There is much to respect in a fearless talent like Dennis Trillo. He loves his craft enough to face the unfamiliar—the more demanding and complex, the better. Dennis is never one to dilly-dally over challenging offers.
“Bawat role, hindi ko basta-basta tinatrato na isang trabaho lang. Para sa akin, ang bawat role, commitment.”
Chalk it up to his distaste for monotony, or his refusal to be labeled as a one-trick pony. Dennis wears his passion with pride—he likes diversity; he craves intricacy. “At least, may aabangan sila laging bagong material,” he answers confidently.
But for the actor, preparation—no matter how thorough—is just half the battle. Unrelenting passion clinches the rest. “Wala namang role na madali talaga,” he says. “Ako kasi pag binigyan ng role, pinag-aaralan ko, pinagtatrabahuhan ko. Ginagawa kong iba doon sa mga nagawa ko na before or sa iba ko pang trabaho.”
He therefore sticks to his time-tested approach: “Baguhin mo yung mga ginagawa mo, yung itsura mo para sa role. Pag-aralan mo, mag-research ka, manood ka ng maraming maraming pelikula. At mahalin mo lang trabaho mo, yun yung pinaka-importante.”
Dennis’ professionalism is certainly what led him to land his most lauded character to date: a transgender woman in the 2005 war film Aishite Imasu 1941: Mahal Kita, a role that sealed his ability to outshine more luminous company. His gender-bending role earned him trophies; his talent earned him respect.
In 2013, Dennis surpassed himself with an even more memorable character in the primetime game changer My Husband’s Lover (MHL). And just this October, the groundbreaking series was nominated in the telenovela category of the 42nd International Emmy Awards.
Dennis’ quirky, no-holds-barred portrayal of Eric Del Mundo—a homosexual man having an affair with the titular husband (Tom Rodriguez), brought him widespread fame across the Philippines and Asia. He even earned nods from the jury of the prestigious Asian Television Awards for the role that also landed him a nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role, alongside Dominic Zapata who is nominated for Best Direction category.
Now he is thriving anew in the primetime via drama series Hiram Na Alaala. Here, Dennis portrays rough and tough Ivan, a soldier deployed to war—a first in his 14-year-career, but more notably so, because it is the complete opposite of the more reserved Eric.
The role had a few demands: Be physically fit, or as the actor puts it, “Kailangan walang tiyan”; and sport a convincing military hairstyle.
In Hiram Na Alaala, Ivan undergoes grave physical torture in the hands of insurgents, prompting his mind to create a new identity. Upon his rescue, Ivan returns to his old life bearing new memories—a set of borrowed recollections taken from his best friend and fellow captive Joseph (Rocco Nacino). Believing he is his fallen comrade, Ivan sets out to find love in Joseph’s girlfriend Andrea (Kris Bernal).
In designing his character, Dennis says it was all about getting to know Ivan—his thoughts and feelings, his fulfillment and frustrations.
“Binabasa ko maigi yung script. Kapag binabasa yung script nang paulit-ulit, mas madaling ma-imagine and ma-visualize yung character. Nakakatulong yun sa pagbuo ng isang character.”
This drama marks a few firsts for Dennis. Besides his first time to portray a soldier, it is his first lead in a psychological drama, and his first pairing with the young GMA Network discovery.
“Always pleasant and laging naka-smile” is how he describes his leading lady. “Never ko pa siyang nakitang nakasimangot sa buong pagsasama namin sa mga tapings,” he says. “Natutuwa ako na nakatrabaho ko siya and na-partner kami.”
Dennis also commends Rocco who is also an award-winning actor who first came to prominence through the network’s talent search Starstruck. Incidentally, Dennis co-hosted the very season Rocco joined in 2009.
“Si Rocco naman, maaga palang nakita ko na yung potential kasi talented siya na tao. Marami siyang pwedeng i-offer acting-wise, musically-inclined, nagpe-play ng instruments, sumasayaw, mahilig sa sports, at matalinong artista.”
Lauren Young completes the main cast as Ivan’s girlfriend, and Dennis admires the young star’s drive and professionalism.
“Pinag-aaralan niya ng husto yung character niya, at dumadating siya sa set na memorized na lahat ng mga linya niya.”
For GMA’s effort in injecting variety in its line-up, Dennis thanks his home network.
“Maganda yung ginagawa ng GMA kasi gumagawa sila ng mga team-ups na very refreshing para sa mga manonood. Hindi lang yung mga nakasanayang love teams palagi.”
Hiram Na Alaala is, by the way, not entirely a drama as Dennis looks forward to filming grittier, more grueling scenes in the days to come.
“May gagawin kaming giyera, parang engkwentro sa mga rebelde,” which he says will be filmed in mountainous areas and forest trails. It’s a physically demanding scene to film, but a rather welcome challenge,” he says.
Dennis hopes that things will only become more stimulating for him as an actor. Humbled by what he has achieved thus far, he does away with false modesty and acknowledges that the remarkable advantage about being at the frontline is having the option to stay on the safe side or explore the great unfamiliar.
And of course, for Dennis Trillo, the choice is obvious: “Expect nila na ibang-iba na naman, and hopefully, mas maganda pa.”