Why John Arcilla’s ‘A Hard Day’ coactor Dingdong Dantes could be his closest rival for MMFF best actor award | Inquirer Entertainment

Why John Arcilla’s ‘A Hard Day’ coactor Dingdong Dantes could be his closest rival for MMFF best actor award

By: - Reporter
/ 12:09 AM December 20, 2021

Although the awards night is still far from his mind, John Arcilla believes that discussions around potential best actors and best actress frontrunners add buzz and excitement to the annual Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF).


And just because he was hailed best actor at this year’s Venice Film Festival doesn’t necessarily mean, he said, that he’s a shoo-in for trophies in every festival he’s part of.

“I can’t deny that every actor who’s part of the festival has a chance to get nominated and win. But predictions can be exciting to talk about. They add excitement and color to the proceedings,” John told the Inquirer in a virtual conference for the action thriller “A Hard Day,” an entry to this year’s MMFF.


While trophies can help actors feel validated, he said being part of the “Magic 8” is already a win in itself. “I’m happy we were able to join the festival. If viewers can recognize the work I put in, that will make me happy,” he said.

Working with Dingdong

Dingdong Dantes

One of John’s possible closest rivals could very well be his own costar, Dingdong Dantes. “He’s a respectable actor. He values his craft, and you can feel that. You can’t be lazy or just throw yourself in a scene with Dingdong. You have to be ready,” John said. “He’s not just one of those heartthrobs; he’s an artist who finds a way to dissect his characters.”

“But whoever ends up winning, I will always respect that. Kanya-kanyang panahon,” said John, whose performance in the film “On the Job: The Missing 8” earned him the prestigious Volpi Cup and a place on an illustrious list that includes Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Joaquin Phoenix, Javier Bardem, Sean Penn and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Local adaptation

John Arcilla

Directed by Lawrence Fajardo, “A Hard Day” is the local adaptation of the award-winning 2014 South Korean movie of the same title. John plays Ace “Alas” Franco, a police lieutenant who threatens to blow the lid off a crime and coverup committed by the embattled detective, Edmund Villon (Dantes), if he doesn’t yield to his demands.

Did John watch the original version and observe the performance of his Korean counterpart, Cho Jin-woong?

“No, because I didn’t want to preempt myself and make comparisons. I based my characterization on the script and how it was presented. Of course Direk Law was there to guide me. I didn’t want it patterned after another actor’s interpretation,” he pointed out. The movie is packed with grueling, high-octane sequences. The final fight scene alone, John related, took four days to finish.

Physically demanding“They had to keep splashing water on me, because the previous scene had me falling into a river. So, for four days—with each one lasting 12 to 14 hours—they kept pouring water on me for the fight scene,” he said, adding that he and Dingdong performed about “90 percent” of the stunts. “But the really delicate and dangerous ones were done by doubles.”


“In addition to the physicality of it all, the scene was also emotionally demanding, because my character is filled with anger,” he said.

In the television series “Ang Probinsyano,” John plays a similarly wired character in Renato “Buwitre” Hipolito. While it seems he’s being recently typecast in “dark roles,” there are more to the characters, he said, than meets the eye.

“I want to play real people who have different sides to them because we’re like that as human beings … a combination of positive and negative energies. For instance, Heneral Luna is sort of an antihero. My character in ‘OTJ’ (Sisoy) seems like a villain, but is actually a good person. You can’t play superpositive characters, because they don’t exist. And it’s not exciting playing them.”Moving forward, John said his next goal is to become a “global actor” since many Filipino films and content have been gaining recognition in the international market.

“We’re already there… We’re being recognized and mentioned in the same breath as other great filmmakers and actors,” the seasoned actor said. “I would love to become a Filipino actor representing our country while playing significant roles in foreign industries.”

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