Urian winner Elijah Canlas: ‘This is just the start’

STAR CIRCUIT - Ricky Calderon (The Freeman) - December 4, 2020 - 12:00am

Star Circuit wanted to interview Elijah Canlas after he won Best Actor at the Gawad Urian last Nov. 10 but since he was busy, we patiently waited when he could find time to answer the questions we sent thru Perci Intalan, who is directing the actor in “Paano ang Pasko?,” the first Christmas serye of TV5 and Cignal TV. We’re happy that Elijah finally got time to respond to our questions.

What was your reaction when you heard your name called as Urian winner?

I was aware the ceremony was happening since my family was watching. But I was isolated in quarantine, so I had to watch it on my own…until ina-anounce na yung winners for the Supporting Actor categories. Hindi ko na kinaya. I put my phone down and then read the script for ‘Paano Ang Pasko.’ I didn’t hear my name get called as the winner. I only heard my family shout from a couple doors away. Then I checked my phone and ang daming tumatawag. I couldn’t believe it. Direk Jun and Perci called and I was just yelling, saying thank you and I love you’s repeatedly. I was out of it. It was pure bliss.

This is your first Urian nomination and your winning puts you in the elite list. What does the award mean to you?

It challenges and inspires me to be better at what I do. To work harder. It gives me a sense of validity and assurance that maybe I am in the right path. I have many more to learn and experience. This is just the start.

How different was it winning at the Asian Film Festival compared to winning at Urian?

I am extremely grateful for both. Out of nowhere lang kasi yung recognition from the Asian Film Festival in Rome. I didn’t even know that I was nominated. Winning an international award is something else. When I found out, I was speechless and at my happiest. While yung Urian, I knew I was nominated and that alone was a huge honor. I grew up knowing how Urian is one of the most prestigious award-giving bodies in the Philippines, and only dreamt of winning one. There was excitement, but I didn’t expect. So when I found out, it was completely surreal.

How do you think the award will affect you and your career?

It makes me want to be better, work harder and learn more. I want to further expand my knowledge about my craft and continue telling stories. I hope this allows me to explore a wider range of roles.

When you were filming ‘Kalel 15,’ did you feel there was something special about it?

Basta Sirek Jun Robles Lana film, alam ko na agad na special yung ginagawa ko. I’m a big fan of Direk Jun’s filmography and it was such an honor to help him tell Kalel’s story. All I knew is, it’s an important film for everyone to see and that I’m working with the best team. I’ll never forget my experience.

Was it hard portraying Kalel?

I always try to make the characters I play hard for me to portray. If it’s not challenging, I’m not doing it right. Kalel’s a survivor. He never pities himself. I had to embrace his complexities and empathize with him fully. It was hard to detach most of the time since we were shooting in a tight schedule. But Kalel was already fully realized in the screenplay, and when you add Direk Jun’s direction, it was clear to me what character I was meant to deliver.

What was the biggest challenge portraying Kalel?

It was the battle of my own perspective and Kalel’s. Sometimes I read the scenes and I mistakenly end up feeling for Kalel Instead of feeling what he feels and just be him. Direk Jun would always remind me to stop the self-pity because that’s Elijah getting in the way of Kalel’s boiling struggle. It’s a very heavy role. It’s also very real. No one deserves to go through what Kalel went through.

How does if feel that ‘Kalel’ has been picked up by Netflix?

I am excited and grateful to Netflix for giving our film this big platform. I genuinely think that this film needs to be urgently seen by a global audience.

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