt that heroes can come from every corner of the country. It isn’t only those who are in uniform but also countless unsung heroes who have sacrificed for the betterment of our country. “This includes the doctors, pharmacists and nurses in hospitals working tirelessly to keep the COVID-19 virus at bay. It also includes every food delivery driver who risked their own well-being and zoomed across empty streets to get us our food and necessities. It is also every cleaner that continued to work day in and day out to keep our surroundings clean and safe during the challenging period. The list goes on and on.”
Read the full interview feature with Hairul Azreen and see his full photoshoot with us in our latest Men’s Folio Malaysia August 2020 issue, now out on newsstands, bookstores and online via magzter.com.
Words & Fashion Direction: John Ng; Photography: Chintoo; Styling Assistant: Syazil Abd Rahim ; Hair: Ckay Liow; Grooming: Khir Khalid