15 Greatest Movie Actors in Leading Roles, 2000-2020: No.1 - No.5

The top 5 in the PEP List of 15 Greatest Movie Actors from 2000 to 2020.

Now we go to the Top 5 in the PEP List of the 15 Greatest Movie Actors in Leading Roles, 2000-2020.

No. 1 Jericho Rosales. No. 2 Aga Muhlach. No 3 John Lloyd Cruz. No. 4 Dennis Trillo. No. 5 Vic Sotto.

We limited our choices to leading men in local movies released over the last 20 years.

Our list is very specific: Movies only, not television or stage appearances; with a bias for mainstream films. Leading men only, not supporting players no matter how significant the performance. The two decades of 2000-2010 and 2010-2020 only; that is, the actors' movies must have been released during this period. For this reason, many big stars could not be included. Their movies had left their mark outside the given timeline.

To understand the process, CLICK THIS.


There were 11 members of the Philippine Entertainment Portal responsible for this list of our 15 greatest actors.

Jo-Ann Maglipon, editor-in-chief; Karen AP Caliwara, executive editor; Erwin Santiago, news editor; Rommel Llanes, video editor; and Rachelle Siazon, Arniel Serato, Bernie Franco, Jet Hitosis, Nikko Angelo Tuazon, FM Ganal, and James Patrick Anarcon.

Begun in November 2020, we closed the vote in early April 2021. Voting went through five stages, each one marked by discussions and reviews, by a show of facts and figures, and by the collection of insights and opinions.

To give an idea of what one member went through to prepare herself for the job—here are the abbreviated notes of Rachelle Siazon, our deputy news editor.

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"Choosing my top picks for The Greatest Actors and Actresses was a tough challenge. I had top-of-mind choices and some movies I'd already watched a number of times in the past. But, I really took our homework to heart. I reviewed the movies of the stars that our team had shortlisted.

"There was a time when I spent a week of marathon movie nights after work to make sure that I compare the stars' works through the years—and check their acting range, the believability of their characters, and their impact on screen. (Puyat ako that whole week because I stayed up kahit hanggang 6 a.m. minsan).

"I took notes of their impactful lines, how they shifted emotions seamlessly, their use of body language to convey the emotion and attitude of their characters.

"Was I moved by their portrayal? Was their acting outstanding? Can their eyes act? Did they make use of nuances to create impact even for quiet but remarkable scenes? Do I see the character and not the star in the movie? Do they look charming on screen as lead stars? How do they fare in crying scenes? Umaarte ba pati luha nila? If the material is comedy, how is their timing?

"Those were the questions I tried to answer by watching their movies again.

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"It was really difficult for the team to drop some stars because even those that didn't make the cut were really good. But, we had to stick to our criteria. We had to deliberate on the strengths and weaknesses of our best bets.

"While some will agree and others will disagree with the final PEP List, I believe we really did our best to come up with a credible list of actors who have not only shown outstanding acting prowess but also made a mark with their contribution in the film industry.

"Some of the movies I reviewed, for the following actors, were—John Lloyd Cruz: In My Life, The Mistress, One More Chance, A Second Chance, Dubai, The Trial, My Amnesia Girl;

"Dennis Trillo: Rosario, The Janitor, Bakit Lahat Ng Gwapo My Boyfriend, My Neighbor's Wife, One Great Love;

"Dingdong Dantes: Sid And Aya, Seven Sundays, The Unmarried Wife, She's The One;

"Aga Muhlach: Miracle In Cell No. 7, A Love Story, Seven Sundays, Dubai, and First Love;

"Alden Richards: Hello Love Goodbye, The Road, Imagine You and Me;

"Derek Ramsay: All of You, The Janitor, English Only Please."

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The other 10 members followed a system that worked for them, while attending to their regular duties as reporters, editors, and hosts.

In all this, what is important is that THE PEP LIST is free and independent of any entertainment industry shareholders and interests.

This is our modest attempt to applaud our actors—and we do so by announcing to the world that they are the very best.

Here are our Top 5 Movie Actors in Leading Roles, 2000-2020.


Vic Sotto, 15 Greatest Movie Actors in Leading Roles

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THE COMEDY GENRE is not only complicated, it is often misread.

It is difficult enough to get people to laugh. But trying to get respect for those who make people laugh is even more difficult. Routinely, comedians are ignored. Award-giving bodies, critics, academics, and the general public itself are slow to drop garlands at their feet.

When their movies make big money, instead of being seen as actors who connect in a big way to viewers, they are dismissed as lightweight—as playing to the gallery, as merely good for the laughs, as doing simplistic character sketches. Thus, they get the big paycheck, but not the big respect.

That is why an actor like Vic Sotto, 66, is not mentioned in the same breath as Christopher de Leon, 64.

Yet Vic nails his comedic characters as cleanly as Christopher does his dramatic roles. Both perform with no manic effort to force, on the one hand, the laughs, and on the other, the tears. There has to be a major intelligence and a deep talent to make both the weepiest and the maddest believable. Both actors do that, and each one dominates his niche.

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With comedy, there is a real clincher: timing.

Vic’s timing is impeccable.

Fellow actors give that to him, not just as a first among equals but as a cut above the rest, which is altogether supreme praise.

I wager that, if Vic had mined the stories with the quality that Christopher’s career is rife with, we would be watching him in comedies that stand the test of time. This actor has the genius.

Vic Sotto, 15 Greatest Movie Actors in Leading Roles

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SA COMEDY UNANG nakilala si Vic Sotto bilang bahagi ng trio na Tito, Vic, & Joey. Pero hindi naman ibig sabihin nito ay sa comedy lang maaasahan si Vic.

Naging epektibong TV host din siya, mahusay na singer, at tuwing dumarating ang panahon ng Mahal Na Araw ay napapanood ang trio na nagda-drama kasama ang kanilang co-hosts sa longest-running noontime show na Eat Bulaga!

Naipakita rin ni Vic ang kakayahan niyang mag-drama sa ilang pelikula, katulad ng pinagsamahan nila ni Coco Martin nung 2018 na Jack Em Popoy: The Puliscredibles.

Ginampanan doon ni Vic ang papel ng isang amang gustong mapalapit uli sa nawalay na anak, na ginampanan ni Coco.

Pero sa pagiging komedyante talaga minahal ng tao si Vic.

At lagi namang naibibigay ni Bossing (palayaw ni Vic) ang ini-expect sa kanya ng fans sa lahat ng kanyang mga pelikula.

Kaya nga laging tumatabo ang mga ito sa takilya.

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SA LOOB NG mahigit apat na dekada sa industriya at halos taun-taong paggawa ng pelikula, understatement na marahil na sabihing pinakakumportable si Vic Sotto sa harap ng camera.

