MANILA — Setting foot inside the “Pinoy Big Brother” (PBB) house in 2006, Zanjoe Marudo admittedly didn’t look ahead to how his life would change by becoming a public figure overnight, opting instead to live and assess “one day at a time.”
In fact, with only his experience as a fashion model then, he wasn’t keen on becoming an actor, fearing he would have little talent to give justice to opportunities onscreen.
Fifteen years and dozens of film and TV roles later, Marudo can happily draw a contrast between that doubtful time and his current disposition now — of being unburdened by pressure to prove himself, and being filled with gratitude for remaining one of today’s in-demand leading men.
His first years in showbiz were the toughest, Marudo recalled in an interview with ABS-CBN News. Fresh from his runner-up finish in “PBB,” he was cast in increasingly bigger roles in consecutive TV projects.
“Wala akong knowledge sa pag-arte paglabas ko sa Bahay ni Kuya. ‘Di ba, dapat, bago ka pumasok sa isang bagay, kailangan mong mag-prepare, kailangan mong pag-aralan kung ano ‘yung dapat mong gawin, para handa ka, para confident ka? But ang nangyari sa akin, sabay ko siyang ginagawa. Habang pinag-aaralan ko siya, ginagawa ko na siya,” he said.
“Iyon ‘yung tingin kong pinaka-hardest part ng career ko.”
Marudo understood when his first portrayals were met with criticism. Not one to be disheartened, he saw the feedback as motivation to better his craft, and to return the support of his growing fanbase.
“Makakarinig ka tuloy ng mga, ‘Ano ba ‘yan, hindi marunong umarte.’ May mga ganoon kang maririnig. At hindi mo puwedeng sisihin ‘yung tao, kasi totoo naman talaga na hindi ka handa noong pumasok ka sa trabaho na ‘to,” he said.
“Pero hindi naman ako sumuko, at pinatunayan ko na kailangan ko lang ng kaunting time. ‘Aaralin ko ‘to, hindi ko kayo bibiguin.’ Dahil may mga supporters na, may mga naniniwala, ayaw ko naman silang biguin. Sinundan nila ‘yung buhay ko sa ‘PBB’ and then hanggang doon na lang ‘yun. Gusto ko, hangga’t kaya ko, hangga’t meron pang interesado, at may gusto pang makatrabaho ako, hindi ako titigil. Para iyon sa mga suporta sa akin simula sa umpisa,” he said.
THE TURNING POINT
Indeed, there has been no stopping for Marudo since 2006; no shortage of roles on the small and big screens, from romantic lead to ruthless villain, and shades in between.
A pivotal point in that journey, Marudo recalled, was taking on his first title role, “Dream Dad,” in 2014. In the process of filming that series, Marudo began to feel lighter, more trusting of his talent, and less on edge.
“Doon ko naramdaman na kaya ko na. Kaya ko nang magbitbit ng isang palabas,” he said. “Nadagdagan ‘yung confidence ko lalo na sa pagharap sa tao, sa pag-arte, mas tumaas ‘yung kumpiyansa ko.”
“Hindi naman mararamdaman na yumabang. Siguro nakita nila sa mata na light na siya, wala nang wall, wala nang confusion, wala nang iniisip. Kumbaga, okay na ako. Kumbaga, relax na ako. Naramdaman ng mga kaibigan ko, ng mga tao, na okay na, relax na ‘yung katawan ko, lahat sa akin. Hindi na ako palaging tensyonado at pressured.”
That his acting has been recognized numerous times over the past 15 years, has also been a nudge of encouragement for Marudo, as it indicates he must be doing something right.
Most recently, he was nominated for best actor in the prestigious Gawad Urian for the 2020 film “Malaya.” Winners will be announced in October.
“‘Yung award, bonus na lang. Isa iyon sa nag-pu-push sa ‘yo na huwag ka tumigil, ituloy mo lang. Pag inasahan mo nang inasahan, madidiskaril ka, maapektuhan ‘yung performance mo, ‘yung pagtatrabaho mo kasi laging nandoon ‘yung utak mo. Hindi tama na iyon ‘yung motivation mo,” he said.
PORTRAYING A BROKEN MARRIAGE
Marudo is bringing his wealth of experience to what he considers one of his biggest projects to date — the Philippine adaptation of the international hit “Doctor Foster.”
In ABS-CBN’s “The Broken Marriage Vow,” Marudo will portray David Ilustre, the husband whose affair ruins his family. He is joined by Jodi Sta. Maria as Jill Ilustre, Zaijan Jaranilla as their son Gio, and Sue Ramirez as David’s lover Lexy.
Having wrapped their first cycle of filming in Baguio City, Marudo said confidently that the local remake is a title Filipinos can be proud of.
“Ngayon lang ako nakaramdam ng, habang ginagawa pa ‘yung show, hindi pa pinapalabas, positive na ‘yung nararamdaman ko. Nagiging proud na agad ako, hindi pa man tapos, wala pa man sa kalahati. Nandoon na ‘yung pagiging proud ko doon sa show,” he said.
The series, as well as Marudo’s body of work spanning 15 years, will be the subject of a three-part Star Magic documentary to premiere on its YouTube channel on September 26, with succeeding episodes scheduled for release on October 2 and 9.
In his interview with ABS-CBN News, Marudo also spoke at length about his experience shooting “The Broken Marriage Vow”; his many leading ladies over the years, from Anne Curtis to new Kapamilya Lovi Poe; the social media meme of his character Natoy in “Tubig at Langis”; and what he is most thankful for in his journey so far as a once-reluctant actor to an acclaimed leading man.