MANILA – Two days before “Citizen Jake” begins screening in Philippine cinemas nationwide, filmmaker Mike de Leon took to social media to share what he thinks about his lead star, former ABS-CBN News reporter Atom Araullo.
In a lengthy Facebook post, De Leon acknowledged that Araullo is not a professional actor but explained that he chose him for the lead role because he thought it interesting to work with someone whose work was journalism and who he thought shared his political convictions.
“Citizen Jake,” which begins its commercial run on May 23, tells the story of journalist Jake Herrera (Araullo), the estranged son of a powerful senator.
More than anything, he wants to prove he is not like his father. This has been the motivation for most of his adult life’s decisions, from career choice to his attempt to build a life for himself far away in Baguio.
But circumstances force him to try to solve the brutal murder of a young female student from the university he teaches in. The investigation brings him on a path to encounter corruption and to finally face his own demons.
“I only realized later that Atom’s journalism was not exactly the kind of journalism I had in mind. It’s not the gritty kind but more of the celebrity-centered schlock that sometimes verges on entertainment, even showbiz,” De Leon said.
“Looking back, I can see why he wanted to become a movie actor. Perhaps the journalist was really a closet movie star,” he added.
Nonetheless, De Leon said Araullo’s contribution to the screenplay was “substantial.”
The filmmaker also believes Araullo did a good job and “there were scenes where he acted unevenly but there were also scenes, many of them major, where he was terrific.”
“Even if ‘Citizen Jake’ is my most personal film, sometimes I feel it’s a film Atom and myself made together, through thick and thin, through upheaval after upheaval and unfortunately there were many. But I hoped that in the end, we would still share the same convictions we started off with. Alas, that was not to be,” he said.
De Leon said he now finds himself alone in speaking for the film and defending it against “those who would exploit it for political mileage and those who would wish it harm.”
The director likewise said he and Araullo are “relieved to close the book on this collaboration and finally get out of each other’s lives.”
Following de Leon’s extensive post, several netizens expressed what they thought of the film and Araullo’s acting.
One netizen said she found Araullo as a “revelation,” adding that “he did not disappoint.”
De Leon, however, responded to the netizen and said Araullo disappointed him “not as an actor but as a person.”
ABS-CBN News reached out to Araullo about the matter but he declined to comment.
Aside from Araullo, also part of movie are Cherie Gil, Dina Bonnevie, Nonie Buencamino, Adian “Luis” Alandy, Gabby Eigenmann, Max Collins, Teroy Guzman, Lou Veloso, Richard Quan, with Victor Neri, Allan Paule, Anna Luna, Elora Españo, Cholo Barretto, Raquel Villavicencio, Nanding Josef, and Ruby Ruiz.
See our movie review of "Citizen Jake" here: