Anthea Murfet is a famous personality in the Philippines. She represented the Philippines along with two other beauties for Asia’s Super Model Competition in 2009 and she has made several guest appearances in various local TV shows in the Philippines. Together with the other 4 co-hosts, she hosted a TV show in the Philippines which was shown on the TFC channel. In her first feature film, Chasing Fire, she played the lead role of “Kristine” – this indie film went on to win an award during the Barcelona, Spain Film Festival. She also played another lead role in “So Much Pain” and “So In Love.” Furthermore, she co-produced Trafficked and worked behind the scenes in building the character of various artists during 2013.
She has modelled for several high-profile brands such as Bench, Guess, and Kasheica. She has also appeared in various TV commercials such as Royal Thai Airways, Splenda Sweetener, NIVEA cream, Fit & Right Delmonte, Nestle Products, HSBC bank, BDO bank, Lucky Me pancit canton, Coffee Mate, Skechers Shape-Ups, Hush Puppies, Coca Cola, Marlboro, and several others. She’s also the image model for Dr. Jart’s BB Cream campaign.
She has appeared in catalogs for Sundance, Tupperware, Natasha, Boardwalk, Oroton, SM Catalogue, and Zalora and during the year 2018 to 2020, she became the brand ambassadress of Shangri La Hotel, Anchorland, and Okada Casino and Resorts.
StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Anthea to discuss her journey in the entertainment industry and here’s what went down:
Can you tell us more about yourself? How did you get started in the entertainment industry?
Believe it or not, I actually started out wanting to be a tennis player! On my fifteenth birthday, my father passed away on the tennis court, and after that, I decided to switch careers, in part because competitive tennis just costs so much. It’s the second-most expensive sport, after golf. So, I dropped the tennis racket and told my mum that I wanted to be an actress. Of course, she had painfully high standards and didn’t want me to do showbiz in the Philippines because she wanted me to aim higher and enter Hollywood.
Even before I had quit tennis, I was already making inroads into modelling and acting. When I was 12, I was the youngest model in a workshop called Enigma, hosted by Levenson Rodriguez. It was similar to the personality development workshops June Delly Watkins does here in Australia. Since my mom was with me, she helped me to do my outfits, and I remember one time one of the models asking, “Where did you get your stilettos? They’re wicked!” Little did she know that me and mum had purchased them from a pole dancer’s boutique store. (chuckles)
What do you like most about acting?
Having no limitations to become whoever I want to be.
How different is it to act in a movie and to act in a TV series? And which one do you prefer?
I love both! It’s so rewarding being able to enter another world and hold onto a character for a certain amount of time – whether that’s the length of a film shoot, or across many episodes of a TV series. At the end of the day, there’s no difference when it comes to technique. Every actor is the slave of their character, whether they’re on the big or small screen. You just have to react to what the director wants from you and adapt to the country you’re in while targeting a global appeal that everyone can relate to.
Working on TV was a good learning experience because we frequently had different directors for each episode, and the producers and writers were often on set, too. I loved “interviewing” the writer during breaks so that I could really delve into my character and unearth the hidden gems that helped bring my characters to life.
It was a lot of work, too. Like on “Garlic,” a TV series that aired on the Cignal channel, I was a lead villain during the day and a serial killer with superpowers during the night. I’d be in a green room doing CGI effects with one cameraman for six hours straight, and that was after the daytime scenes were done. Sometimes, I’d reach almost three days with no sleep, but I always tried to give it my all, even when the camera was focused on my co-actors. So, even when my energy levels were at their lowest, I always tried to give, like, a really scary face in the dark, so that the scene would be as good as it could possibly be.
I spent a lot of time working on commercials for both TV and the web, early on. That gave me less time I had to be on set, which was just what I needed as a newly single mum of two. The key to shooting commercials was, “Be happy, familiarize yourself with the storyboard, and always remember your lines.” That helps save production costs, and they will love you for it. Doing commercials helped me to become a chameleon because I always hoped that clients or brands wouldn’t realize it was me again and would have me back for a different part.
Film has also been a big part of my growth as an actor. I’ve never done a supporting role. In all three of my films, I’ve been a lead. Chasing Fire won an award at the Barcelona Film Festival. We shot it for a year and a half, and I basically grew with the crew. By the end, they felt like my family and when the shoot was over, it just broke my heart.
What are your weak points when it comes to acting? How do you try to improve them?
When a character reminds me of some of the hardest or most troublesome moments of my past, it’s like a knife that cuts through my soul. It can be incredibly painful and difficult to work through. Sometimes, though, I’m grateful for it, because it helps to build and enrich the character. The challenge is how to then snap out of it!
What are your strong points as an actor?