Sa edad na 66, wala na siyang kailangang patunayan pa.

Kapadong-kapado na niya ang genre kung saan siya ay naging isa sa pinakamahusay simula noong huling bahagi ng ’70s: ang comedy.

Gamit ang ilang dekadang karanasan sa paggawa ng pelikula, pinatutunayan ni Vic ang pagiging professional actor sa pag-adapt sa mga bagong artistang sumusubok ng comedy, tulad nina Maine Mendoza at Coco Martin sa Jack Em Popoy: The Puliscredibles (2018), at sa pakikipagsabayan sa mga kapwa niya comic greats, gaya ni Ai-Ai Delas Alas sa My Bebe Love: #KiligPaMore at ng yumaong si Dolphy.

Sa My Bebe Love ni Jose Javier Reyes, si Vic ay si Vito, isang biyudo na ang kaisa-isang anak na babae (Maine) ay na-in love sa pamangkin (Alden Richards) ng mortal niyang kaaway na si Cora (Ai-Ai).

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Maraming bahagi ng pelikula ang kakikitaan ng biglaang transition ng emosyon ni Vic bilang si Vito, tulad ng pagbibitiw ng simple pero nakakatawang punchline sa kalagitnaan ng emosyunal na usapan nila ng anak na babae.

O kaya naman ay nang sumimple si Vito ng very subtle green joke habang alipin ng guilt si Cora dahil sa hindi inaasahang naganap sa pagitan nila ni Vito nang nakalipas na gabi.

Kahit sino pa ang kabatuhan niya ng linya, bagito man o beterano, hindi pumapalya ang timing ni Vic.

Lagi pa ring sakto ang pasok ng kanyang punchlines, on cue pa rin ang kanyang antics, at wala pa ring kupas ang kanyang brand of comedy.

Dennis Trillo

Dennis Trillo, 15 Greatest Movie Actors in Leading Roles

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ISA SI DENNIS TRILLO sa mga aktor sa Pilipinas na pang-matinee idol ang hitsura ngunit may lalim ang pagganap.

Pruweba nito ang mga mapanghamong papel na ginampanan niya sa maraming pelikula sa nakalipas na dalawang dekada.

Unang napansin ang husay ni Dennis sa kanyang pagganap bilang transgender woman na na-in love sa isang Japanese officer noong World War II.

Ito ay sa pelikulang Aishite Imasu 1941: Mahal Kita (2004), na idinirek ni Joel Lamangan.

Bagamat nagsisimula pa lamang noon ang kanyang career bilang matinee idol ay tinanggap niya ang hamon na gumanap ng ganitong klaseng karakter.

Isa pang offbeat role ni Dennis na tumatak sa publiko at mga kritiko ay sa action-thriller na The Janitor (2014), na idinirek ni Michael Tuviera, kung saan gumanap siya bilang dating pulis na naging hitman, na ngayon ay naatasang patayin ang mga may kinalaman sa isang celebrated bank robbery sa Laguna.

Damang-dama sa mga eksena ang intensity ni Dennis bilang aktor.

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Kabilang sa noteworthy performances ni Dennis sa pelikula ay bilang lover ng title character sa Rosario (2010, idinirek ni Albert Martinez); bilang illiterate na tinanggap ang trabaho ng caretaker sa isang ancestral house sa Maynila sa Ang Katiwala (2012, idinirek ni Aloy Adlawan); at bilang founder ng Iglesia Ni Cristo sa Felix Manalo (2015, idinirek ni Joel Lamangan).

Dennis Trillo, 15 Greatest Movie Actors in Leading Roles

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HINDI MAKUKUWESTIYON ANG versatility ni Dennis Trillo bilang isang aktor.

Gumanap siya bilang martir na asawa sa One Great Love (2018); cross-dressing spy sa Aishite Imasu 1941: Mahal Kita (2004); mangingisdang kapit sa patalim sa Mina-Anud (2019); pulis na hitman sa The Janitor (2014); at religious leader sa Felix Manalo (2015).

Napakahusay ng pagganap ni Dennis, 39, sa magagandang roles na naibigay sa kanya, kaya nang lumaon ay siya na ang hinahanap para sa ganitong mga papel.

Dahil dito, malaya siyang nakaka-explore kung paano magbigay-buhay sa sari-saring karakter.

Nagbigay-daan ito upang tuluy-tuloy na mahasa pa ang husay niya sa pag-arte sa nakalipas na mga taon.

Hindi ito maitatanggi sa magkasunod na ipinalabas na The Janitor at Felix Manalo.

Sa The Janitor ni Mike Tuviera, si Dennis ay si Crisanto Espina, isang dating pulis na pumayag na magsilbing hitman ng Philippine National Police sa pagnanais makabalik sa serbisyo.

Pero habang sinisikap niyang bawiin ang respetong kaakibat ng dating propesyon, dahan-dahan naman siyang nilalamon ng sistema ng isang institusyong marahil ay hindi niya dapat paglingkuran.

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Kumokonekta sa manonood ang iba’t ibang emosyong rumerehistro sa mukha ni Dennis.

Naroon ang pagkadismaya sa sarili tuwing inaalipusta si Crisanto ng sariling ama, ang sumasabay na indifference habang pumapatay, ang naaaninag na respeto at pag-asa kapag kausap ang dati niyang hepe, at ang matinding bitterness nang matanto niyang pawang inosente ang mga taong isa-isa niyang itinumba.

Kung mahusay ang naging pagganap ni Dennis bilang mamamatay-tao sa The Janitor, convincing din siya bilang founder ng Iglesia Ni Cristo sa Felix Manalo ni Joel Lamangan.

Laging pormal at kagalang-galang habang nangangaral at nakikidebate sa mga lider ng iba pang religious sect, tatak-Manalo ang pag-deliver ni Dennis ng mahahabang Bible verses para sa pelikulang ito.

Aminado si Dennis na naging mahirap para sa kanya ang pagganap sa biopic.

Aniya sa isang Rappler interview, “Yung pag-portray mismo kay Felix Manalo, yung pag-transform ko dito, yung kakulangan sa reference... noong panahon niya wala siyang mga video recording. Kaya, kung pagbabasehan mo yung isang tao at wala ka naman makikita na paano siya namumuhay, mahirap iyon.”

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Subalit walang imposible sa isang propesyunal na aktor na tulad ni Dennis: nanalo siyang Best Actor sa 64th FAMAS Awards para sa Felix Manalo noong December 5, 2016.

PANG-MATINEE IDOL man si Dennis Trillo, sa mga offbeat roles mas tumatak ang husay niya sa pag-arte.

Isa sa pinakamahusay niyang pelikula ay ang Cinemalaya entry na The Janitor (2014), kunsaan gumanap siya bilang suspended police officer na napilitang maging birador.

