Eat your hearts out hunks! Empoy Marquez is living proof that a not-so-debonair-looking actor can get ahead of the game with humor and perseverance.
Since becoming leading man material with the success of sleeper hit “Kita Kita” in July, no other rom-com or drama has beaten the movie’s P300 million-gross at the box office.
Besides toppling the 2015 biopic “Heneral Luna” as the highest-grossing Filipino independent film of all time, Kita Kita has also kept its lead over his producer and prime actor Piolo Pascual’s drama, “Last Night” with Toni Gonzaga and John Lloyd Cruz’ reunion film with Sarah Geronimo, “Finally Found Someone.”
Nevertheless, Marquez is not one to say that success can be achieved overnight. In fact, not too many of growing fan base today know that the comedian has been in the industry for a good while now.
The 36-year-old actor first appeared in a feature film “Mr. Suave” in 2003 with Vhong Navarro in the lead, shortly after he won the “Mr. Suave” look-alike contest in ABS-CBN’s now defunct noontime show, “Magandang Tanghali Bayan”. Since then, he took on small roles in several films and on television, where he was typecast as the comical sidekick of the lead.
But times have changed and not without his patience. Since the success of Kita Kita, opportunities have poured in for Marquez one after the other, from TV appearances to endorsements.
Moreover, Philippine Movie’s current “It Boy” is set to delight his legions of followers anew with his distinct brand of comedy via “The Barker,” directed by senior comedian Dennis Padilla. This time, Marquez is paired off with “Viva Princess” Shy Carlos, whose acting versatility shone through in the thriller, “Ang Pagsanib Kay Leah Dela Cruz.”
Meanwhile, as The Barker marks Padilla’s directorial debut, he is grateful that he found the perfect chemistry in working with Marquez—from the beginning of conceptualization to the very last shoot day.
“Kahit na this is my first time na magdirek, I never encountered any difficulties naman. Napakagaan na katrabaho ni Empoy. Para nga kaming naglalaro lang sa set. You will see it sa entire movie, yung good vibes, yung fun… everything!” enthused Padilla.
The shooting for this movie apparently began weeks before the theatrical screening of Kita Kita. As a fellow actor and now director, Padilla knew before everyone else who came to see the sleeper hit that Marquez’ comedic talent is unique.
Enthusiastic over directing the leading man of the moment, Padilla added “Advantage ‘yung mga humanga kay Empoy sa Kita Kita. Mas malakas ang tyansang panoorin din kami kasi ang dami nung nanood eh. Just imagine, P350 million ang kinita ‘nung pelikula, so kalahati man lang ang maniwala sa The Barker that is already P170 million, and that’s not bad at all. P100 million nga happy ka na eh. Basta ako naniniwala ako na kung may maganda kang produkto, at may materyal ka na nakakatuwa, I’m sure that people will watch it. Empoy pa na nakakatawa talaga,” related to reporters at the movie’s press conference.
After The Barker, Marquez is set to do another film with sexy actress Ellen Adarna, under Star Cinema, as well as a reunion project with Kita Kita leading lady Alessandra de Rossi but on ABS-CBN.
With endless opportunities finally coming, Marquez still insisted he will not be choosy with roles.
“‘Yung words po na mamili po, medyo mahihirapan po ako dyan kasi bago pa lang po ako eh siguro po, igagalang ko na lang po ‘yung pasya ‘nung management at ‘nung manager ko kung sino man po na lumapit sa amin na project at kung sino man po ‘yung makasama na leading lady po,” Marquez said.
The Barker is a co-production between VIVA Films and Blank Pages Productions. Opening on October 25, the movie also stars Jeric Raval, Wilma Doesnt, Ronnie Lazaro, Janice Jurado, Sylvia Sanchez and Nonie Buencamino, and newcomers Jemina Sy and Raffy Reyes.