It might not sound like a big brag, but I’ve worked hard to be able to memorize long lines because I want to be sure that I can deliver them accurately, regardless of the intensity of my emotions. I rehearse my lines thousands of times to embody them so that even when my emotions flow, the words come out naturally. I think of the lines as like a boat, and my emotions are the river that the boat floats upon.
One of my favourite books is On Acting, by Sanford Meisner. He used to tell his class that a performer has two barrels. The first barrel contains acting, talent, musical ability, and so on. The second barrel has troubles. Then he’d ask, “Which barrel has more juice?” The answer was, “Troubles.” I was stunned and grateful that I kept my sanity despite all the troubles in my past, and I think my children helped to play a big role in keeping me sane and helping me convert all that angst to productivity. I’d like to thank them and my mother for all they’ve done to help me succeed in this business.
I’m also very observant of the people I’ve worked with on various productions, and mindful of our chemistry both on and off the set, though sometimes I end up with this sort of shell around me that makes me seem like an introvert. Really, though, it’s just because I’m carrying my character with me everywhere I go … not that everyone around me knows that. (chuckles)
Sometimes, that shell is necessary for self-preservation, too. As an actor, you need to be able to access your emotions for a scene, but you also need to be able to keep yourself together. That’s why at times you’ll find me off in a corner, totally in my own world, just trying to feed my imagination and keep my energy up.
What have you learned from the directors that you have worked with throughout your career?
I’ve been lucky to work with some very talented directors who took the extra time to do workshops and rehearsals outside the set, especially when they knew that a scene would be heavy. Even when we were working within a limited time frame, they knew how to use methods that would help to make an impact on the actor’s performance, even in that short window of time.
What are some of the difficulties of the acting business?
Everyone has their own agenda. You have to carry yourself well and make careful decisions if you want to earn respect – and keep it.
What’s challenging about bringing a script to life?
Mastery. It’s never enough!
What do you do when you’re not filming?
Well, before COVID I used to travel a lot, but I haven’t gotten to do that as much these days, obviously. I spend a lot of time practicing my British and Russian accents, daydreaming, mixing and matching clothes, sketching, creating set designs for my health and workout vlogs, reading plenty of books, and I enjoy creating portraits for people in high society. I did a portrait of Josh Calata, who was the former youngest billionaire in the Philippines, who has been a real inspiration and mentor to me, as well as “His Majesty of Johor Bahru” Sultan Ismail Ibrahim. The Sultan placed the portrait as a wall sculpture in his private entertainment space. His expression in that portrait was the happiest I’ve ever seen him, and I really enjoyed creating it because of his great sense of humour.
What has been the most memorable experience of your career so far?
There are so many to choose from! When my first film won at the Barcelona Film Festival, when I did a finale at Fashion Week and there was a standing ovation … then, of course, there was the time when my cape caught on fire during the first fashion workshop I was a part of. (chuckles) There were candles on both sides of the stage, and while I was heading back my cape must have gotten too close to one of the candles because it went up. I was stunned, but the show must go on, so I had to rush for my next outfit while staying focused on maintaining that sophistication they expect, you know?
Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?
I’ve always been a Rocky Balboa fan, but being seated on a plane in business class next to Steven Seagal was pretty dope, too. This was while he was shooting a film called General Commander in the Philippines. He showed me a couple of Aikido techniques and fighting stances and as soon as we landed in Malaysia and attended the birthday of the Sultan of Johor he rocked the stage while playing some mad blues.
My mum’s dad is related to President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, who carries my mother’s maiden name. I met him late in my career at Scout Rangers Camp. The Scout Rangers really became like my second family. I learned a lot from them and their near-death experiences; how they conquered them with their training in anti-guerrilla jungle warfare, close-quarters combat, urban warfare, ambushes, and more. It helps to put your struggles in perspective when you spend time with people who regularly risk their lives like that.
If someone is going to make your life into a movie, who would play you?
I’m a very sophisticated woman, but I also love doing things that most men do, such as blade fighting, boxing, and firing guns. So maybe Bond girl Bo Derek. She carries the knife well, but I bet you I can move better than she does because of my blade fighting experience, where I studied under Grand Tuhon Supremo and Tuhon Mick Alcaraz.
Of course, there’s also my ambitious, career-driven side. Think like Anne Hathaway’s character in Intern, how she juggles being a mom while running a big company. Or Libby Holden in Primary Colors with John Travolta. She’s played by Kathy Bates and is kind of like a kingmaker in that movie. I love her perseverance and the speeches that she gets to give, but I also felt the poignancy that she perceived herself as a failure when Travolta’s character failed.
What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.
Well, first off I still want to make it to Hollywood. I know that’s going to take a lot of hard work, but I’m willing to do everything I can to get there. But I think every actor needs to have a backup plan, too. Mine is to own a design firm (I’m currently designing T-shirts during my free time) and maybe do some real estate on the side. Whatever it takes to keep living and traveling the world with my family.