Bumagay kay Dennis ang kontradiksyon ng kanyang role—iyong maamo ang mukha kaya hindi mo aakalaing matinik sa labanan.

Bilang Crisanto Espina, siya ay madasalin, tahimik, at hindi palapatol kahit inaapi ng ama, pero pagdating sa trabaho ay matapang, isang sharp-shooter, at kayang makipagbakbakan sa mga kriminal.

Pasok na action star si Dennis.

Panonoorin ang kanyang intense action scenes.

May suspense factor ang mala-tagu-taguang pakikipagbarilan niya kay Alex Medina sa mayabong na corn field.

Bayolente rin ang hand-to-hand combat nina Dennis at Raymond Bagatsing dahil may halong saksakan.

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Highlight din ang mainit na engkwentro nina Dennis at Derek Ramsay.

Kakatwa mang sabihing sa bawat pinapatumba niyang “kriminal” ay dinadasalan pa ni Dennis ang mga ito, nagi-establish ito ng contrast sa persona niya bilang Crisanto at pati na rin sa twist ng kuwento.

Kilalang athletic si Dennis sa tunay na buhay at masasabing nakatulong ito sa paghahanda niya sa maangas na fight scenes.

Ngunit, higit sa pisikal na kahandaan, ang tumatak ay ang psychological preparation ng aktor—bagay na kitang-kita sa mga mata at mukha ni Dennis bilang birador.

Mahusay ang paghawak ng direktor sa tensiyon ng action scenes, pero mas malamang na hindi naging as gripping ang kuwento, mas malamang na hindi naging ganitong kalalim ang eksena, kung ibang aktor ang gumanap.

Bukod sa action, may drama ang confrontation scene nina Dennis at Dante Rivero, na gumanap bilang kanyang ama.

Bilang manonood, manggigigil ka pero maiintindihan mo rin kung bakit hindi makalaban si Crisanto, na ang tapang-tapang sa trabaho.

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Superior ensemble acting ang nangyari sa The Janitor, pero sa puno't dulo nito, kay Dennis pa rin ang pelikula.

Sa romance films naman, kahanga-hanga ang pagkakaiba-iba rin ng characters ni Dennis as romantic lead.

Kaya niya kumilos ng astang maangas at nakakabwisit na babaero sa period film na Rosario (2010); magpapogi at magpakilig sa romantic-comedy na Bakit Lahat Ng Gwapo May Boyfriend (2016); maging mapangahas sa sexy drama na My Neighbor’s Wife; at sumabak sa eksenang iyakan sa One Great Love (2018).


John Lloyd Cruz, 15 Greatest Movie Actors in Leading Roles

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NO ONE CAN argue that One More Chance (2007) is one of the most successful romantic-drama movies of the decade.

And no one can deny that this is one of John Lloyd Cruz’s most moving performances in a movie.

Unforgettable ang mga hugot lines na binitiwan niya, kung saan ang ilan ay pamilyar pa rin sa maraming nakapanood, tulad ng:

"She had me at my worst. You had me at my best. Pero binalewala mo ang lahat... and you chose to break my heart."—One More Chance (2007)

"Takot na takot ako kasi hindi ko alam baka iwan mo ako ulit. When all I ever wanted, Bash, is to make you happy at maibigay lahat ng pangarap mo. Bash, I lost him. I lost the man you married, and I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. This is me at my worst. Kaya mo pa ba ako mahalin? Can you honestly love a failure?" —A Second Chance (2015).

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Pero malaking bagay ang pag-arte ni John Lloyd kung bakit nagmarka ang kanyang mga linya.

Kahit ang mga hindi nakapanood ng pelikula, kilala ang mga karakter nina Popoy at Basha dahil bukam-bibig ito sa mga usapan, biruan, at pati rin sa social-media posts.

Sa husay ng pagganap ni John Lloyd, halos Popoy na rin ang tawag sa kanya ng fans. Hindi bumitaw si John Lloyd sa kanyang karakter mula ulo hanggang paa. Even his small gestures—the whispers, the gaze, the little movements—maski sa pagkurap ng kanyang mata, siya si Popoy.

Madalas ngang sabihin ng mga tagahanga, tingin pa lang ni John Lloyd, akting na akting na. Patunay ang pelikulang ito.

Bakit maraming nakaka-relate sa One More Chance?

Dahil realistic ang pagganap ni John Lloyd bilang isang lalaking nasawi sa pag-ibig.

Sa bawat patak ng kanyang luha, ramdam ng viewer ang hinagpis at kalungkutan ng isang taong nasugatan ang puso ng kanyang minimahal.

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Kaya naman nang nakamit ni Popoy ang kanyang happy ending, ramdam rin ng mga viewers ang kanyang saya.

JOHN LLOYD CRUZ is a throwback to an era in Philippine showbiz when good-looking, clean-cut actors dominated the big screen.

The leading men then, often described as debonair or gentlemanly, were famous for their acting chops, not their body mass. Besides, the hallmarks of the leading men today—“macho” “sexy” “hunky”—were not even in the vocabulary of the movie press then.

And John Lloyd as a screen idol is none of those hallmarks.

He is the soulful boy next door who can be surprisingly funny.

He is quirky and sweet and at the same time thoughtful and gravely intense.

It’s also part of the reason why One More Chance (2007) worked. His character, the endearingly vulnerable Popoy, looks to be John Lloyd portraying himself.

John Lloyd has outgrown his image as a Star Cinema matinee idol to become a character actor under the guidance of mentors at ABS-CBN.

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In Eric Matti’s Honor Thy Father (2015), John Lloyd is seen in an entirely different light. Gone are the boyish charm, the kengkoy antics, and the sweet aura that box-office cinema crafted for him.

Here he embraces the darkness and chaos. He shaves his hair, gets his hands bloody, covers his face in dirt and muck. He robs a congregation, wields a gun, kills a man. The film has no happy ending at all.

It was followed by two films that John Lloyd did—as actor, producer, collaborator—with director Lav Diaz.

Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis (2016) is a typical Diaz film to the director's supporters, but is a rough ride for any John Lloyd fan. The eight-hour film places the actor in the hybrid world of Philippine history, fantasy, and fiction. It is a quiet film with rarely any action onscreen.

Here John Lloyd does not steal the attention of the audience with a dramatic monologue. Instead, he lets himself fade into the background and comes forward only when the story makes him.

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In his second collaboration with Diaz, Ang Babaeng Humayo (2016), John Lloyd is unrecognizable as an abused transgender prostitute given refuge by Charo Santos Concio.

With hardly a speaking line, he conveys a gamut of emotions—anger, desperation, joy—in one great performance.

One can only guess what John Lloyd intends to do next with his movie career.

