Actor takes on role in a perfect fitBy Lulu Pascual
Philippine Daily Inquirer
An unsuspecting 16-year-old in a blue body warmer walks along a busy street in Quezon City. Suddenly, three men corner him, camouflaging a stickup with confrontational rant about rival fraternities.
Fear numbs the boy. He imagines blood oozing from his body and sees himself falling to the ground, lifeless. Mercifully, the worst that happens is that the men strip him of valuables.
This is not a scene from a movie; this is Nico Antonio’s actual brush with urban criminality.
Twelve years later, Nico is back in a crime scene—but this one’s on the big screen. And this time, he is the criminal—or rather, the principal in the cast of “Posas (Shackled),” Quantum Films’ entry to this year’s Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival this year, opening on Friday.
“Posas” is a caustic condemnation of corruption and a narrative on the distorted justice system. The story revolves around Jess, a petty thief.
The movie was not written for Nico but it was clear from the start that Nico was perfect for “Posas.” Though physically demanding, the role wasn’t daunting for the taekwando black belter with eight-pack abs.
Nico also scored a best supporting actor nomination last year from the Enpress Golden Screen Awards.
“Having my mother as producer helped,” Nico says. “More than that, my experiences as an adolescent living near an informal settlement area, were more than enough preparation.”
Relates lawyer Joji Alonso, the mom-producer: “When Nico was nominated for a Golden Screen award after portraying a man with dual personality disorder, I thought he was ripe for a lead role. He has been in the industry for eight years, doing bit roles. He has paid his dues.”
Jestoni “Jess” Biag in “Posas” is a fledgling snatcher in the Quiapo area. It is a very unglamorous role. To get into his physical and psychological makeup, Nico says, “I worked my butt off in the gym to lose weight, from 180 pounds to 150. I observed street kids, studied their movements and mannerisms.”
Alonso recalls her apprehensions: “I could see that the role was big and difficult; I was afraid he could not measure up to expectations. Eyebrows were quickly raised over his being cast in the lead role. He had to swim upstream. So when I previewed the final cut, I felt relieved and proud, and happy for my son.”
When Jess is captured after stealing a cell phone, he is subjected to torture by arresting cops to extract a confession. Alonso intimates, “That scene was not faked.”
Nico confesses that he was traumatized. “I couldn’t shake the experience until a few days later.”
But he has no regrets. “I always aim to be as truthful as possible to the role,” he says. In “Posas,” he succeeds with minimal dialogue. It is a portrayal that will not be forgotten soon.
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