After being away from showbiz for six years to finish his undergraduate studies, Benjamin Alves is back on track to rev up his stalled career in acting.
In 2013, the GMA-7 hunk took on offbeat roles that showed his versatility as an actor.
Benjamin was a gallant lawyer and one third of the love triangle in the soap Unforgettable and a meek-turned-radical sacristan in the historical-drama series Katipunan.
Last July, he reaped good reviews as Andrew, the lover of Lovi Poe’s character, whose death created conflict among the people he left behind in the Cinemalaya-winning film Sana Dati.
His presence in the film was commendable in that he was cast alongside Paulo Avelino and TJ Trinidad, two of the most known character actors in local showbiz.
TJ, in fact, bagged the Best Supporting Actor award at the 9th Cinemalaya Film Festival for his role in Sana Dati.
In the last quarter of the year, Benjamin starred in the Cinema One Originals entry, Islands, an experimental work in which he portrayed the nameless astronaut whose landing on Earth started the interwoven stories of covert love.
Towards the end of the year, Benjamin was given a role in the Kapuso network’s latest fantasy soap, Adarna, as one of the three leading men of Kylie Padilla.
Having played dreamboats in the past, Benjamin told PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Network), in an interview during the Adarna press launch last November 13, that he welcomed the role of Bok.
Bok is a devious “kanto boy” who eventually falls in love with the heroine.
Told that playing a street rat may not sit well with an articulate person like him, the actor retorted, in jest, “I’m trying!”
Truth be told, he “kind of likes it.”
He explained, “For me, bilang aktor, maganda yun. It’s liberating!."
He added with a chuckle, “For one, hindi mo kailangan mag-suit,” referring to the sleek ensemble he was wearing during the presscon.
Furthermore, “I like the fact that ganun yung [impression], na parang hindi bagay sa akin.
"Because mas may challenge para sa akin na panindigan yung gano’ng role.”
It is obvious that Benjamin is not picky about the roles that comes his way.
“As long as there’s project, happy na ako.
"As long as the role is good, happy na ako,” Benjamin said, pleased with his current project.
MEANINGFUL ROLES. But given a choice, Benjamin said he prefers roles that speak to him.
An English literature major, the actor meticulously reads his scripts to find symbolisms and imagery in the lines.
In Islands, however, his character, the astronaut, barely spoke.
But this film by newcomer director Whammy Alcazaren fascinated Benjamin for its deep treatment of love, which he did not expect in a science fiction movie.
“I hardly have any dialogue. I’m by myself most of the time in the movie.
"It’s like Only God Forgives,” he said, pertaining to the film that stars Hollywood actor Ryan Gosling.
He was also very much taken in by Jerrold Tarog’s Sana Dati, which earned most of the awards at the Cinemalaya film fest (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Sound, Best Editing, and Best Cinematography).
Benjamin intoned, “I knew that it was gonna be a good project.
"I knew even before I did it na maganda na talaga siya.
“The script? I loved it!”
He said he considered Sana Dati as the highlight of his career this year in that he was able to show his versatility as an actor.
It has also become his template for future roles.
Speaking of the future, having earned kudos for his acting in the indie films Sana Dati and Islands, does he see himself bringing home awards?
Benjamin answered, “Pag actor ka, hindi puwede yung, ‘Kailangan ipapanalo ko ‘to ng award!’
“That’s very selfish for me to do because it takes you away from the movie.
“I don’t base [projects] on... if it’s gonna be a benchmark or a landmark in my career. Hindi, e.
“If I were to do a film and I love it and I’m satisfied with it myself, yun naman yung first priority ko, e.
“My job is mapanindigan ko yung character.
"At yung character ko, [dapat] tugma dun sa navi-visualize nung writer saka nung director.”
SELF CRITICISM. While Benjamin acknowledged the importance of the audience in measuring the success of a project, for him, it starts with self-criticism.
“It would be nice if everyone accepts it but, first and foremost, if I see it and I watch it, at natuwa ako with what I was able to do, [then good].”
But what really matters in the end, he said, is achieving the vision of the filmmaker and those who worked behind the camera.
“As much as possible, mas happy yung director and everyone else, that’s really my priority.”
In doing a project, he said that he values, more than anything else, his working relationship with his director.
He recalled the ones he had with Jerrold and Whammy, which led to a friendship that went beyond the movies.
In retrospect, the year 2013 has been most fulfilling for Benjamin.
And with Adarna airing until the early part of 2014, it looks like the actor is looking forward to another busy year.
“I love my career, it’s only been a year and a half.
"And this year, I think 2013 has been really good to me.
“So, I’m glad.”