Why ‘Voltes V’ star Epy Quizon relishes playing villains
Epy Quizon is no stranger to playing eccentric villains in superhero and fantasy projects.
Assuming the role of the freakish Boazanian scientist Zuhl in GMA 7’s “Voltes V: Legacy,” however, was especially challenging for the actor. Unlike, say, Stryker in “Lastikman” (2003) or Romero in the “Enteng Kabisote” franchise—which he originated—Zuhl is already well-recognized from the original animated series.
Comparisons, therefore, will be inevitable.
“Most of the villain roles I portrayed in the past were made by us and the production team. They weren’t based on something that was already existing. But here in ‘Voltes V,’ viewers will surely compare my portrayal with the cartoon version. I think that’s the challenging part,” he told the Inquirer in a recent Zoom interview.
“Some people may go, ‘Hmm, that’s not Zuhl … he didn’t totally get it.’ But with my other roles, I had a bit of wiggle room for mistakes because we created them. As Zuhl, if I make a mistake, or make the wrong choices on how to attack the role, I’m sure the fanatics and those who have seen the anime will make comparisons,” he added.
Because the source material is an animated series, replicating the character was next to impossible. Instead, Epy and director Mark Reyes focused on Zuhl’s core aspects—the single horn, the hunched back, the menacingly smarmy voice—while making the character their own.
“He was hairless, old and had a prominent chin. I tried to get my voice to sound as close as possible to his distinctive tone. He had a hunched back, so it was really difficult to maintain that, especially when you’re already tired,” the award-winning character actor related. “I actually thought of shaving my eyebrows off, but we had already shot a couple of scenes with them.”
“It was difficult to copy the original because he’s a cartoon … But I was given the freedom to put together a portrayal that’s not too cartoonish. There were some small details about my Zuhl that are a little different, but I believe that my portrayal will still remind them of Zuhl, from the movements to the sarcastic humor,” he said. “I owned the character.”
Putting on the costume brought everything together. “Oftentimes, when your outfit is wrong, and you’re not convinced with what you’re wearing, it will be hard to act. But when I wore my suit, I got into the zone immediately. That was easy for me because the costume looked great—the production didn’t scrimp on it,” he said.
Epy was the very first actor to be cast for “Voltes V.” When Direk Mark learned he was going to be in charge of the show, he knew that Epy had to be his Zuhl. “He told me, ‘Actually, you’re the first actor cast. Ikaw na si Zuhl,’” Epy related.
The 50-year-old actor didn’t have qualms about playing yet another villain. In fact, he relishes it. “I just love playing roles that are unique and offbeat, roles that can make the people either love or hate me. It’s a big challenge. But when you deliver, it feels so satisfying,” he said. “It’s something that makes me feel proud.”
Zuhl is just that. “He’s a unique character. He’s smart, cunning, scheming. It’s all a chess game for him through and through,” Epy said of the character, who tries to earn the central antagonist Prince Zardoz’s trust, so he could trick and betray him later on.
Epy knew that “Voltes V” is an iconic piece of pop culture. He grew up watching the series with his brothers in the late 1970s, and played with the toys and action figures their father, the late show biz legend Dolphy, bought them.
He knew the live-action adaptation should be done right. “‘Will this show turn out well?’ I wondered. Will the audience accept it? Mapaninindigan ba? Because it’s a show that defined our generation, our youth,” he pointed out. “But when I saw the previews, I had goosebumps. Kudos to the creative and production teams.”
“I do believe we have something big,” Epy added.