But as a viewer, one hopes he will do more collaboration with independent filmmakers and see his enthronement as one of the greatest actors of his generation.

John Lloyd Cruz, 15 Greatest Movie Actors in Leading Roles

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NAKILALA SI JOHN LLOYD Cruz bilang ultimate matinee idol, hindi lang dahil sa mga patok niyang mga pelikula, kundi sa galing din niya sa pag-arte.

Trademark na ni John Lloyd ang nangungusap niyang mga mata na kayang magpakilig at magpaluha ng manonood.

Patunay nito ang pagganap niya bilang Frederico “JD” Torres Jr. sa pelikula nila ni Bea Alonzo na The Mistress (2012). Hindi man kanya ang title role, angat na angat ang pag-arte ni John Lloyd dito.

May confrontation scene kunsaan nalaman ni Sari (Bea) na ang masugid niyang manliligaw na si JD ay anak ng kanyang ka-affair na si Frederico Torres Sr. (Ronaldo Valdez).

Noong una ay nagsusumamo pa si JD dahil sa pagtago niya ng sikreto kay Sari. Halatang nasaktan din si JD na nakikitang nagdurusa si Sari. Pero seamless na napalitan ng galit at pait ang mga mata ni JD nang sabihin ni Sari na hindi niya kayang iwan si Frederico.

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Galit na bulalas ni JD, “You tell me you love me in the same breath that you tell me that you care for another man! Akala mo ba ginusto ko ‘to?! Na para akong aso na nakatanghod sa kung ano lang kaya mo ibigay!”

Para naman sa kilig scenes, ginamit ni John Lloyd ang kanyang soulful eyes, tamang pag-anggulo ng ulo, at posturang bilib sa sarili para ma-in love sa kanya ang manonood, na nangyari nga kung pagbabasehan ang kinita ng pelikula.

Ito ang secret weapons ng aktor para angkinin at bigyan ng sinseridad ang isinasabuhay na karakter.

Kung malakas ang dating ni John Lloyd sa The Mistress, meek personality naman siya bilang Noel sa In My Life.

Ito ang pelikulang pinagbidahan nila ng mag-inang Vilma Santos (Shirley) at Luis Manzano (Mark).

Gay lovers sina Noel at Mark, pero subtle nuances ng gayness ang ipinakita nila sa pelikula.

Inilabas ni John Lloyd ang lambot sa kanyang facial expression at sa kanyang posture para maging kapani-paniwala siya bilang Noel.

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Sa kuwento, walang ginawa si Noel kundi i-please si Shirley kahit madalas siya nitong ismolin at pagselosan sa atensyon ni Mark.

Pero bandang huli ay sumabog na si Noel.

Sa ganitong heavy scene, consistent si John Lloyd sa nuances ng kanyang gay character, pati na sa transformation niya bilang isang taong pasensyoso pero napuno na ang salop.

Galit na tinapat ni Noel si Shirley na hindi lisensya ang pagiging ina para sabihing mas may karapatan itong mahalin si Mark, na pumanaw at piniling kay Noel ihabilin ang last will.

Itinodo ni John Lloyd ang acting bilang Noel at itinulak pa si Vilma sa rurok ng paghayag niya ng tunay na saloobin.

Kinaya ni John Lloyd sabayan sa aktingan ang Star For All Seasons.

Patunay ito na kahit iba-iba man ang naipapareha sa aktor ay kaya niyang tumindig bilang nag-iisang John Lloyd Cruz.

JOHN LLOYD CRUZ has to be one really good actor to get this far.

His is not the classic, chiselled handsomeness of a Piolo Pascual. His is not the seductive sexuality of a Jericho Rosales. He does not have the vitality or the muscled frame of a Dennis Trillo. Nor does he have the matinee-idol looks of an Aga Muhlach in his prime.

Ahh, but John Lloyd Cruz can have you believing that he is the most attractive, the most desirable, the biggest star of your dreams.

He can be who he wants to be—and he can make you buy into it.

He becomes who his character is. And that character has been, in his every blockbuster film, the leading man of young romcoms and maturing love stories, sweet dramas and complex family narratives, growing-up tales and stories of conflicted relationships.

Thus far in his career, what has gotten John Lloyd to the top—to that place where he can choose and refuse roles, where producers come and pitch projects to him, where the biggest female stars want to be paired with him, where he has loyalists who follow him through his vanishing acts—is that. He is a leading man.

And as a leading man, he has played the innocent charmer, the conflicted son, the best friend discovering new feelings, the lover waylaid by angst, the partner searching for meaning, the vulnerable boy navigating new territory. John Lloyd does every one of them very well, too.

Very few can say these lines, which teeter between glib and mushy, and have audiences swooning—

As Miggy in A Very Special Love (2008): "I'm sorry if I didn't love you in the way and the time that you did, pero maniwala ka, minahal kita sa paraang alam ko. I'm a work in progress, Laida. Ngayon ko pa lang nararamdaman na pwede pala akong mahalin kahit ganito ako. Ngayon ko pa lang natututunan na kaya ko palang magmahal, kahit na ano ako. So, please. Please don't give up on me?"

As Alan in Miss You Like Crazy (2010): "I am looking for a reason to fight for you. To keep fighting for us. For this. Apat na taon na. Apat na taon na akong nakikibagay sa 'yo, at sa mundo mo. Dahil mahal kita. Pero ikaw, 'yung tumira dito, hindi mo magawa para sa 'kin. Ito ako Daph, ito naman ang mundo ko. Old, musty, falling apart. And not exactly your taste."

To make millions believe you—and box-office results show that millions do—takes real acting chops.

It would be mistake to think that he's just a fellow who happens to be blessed with the physical gifts of a leading man. His gifts are more than those: His is talent. His is the habit of never being satisfied. His is the need to do more, find out more, become more.

The possible landmine here, to my mind, is for the actor to start thinking he has to chuck the romantic roles for good. There is that very real mistake of swinging from one end to the other. Yet there is that pressure from the outside—and I wager, more so from inside him—to do so. The going belief is that, with this, he will be taken more seriously. With this, he builds the portfolio of an artist. With this, he leaves behind a body of work cineastes will study.

The next thing that happens is that the actor fills his career card with the morose, the dark, the unreachable, the odd—and loses his audience. Only a handful then get to see his work.

John Lloyd is at a crossroads. His choices are before him: Play the lover; play the fool. Be conflicted; be balanced. Be the oddity; be the aspiration. Awe them; connect with them. Push them away; make them come to you.

He can, in truth, embrace all these choices. He does not have to choose just one. More than most working in cinema today, he is the actor with the abundance of gifts to do so.

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Aga Muhlach, 15 Greatest Movie Actors in Leading Roles

THIS IS THE actor who can do no wrong.

