There's a Pinoy in the Netflix movie Space Sweepers.
In the South Korean film which stars Song Joong Ki, Kim Tae Ri, Jin Seon Kyu, and Yoo Hae Jin, a Filipino-speaking restaurant manager tells the four main characters, "O-order ba kayo? Kung hindi na naman, umalis na kayo!"
The movie has been topping the streaming app's chart since it was released last Friday, February 5, 2021.
PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) sought the man behind the scene-stealing character and found Christian Lagahit, a 35-year-old Filipino teaching English in South Korea for over seven years.
Christian, who goes by the screen name Chris Chan, revealed to PEP.ph in an exclusive interview on Monday, February 8, 2021, that he was surprised by the overwhelming response of Filipino fans to his brief appearance in the movie.
He said, "Honestly po, masaya kasi parang I’m not used to, you know, iyong reaction or feedback.
"Modesty aside, nakagawa na rin naman ako dito ng ibang projects, pero hindi siya ganito kadami.
"As in nagulat ako kasi parang people were starting to tag me sa clip 'tapos nagulat na lang ako ang dami nila, e.
"Medyo overwhelming lang siya in a way, sabi ko lang, 'Wow.'"
According to Chris, the movie was supposed to hit the cinemas in South Korea last year, but the release was postponed twice because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He told PEP.ph, "Actually, parang alam ko na talaga kung ano iyong magiging itsura kasi last year, napanood na namin siya.
"It was supposed to be released in Korea last September 20, if I’m not mistaken.
"Hindi ko alam kung paano nila ginawa iyong selection process, pero kumbaga iyong ilan dun sa mga actors, kumbaga nakita na talaga namin iyong movie."
AUDITIONING FOR BIT PART
Chris had been working on the K-drama Miss Lee as one of the factory workers named Ki San when the chance to audition for Space Sweepers came along.
He recalled, "It was in 2019 nung sinabihan ako ng manager ko na, ‘Chris, there’s this production na naghahanap ng cast, Southeast Asian look-alike. Are you free to audition for that?’
"Sabi ko, ‘Let’s give it a try, there’s no harm in trying.’"
But two days after he auditioned, Chris was told by his manager that the film's producers were still deciding whether or not to keep the scene in which he was cast.
Although he was disappointed, he simply continued to work on Miss Lee, and the series eventually paved the way for him to get in Space Sweepers.
Chris recounted, "I think nasa third episode na kami nung kinausap ulit ako nung manager na, ‘Chris, I have good news for you. Naaala mo iyong in-audition mo before na Seungri-ho,’ iyong title po sa Korean. ‘Ito iyong sinabi ko na ganito, ganito…’
"Kasi parang medyo nanghinayang po tayo. Sabi niya, ‘Ah, nakita nila iyong acting mo sa unang two episodes ng drama and they are considering to ask you to audition for the role again.’
"They decided na isama po ako dun sa role. Ang sabi nga po nila was they planned to remove that scene but then, after a few discussions, napag-usapan po nila ulit.
"And sabi po nila, sobrang necessary po nung eksena, so talagang ibinalik nila."
WORKING WITH SONG JOONG KI
Chris revealed it was his idea to speak his line in Tagalog, and he suggested this to Song Joong Ki and the film's director Jo Sung Hee.
He told PEP.ph, "English po talaga iyong lines ko, but half-way po nung shoot namin na iyon, parang naisipan ko lang, out of nowhere, bigla lang po ako nagsabi dun sa isang character, parang, ‘Sunbae, okay lang po bang mag-suggest?’
"Pero alam ko naman po na ordinaryo lang akong extra pero parang gusto ko po mag-suggest sana, ‘Puwede po ba akong mag-Tagalog sa movie?’"
Chris said they filmed the scene several times and he even tried speaking in Waray and Bisaya.
He added, "Thankful po ako sa director kasi siyempre Song Joong Ki ‘tapos iyong idea na tanggapin iyong suggestion mo, malaki po iyon. Sobrang malaking bagay po iyon sa akin."
Chris is thrilled that he was able to work with one of the biggest names in the Korean entertainment industry.
