Steven Seagal on doing a film in Manila: "The people are nice and the government is friendly to us."

IMAGE Miguel Luis Nera

Steven Seagal (in photo) says about Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte: "I think Duterte is a very good president and that he has been instrumental in making the Philippines a safer place."



Hollywood action star Steven Seagal is in Manila to shoot his new action TV series titled General Commander.

He will portray the role of Jake Alexander, an agent of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

“He’s just somebody who wants to stay in the game and wants to keep getting bad guys to make the world a better place,” says Seagal about his character.

“Well, I don’t know if it’s close to my heart or not but I’m a warrior and a strategist so I try to keep my cards flowing with all the best intelligence that I can acquire.”

PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) and select members of the media were able to interview the Hollywood actor during his October 10 press conference held at the Peninsula Hotel in Makati.

In General Commander, Seagal's Jake Alexander is part of a Southeast Asian CIA team. After the tragic death of a team member and being forced by their superiors to close the case against the criminal responsible, the team members try to eliminates bureaucratic restraints by forming their own independent unit to exact justice on the worst criminals of the underworld.

Seagal reveals how he plans to differentiate his character Jake Alexander from other roles he did in the past.

“We’re trying to make it a little more intelligent, a little more mysterious, a little more subtle but you know, we’re still involving intelligence gathering, CIA, law enforcement, action, travelling into exotic places, great strategic moments where the group of guys that were trying to accomplish a different mission constantly.”

Two days after his press conference held in the Philippines, Seagal found himself in hot water when several women accused him of sexual harassment.

Actress Jenny McCarthy accused him of inappropriate conduct during a casting session. Seagal reportedly asked her, “So you were [Playboy’s] Playmate of the Year? Take off your dress.”

Seagal denied the accusations leveled against him.

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(Read: Steven Seagal accused of sexual misconduct by Inside Edition correspondent)

LOOKING FOR PINOY CO-STARS. Here in the Philippines, Seagal is looking forward to working with Filipinos for his TV show.

He says during his Manila press con, “We’re looking for men and women and locations.

“Actually, we have a team in General Commander and we’re looking for one man or woman. It could be interchangeable.”

“I have people coming in over the next three or four days that will help me start a casting session.”

Lee Beasley, chairman of Saradan Media, elaborates, “Steven leads a team of five agents. Two of which will be Filipinos for sure.”

Philippe Martinez, an internationally acclaimed action producer and director, will be producing General Commander.

Viewers can expect action-packed sequences in Asian cities such as Manila, Macau, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Ho Chi Minh City. It will also feature locations in Marbella and Barcelona in Spain as well as New York in the United States.

Why did they chose Manila as one of their locations?

“Well, we wanted a place that’s a little bit exotic and different for the American film mind,” explains Seagal.

“The Philippines can double for other Asian countries so we can be here but the viewer will believe we’re in Vietnam or Thailand or Burma so the location is very good,” argues Beasley.

Seagal adds: “People in general are just very, very nice and you know, we get treated well here.

“There’s a reason why they call it ‘The Pearl of Asia.’

“It’s really because of the people.”


UPCOMING MOVIE. Seagal also plans to reshoot a few scenes for Attrition, which is one of his films in the post-production stage.

“I’m just finishing Attrition here in the Philippines.

“We are talking about building an infrastructure here. An infrastructure for more movies.

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“You know, because the labor is cheap and the people are nice and the government is friendly to us.

“It will be 90%, at least 90% Filipino. You have good crews and good work force and cheaper labor here so we are very happy."

Seagal will be staying here in the Philippines for at least nine months.

“Seriously, it can take a year,” Seagal discloses.

“You guys are gonna be sick of me. I’ll be here for so long.”

What inspires him to keep on coming back to the Philippines?

“I’ve been here a bit close to a hundred times,” he reveals.

“I was here during the Marcos era so that goes to show you how old I am.”

He was referring to Ferdinand Marcos, the former Philippine president who served from 1965 to 1986.

Seagal says fondly, “I have thousands of fun memories here.”

“I think Vigan is one of our favorites.

“It’s like an old city from two or three hundred years ago.”

What tourist destinations does he plan to visit?

“I’ve just been so busy with the movies lately. I haven’t been able to tour lately but hopefully, I’d be able to get the time and go back and start to write.”


ON PRESIDENT DUTERTE. Since Seagal will be staying in the Philippines for a long time while doing business here, is he nervous about the war on drugs being waged by Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte?

Seagal admits, “Well, to be honest with you, I’m a big fan of the government and I think Duterte is a very good president and that he has been instrumental in making the Philippines a safer place.

“I think what he’s done is very good in terms of trying to get the control back for the people.

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“I don’t feel like this is a dangerous place. I think it’s a place that’s up and coming with the new leadership.”




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