KUALA LUMPUR: Actress Deanna Yusoff seems to have it all. Beauty, elegance and talent.
Unfortunately, the London-born personality is rarely seen flexing her dramatic chops on the silver screen.
“I’m very selective of my film choices so I pick and choose wisely to avoid cliché roles,” said the 48-year-old actress when met in Bangsar recently.
With a career spanning over two decades, Deanna has acted in a handful of local films which include Selubung (1992), Abang ‘92 (1993), Ringgit Kasorrga (1995), Chermin (2007) and CEO (2014).
“Many scripts have been handed to me over the years but they were all about me playing the usual Eurasian characters or models and the like so that’s why you don’t see much of me onscreen,” she said.
So when the opportunity to play someone completely different turned up, she jumped at the chance with a role in her latest film, 1965.
“In it I’m totally unglamorous, I’m just a very ordinary woman,” she said of her character in the Singaporean period drama.
She adds: “In fact, there’s one dramatic scene where I fell down in a puddle of water in the market place and I actually smelled of fish.”
No stranger to foreign productions, Deanna has starred in Hollywood’s Anna And The King (1999) and two French films, Un homme en colere (1999) and Passeurs d’enfants (2001). Set in the years leading up to Singapore’s independence, 1965 follows the journey of several characters during this turbulent period.
“I like my character Khatijah, which has subtlety and depth. She’s a single mother who is a Malay Muslim and it was great to be able to play mother since I’m not one in real life and to be able to speak in Bahasa Melayu as well,” she said.
Deanna added it was refreshing to portray a poor woman who was facing insurmountable challenges. “Because of what happens to her, she becomes a person who chooses to have a certain destiny.
At first there’s anger, bitterness and pain but she has a good heart,” she said. In 1965, Deanna stars opposite Singaporean actor Qi Yu Wu, who plays a police inspector looking for his daughter, and Singapore Idol Season 3 winner Sezairi Sezali, who acts as her eldest son.
Filmed in Batam, the Randy Ang-directed feature premiered in Singapore on July 30. But according to the film’s Malaysian distributor MM2 Entertainment, 1965 is still undergoing the approval process by the local Film Censorship Board.
“The message of the film is relevant to anybody at any point in time and not just in 1965,” said Deanna of the film which touches on perseverance and hope in times of turmoil.
“Anybody, of whatever colour, religion or creed they belong to, will be able to relate to this story.”