He revealed that Joong Ki told him to address him as "hyung" or "kuya" instead of "sunbae" or "senior." Honorifics are part of the Korean culture and are often observed either in school or work environment.
But Chris actually didn't know he would get to work with Joong Ki, as his manager only told him that he would have a scene with a "top-caliber actor."
He explained to PEP.ph, "I had no idea na isa siya sa makakasama kasi nung binigay iyong project sa amin, ang sinabi lang din nung manager ko, since hindi naman talaga ako well-versed sa Korean language, ang sabi niya, ‘Let’s do well, on this project. It’s gonna be with a top-caliber [actor].’"
But Chris got an inkling that the Korean superstar might be involved in the movie when he saw Joong Ki's manager in the lobby of the hotel they were staying in.
He narrated, "The night before nung shoot, nasa hotel po kasi kami, iyong filming location po namin is like three hours away from Seoul. So the day before the shoot, pinapunta kami dun sa venue.
"Ako po mismo parang may sarili akong hotel room. May idea ako kung sino kasi iyong manager, nakita ko iyong manager ni Song Joong Ki sa hotel lobby, pero I can be wrong.
"Puwedeng nagma-manage din siya ng ibang artist or something like that."
His suspicions were confirmed the next day when he and his manager went to have breakfast on set.
Chris continued, "Kinabukasan, pagdating sa set breakfast, dun po talaga ako nagulat. Kasi parang sabi nung manager ko, ‘We’re so early, punta muna tayo sa resto.’
"Kasi may place kung saan kumakain. Sabi niya, ‘Let’s go first. ‘Okay, let’s go.’
"Pagpasok ko kasi konti lang p,o e, kumbaga silang four main actors ‘tapos ako, and then the rest, all staff. Walang ibang artist.
"So nagulat ako kasi pagpasok ko, nandun siya nakaupo. So as a fan din sabi ko, ‘Seryoso ito?’ Sabi nung manager ko, ‘O, kalma, relax. Chris, behave.’"
Chris felt lucky that no other extras or characters were involved in the scene aside from him and the lead stars.
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Chris never really planned on becoming a drama and movie extra in South Korea, but this has been his side job for more than five years.
The English teacher got into show business accidentally, after accompanying some of his friends who were auditioning to be extras in films.
He recalled, "May isa akong friend na nag-e-extra-extra na rin and he offered me one day na sabi niya, 'Gusto mo bang makakita ng Korean na artista?’
"Sabi ko, ‘Oo ba, sino bang ayaw?’ Sabi niya, ‘Nakakita ka na ba?’
"Nakakita na ako ng idols kasi dito sa Pilipinas, medyo fan ako ng K-Pop, and pag may exra budget, uma-attend ng concerts. Pero dito sa Korea, wala pa.
"Sumama ako not knowing na gagawin pala nila akong P.A. kasi ang dami nilang Pinoy at that time na parang na-cast sila sa isang K-Drama.
"So parang ako, dahil wala naman akong, limited iyong Korean skills ko, literal na P.A. nila na taga-bantay, taga-tingin."
Chris said that a staff member and the director of the film thought he was one of the extras hired for the project.
"Parang medyo nagalit iyong director that time, ‘tapos in-explain sa akin nung isang ate dun na, ‘Chris kasi akala nila kasama ka dun, mag-start na kasi kami.’ ‘Pakisabi di ako kasama, so dito lang ako.’
"Kasi ayaw ko naman pumasok, kasi wala akong idea, e. Ang sabi kasi sa akin nung friend ko, diyan ka lang."
He continued, "Sinabi sa akin nung ate na, 'Pinapapunta ka sa loob,' so pumunta ako sa loob, nagulat na lang ako na may naka-prepare silang damit for me."
Aside from Song Joong Ki, Chris was able to work with Son Ye Jin and Hyun Bin of the hit K-drama series Crash Landing on You (CLOY).
He first worked with them in the movie The Negotiation, where he played a goon, and then in CLOY, where he was cast as a North Korean villager.
Chris said he was also part of another project that is coming to Netflix this summer. Meanwhile, some of the South Korean stars he wishes to work with are Lee Byung Hun, Gong Yoo, Kim Soo Hyun, Ji Chang Wook, and Park Shin Hye.