Welsh Hollywood actor Luke Evans believes that a lot of Filipinos are talented.
He got to witness this firsthand during the London run of Miss Saigon.
"Some of my closest friends are from the Philippines,” Luke admitted to select members of the Asian press who interviewed him at the Fairmont Hotel in Makati City recently.
“Ten years ago, I did Miss Saigon in the UK and we did that for a year,” narrated the actor who portrayed the lead character Chris, the American soldier who falls in love with Kim.
“Then everybody left and the Filipino cast went back to Manila. I went traveling to Southeast Asia and then I flew to the Philippines just to see my friends really. I ended up staying the full 21 days.”
What can he say about this country?
"I love the Philippines. It's a beautiful place.
"There's more talent per square centimeter in the Philippines than any other country— except Wales,” he declared with a smile.
"Everybody sings in Wales and that is probably why I have an affinity with Filipinos. I think we're very, very similar.
"You have family dinners and, in five minutes, somebody would start singing or playing the guitar. It’s the same in my home in Wales."
REUNION WITH FILIPINO FRIENDS. It was the film Fast and Furious 6— where he is cast as Owen Shaw, the nemesis of Vin Diesel's Dom Toretto— that brought him again to Manila.
And during his brief stay here, a reunion of sorts took place.
“I got to see my friends who were in Miss Saigon with me. I had dinner with Ima Castro, Jake Macapagal, Miriam Marasigan, and Jhong Hilario,” he recalls fondly.
If he had more time, Luke said he would have loved to visit the tropical paradise of Boracay.
SACRIFICING A TOOTH FOR HIS CRAFT. Meanwhile, Luke had a minor injury on the set of this blockbuster franchise.
During the interview, he pointed to one of his front teeth.
“I chipped a tooth. This one is half-fake but you can't tell, right?”
He narrated, "It was me and Paul Walker. We were fighting and we were rehearsing a scene.
"It was a very difficult scene since it was really close quarters. It's very easy to make a mistake. I chipped a tooth."
He says the FF6 scene with a military tank is the most memorable moment for him.
"The tank sequence is my favorite sequence. It was insane! It actually happened.
"Every day, we used to have piles of flattened cars on the side of the motorway, waiting to be brought to the scrappie [scrapyard]," he recounted vividly.
How was it like portraying the villain in Fast and Furious 6?
“It was fun. I don't want to be a bad guy every time but I would definitely like to do it again.
"I played a hero for a year in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug so it’s quite nice to play the bad guy instead.
"I like [my character] Owen Shaw because I felt that he had a lot of layers to him and he had a lot of resources.
"There were a lot of interesting information that I was able to use to create this character. He has a military background.
"He’s also very clever, rich, and quite young. He has access to a lot of machines and cars. I had lots of things to play on,” he narrated.
How was it working with Vin Diesel?
"Great!" he exclaimed. "For the past ten years or so, I’ve been watching him onscreen as I was growing up.
"Now all of a sudden, I’m acting against him. There are scenes when I go, 'That’s Vin Diesel!' He's a very nice man and very fun."
When PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) asked to describe his favorite moment off-cam, his eyes lit up as he remembered the time they spent on a Spanish island.
“Being in Tenerife [part of the Canary Islands] was really fun 'coz the weather was beautiful.
"Back home in London, it was freezing. For four weeks, we got to live in this beautiful hotel and we didn't work every day so it was partly like being on a holiday,” he said.
Lastly, how does he maintain his physique?
“I had a trainer and a stunt team and we trained everyday. I train every morning. I go to the gym and I do plyometrics and TRX.
“I have a special diet 'coz I'm training right now for Dracula for Universal,” Luke disclosed.
For his next project, he will be starring as the infamous vampire in the 2014 movie version of Bram Stoker’s 1897 classic horror novel.