Jake Cuenca: Made for Lizardo

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TESSA MAURICIO-ARRIOLA

Debuting director and producer Coco Martin was right on the money when he said there can be no other Lizardo to his Panday but the ever evolving actor Jake Cuenca.

The T-Zone watched the newest remake of the late Fernando Poe Jr.’s classic komiks adaptation, and Jake was just plain wicked from every angle. In the guise of rich unico hijo Antonio, pining for Panday’s girl Maria, he was both slick and smutty. As the reincarnated Lizardo, he was the demon come to life—from his burning gaze, the slight yet threatening tilt of his head, to his slow and ominous enunciation of words and exaggerated laughter.

As the arch nemesis of the third generation super hero blacksmith in 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival entry, “Ang Panday,” the immortal spawn of darkness, according to Jake, is his “most favorite role” to date.

“If they give me the Best Supporting Actor Award I will cry! I will really cry because this is my most favorite role ever, in my 15 years in showbiz,” he exclaimed.


“I’ve done so many things in my career—acting in mainstream and indie, winning awards here and there, studying acting—but this role is really the one, and I’m honored to do it with Coco Martin as my lead and director.”

Reacting to Coco’s statement that he had no one else in mind for Lizardo, Jake, who has chosen to be a serious character actor over the years, genuinely said, “I was so touched by that.”

Likewise confident in their screen chemistry, he explained, “When you put me and Coco in a scene you, never know what to expect. Even I don’t know what to expect! I meant that last fight scene—whew! We shot it for three days, from 6 pm to 6 am. It was a heavy, heavy day but it was all worth it.”

Asked by The Manila Times how he felt to be directed by an actor of his generation and a fellow artist at ABS-CBN, Jake was only too happy to share pieces of trivia to explain his sentiment.

“We were together in GMA pa!” he quipped. “And I went to my first audition as an actor with Coco beside me. After that, we did [the drama series]‘Tayong Dalawa,’ which was a big hit—and he was the kontrabida there, believe it or not—and so many other milestone projects between that and this movie.

“But I have to say that I love that he’s my director now. I mean he’s always been part of creative, and sometimes it’s gets confusing—not just with Coco—with writers and directors in general who an actor should listen to. And with Coco being both the director and writer of this story, I love it. What had to be done was so much clearer.

“Add to that, he’s also an actor’s director. There’s not a lot of them out there like that who understands everything from scene to scene. We had such a huge cast but he knew how to make everyone look good in the movie—like Kylie [Versoza] and Mariel [de Leon]who were first timers. He knows the strengths and weaknesses of people and that’s a talent on its own.”

Happy with how Coco pulled out the evil in him for Lizardo, Jake said he was so happy after the preview to hear everyone commend him for his originality.

Jake Cuenca considers Lizardo, the arch nemesis of Flavio and as his favorite role in his 15-year career

“You know when you come to my house, there’s a painting of Joker [from Batman]in every room. And with the makeup and costume that comes with Lizardo, the hardest thing to do in the movie was not to copy the Joker. I mean, I didn’t go to the States [to study acting]and go through [Hollywood acting coach] Ivana Chubbuck’s master class twice to copy someone else’s performance, and thankfully, everything worked out.”

Clearly made for Lizardo, Jake Cuenca hopes that the public will support the return of Panday to the big screen, assuring them of time and money well spent.

“I can honestly say this is one movie I put the most effort in, so what more with Coco right? And he did this for the enjoyment of the masses so please, come see Ang Panday because this is for all of you,” he ended.

Joker feel? Hardest thing with the movie was not to copy the joker in my house joker painting in every room. The last thing I want people to say is to ginagawa niya si Joker. I didn’t go to school in the states, Ivan’s to copy someone else’s performance. I’m happy I felt right away they loved the performance.

Never saw the fight scene in the end. I was at the edge of my seat.

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