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Freeman Cebu Entertainment

Why Box-Office kid has no acting bucket list

Vanessa Balbuena - The Philippine Star

CEBU, Philippines - John Lloyd Cruz’s Sunday night sitcom “Home Sweetie Home” with Toni Gonzaga revolves around the struggles of a married couple, spiced up by a perpetually disapproving mother-in-law — a plot very much familiar to 70s viewers who followed the household antics of Dolphy and Nida Blanca in the RPN comedy series “John en Marsha” (which got an ABS-CBN 2006 spin-off titled “John en Shirley” starring Dolphy and Maricel Soriano).

While fans and drumbeaters alike are quick to name John Lloyd and Toni as this generation’s version of John and Marsha, the 30-year-old actor would be the first to brush off such comparisons.

“Na-iilang kasi kami if our show is compared to ‘John en Marsha.’ Nahihiya kami ni Toni,” he says. “First of all, there’s only one Pidol and one show like ‘John en Marsha.’ We feel so unworthy to be attached or likened to the legacy they left behind. Toni and I would always say, di naman sa nagmamalaki kami, but we would want for our show to have its own identity.”

The star, who treads the sitcom genre for the first time, surmises that for the longest time, “John en Marsha” represented the typical Filipino household. Thus, he considers it a huge compliment to be mentioned in the same breath as the iconic TV show.

“But it’s embarrassing to be compared because what if we don’t reach 20 years like ‘John en Marsha did? That would mean we didn’t succeed, so it’s also not fair to us,” he reasons, adding, “Every episode we tape, it’s getting better and better, and I think it’s starting to grow on me. We’ve been consistently number one every Sunday.”

New challenge

For the moment, the Box-Office King’s fans have to content themselves with watching him drop punchlines once a week on television. Those longing to see him back on the big screen though would be glad to know that he’s doing a family drama helmed by Chito Roño, with a cast that includes Richard Gomez, Gretchen Barretto and Jessy Mendiola. 

“This is challenging for me because I play someone who is developmentally delayed (DD) — that’s the new term, instead of what we previously use, which is ‘mentally retarded.’ There’s a type of DD which is not obvious at first, until you engage the person in conversation. That’s how my character will be, not like the ‘Budoy’ that Gerald Anderson portrayed on television.”

What about rumors that a film is being cooked up pairing him with GMA-7 star Marian Rivera? “I’ve heard of that too, but I’ve learned my lesson from past instances because fans get excited, and then suddenly the project doesn’t push through. It’s like we’re giving them false hope. But that [working with Marian] is always a possibility,” says John Lloyd.

When asked if there are actresses from rival networks he wishes to work with, John Lloyd says Iza Calzado had always been on his radar when the latter was still with GMA-7. Now that they belong to the same channel, John Lloyd laments how there hasn’t been an opportunity so far to act alongside the “Pinoy Biggest Loser” host.

“Marian is also one of them, na sana makatrabaho ko,” adds John Lloyd, before jokingly saying, “Sino pa ba… pati yung mga boys. Sina Tom (Rodriguez)… gagawa kami ng sequel (My Husband’s Lover).”

When asked of dream roles, it’s a common response among actors to enumerate out-of-the-box characters such as that of psychos, split personalities, and the like. John Lloyd surely has his own list, but for an important network star like him, he explains how contract obligations bind him to fulfill projects laid out by management, which prevents him for the time being to explore his personal choices.

“The thing is, if you’re tied up with the contract, it’s hard to create a bucket list. Of course, there’s your desire to explore different projects, genres and characters, but in reality, we have to prioritize our contract because that’s our commitment to the network. When we prioritize other personal things medyo nakakahiya naman, parang hindi tama,” he relates.

Of his pronouncements last year about an early retirement so he can spend more time with loved ones and enjoy the fruits of his labor, he now shares his state of mind then to have made such early declarations. “Maybe I was just going through something that time. It was just coming from a personal place. It’s common for us actors to sometimes feel we want to rest. Obviously, it didn’t happen, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I had the realization that, ‘O nga noh, parang nakakahiyang mag-retire in your 30s.’ I’m still thinking of early retirement but not as early as my 30s.” (FREEMAN)

BOX-OFFICE KING

CHITO RO

DOLPHY AND MARICEL SORIANO

DOLPHY AND NIDA BLANCA

GERALD ANDERSON

GRETCHEN BARRETTO AND JESSY MENDIOLA

HOME SWEETIE HOME

JOHN

JOHN LLOYD

MARSHA

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