'There were nerves when we met again'

Erra Fazira and ex-fiance Awie will be back together onstage in an upcoming theatre production, making it the first time they are teaming up again after two decades.

When Awie had to approach Erra Fazira and Ziana Zain with his idea for Suara Kita, he used the word "menggigil" (to shiver in Malay) to describe how he felt.

It has been nearly 20 years since they last shared screen time.

It has also been 16 years since he last spoke to Erra - the year they called off their engagement after a serious six-year relationship.

The pair, who started out as friends, grew closer on the set of Sembilu, where they played love interests.

It was not long before reel life became real life, until they ended their engagement in 1998.

Now, the ex-lovers will once again fall in love - on stage, at least. Was it awkward rehearsing for the production?

Awie, 45, chuckled before telling The New Paper over the phone from Kuala Lumpur: "The first time we had a love scene, I had to touch her cheek. I thought, 'How do I do this?'.

I was shaking. I can't lie - after being together for six years, of course there were nerves when we met again.

But things are different now and it's strictly professional."

Naturally, Awie's wife of nine years and co-director of their company Awie Entertainment, Rozana Misbun, had her reservations about the project.

According to him, Rozana - who has three children with Awie - had asked him: "Are you sure about this?"

Awie recalled: "She asked me to promise her many things. I understood her concerns as a wife.

At one point, the country was shaken up by my relationship with Erra and my wife read all about that. She also watched the films.

But I assured her it's just business and sought her blessings."

Rozana then told him to "behave".

He said he continued to reassure her: "We're lovers only on stage. Once the production ends, it's over."

Besides, director Erma Fatima has made sure there will be no overly intimate scenes or hugging between the two to avoid controversy in light of Erra's recent divorce.

Intimate

The 45-year-old award-winning actress-director said in a Kosmo article: "At first, I had plans to add the intimate scenes as played out in the film but after a discussion, Erra requested to leave them out and I respect her wishes. I don't want to smear her name or create controversy."

Awie, who recently learnt of his ex-fiancee's divorce, admitted that he was surprised at the turn of events but said that he has not reached out to her on a personal level.

"When you see Erra, you can tell she is sad but she conceals it well. I know she is strong enough to face her problems and that she can put them aside when it comes to work.

We don't talk about her problems, I don't want to get involved unless she approaches me for advice, which I will readily share. We've been engaged before, so why not? Just as friends," he said.

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