He is a natural.

He is instinctive.

If there were such a thing as perfect, he would be that, too.

For now, we settle for flawless.

Whether playing the attractive but clueless best friend or the husband having an affair with an older woman, a mentally damaged father or an overseas contract worker giving up his happiness for his brother, the guy who falls for his fiance’s sister or the bastard son of a powerful man—Aga flies with it.

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It almost seems like he was born to act, and that becoming a star is simply a nice bonus.

His body is hardly ever out of turn, it always is who his character is.

His speech and tone are exactly what they should be for the role and scene and story told. Nothing feels studied.

And that face—in its prime, few came close.

Now that the man is older, the easy handsomeness has given way to a handsomeness of talent that is an easy joy to behold.

Such a wonderful thing to see a lead star this beautiful up on the silver screen, and know him to be of such a superior species, too.

Can anything be more agreeably unnatural?

MARAMING PINAHAGULGOL SI Aga Muhlach sa isang pivotal scene sa 2020 Metro Manila Film Fest entry na Miracle in Cell No. 7.

Filipino adaptation ito ng hit Korean movie noong 2013. Tatak ni Aga Muhlach ang kanyang charisma na tipong mapapatitig ka lang sa kanyang pag-arte sa big screen. May sinseridad ang bitiw niya ng mga linya.

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Kaya ganoon na lang katindi ang impact ng breakdown scene ng character niyang si Lito.

Si Lito ay isang mentally challenged father to a six-year-old girl. Sinintensiyahan siya ng death penalty sa salang kidnapping, rape, at murder ng isang batang babae.

Pero inosente si Lito at biktima lamang ng maling akusasyon ng maimpluwensiyang ama ng biktima.

Ang desperadong sigaw ni Lito na “Yesha! Yesha!” dahil ayaw niyang mawalay sa anak ay lubhang nakakadurog ng puso. Mapapaiyak talaga ang manonood sa pagmamakaawa ni Lito at paghingi niya ng “sorry” kahit wala siyang kasalanan.

Bilang certified matinee idol naman, maraming must-watch romance-drama films si Aga kunsaan ang angat naman ay ang kanyang irresistible charm na hinaluan ng superb acting.

Isa na rito ang A Love Story (2007), kunsaan ka-love triangle niya sina Maricel Soriano at Angelica Panganiban.

Nahulog ang loob niya sa doktorang si Joanna (Maricel) dala ng pangungilala sa absentee wife na si Karyn (Angelica) na isang stewardess.

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Maganda ang mga tapatan nina Aga at Maricel sa pag-arte. Ramdam sa palitan nila ng salita ang kanilang frustration, lalo na nang magsimulang maguluhan ang isip ng huli. Mariing sambit ni Aga, “Minahal kita, Joanna! God, mahal na mahal kita. So akala ko sapat na yun para makalimutan mo kung tama ito o mali.”

Ang natural ng dating ni Aga. Hindi mo masasabing nagda-dramá. Simple lang siya. Nagsasabi lang ng saloobin.

Nakakagigil pa rin ang pamamangka ni Ian sa dalawang ilog. May tahi ito sa big scene ni Aga sa harap ng ama at mga kapatid. Ramdam ang hugot ni Aga sa kanyang malalim na insecurities at kakulangan ng atensiyon sa pamilya, na siyang dahilan ng pagiging needy niya sa sinumang karelasyon.

Nakakabilib ang performance ni Aga sa pivotal scene na iyon dahil naipakita ang pinanggagalingan ng kanyang unlovable character, na malaking mitsa ng conflict sa pelikula.

Aga Muhlach, 15 Greatest Movie Actors in Leading Roles

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KAPAG NARINIG MO ang pangalang Aga Muhlach, unang papasok sa isip mo ay ang cute na cute na aktor na may dalawang dimples.

Nakasama ko sa TV5 si Aga ng ilang taon. Hindi man kami direktang nagkakatrabaho, palagi naman namin siyang naiinterview para sa show naming Juicy, Paparazzi, Ang Latest, at Showbiz Police.

Mabait na tao, hindi mo makitaan ng kayabangan sa katawan sa tuwing iniinterview namin siya, kaya lumalabas lagi ang pagka-fan ko kay Aga.

Imagine, ang mga pelikula niyang kinamulatan ko, at kaya rin ako naging super fan ni Aga, ay mga paborito pa ring film classics ng Pinoy magpahanggang ngayon!

Kasama sa mga pelikulang ito ang Bagets (1984), Bakit Labis Kitang Mahal (1992), May Minamahal (1993), Basta’t Kasama Kita at Sana Maulit Muli (1995).

Isa talaga sa hindi ko makakalimutang pelikula niya ay ang Kailangan Kita (2002), kapartner si Claudine Barretto.

Nakaka-in love ang role niya bilang si Carl, na isang chef sa New York, na umuwi ng Pilipinas para magpakasal. Kaso, busy ang kanyang fiancée sa kanyang international modelling career kaya naantala ang pagdating nito sa kanilang probinsiya sa Albay. Nabaling ang pagtingin ni Carl sa nakababatang kapatid ng kanyang fiancée na si Lena, na ginampanan ni Claudine.

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Yung steamy love scenes nila at ang mga nakakakilig at nakakaiyak na eksena nakatatak pa rin sa akin.

Ibang Aga talaga ang lumutang sa pelikulang ito.

Sa pelikulang Dubai (2005) naman, muling nagkatambal sina Claudine at Aga plus John Lloyd Cruz pa.

Ang gusto ko sa movie na ito ay may leksiyon tungkol sa pag-ibig at pamilya.

Seven Sundays (2017), dami kong iyak sa pelikulang ito. Kasi typical na pamilya ang pinag-uusapan dito, ang conflicts within, at ang kawalan ng oras minsan ng mga anak sa mga magulang dahil may sarili na silang buhay.

Aga is Aga. At mananatili siyang si “Morning” ng buhay natin.


Jericho Rosales, 15 Greatest Movie Actors in Leading Roles

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TWO THINGS COME to mind after watching two stand-out romantic movies of the actor everyone calls Echo.

First, dimples aside, he is such a seducer, one wonders if he’s acting at all.

Case in point, Echo exuding charm throughout his scenes in The Girl in the Orange Dress (2018) more than makes up for the movie’s thin plot line.

Second, those eyes!

In #WalangForever (2015), Echo shows every nuance of emotion through his eyes as he plays a hapless lover caught in a romantic disaster opposite Jennylyn Mercado.

But where Echo shows the depth of his acting is in movies where he totally disappears into the role, as he does in Laurice Guillen's Santa Santita (2004) and Ian Loreños’s Alagwa (2012).

