The Jakarta Post
For 20-year-old actress Estelle Linden, the upcoming superheroine movie Valentine is a defining moment of her career.
In her film debut, Linden is punching, kicking and back-flipping to depict the character of a street crime fighter named Valentine.
Linden, who reached stardom through her roles in sinetron (soap operas), is going to great lengths to play the superhero character.
Linden's slim and tall body may not be the typical superhero posture, but she was eager to take a year of intensive martial arts training in a bid to deliver high-wattage fighting in the movie.
'When I was offered this project, I immediately said yes. I was not aware of the consequences that one year of full physical training would be this challenging and tiring,' she said.
She is being trained by four martial artists to master the art of Betawi pencak silat, jujitsu, tae kwon do and boxing. Among her trainers is Ubay Fox, who choreographed the fight scenes of the Bima Satria Garuda television series inspired by Japanese superhero Kamen Rider Black.
Valentine, which is based on an Indonesian comic series of the same title, centers on a young waitresses with a flair for martial arts named Srimaya, who is recruited by a director to be part of a reality show on fighting crime on the streets.
Srimaya is transformed into Valentine, a heroine clad in tight purple uniform and an eye mask, which is similar to the outfit of Hit-Girl in Hollywood's Kick Ass movie. Under her new identity, she scours every corner of the Gotham-like Batavia city to fight criminals and uphold justice.
'The character is tough, independent, quiet and doesn't have many friends. What interests me the most is that Valentine is similar to Batman. She relies on her own physical strength and gadgets. A kind of a realistic superhero,' Linden said in a mix of Indonesian and English.
The young actress was born in Yogyakarta in 1994 to a Dutch father and a Javanese mother.
After spending most of her childhood in Bali, Linden moved to Jakarta due to her step-father's business in the capital city.
'My mom's friend is a casting director at MD Entertainment in Jakarta. They called me in for a casting. So, I thought why not sinetron, I can shoot it while attending school,' Linden, a graduate of the Singapore International School, said.
She started her acting career by playing a protagonist role in Dia Bukan Cinderella (She is Not Cinderella) in 2008, and later starred in nine MD Entertainment sinetron titles, including in Aishiteru ( 2011 ) along with Laudya Chintya Bella, Mikha Tambayong and Chico Jericho.
'I knew it was gonna be a big difference [acting in a movie], because in sinetron you don't really put lots of effort into the acting ['¦] and sinetron shooting only takes two months,' she said.
Linden said that becoming a film actress hd been her longtime dream.
'Back then, I was not ready for a movie. I just warmed up with sinetron, of which stories are ecek-ecek [simple] so that I had more experience. I have been saving myself for a good movie, which thank goodness I finally found,' she said.
Linden landed the movie role when she had just graduated from high school and is still considering her next step.
She was hanging out with friends at a coffee shop in Jakarta when Valentine's executive producer, Sarjono Sutrisno, and the comic's creator, Aswin MC Siregar, saw her.
Sutrisno asked the barista about Linden, who turned out to know the actress' name, and later contacted Linden's casting agency.
'I got the offer two months after graduating from high school. I was thinking about what to do, should I move out to a university in Holland? But then I got this offer. I thought, why not, I should try it,' she recalled.
Aside from physical training, Linden took part in acting training with veteran actor Tio Pakusadewo in an effort to deliver a satisfying acting performance in Valentine.
Linden said she went all out to a deliver strong action performance in the movie, by carrying out most of Valentine's fighting scenes. One fight scene, for example, took 11 days to shoot, during which Linden kicked and threw punches while hanging on slings.
'With the help of slings, I stepped on the wall and performed a backflip,' she said, recalling a moment of the shooting in Jakarta.
'A stunt is only employed when Valentine jumps between towers,' she added.
Linden and the rest of the cast, which includes Indra Birowo and Ahmad Affandy, are still in the middle of the three-month shooting.
The feature is produced by Skylar Pictures and directed by Agus Pestol, who has previously been involved in the making of Surat Kecil untuk Tuhan (A Small Letter for God), Tebus and The Witness.
Linden hopes that Valentine, which is scheduled to hit theaters in December, will become the first Indonesian superhero movie to achieve commercial success and critical acclaim following the recent release of a local superhero movie that faced criticism over its amateurish and excessive use of special effects.
'In the movie, we minimize the use of CGI [computer-generated imagery]. So, it is a matter of make it or break it. If we break it, at least we have tried. If we succeed, that is good!'
Linden will begin business studies at a university in Jakarta and is aiming to act in more movies.
'Yeah probably, I still want people to buy tickets to watch me,' she giggled. 'But, I hope I can do something more to it, like influence more in any way. We'll see after this movie.'