Careless exec revives talk Liza Soberano was offered to audition for Zendaya’s role in ‘Spider-Man’
Careless CEO Jeffrey Oh has revived a claim that Liza Soberano was offered to audition for the role of MJ (Michelle Jones), the love interest of Peter Parker in the Marvel superhero film series “Spider-Man,” which the actress herself denied back in 2016.
During a panel discussion at the Department of Trade and Industry’s Philippine Creative Industries Summit last Tuesday, March 7, Oh claimed that Soberano received an offer to audition for the role of MJ — which eventually went to singer-actress Zendaya. However, she was prohibited from pursuing the role due to her contract with ABS-CBN.
Soberano is now being managed by Careless, a talent studio helmed by former Kapamilya actor James Reid as its president.
“I will tell a bit of a story. Who here loves the movie ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’? Who loves the character of Zendaya, MJ, from ‘Spider-Man’ with Tom Holland?” Oh premised his statement.
“Liza was offered to audition for that role. They reached out [to] her to audition and she was not allowed because she had to do the same thing she’s always been doing. I really shouldn’t have said that. But it’s the truth. Now imagine, this wasn’t like as if she was marketed but they reached out, that’s what I mean by, it’s self-evident when you go out there. People are looking for Filipino talent,” Oh continued.
The Careless executive then said that the actress was supposedly under a 10-year contract under her previous management — which he said was “unheard of anywhere else in the world” — prevented her from doing projects with another outfit.
“Imagine a Filipina actress was the star in one of the biggest Marvel movies in history. Imagine if she was MJ, what that would do for Philippine entertainment. But then she was on a 10-year contract which is also unheard of anywhere else in the world. I’m sure you might have seen the news, but the bigger conversation is that bigger stars and creatives could not make it big internationally, not because they are not talented enough. It’s because they legally can’t, most of the time,” he said.
“I’ve sat down with executives and they’re like, ‘Holy crap. Did Liza just come from a 10-year contract which she signed at 12-years-old? Isn’t that illegal? With the option to renew at exclusively the manager’s discretion? Which is standard practice of any major management company [in the Philippines]’, that’s why,” he added.
Oh then addressed the negative comments that Soberano had been receiving since she opened up about giving into the “pressure of doing what everybody else wants” and supposedly being told to “just be a flower” in a YouTube vlog last February.
He said that Soberano’s past experiences as an actress is an example of how A-list Filipino celebrities are supposedly forced into signing 10- to 11-year contracts with an entertainment label, with some even working as a child.
“People are like, ‘How are you able to sign a big actress?’ It’s because our contract is normal. It is four years and you can leave after a year. We only take 20% and when we mess up, we give it back to you. If you look in America, that is a standard talent-entertainment contract,” he said.
“But after 10-11 years, she wants to do something else and then the whole country flips out? She was the most talked out personality for the last six or seven days, and not even one person in the conversation was like, ‘Holy crap, she was in a 11-year contract since she was a child?’ And that’s not okay. That is why she could’ve been representing the Philippines in the world. And all big stars are going through the same thing.” he said.
The Careless CEO also shared Reid’s purpose when he founded the label in 2017, as he pointed out that celebrities and creatives deserve to explore their opportunities in their respective fields.
“You know my partner James [Reid] started Careless because, ‘This is ridiculous, we need to represent the country, but we can’t.’ If you look at any major sports and entertainment [labels], we always talk about ‘gratefulness,’ ‘ingrata,’ and ‘utang na loob.’ But should we wait until our biggest stars are 35 or 40 till their prime has passed? It’s like if we think of our stars and creatives as our national athletes who are supposed to compete in the Olympics of culture, why wouldn’t we want to send our best?” he said.
“Why should we lock them up here? Why should we shame them for wanting to take risks? We’re called Careless because we’re supposed to be careless with our brand and take risks, so we can be careful with the culture and the growth. We’re too careful about the wrong things and too careless about the right things. That’s why Careless is who we are,” he further explained.
Soberano was earlier accused of being ungrateful when admitted having felt “boxed in” as an actress, and whose input she said was not being considered or valued.
No invitation to audition
The “Forevermore” actress, who signed with Careless in June 2022, had already denied claims that she got an offer from Marvel Studios to take on the role of MJ, as seen in an exclusive June 2016 report by ABS-CBN.
“It’s not really an invitation. I think it was what the fans wanted lang, fans of Marvel. I think one of them is Pinay and parang she tweeted that, parang kung merong magiging Mary Jane Watson, she would want it to be me. All my fans started retweeting it and everything but wala naman po talagang invitation,” she was quoted as saying.
The report further quoted her as saying that if she ever had the opportunity to take on the role, she would “love” to pursue MJ’s character. Her real-life boyfriend Enrique Gil also expressed his support to the possibility, saying that the favorite superhero of the actress’ mom is Spider-Man, as per report.
Another cryptic post
Meanwhile, Soberano’s former manager Ogie Diaz appeared to weigh in on Oh’s claims and made a cryptic post on his Instagram Stories, without mentioning the name of his former ward, the Korean-American businessman, or Spider-Man himself.
“Ako pag inalok na gumanap bilang Superman, definitely, kailangan akong gisingin kasi nananaginip lang ako n’on. Pero alam ko paggising ko, ako si Superman,” he said.
(If ever I was offered to take on the role of Superman, definitely, I need to be woken up because I would be dreaming. But I know if I do wake up, I am Superman).
Soberano has yet to make a comment about Oh’s remarks and Diaz’s Instagram post, as of this writing. The actress was recently announced as the chief advocacy officer of a digital banking platform. EDV