Piolo Pascual plans to attend the world premiere of Hele Sa Hiwagang Hapis in Berlin, Germany.
John Lloyd Cruz also stars in this eight-hour movie directed by Lav Diaz.
Also titled A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery, this film will compete in the 66th Berlin International Film Festival.
Piolo considers the inclusion of Hele as a "redemption" for everyone who became involved in the project.
Meryl Streep serves as the jury president of the Berlin Film Festival, which will run from February 11 to 21.
Will Piolo take a selfie with the Academy award-winning actress in case he sees her?
"Depende kung may oras," joked Piolo. "I get starstruck pero okay naman yun.
"I was in New York for the iEmmys [international Emmys] and Charo [Santos Concio] was the head jury.
"It's gonna my first time in Berlinale and to get a chance to get a selfie with Meryl Streep, wow!"
Hele Sa Hiwagang Hapis is one of the 15 films selected for the main competition of the Berlinale, considered one of the top three film festivals in the world, along with Cannes and Venice.
The entry from the Philippines will compete against movies from Canada, Denmark, Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States.
Hele is scheduled to have its world premiere on February 18 in the Berlinale Palast.
Piolo said all the hardship of shooting this movie is worth it.
He even describes doing Hele as one of the highlights of his career.
The ABS-CBN actor spent two weeks in Sorsogon and several days in Bataan for this black-and-white film that depicts interconnected narrative threads on the Philippine revolution of 1896-1897 against the Spanish.
He said he did not mind wading in mud just for this movie.
"I remember a scene, tinanong ako ni Direk Lav: 'Pwede ka ba lumusong sa tubig?'
"Medyo above knee-high ang tubig at burak. Sabi ko, 'Yes, Direk.'
"I had to do it. After doing it, sabi, 'I think I'm an artist,'" said Piolo with a laugh.
He described his character by saying, "I play Crisostomo Ibarra. I play Simoun in El Fili. I mirrored Jose Rizal because of his ideals.
"Pinatanda ako dito and si Lloydie, pinabata."
John Lloyd is cast as Isagani, the young man in El Filibusterismo who represents the idealistic youth.
"During my last days, siya ang nakasama ko at sa kanya ako nagsabi [ng habilin]," disclosed Piolo during an interview held earlier today, January 13, at the TEN17P Productions office in Makati City.
"We recited the Mi Ultimo Adios together. Sobrang immersion namin sa characters namin.
"Yung material na ibibigay sa iyo, whether it's English or Spanish or Chinese, kailangan alam mo yung sinasabi mo."
After doing mainstream projects for many years, the actor said that it was a refreshing experience for him to make a movie outside of his comfort zone.
"I didn't want to leave Sorsogon," admitted Piolo.
"Coming from being a mainstream actor. Iba bigla ang set. Okay, take one, yun na yun, wala nang ibang shot. Ibang klase."
When PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) asked what were the major hurdles in asking permission from his home network and Star Cinema, where he is a contract artist.
"It was more on the work at hand.
"Siyempre, may ASAP ako. Mayroon akong taping, mayroon akong pelikula. Siyempre, yung mga obligasyon natin, kailangan yun."
Piolo recalled, "Up to the last minute, ayaw akong payagan ng ABS-CBN, ayaw akong payagan ng Star Cinema.
"Pero we committed to the project."
The actor believes "It's a redemption...yung matanggap kayo sa isang prestigious event, sa isang prestigious film festival, yun ang glory ni Paul [Soriano] and Direk Lav.
"Buti na lang ginawa namin ito. It's really a privilege.
"Whatever we had to go through sa ABS-CBN, it was really worth it."
Piolo also pointed out, "More than a sacrifice, you have to know kung ano ang priority mo."
How did he prepare for this role?
"I had to browse through my El Fili[busterismo], Noli Me Tangere, and read up on the Spanish era. "Sabi ko, okay ang experience. You bring your own chair, every night, we would hang out with Paul [Soriano, producer of the movie].
"The experience itself is really memorable."
The Kapamilya actor then recalled his past experience walking the red carpet abroad.
"I've been to Cannes and I've been to a lot of film festivals. But to represent your own country in a festival like this, it's beyond you."
It 2013, Piolo and Gerald Anderson attended the world premiere of On The Job at the 66th Cannes Film Festival.
Aside from Piolo and John Lloyd, Hele Sa Hiwagang Hapis also stars Hazel Orencio, Alessandra de Rossi, Joel Saracho, Susan Africa, Ely Buendia, Bernardo Bernardo, Angel Aquino, and Cherie Gil.
Hele Sa Hiwagang Hapis is Lav Diaz's first main competition in the Big Three (Cannes, Berlin, and Venice) although he has been part of the Berlinale Forum section in the past.
His film From What Is Before won the Golden Leopard at Locarno, while his Norte, the End of History was nominated in the 30th Independent Spirit Awards.
(Read: Piolo Pascual-John Lloyd Cruz movie with Lav Diaz will compete in 66th Berlin Film Festival)
Piolo plans to attend premiere of Lav Diaz film in Berlin; jokes about getting selfie with Meryl Streep
January 13, 2016