In Santa Santita, with Angelica Panganiban in the title role, the audience sees not Jericho but Mike, a handsome driver who also earns from "special services," loses his son to sickness, and questions the power of prayer.

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In Alagwa, Jericho transforms into Robert Lim, a stricken and desperate father looking for his missing son Brian, played by Bugoy Cariño.

Jericho Rosales, 15 Greatest Movie Actors in Leading Roles

KILALA SI JERICHO Rosales bilang intense actor.

Kaya maraming humahanga sa kanya kahit sa hanay ng mahuhusay at beteranong artista. Tinawag nga siyang “bulldozer” ni Christopher de Leon—premier leading man ng '70s, '80s, at '90s—nang magkatrabaho sila sa teleseryeng The Legal Wife (2014).

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Deskripsiyon pa noon ni Christopher, matatangay ka sa acting ni Jericho.

Kahit dalhin pa ni Jericho sa lower register ang kanyang pag-arte, lutang at kapansin-pansin pa rin ang husay niyang pumaloob sa isang karakter.

Ganito ang pinatunayan niya sa 2009 period movie na Baler, kasama si Anne Curtis.

Gumanap si Jericho bilang si Celso Resurreccion na nabuhay noong 19th century. Konserbatibo ang kanyang karakter na isang Filipino-Spanish soldier ng pamahalaang Kastila.

Swabe, banayad, at pino man ang karakter niya rito na akma sa period drama, malalim pa rin ang pagbibigay-buhay ni Jericho kay Celso.

Sa pagganap na sundalo ng hukbong Kastila, kinailangan ni Jericho matuto ng Spanish. Hindi lang niya inaral ang lengguwahe, kundi pati bawat bitaw ng Spanish words.

Sa bilis at hina ng kanyang pagbikas, kapani-paniwalang native sa kanya ang Spanish. Lantad ang kanyang pananalita kumpara sa ibang aktor sa pelikula na kinailangang mag-portray na sila'y Espanyol, kabilang na sina Baron Geisler at Ryan Eigenmann na kilala ring magagaling umarte.

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May mga pagkakataong kinailangan ng dramatic moments sa pelikula na ilang segundo lamang ang itinatagal.

Gaya ng pagtatagpo nila ni Anne sa labas ng simbahan habang pinalilibutan sila ng magkaaway na kampo ng mga sundalong Kastila at mga gerilyang Pilipino.

Naroon rin ang eksena nang madiskubre ni Celso na ginawang pagkain ng kanyang mga kasamahan ang alagang tuta.

Jericho made those moments count with the compelling emotions of fear and anger, without dragging in the histrionics.


Bibihira sa mga artistang naipapadama agad ang emosyong nais nilang ipakita gamit lamang ang kanilang mga mata. Dito angat si Jericho Rosales sa mga kasabayang aktor. Sa pamamagitan ng kanyang mga mata, naipaparating ni Jericho sa mga manonood ang nararamdaman niya sa bawat eksena—may dialogue man o wala.

Mula pa noong mga una niyang pelikula ay nakitaan na agad ng husay sa pag-arte si Jericho. Sa Tanging Yaman (2000), isang ensemble drama tampok ang ilan sa pinakamahuhusay na artista—Gloria Romero, Hilda Koronel, Johnny Delgado, Dina Bonnevie, Edu Manzano, Joel Torre, at Cherry Pie Picache—tumatak ang pagganap ni Jericho bilang anak ni Edu na pini-pressure maging doktor.

Hindi rin malilimutan ang pakikipagtagisan niya ng husay sa pag-arte kay Cesar Montano sa Bagong Buwan (2001), kung saan ginampanan niya ang papel ng isang military officer na nakaengkuwentro ng karakter ni Cesar bilang isang Moro rebel leader.

Maging sa romance movies gaya ng Forevermore (2002) at Ngayong Nandito Ka (2003), kung saan nakapareha niya ang ka-love team noong si Kristine Hermosa, makikita ang sensibilidad ni Jericho bilang isang aktor.

Lalo pang nahasa ang husay ni Jericho sa mas mapanghamong papel niya sa mga pelikulang Santa Santita (2004), Pacquiao: The Movie (2006), Baler (2008), Alagwa (2012), at #WalangForever (2015).

Hindi madaling maipaliwanag ang karismang dala ni Jericho sa big screen na lalong nagpapaningning sa kanya bilang isang artista. Ngunit ang tiyak ay ito: Sa mga Pilipinong aktor sa kanyang kapanahunan, si Jericho ang isa sa mga tunay na mahuhusay—kundi man ang pinakamahusay.

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Jericho Rosales

SI JERICHO ROSALES ang naging pamantayan ko ng magaling na aktor noong masugid kong sinubaybayan ang teleseryeng Pangako Sa’Yo noong taong 2000.

Yung emosyon, yung hudyat ng mata, yung daloy ng luha, yung mga nuances niya na nagpapatunay na kahit bago pa lang siya noon sa industriya ay hindi naging hadlang upang makita natin ang kanyang kagalingan. Sa telebisyon yan.

Pagdating sa pelikula, maraming pinaiyak, pinakilig, pinaluha, ginalit, at kung anu-ano pa si Jericho.

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Pero ang hindi ko makakalimutang pelikula niya ay ang #WalangForever kasama si Jennylyn Mercado.

Dun ko lalong hinahangaan si Jericho dahil, bukod sa pagdadrama at aksiyon, marunong din pala siyang magpatawa. Yun ang sukatan ng pagiging magaling na artista, ang kayang gampanan lahat ng roles na ibinibigay sa kanya.

Hindi man siya ang original choice na gumanap na lead, lumabas namang siya ang perfect actor to play it.

Kaya hindi na ako nagulat na siya ang Number 1 sa The 15 Greatest Movie Actors in Leading Roles, 2000-2020, sa aming staff ng PEP.ph.

Nang nagbobotohan kami, siya yung parating No.1 sa listahan ng nakararami sa amin. Doon lang siya parati. Ang iba ay akyat-panaog sa ranking, isang prosesong humaba ng limang buwan, ngunit sa una at huli, hindi gumalaw ang No. 1.

Si Jericho Rosales ang parating naroon.

JERICHO ROSALES makes acting seem effortless.

There’s something about the way he imbues his characters with a naturalness—whether he’s the charming Rye in The Girl in the Orange Dress (2018) or the happy-go-lucky Joma in Luck at First Sight (2017) or the dedicated Ethan in #WalangForever.

And when depth is required, he can easily abandon himself, like Joven, who cried forlornly in Nasaan Ka Man (2005), and Victor, his character in the Hollywood film Subject: I Love You (2011) that gave him an acting award from the Newport Beach Film Festival in Los Angeles.

