Straight Markki credible as gay

Bot Glorioso (The Philippine Star) - November 26, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The idea of a straight guy portraying a gay role no longer comes as a surprise in this day and age of Philippine cinema. But what arouses one’s curiosity is the ability of an actor — a certified hunk, at that — to pull off the character without doubting on his masculinity. One actor who joined in the already long list of “gay” performers is Markki Stroem in Slumber Party, the 2012 Cinema One Originals Festival finalist entry which was selected as a closing film in this year’s same indie filmfest. It is also set to hit cinemas tomorrow, Nov. 27.

Markki plays the sensitive Elle (short for Elmer) in the indie comedy that revolves around three gay friends who organize a get-together on the night before the Miss Universe pageant. But their fun night is disrupted when they catch a guy who tries to sneak in the house. They then decided to teach the intruder a lesson by keeping him overnight and what happens next is a series of unexpected events.

“Elle was my first gay role and I did it in my very first movie project, “said Markki when The STAR caught up with him after the presscon held recently. “Although I’m used to playing different roles in theatrical plays, the need to convincingly act as a gay was a tough one.”

Good thing, director Emmanuel dela Cruz had given him and his co-stars Archie Alemania (as Jana) and RK Bagatsing (Phi) two to three weeks to prepare for their respective roles. They underwent acting workshops and had an immersion in a karaoke bar in Malate to closely observe and learn how gays move, act and speak. Markki also asked a tip or two from his stylist friends to validate his fashionista role.

Markki recalled that when he came to the auditions, he had no idea about the role “because they just told me to try out for an indie role. So I went to the auditions and when I was reading the script, I realized that I should act as a gay. I just acted like one and I was happy that I made it.”

The video that showed Markki wearing a tiara on his head with both hands swaying softly, his mouth wide open while swinging his waist left and right has proven his ability to transform from a real guy to a certified gay without a hitch.

“From the time he auditioned, you could already feel how serious Markki is to his craft. Magaling and convincing. Ganun din sila RK and Archie. Niño (Muhlach, who portrayed a gay role for the first time) is also a revelation. He was always prepared during our shooting. Walang arte.  Still, we need to polish their acting more. They had an immersion to actually have the feel of their characters,” direk Emman said.

Slumber Party, direk Emman added, is more than just a gay-themed film. It imparts knowledge on the prevention of HIV. Every character depicts a personality different from the other while dealing with every day struggles in life. Those who have seen the film could attest to its substance and praised RK, Archie and Markki for their acting.  

In fact, Markki got several nominations from different award-giving bodies for the role. Theater-acting, Markki shared, has already prepared him to act with much ease onscreen. “I started in theater ever since I was a kid. I always do a play and I told my manager now that I need to do one play a year for me to grow as an actor so this year I did Carrie, Camp Rock and then two years ago, Next to Normal.”

It was his mom who introduced him to the theater stage. “My mom enrolled me at Repertory (Philippines) and I was eight when I did my first stage play as Charlie in Repertory’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

His theater career was interrupted when after graduating high school at International School (IS), Markki took up marketing in Switzerland. “After finishing school, I came back and that was the time I joined PGT (Pilipinas Got Talent).”

Markki delights at the fact that after PGT, he remains visible to this day due to the many projects that keep landing on his lap.

(Slumber Party also stars Maey Bautista, Betong Sumaya, Sef Cadayona and Venus Raj in a special role. It is produced by direk Emman, HUBO Productions, Cinema One, Christian Diamzon Pictures and Origin8 Media.)

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