Ex-'PBB' teen Josef Elizalde bags his first title role in Purificacion'

Leah C. Salterio

Posted at Aug 05 2022 06:29 AM

Josef Elizalde in 'Purificacion.' Handout
Josef Elizalde in 'Purificacion.' Handout

MANILA -- Reinventing himself in every new acting project that he gets is important for 32-year-old actor Josef Elizalde. From playing supporting parts to lead roles, he makes it a point to deliver something different and memorable to create a mark and be remembered.

“Every movie, every new character that you are going to encounter, there will always be challenges in building your character,” Elizalde told ABS-CBN News. “Even if you are already a veteran star, there will still be challenges along the way.

“For me, every project that I do, I get new lessons in terms of acting. In every project that I do, I learn something new and I just carry it on with me to my next assignment.”

In Elizalde’s latest starrer “Purificacion,” where he essays the title role, he plays a young priest, Ricardo Purificacion, who is well-loved and admired by locals in the rural town of Santa Monica.

Admired for his character and dedication to his local parish, Purificacion is a role model to anyone who meets him. However, behind his charming personality lies his dark secrets. 

“Purificacion” is megged by GB Sampedro, who recently finished the eight-part sexy series “High on Sex.” 

“Direk GB makes sure I always do different characters every time,” Elizalde said. “I played a psycho, they watched out for my nuances, the way I speak, to make sure I deliver a different style of acting, a different character."

The story of “Purificacion” is dark and centers on sin and judgment. “I really have high expectations about the movie,” Elizalde said. “Sobrang ganda niya talaga. First time I saw the teaser, I got goose bumps.” 

Elizalde did not have a particular peg for his character in “Purificacion.” He watched movies involving priests, like Ron Howard’s “Angels and Demons” (2009). He previously read the Dan Brown novel, too.

“Ginaya ko lang mga nuances nila, how they talked,” he said. “I know that’s in English. Pero ‘pag Tinagalog mo naman ‘yun, that will help.

“Nahirapan ako sa mga lines. Ang setting ng movie namin sa isang barrio. Medyo malalim talaga ang Tagalog. When you translate the Bible verses into Tagalog lines, nakaka-bulol din siya.”

Elizalde also modified the actual priest’s robe in “Purificacion.” He didn’t actually wear the whole habit and merely donned a black polo with a clerical collar.

“It’s really hot and thick if you wear the actual robe,” he said. “It’s a good thing I was able to modify the outfit.

“Malaking bagay ang mga priests and pastors. Anyone who spreads the word of God. Catholics, Christians spread awareness and show that without God, we are no one. We are nothing.”

Elizalde works with six leading ladies in “Purificacion” – Cara Gonzales, Rob Guinto, Kat Dovey, Stephanie Raz, Ava Mendez and Quinn Carillo. The film starts streaming August 5 on Vivamax.

The actor, who rose to fame as a teen housemate on the reality competition, “Pinoy Big Brother,” back in 2008, is “blessed and grateful” that he gets roles like in “Purificacion.”

“I’m so glad that Viva trusts me with this kind of project,” Elizalde admitted. “I’m really just honored with the blessings that I’ve been getting these past few years, especially with Viva.

“In return, I only do my best so Viva will see that I’m really grateful for what they are giving me.”

Elizalde got wind of the story of “Purificaion” even while he was still shooting “Doblado” with Sampedro. “I was really interested about Direk GB’s story, about ‘Purificacion’,” Elizalde recalled. “Ang ganda talaga ng story.

“Without hesitation. I accepted the project. The first thing Direk GB asked me to do was to cut my hair. I guess you cannot please everyone. There will always be people whom you will offend. If it’s not for you, then don’t watch it if you will only get offended. It’s part of our work.”

As an artist, Elizalde is aware he has to make sacrifices for his roles. With his long locks that he maintained for two years, he had to shed it once director Sampedro advised him that he clinched the lead character in “Purificacion.”

“I was willing to do it for the character, for the movie. My mom liked my short hair. Cute naman daw ako.” (Laughed)

Elizalde takes his career more seriously now that he shifted to playing sexy roles. This year, he went daring in Lawrence Fajardo’s “X Deal 2,” followed by Sampedro’s sexy thriller, “Doblado.”

Elizalde also wrapped up shooting director Mac Alejandre’s eight-part drama series, “’Wag Mong Agawin ang Akin.”

Although he got his share of negative publicity, Elizalde learned to take everything in stride. “Work is work,” he maintained. “When I arrived on the set, I go in there as my character and not as Josef.

“Through the years, nasanay na ako sa mga sinasabi nila about me. I just treat it as work. Once the director shouts ‘Cut,’ I return to my real self and departs from the character I play. Kahit ano’ng religion ko siguro, I’ll still be doing sexy films.”

Even if he didn’t get to finish his studies, Elizalde doesn’t regret not going to college. After he graduated from high school at La Salle Greenhills, he had so many projects already that school inevitably took a backseat to his showbiz career. 

“When I entered showbiz, I was incoming fourth year high school,” Elizalde said. “I finished high school, although I didn’t get to finish college. It was my choice not to finish college and pursue showbiz.

“I am happy where I am now and I’m very grateful for everything God has given me as His blessings. I start my day with a prayer and end it with a prayer also.” 

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