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Of course, as everyone will tell you, he gave a stunning performance in Alagwa (2012). His character build-up was impressive. His emotions—starting from the scene when his son is kidnapped—were explosive. Damang-dama ko ang despair at anguish niya.
There’s something remarkable about the way his characters make that emotional connection with the viewers.

For me, Jericho was born to be an actor.

Jericho Rosales, 15 Greatest Movie Actors in Leading Roles

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JERICHO OWNS HIS character in every movie he stars in.

Kaya ka niyang paniwalain na isa siyang karelasyong may taning na ang buhay, playboy na artista, sugarol na naniniwala sa lucky charm, o ama na nawalan ng anak.

Bilang matinee idol, si Jericho ay masarap panoorin. Marunong siyang magpakilig gamit ang kanyang bedimpled smile at nakakatunaw na titig sa #Walang Forever. Gwapo na, matikas pa ang pangangatawan ni Jericho. Pero kitang-kita pa rin ang galing niya sa drama sa kanyang breakdown scene. Dito ay todo ang pagluha niya habang pilit na nilalaban ang nararamdaman para sa babaeng mahal.

Sa pelikulang Alagwa noong 2012, nakakapanghina ang ginampanan niya bilang ama na nalingat lang ay nawala na ang pinakamamahal na anak. Ramdam sa bawat galaw ni Jericho at sa nangungusap niyang mata ang panaghoy ng ama na hindi malaman ang gagawin sa paghahanap ng anak. Grabeng nakakapangilabot lang ang twist sa dulo ng kuwento, nang makita niyang muli ang nawawalang anak.

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Kahanga-hangang noon pa man ay hindi takot sumugal si Jericho sa gagampanang mga karakter. Na hindi kailangan laging matinee idol siya. Maaari siyang flawed character na puwedeng kainisan at hindi ganoon kalovable, tulad ng gambler sa Luck at First Sight (2017) at ng fixer sa Cinema One Originals movie Red (2014).

UMPISA PA LANG ng acting career ni Jericho Rosales, nagpamalas na siya ng galing sa ilang episodes ng Maalaala Mo Kaya in the late ‘90s, kaya hindi naman kataka-takang nabigyan siya ng opportunidad na magkaroon ng big roles sa pelikula.

Isa sa mga early movies ni Jericho na napanuod ko ay ang family drama na Tanging Yaman (2000). Dito, si Jericho ay ang unfavored son na nagkaroon ng matinding resentment sa amang si Edu Manzano, dahil sa pamimilit nitong maging doktor si Jericho kahit na ang passion niya ay photography.

Bilang manonood, nakuha ko ang emosyon na gustong ipakita ni Jericho sa bawat eksena, may dialogue man o wala. Grabe iyong part na wala nang nagawa ang character niya kung hindi titigan ang mga kuha niyang litrato matapos ingungod ng ama ang mga ito sa isang box ng pizza. Nakatitig lang si Jericho pero damang-dama ko ang kanyang panghihinayang at frustration.

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Nakakatuwa rin na dito pa lang, nakitaan na si Jericho ng tapang sa pag-tackle ng iba-ibang roles. Halos kasabay kasi nito noon ang teleseryeng Pangako Sa ‘Yo, na talaga namang nag-angat kay Jericho bilang leading man. Pero hindi nito nahadlangan ang aktor sa pagtanggap ng out-of-the-box characters, kabilang na ang roles niya sa Bagong Buwan (2001) bilang sundalo at Santa Santita (2004) bilang hustler.

Sa mga bagong pelikula ni Jericho, tumatak sa akin ang #WalangForever (2015) katambal si Jennylyn Mercado. Bukod sa maganda ang istorya nito, ang galing ng pagkakatimpla ni Jericho sa kanyang role, na tuloy nagdala sa audience sa isang roller-coaster ride. Nagsimula ito sa nakakakilig, hanggang sa nakakainis, at nauwi sa lungkot.

Siyempre, isa sa mga di malilimutang eksena doon ay ang pag-uusap nina Jericho at Jennylyn sa bandang dulo. Tahimik ang eksena, walang malalaking acting. Dinaan tayo ni Jericho sa subtlety, sa soft but heartfelt delivery ng kanyang dialogue, na magugulat na lang tayo, parang si Jennylyn na naiyak at hindi makapaniwala sa ating mga narinig mula sa character ni Jericho, na umabot sa puntong kahit natapos na ang pelikula ay ang hirap maka-move on sa eksenang iyon.

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Worth mentioning din ang Siargao (2017) dahil, sa totoo lang, hindi ko gaanong nagustuhan ang pelikula. Nakulangan ako sa kuwento. Pero naniniwala akong nakabawi ito sa confrontation scene nina Jericho at Jasmine Curtis Smith sa huling tatlumpong minuto ng pelikula. Kahit na mabigat na eksena iyon, lumabas ang chemistry ng dalawa nang nagbabatuhan sila ng mga linya at emosyon habang nag-aaminan ng kanilang totoong nararamdaman. Naging epektibo ang eksena at naisalba ang istorya.

Jericho Rosales, 15 Greatest Movie Actors in Leading Roles

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Isa sa mga katangi-tanging abilidad ni Jericho Rosales bilang aktor ay ang epektibong magampanan ang isang karakter na may pinagdaanang hindi pa niya mismo nararanasan.

Kung sa mas mahinang aktor ibinigay ang papel ng isang amang nawalan ng anak, katulad ng karakter ni Jericho sa Alagwa, malamang na hindi ito mapapansin o ito mismo ang hihila sa pelikula para tuluyan itong makalimutan ng lahat.

Pero mahusay ngang nagampanan ni Jericho ang karakter ni Robert, ang amang desperadong naghahanap sa kanyang ninakaw na anak.

Sa sobrang husay ng pagganap ni Jericho sa Alagwa, nagwagi siya ng dalawang award at naimbitahan ang pelikula sa ilang international film festivals.

Saan humugot ng emosyon si Jericho para sa karakter na ito?

Marahil ay sa mga pinagdaanan niya sa kanyang kabataan habang inaabot ang mga pangarap, o sa mga naranas niyang sama ng loob sa bawat pagkabigo sa pag-abot sa kanyang mga minimithi.

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O marahil, likas na magaling lang siyang aktor.

IF THIS LIST had been set to start at the beginning of the millennium, I believe Jericho Rosales would still earn a slot.

Jericho was ahead of the curve in the 2000s. When his contemporaries were translating their television personas as romantic leads onto the big screen, Jericho chose a different route, going straight for heavy drama.

The actor kick-started the decade with back-to-back landmark films: Tanging Yaman (2000) and Bagong Buwan (2001). The former reestablished Jericho as the one to watch, while the latter sealed his trajectory as one of modern cinema’s versatile leading men.

