Piolo Pascual initially declined lead role in ‘Mallari’

Piolo Pascual initially declined lead role in ‘Mallari’

Says he received a 'sign' before accepting role of the Filipino serial killer
/ 08:54 PM November 08, 2023

Piolo Pascual. Image: Hannah Mallorca/INQUIRER.net

Piolo Pascual. Image: Hannah Mallorca/INQUIRER.net

Piolo Pascual admitted that he wasn’t planning to take on the role of a serial killer priest in the upcoming Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) 2023 entry “Mallari” due to his busy schedule, but he eventually accepted the offer after receiving a sign from the Lord.

“Mallari” tells the story of Fr. Juan Severino Mallari, a Catholic priest who’s the first documented serial killer in the Philippines. The priest murdered over 50 people in Magalang, Pampanga, per reports by local media, before he was eventually executed by hanging in 1840.


The film is among the 10 entries of the annual MMFF this December, which also includes “GomBurza,” a historical drama about the three Filipino Catholic priests hailed as national heroes, and in which Pascual also makes an appearance as a priest.


“When I got a phone call for a pitch for three characters in ‘Mallari,’ I didn’t know it was real. The [pitch] said tatlong characters, horror tapos ‘Mallari’ ‘yung title at serial killer siya. ‘’Yun lang ang sinabi sa akin kaya sabi ko ‘no,’” he said. “I was doing a film back then and I still had a tour, so there’s no way I can squeeze it in my busy schedule.”

As fate would have it, Pascual was filming an undisclosed project with Kyle Echarri and Joao Constancia, who were then talking about the late American serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.  — which piqued his curiosity if such a person existed in the Philippines.

“I said, ‘Do we actually have a serial killer in the Philippines?’ Joao googled it,” he recalled. “And it said there was someone called Severino Mallari. That was the same day. I then stood up and said, ‘Oh sh*t, it’s a real guy. It’s a real person.’ It gave me goosebumps. I said, ‘Lord, sign na ba ‘to (is this a sign)?’”

The “sign” led the actor to ask his manager to organize a pitch meeting with the film’s producers, where he eventually ended up liking the plot.

“Nagpa-pitch na kami, napakaganda! Pero sabi ko, tatlong karakters, napakahirap (We eventually had a pitch meeting and it’s really nice. But I said, three characters, it’s very hard),” he said. “Although you can say that I’m a sucker for these kinds of stories… there’s a lot of backstory and a good narrative where you’ll be able to keep up.”


Pascual also shared that filming “Mallari” had been a “mind-boggling” experience, but he considered it as an opportunity to “exercise” his acting prowess at its best. “It’s like a buy one take three kind of deal.”

“I even had a scene where I had to play another character. So, I [actually] did four. It was really mind-boggling for me. It was a bit of a stretch. But it was a good exercise at the end of the day because we were able to pull off and pull through due to the collective effort of everyone,” he said.

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The Roderick Cabrido-helmed film will feature Pascual taking on three titular characters: Mallari in 1812, a certain John Rey Mallari in 1948, and a mysterious man named Jonathan Mallari in the present, although the back stories of the two roles are yet to be disclosed.

The movie also stars Janella Salvador, Gloria Diaz, JC Santos, Elisse Joson, and Mylene Dizon in a special appearance.

TAGS: Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), Piolo Pascual

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