Khalil steps out of his comfort zone in gay-themed thriller
It’s sensitive enough to make you think, but not enough to disturb you.”
This was how lead actor Khalil Ramos described the story of Cinema One Originals Festival 2016 best picture winner, Petersen Vargas’ “2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten,” which began its theatrical run on Wednesday.
Khalil, who happily stepped out of his comfort zone to portray the main character in Vargas’ coming-of-age film, said he even accompanied his 13-year-old brother to see the gay-themed thriller. “It made my brother think, but in the end, he just laughed at what he saw his kuya did,” the boyish actor told the Inquirer.
“2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten” is set in the late ’90s in Pampanga, a decade after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. It tells the story of Felix (Khalil), a high school sophomore whose life changes when he starts hanging out with two student transferees, the half-American Snyder brothers (played by Jameson Blake and Ethan Salvador). His interactions with them unearth desires within him that he has never confronted before.
“I’m pretty sure he didn’t fully grasp the whole concept of the movie, or he would have asked questions. That’s OK with me because he’s just 13
and still has a lot to learn. But boys ages 16 and above can already relate to the film,” the actor explained.
Khalil said the movie “is ultimately about friendship. Its tag line is: ‘How can you forget your first friend if he is also your first love?’ We all have that one friend we look for when we’re feeling sad or lonely, whom we trust very much. This tells us the value of that particular kind of friendship.”
The 22-year-old actor said the film was as much his as it was Petersen’s. “He is the first director I’ve worked with who’s almost my age. He is collaborative and expects his actors to be the same. It’s only in this film that I’ve experienced taking part in the casting call, because the production team needed my input on who to get as the Snyder brothers,” he pointed out. “I felt that I was part of the team in a big way, that I’m not just the lead actor. I helped in script revisions and characterization.”
Khalil started training to be a singer at age 5. He joined showbiz via the ABS-CBN talent search “Pilipinas Got Talent,” where he won second place in 2011. He released his self-titled album in 2012.
Khalil said he “fell in love with making films” when he made his first movie, “She’s Dating the Gangster,” in 2014. He went on to make more films including “Kid Kulafu,” “A Second Chance,” “Honor Thy Father” and “Everything About You.” He added: “I attended workshops because I wanted to learn more about acting. I was inspired to set up my own production company—that had been my focus for the longest time.”
The singer-actor is also considering trying his luck abroad. “I’ve been traveling to the United States and Japan. This has given me a wider perspective on things—that I can do more. I want to be respected, that when people hear my name, they will say that I’ve done something not just for the industry, but for the society as a whole.”
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