The coming of age of Gerald Anderson

Pablo A. Tariman - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - On this rainy afternoon with Typhoon Lando battering Northern Luzon, Gerald Anderson is sporting a new look — a trimmed hair, almost crew cut and as always, quick to break into a joke.

Wearing a red shirt and black pants, he is actually blending with the color of the day for a presscon on his latest starrer, Everyday I Love You, which also stars Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil.

As expected, the showbiz scribes ask him if he has a new love after his break-up with Maja Salvador.

Nada, he said, and he is not in a hurry. “It’s all work, work and work. How can I find time for love when I am hardly home with all the work I have to do?”

By next year, he shall have spent 10 years in showbiz which discovered him when he emerged one of the Top 3 winners in the Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) Teen Edition.

By his reckoning, his showbiz career started when he was only 17 and by that time, he was just a few years after finishing high school in General Santos City where he was discovered by co-actor Joross Gamboa.

He admits: “When I started, I was just concerned with providing for my family and indeed I treated acting simply as a source of livelihood. I had to work hard because I didn’t come from a film school and I had to learn fast. The TV shows and film breaks came and went and one day, I just realized I love what I am doing and no longer simply because I needed the income. I get a certain kind of high portraying some characters that were the opposite of who I really am. I like entering into that new world where I am not myself and I’m living the life of other people. Not all people get that kind of opportunity.”

Some out-of-the-box roles included the TV role of a special child named Budoy and a marked portrayal in a Cannes-acclaimed film, On The Job, where he portrayed the protégé of a contract killer played by Joel Torre.

When he realized he fell in love with his craft, his concerns dramatically shifted as well. He didn’t care if he was still a part of a love team, he stopped measuring roles by length of appearance and he was just concerned with one thing: To do justice to the role.

When he accepted the part of a killer’s protégé, he knew he would be bashed by fans who — whether he likes it or not — remain part of his showbiz world. “At some point in your acting life, you have to let go of what your fans will say. After all, acting is not just about following box-office trends and pleasing your fans club. I take those bashing as part of the job. Bashers will always be there trying to find fault with you and indeed, they come as part of an actor’s territory. It’s up to you to be affected by them or not.”

In Everyday I Love You, Gerald’s part as sweetheart of Liza is short-lived as he’d play a role of a bedridden man who’d soon be forgotten when the character of Enrique comes into the picture.

Gerald intimates: “I have never played a bedridden character and so it really felt strange. The location shoots always require me to be in a hospital bed and my part was being shot the whole day in that condition. You can really freak out if you don’t focus. But I have since then learned that there are no big or small roles for an actor. Any character you portray will only make sense if you work hard to get into the part. Hence, I wasn’t just concerned with the fate of my character. I was also making sure I have good chemistry with her even as her character will find another love in another man. I don’t like characters merely spouting lines. I want to feel that character as he relates to another. In that way, those dialogues would even be more meaningful for me.”

Flashback to one of his first TV appearances. “I met Quen (Enrique) when I was being considered for the part of Budoy and mind you, that was really quite tough. We found ourselves sharing a dressing room where we took turns rehearsing our lines for the audition. Quen would tell me ‘what do these lines mean and is there really such a character?’ The director asked him to shout at me as Budoy and Quen was so hesitant to do it. Fortunately, we both passed the audition. And yes, I was portraying a mentally-challenged man for weeks and months on end as the teleserye was well-received.”

So what did he learn spending some close to 10 years in showbiz?

Says he: “I learned how to be responsible not just for my family but also in accepting new jobs. I learned that opportunities come once in a rare while and that I better take advantage while it is there and being offered out of the blue. I learned how to be a professional which means working hard even before the camera grinds.”

He lets out a deeply exhaled “Wow!” when asked to reflect on his life now and five to 10 years ago.

“Of course, I am very different now compared to my younger life 10 years ago. I started not so much as an actor but as a breadwinner who had to make sure there was food on the table for my family. Then later, you learn to be responsible not just to your family but to your craft as well. After all, it is not easy getting into the lives of other people you have never even met.  But in both, you need some degree of dedication. You need to protect your family but you also have to work hard to protect your profession.”

Part of those growing up years was falling in and out of love.

It was something that happened when he was busy with work and he realized he couldn’t keep both without the other getting the sad end of it.

So what did he learn from past relationships?

The answer sounds like someone who has come of age.

Reflects Gerald: “When a relationship ends, I like to cherish the good moments. I don’t like dwelling on sad and ugly moments. What is important is that you learn from your mistakes and whatever people say about you and your shortcomings, you become a better person in the process.”

Everyday I Love You, directed by Mae Cruz-Alviar, is showing on Oct. 28 in all theaters.

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