He still returned to romance and brought his on-screen partnership with Kristine Hermosa to cinemas with Forevermore (2002) and Ngayong Nandito Ka (2003).

But when given the chance to play a gigolo and hustler in Santa Santita (2004), Jericho dove right in.

Jericho is an actor first, and then a creative next.

As a creative, one searches for ways to keep things interesting, thought-provoking, and exciting. Perhaps, that's one of the reasons why Jericho has yet to be caught playing the same kind of character twice.

As an actor, he is just, well, interesting, thought-provoking, and exciting.

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JERICHO ROSALES MAKES you a believer. He even has you believing that he is no ordinary man. That, maybe, he is a gift from the gods.

He is an artist, but he is artless. He is an actor playing another person, but he makes the actor disappear and leaves only the person on the screen. He totally inhabits a role, but none of his preparation shows. The studying, the rehearsing, the researching—that entire heavy lifting never draws attention to itself. The fellow makes it all feel seamless, look natural, be believable, and almost easy.

Everyone says he is "intense," but if you watch his films, you see that he makes no effort to make anyone think that. He does not try to look relentlessly serious or blatantly brooding or tortuously conflicted. You choose to read that into him. He presses none of those things on you. He just is.

Maybe it's his choice of films. Early in his career, he was already game about taking on offbeat roles. That is not the norm for actors looking to be stars, and so you tacked on "intense" and "serious" to the fellow. Yet, even when he plays the hustler, the amoral man, the survivor, as he does in Santa Santita, he does not play it heavy.

Listen to him do his dialogue in that 2004 Laurice Guillen film. In his scenes with Angelica Panganiban, where they are just getting to know each other, he speaks to her the way any beginning suitor would to an innocent but volatile woman he wants for himself. Start with the way he tells her on the phone to come over to his place. The tone is just right. Then go to how he opens the door of his apartment to her, and tells her to put her bag down and be comfortable, as he exits out of frame. Again, the tone is just the way it should be. Then listen to them chatting with the bed right there. It's a dance. And the more-experienced man must lead the woman on the cusp of finding her sensuality. Jericho gets the tone just so. He does not frighten her.

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Then listen to him, in the same movie, negotiating with Pinky de Leon. It is just the tone you expect from a poor, younger fellow thinking he can be treated as an equal by an older and rich woman because she's just enjoyed his services in bed. In the scene just before this, while still with the rich woman, he is on the phone with Angelica, who stays waiting for him in his place. Once more, Jericho's pattern of speech rings casual, simple, true.

This is a man you can accept as real. The moments are priceless.

Then the big, long scene happens between Jericho and Johnny Delgado, who plays a man of the cloth with more deviousness inside him than the hustler Jericho will ever muster. This a piece of cinema orchestrated by the director and played superbly by the veteran Johnny and the newbie Jericho.

Jericho more than holds his own. He is, in fact, riveting. He moves about the room, he spars with words, he returns to his drink. He is not reverential, but he is not rude. He goes up against the priest's sanctimoniousness even as his own unanswered questions remain. The scene works. The young Jericho is stunning to watch.

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Of course, the explosive moment for him is not even that. It is when he presents his dead boy to Angelica, so that she may use her prayers to bring him back to life. Here, the hustler's confidence in himself and in his survival tricks finally breaks. With the finality of losing someone he genuinely loves, he rails and damns and screeches at everyone, at the world, at God.

This is a raw and vulnerable Jericho letting it all out. It is precious.

You actually want a bit of that in Red, the 2020 film by Jay Abello. Unfortunately, the film denies Jericho that moment. In fact, it denies him many moments.

Red does not give him enough business to react to. As a viewer, watching Jericho's character as a fixer unfolding, you want more of Jericho. (Less of the Greek chorus.) You want him doing more, saying more, revealing more. You want his face expressing more. You even want him to fight back more, whether in ways measured and stealthy or in rough overt anger, to make the ending less tragic. But, the film does not give it.

It is a triumph of Jericho's acting that, even with this vacuum in the storytelling, he keeps the viewer riveted.

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As the character Red, a fixer and an enforcer, he has to flex his muscle. And he does—not enough times, but it's there—such as in the scenes where he collects debts from goons. And when he does show his power, he does not play with his eyebrows, he does not dilate his pupils, he does not put on the menacing face—all of which can be clownish and outdated. To intimidate the enemy, he plays it controlled and steady. In his stillness is the promise of violence.

What the movie is better at is in giving the lovers Red and Mai (Mercedes Cabral) enough scenes to tell their story in the end. And look at just where Jericho takes that: The goodbye scene in the lighted underpass takes the breath away. Jericho makes it happen.

In that underpass scene, he stands before the woman he's always loved and who's now unsure about going back to him. In the provincial accent he uses for his character throughout the film, he makes a clear statement of love. Here, there is an economy of movement. He just stands there. There are also only a few choice lines, all said in quiet tones: 'Meron akong pera. Marami akong pera, Mai. Sa iyo lahat iyon. Ibili kita ng bahay. Para sa iyo naman lahat. Mahal na mahal kita, Mai.'

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It breaks the heart. He breaks the heart.

Then there is Jericho of 2012's Alagwa directed by Ian Loreños. A powerful movie, and one that Jericho has admitted in an interview was one of the most difficult because nothing in his life comes close to the character he plays: an ordinary man searching for a son abducted by human traffickers.

In real life, Jericho is handsome to the core and has the height and build of a matinee idol. But on film, he can blend, be part of the woodwork, look like a regular bloke. In Alagwa, he does just that. It isn't just the blue shirt-jack, the standard messenger's uniform, that does it for him or the working backpack and rubber shoes.

It is his body language, clearly deferential before bosses and clients. It is the slight hunch that's always there. It is the way his eyes do not look at others directly. It is in how he moves his head to the side to show the school principal respect. It is in the manner he plants his feet on the floor as he scolds his little boy. It is in the way he speaks.

An ordinary man. And Jericho owns it.

Now, no one knows where Jericho gets that face. That face you see him with in the last frame of Alagwa, when he raises his eyes to his almost-entitled son, while holding on to the battered son he lost a long time ago. In that face, without a word, everything is said—redemption, hope, life.

That face is a moment in cinema more moving and deeply human than can be expected to come in one lifetime.

Click to read commentaries for Nos. 6 to 10, 11 to 15.

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No. 1 in the PEP LIST OF THE 15 GREATEST MOVIE ACTORS, 2000-2020 is Jericho Rosales. No. 2 is Aga Muhlach; No. 3, John Lloyd Cruz; No. 4, Dennis Trillo, and No. 5, Vic Sotto.
PHOTO/S: Cyrus Panganiban (Dennis and Vic); Halik (Jericho); Star Cinema (John Lloyd); Ten17P/ Star Cinema/ Viva (Aga)
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