John Arcilla, the first Filipino best actor winner at the prestigious Venice Film Festival, says he's an actor who continues to study his craft.
With 40 years of experience as an acting student and later on as teacher, he shared that one of the important things he learned is that acting is finding out what works for you. "I've been doing workshops in acting since I was 12. But not everything that you study as an actor from different theories in acting are all effective to you. There are methods that don't work, so yes leave them. There are some methods that work with you. Sometimes those methods that don't work will work three years after," Arcilla pointed out.
Years ago, a producer in America offered him a chance to be in Hollywood projects, but it didn't work out because they wanted him to change. "They wanted me to go through workshops on erasing my accent. Sabi ko, 'what? I don't want that.' Some Filipinos are making waves in many parts of the US so sabi ko, I want to be marketed as a Filipino in your society. Not a Filipino with a twang. (I said, 'what? I don't want that.' Some Filipinos are making waves in many parts of the US so I said I want to be marketed as a Filipino in your society)."
Arcilla did enjoy working in Hollywood productions. He was part of the 'Bourne Legacy' cast. It's where, he said, he picked up a habit that he practices to this day.
"This makeup artist parang pinupunasan lang yung face ko... and they're cutting Jeremy's hair. Pinunasan ng tissue. Sabi ng Hollywood makeup artist, 'you're good.' [I said] 'What?' So from then on, hindi na ako nagme-makeup sa pelikula kasi standard na yon ng Hollywood, and ang galing nila sa color grading (This makeup artist was just wiping my face, and they were cutting Jeremy's hair and wiping his face with tissue. The Hollywood makeup artist said, 'you're good.' [I said] 'What?' So from then on, I'm no longer putting makeup on for movies because that's the standard in Hollywood. They're great in color grading)."
He admired the professionalism of Hollywood actors Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz. Weisz's husband, 'No Time to Die' star Daniel Craig, was also on set at one point while they were filming in Manila.
"Magyo-yosi kami ni Jeremy Renner sa isang tabi. Magkukwentuhan kami. Si Rachel Weisz, ganun din. They are so relaxed (Jeremy Renner and I would smoke on one side. We would chat; Rachel Weisz as well)," Arcilla shared. "Sabi ni Rachel, 'hey, John, do you know him? This is Daniel.' [I said] 'Oh, yes, yes, of course.'"
Arcilla won at the Venice Film Festival for his strong performance in Erik Matti's 'On the Job: The Missing 8.' He couldn't make it to Italy where the winner was announced by Oscar-winning director Bong Joon-ho, due to the restrictive and expensive quarantine rules in the Philippines. Arcilla however sent his heartfelt thanks through video.
With genuine Asian representation and authenticity a more commonplace in Hollywood, Arcilla said he is ready to make the jump should a worthy project fall on his lap.
"Our first film, Nepomuceno's 'Dalagang Bukid' was in 1919. That means we've been doing this, just like them, for several years, for several decades. The thing is that they are now opening up to the outskirts. But actually we are growing with them," Arcilla noted.
Arcilla is a huge part of the ABS-CBN series 'Ang Probinsyano.' His award-winning performance in 'On the Job' can be seen on HBO.