Young guns

Don Jaucian - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The tired and overused definition of a “movie star” has evolved into something more than a trite tag these days. It’s a branding that Hollywood A-listers evade like Steve Carell (“I don’t think of myself as a movie star at all and I will never have attitude or pretense”) and Johnny Depp (“I guess if I want to be close to anything, it would be a character actor, which is what I think an actor should be. So any of that ‘movie star’ stuff, I just don’t buy it. It just doesn’t make sense to me”). But while such showbiz idolatry exists still in our local industry, where stars are manufactured and catapulted into fame as if out of magic — or sometimes through fast-crawling viral byways, there exists a new breed of actors who are consciously staking a more serious claim on Philippine Cinema.

All this talk of a new Golden Age only seems to liven up the reception of the films that are coming out these days. If there’s one thing that films like On The Job have proven, it’s that the Filipino audience is ready for a new kind of bad boy: an actor who possesses serious acting chops but is still endowed with good looks, enough to launch a strong following. And judging by the healthy turnout of local films this year, from film festival crowd pleasers to major studio releases, there seems to be a new breed of actors who are playing on this kind of testing field.

Here are four upcoming actors from Cinema One Originals entries who are duking it out with the big leagues, actors who are poised to make their mark in local cinema.

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Cinema One Originals runs until Nov. 19 at TriNoma, Glorietta and Robinsons Galleria cinemas. Check facebook.com/CinemaOneOriginals for schedules.

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Tweet the author @donutjaucian.



Felix Roco

Acting is a birthright for Felix Roco. The son of acclaimed actor Bembol Roco found his breakout role in Pepe Diokno’s Engkwentro then proceeded to switch between TV fare and films. But despite having a father who has one of the most extensive and stellar filmographies in Philippine cinema, Felix didn’t grow up steeped in industry stories and imagery. It all just became too real for him when he was trying his luck at acting.

“My dad didn’t tell stories about his work. We just watched. For me, it’s just another thing to do. I think napamahal lang ako sa gawain ko kasi when I was young, I didn’t expect na magiging actor ako. I never really ‘idolized’ my dad, but since I’m acting now, napamahal na din ako sa trabaho ko,” he shares.

He’s certainly come a long way since his first foray into acting, Otso-Otso Pamela-mela Wan (“The experience was great because I was able to work with people I only used to watch on TV,” he says). He has since starred alongside his twin brother Dominic in the Cinemalaya Film Festival Audience Choice winner, Ang Nawawala and then in the Cannes Un Certain Regard selection Death March. He returns this month in Siege Ledesma’s Shift as a gay call center agent and gay BFF to Yeng Constantino, who eventually falls in love with him. He has two new films in production, Sabine and A Thief, A Kid, and a Killer.




Jun-Jun Quintana

Jun-Jun Quintana emerged out of Eduardo Roy Jr.’s Quick Change as a Best Supporting Actor contender in this year’s Cinemalaya Film Festival. In the film, Quintana played Uno, the boytoy of the film’s transsexual leads — a role that required sex scenes and an awkward but playful dig at beauty pageants (that came with him blurting the Q&A pillar: “Thank you for that very wonderful question”).

He found himself next acting alongside one of Philippine Cinema’s greats, Mark Gil, who plays his gay benefactor in Philippino Story. “I feel blessed to be working with one of the pillars of Philippine movies. He is a great person and I really felt the respect in return that came from him. I am honored and privileged that Direk Benjie Garcia and Sir Ricky Gallardo (his manager) gave me (a chance for this),” Qunitana says.

It’s easy to slip into typecasting given the roles that Quintana has landed but he gives weight to the characters that he portrays, a hallmark that hints at his more serious approach to acting and not just a temporary filler to a showbiz career. “Just don’t overthink your character. You just really have to feel your character and digest it into your core. If your role requires you to look like this or that, just do it. Do not (be too conscious) because some people who act get so conscious about how they would look like and that’s when their acting gets affected,” he says.



Jess Mendoza

For Jess Mendoza, the learning process is an immersion into character study. His first film, the Urian-nominated The Natural Phenomenon of Madness (which Variety called “an impressive sophomore effort” from director and editor Charliebebs Gohetia) required a heavy disintegration into the depths of his character. Since then, he’s been deployed into the battlefield by some of the country’s most acclaimed directors, including Adolfo Alix Jr. in Mater Dolorosa and more recently, in Mes De Guzman’s Sitio, where he played a sinister farmhand.

“I admire Mes De Guzman because he’s an artist and a good collaborator. It’s fun and relaxing working with him. We had a one-week shoot in Nueva Vizcaya and I learned their culture and beliefs,” he relates.

Mendoza hopes to land more roles that will give him range, emulating his influences like Edward Norton, Joel Torre and Leonardo DiCaprio. “I hope there are more quality movies that can give pride to Filipinos and produce more jobs and opportunities to aspiring actors,” he shares. “I want to do drama, action — any role will do as long as it challenges me as an actor.”




Gerard Go

Male supermodel Gerard Go walks a different kind of runway as he makes his film debut in Miko Livelo’s Super Sentai-inspired entry Blue Bustamante. He plays one of the Japanese TV show superheroes alongside Joem Bascon, who plays an OFW who secretly ended up with the rest of the TV show’s cast. “My dad works in the industry so bata pa lang ako, nakikita ko na yung mga ginagawa nila. Kaya nagustuhan ko rin siya. Na e-express mo yung sarili mo kasi sa acting.”

Working at Blue Bustamante, whose kooky premise has made it one of Cinema One Originals’s favorites, is as fun as it sounds, attests Go, “I had fun working with the staff. They were easy to work with. Chill lang, masaya. Work pag work pero pag off-cam, enjoy lang.”

Go possesses the kind of thirst that young bloods thrive in when it comes to pursuing success. “You have to have the passion first of all. Tapos dapat may perseverance ka and discipline. Kasi pag wala, mahirap umangat. Kailangan ipakita mo na prompt ka sa time and nagw-work hard ka talaga,” he shares.








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