Rocco Nacino and Rodjun Cruz will star in the upcoming indie gay-themed movie I Luv U, Pare Ko.
This latest offering in the indie cinema circuit is directed by Neal Tan and produced by Krix Film Productions.
Doing a gay role isn't new to Rocco. In fact, the award-winning actor of Ang Sayaw Ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa also portrayed a "closet gay" character in the said Cinemalaya 2011 entry.
Rocco differentiates his role in Ang Sayaw with his latest project, I Luv U, Pare Ko.
"Comedy naman ito [I Luv U, Pare Ko], yung nauna [Ang Sayaw...], may pagka-serious take on friendship between two guys, with the other one who happens to be a latent homosexual," Rocco explained.
The StarStruck Batch 5 alumnus was, at first, hesitant to do another role that will cast him opposite another male actor.
But Rocco eventually agreed to play another gay role as the closeted gay Sam who fell in love with his hunky best friend, Carlo (Rodjun Cruz).
The twist in the story is that Carlo never suspected his best friend to be a gay even until circumstances in their friendship turn for the worse. And that made up for the hilarious twists and turns that audiences will see in this romantic gay comedy that will open in cinemas by February 6
A pre-Valentine's Day offering, I Luv U, Pare Ko will have an invitational Gala premiere night this Tuesday, February 5, at SM Megamall Cinema 9.
Rocco admits: "Indie films have a place in my heart. Nagsimula ako sa Ang Sayaw Ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa [directed by Alvin Yapan] at dahil doon, nagkaroon ako ng awards!"
Among others, Rocco Nacino won last year the New Movie Actor of the Year award, from the Star Awards for Movies 2012 of the Philippine Movie Press Club (PMPC) and the Breakthrough Performance of the Year award, from the Entertainment Press Society (ENPRESS).
"Actually, nag-enjoy ako sa pag-portray ko sa character, kasi comedy naman itong I Luv U, Pare Ko," Rocco added.
"Pero, sabi ko rin, gagawin ko [ang gay role na Sam], pero last ko na itong pag-portray ng gay character. I don't want to be stereotyped as gay."
ACTING TEST. For his part, Rodjun Cruz said it was fun and enjoyable for him to work on this project.
"First time kong magkaroon ng movie, tapos ito yung movie na ginawa ko - gay comedy," said Rodjun. "Masaya po at nag-enjoy ako dahil kakaiba siyang gay film - romantic, na may comedy at drama.
"Yung lahat ng tao; magpa-pamilya, magbabarkada, makaka-relate po sila."
Initially, the role of the closeted gay, Sam, was earmarked for Rodjun. This was the request of Rodjun's manager, Leo Dominguez, with the actor's approval.
But eventually, the role went to Rocco. Did Rodjun mind the switch in assigned roles?
"Not at all," he pointed out. "Siyempre po, professional naman kami ni Rocco. Kung anuman po ang ibinigay sa amin na role, gagampanan namin."
Are there "intimate" scenes between Rodjun and Rocco, as "secret lovers" in I Luv U, Pare Ko?
"That's for you to find out!" Rodjun said with a smile. "The story is very interesting; really worth-watching!
"At ito ang dapat nilang abangan dahil ito ang pinakamabagong loveteam: the RoRo loveteam!"
Rodjun coined the word from the first two letters of his (Rodjun) and Rocco's names, thus, RoRo loveteam.
IMMORTALITY OF LOVE. Meanwhile, the director of the gay-themed feature, Neal Tan, is all-praises for the acting talent his two male leads have shown in the film.
"Naku, grabe, ang gagaling nila... wala silang ka-effort-effort!" Direk Neal Tan gushed.
The indie filmmaker is behind films such as Ataul For Rent (2008) and Tarima (2010). He said, "Natural na natural ang pag-atake nina Rocco at Rodjun sa kanilang respective roles; totally beyond my expectations ang ipinamalas nila, kaya nakaka-excite panoorin ang pelikula."
Tan, who also wrote the screenplay of I Luv U, Pare Ko, sort of experimented with the genre of comedy in putting across his film's message on the universality and immortality of love. He mentioned that there is even a touch of "magic realism" in the gay-themed film.
For now, Direk Neal (or Buboy Tan to his close friend in the business) couldn't seem to get over his fondness for his actors, after having experienced working with them.
Of Rocco, Buboy has this to say about his being onscreen gay, "Mas magaling pa siyang bading kaysa sa akin!"
Direk Buboy Tan qualifies, though, "Of course, siyempre, alam naman natin na lalaking-lalake si Rocco. Pero nung sinusulat ko yung script, siya ang naisip ko dahil mahusay siyang aktor. At hindi ako nagkamali."
As for Rodjun, the writer-director also had no second thoughts about how he would fare in his movie acting debut.
"Siya nga sana ang gaganap bilang gay, which was okey with me also. But there was a change of plan, and it was a mutual decision.
"I think it worked well for both of them, because Rodjun's image was perfect for the straight guy character," Direk Neal said.
"It's a blessing in disguise that Rocco and Rodjun got their respective roles. Mas naging nakakatawa ang pelikula at tiyak na mag-e-enjoy ang manonood dahil sa parehong natural nilang pagganap."
Aside from Rocco and Rodjun, I Luv U, Pare Ko also starsArnell Ignacio, Julio Diaz, Melissa Mendez, Tita Swarding, Marissa Sanchez, Isadora, Bekimon, Xixi Maturan, Mark Anthony Puroy, and D'Wonder Gays.