An all-round entertainer, Tony Eusoff is no stranger to the entertainment scene in Asia. He’s been around the TV scene and has even lend his pipes for stage musicals like P. Ramlee the Musical as well as Tunku the Musical. We caught up with this world traveller on his insane discoveries about public toilets while abroad and what role he would like the chance to play in his acting career.
Are you a planned packer or you just throw everything into a suitcase and go?
I always try to, although there have been a couple of bum plans in the past. Like discovering my dress shoes while on an island trip. But overall I do try to make sure I have at least covered the basics for my trip. I keep a travel checklist in my phone for the essentials like phone charger, plug point adapter, toiletries etc.
What kind of music do you listen at the gym?
To be honest I’m not too hung up on gym music. So I just work out to whatever’s playing on the gym’s house speakers. Admittedly there have been times where I had wished I’d brought along my own playlist instead but hey, I figure that’s way too much prep for just hitting those weights. Besides, bad gym music shouldn’t be an excuse to ditch the treadmills, right? Take that annoying music and turn it into muscles I say.
If you had some time, a map and a vehicle, where would go for a road trip?
I would probably attempt to cover as much drivable surface area of the entire Borneo as possible. Start all the way from the southern tip of Sarawak, taking in the scenic mountains and vast pepper farms, make my way up through Brunei and arrive in Sabah, then turn around and find an entry point into Kalimantan via Sandakan and travel back down south and out again where I started in Kuching. Should be an interesting trip especially when so little is known about greater Borneo.
You have acted in both TV and theatre roles, which one is a little more exhilarating to perform?
I enjoy working in all the mediums, but exhilaration would have to come from stage or theatre. Primarily because the performance is done live and the audience responds real-time. I mentally prepare for and anticipate possible performance mistakes and general technical glitches before I go on stage which just adds to the adrenaline rush. No two shows are exactly the same which means there’s little room for complacency. One has to be on guard because you never know what you’re going to get.
Are you adventurous when it comes to trying different cuisines when globetrotting?
When it comes to food I say try something at least once, as long as it doesn’t conflict with your beliefs. You know that saying, when in Rome do as the Romans do? My guideline is to look at what the local people eat. In Manila I was offered some ‘balut’ (un-hatched duckling). To decline would’ve been rude, so I took the plunge and swallowed a whole egg. It actually tasted pretty rad that I helped myself to another couple of eggs! Of course, learning about how balut is supposed to be one hell of an aphrodisiac didn’t hurt either. In a Hatyai food market I saw a bunch of kids snacking on bags of deep fried insects and worms despite the availability of the more commercially common junk foods. I thought to myself, “hey if it’s good enough for the kids, it should be good enough for me!” and wow did it taste good! I’d trade a packet of Lay’s chips for a bag of fried maggots any day!
What is the most research you had to do for a role?
Assuming the role of P. Ramlee for both stage and TV has warranted the most preparation thus far in my career. I look and sound nothing like the legend, so learning his distinct styles in singing and the little nuances in how he speaks and how he moves was of top priority. It required hours of binge watching of all his films, everyday for weeks before I was ready to perform to a potentially critical and unforgiving audience.
What kind of food reminds you of home?
Sorry for the cliché, but this would have to be Laksa Sarawak for me. The shrimp paste gravy used for the laksa gives out the most wonderful aroma as you step into a typical Sarawakian coffeeshop. The taste is to die for especially if you’re a fan of Belacan. Any time is a good time for Laksa Sarawak!
What attracts you to a new destination? History, architecture, food?
A combination of everything really. I tend to look for an island or beaches if it’s for a quick getaway. But cities with rich history and a melting pot of cultures and races are also a big draw. I was pleasantly surprised by the irony that is London. The more central you go in London, the more Pakistani or Indian or Arabic it gets. Very amusing to say the least. Having actually studied architecture for my degree, I’m also very tuned in to the appreciation of buildings, structures and spaces. Skyscrapers in Hong Kong are a thing of practicality. A tiny island with a swelling population, the only way to build is upwards, with the aid of bamboo scaffoldings! When it comes to food, I’m a sucker for all things Indonesian. I absolutely LOVE Nasi Padang! Another mind blowing fact I’ve learned from my travels is that the Thai people have really really clean public toilets. I’ve used lavatories that are cleaner than most eateries in KL. What gives?
What is a type of character that you are interested in portraying that you have not had the chance to play?
A drag queen perhaps? It would be a great challenge just to walk on heels! Not to mention all the body hair I’d have to get rid of. I’m sure every queen has a compelling story to tell. I can only imagine how much fun the preps would be for such a role. Fingers crossed!
What have you got planned for 2017? Any new projects or roles?
To expand my range as an actor and versatile performer. Earlier this year I was involved in a mandarin speaking drama titled Beautiful World, where I was definitely out of my comfort zone. Having only able to speak elementary level Mandarin, I had to constantly keep my head down on memorising my lines phonetically. I’ve also just wrapped my supporting role in a special project to celebrate our country’s independence. Future projects are still in discussions at this point but suffice to say you may be seeing more of me on TV and films by year end and early to mid 2018.