‘He never said a word’: The real reason John Lloyd looked the way he did in 2019

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 10 2021 05:28 PM | Updated as of Sep 10 2021 07:35 PM

John Lloyd Cruz poses with fans in Bukidnon in April 2019. FILE/ Facebook: Pinoy 1 Million Views
John Lloyd Cruz poses with fans in Bukidnon in April 2019. File/ Facebook: Pinoy 1 Million Views

MANILA — Despite drawing comments for growing his hair and beard long in 2019 — a stark contrast from the clean-cut matinee idol image he had been known for — John Lloyd Cruz never once explained his drastic transformation and in fact opted to stay away from the limelight.

At the time, in mid-2019, Cruz had been a year and a half into his hiatus from showbiz, with only candid photos taken by fans cluing in the public on his whereabouts, and his appearance.

When photos of Cruz sporting a full beard and shoulder-length wavy hair went viral, not a few remarked that the actor supposedly neglected his looks.

Now it can be said: Cruz’s purposely unkempt appearance was the specific instruction of his director at the time, Lav Diaz, for the film “Historya ni Ha.”

John Lloyd Cruz portrays the lead character in Lav Diaz’s ‘Historya ni Ha.’ Facebook: Historya ni Ha
John Lloyd Cruz portrays the lead character in Lav Diaz’s ‘Historya ni Ha.’ Facebook: Historya ni Ha

That’s according to Hazel Orencio, Cruz’s co-actor in the period film, in a Facebook post paying tribute to the lead star and explaining his method of acting.

“Back in 2019, so many things were said about JLC and this look. He kept mum, never said a word, never reacted. People forgot that he is first and foremost an actor; it was just him preparing for a role in a film set in 1957. He prepared, nonetheless,” Orencio wrote.

Cruz went as far as reflecting his character’s personality of being reclusive, according to Orencio — a belated context that now explains why the actor, despite his A-list stature, had been so evasive of being seen in the media during his hiatus from mainstream.

“He didn't cut his hair and he made his beard grew as per Lav's instruction. He immersed in the role of Hernando Alamada, a ventriloquist who used to work in cruise ships as an entertainer. Recluse, never talks. It was just Ha, the doll, doing the talking for him. It was an advantage to him, a valid excuse to be quiet.

“Yet it doesn't mean he wasn't challenged. The act of being silent alone for all the criticisms he got for looking that way was challenging; much more plunging into a ventriloquist role -- something he has never done yet,” Orencio said.

 

Given her shared passion for acting, Orencio said she identified with “how pressured he must be back then.”

“But he took it,” she said. “Shooting day by shooting day, script after script, he plunged deep into the character. He got acquainted with Ha and eventually became close to him. Needless to say, he was able to pull it, and for us who've been with him on this journey, he delivered as always, with flying colors.”

The result of Cruz’s deep preparation for the role of Ha will be seen once the film premieres at the prestigious BFI London Film Festival, which will run from October 7 to 17.

After nearly four years away from mainstream showbiz — during which he became a father, and separated from his partner Ellen Adarna — Cruz made a full comeback in May 2021, as a contract star of Maja Salvador’s talent agency Crown Artist Management.

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