Jakarta. Actor and television host Daniel Mananta stars in Putrama Tuta's latest biopic, "A Man Called Ahok," adapted from Rudi Valinka's bestselling novel of the same title, about Jakarta's former governor, Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama.
After an eight-year hiatus, the 37-year-old owner of the brand "Damn! I Love Indonesia" returns to the big screen for one of his biggest roles yet.
At a press conference in South Jakarta on Monday, he admitted to initially lacking confidence to play the titular role.
"I felt all kinds of pressure as I played Mr. Ahok in the film. This is my first big project in a while and I didn't want to ruin it," Daniel said. He added that he initially wanted to give up on the role.
"I told my manager that I wanted to give up and I am glad I didn't, because it would've been one of my greatest mistakes. This film didn't only teach me to become a better actor, but it also taught me self-discipline," he said.
Daniel said playing a major role came with huge challenges and responsibilities.
"It was very challenging. I had to learn the Belitung dialect and learn to speak Khek and Mandarin. I had to practice a lot," he said, referring to the island where Ahok grew up.
To familiarize himself with some of Ahok's mannerisms and character traits , Daniel said he did extensive research by watching YouTube videos of Ahok and speaking to many people who knew the former governor, including a coffee shop owner in Bangka Belitung, during the month-long shoot.
"Mr. Ahok has some unique character traits and many people have their own memories of him. I figured it would be effective to learn from those who are most familiar with him," Daniel said.
Director Putra praised Daniel's acting in the film, saying that "he is a great actor, who works extremely hard."
"You will know when you watch the film," Putra added.
Daniel's career began after he won the MTV Indonesia VJ Hunt competition in 2003, before landing the leading role in 2007 Indonesian soap opera, "I Love U Boss." He continued his acting career, starring in a soap opera produced by Sinemart titled, "Antara Cinta Dan Dusta" ("Between Love and Lies").
In 2009, he received an opportunity to grace the big screen as Jimmy in the Mo Brothers' horror-slasher "Ruma Dara" ("Macabre") alongside Shareefa Danish, Julie Estelle, Arifin Putra and Sigi Wimala.
Not only limiting himself to acting and presenting, Daniel dabbled in music and recorded a song titled "Twitter Dunia" ("World Twitter") with the band Potenzio in 2011.
"A Man Called Ahok" is scheduled for release on Thursday.