How Elijah Canlas ended up as Jodi Sta. Maria’s dad in movie
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How Elijah Canlas ended up as Jodi Sta. Maria’s dad in movie

/ 12:20 AM June 19, 2024

How Elijah Canlas ended up as Jodi Sta. Maria’s dad in movie

Jodi Sta. Maria and Elijah Canlas. Scene from “Edjop” —CONTRIBUTED photo

Actor Elijah Canlas has admitted that he was initially offered to do only two scenes in the biopic “Edjop,” but since he loved the project so much, he pleaded to its director Katski Flores to give him the lead role instead.

“Initially, I got offered to play the young Edjop (the late labor rights activist Edgar Jopson), whom I learned about in high school. When I read the script, I texted Direk to say, ‘Can I play the old Edjop, too? I know I look young, but I will work on it. I will try to age.’ At the time, they turned me down. I guess they were having a hard time casting someone because it’s a very controversial project, and, I guess, dangerous for some, that they eventually told me to do a screen test,” he recalled.

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“I showed up—this was around November 2023—did my makeup and did a scene. The producer, Ms Joyette (Jopson, Edjop’s daughter) came in, too. They said she cried after watching me do the scene, and so they said, ‘Game! You’re doing it!’ The work started there,” he told Inquirer Entertainment in an interview.

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Daughter’s story

Elijah said that while this is a story about Edjop, it’s about his daughter, as well. Joyette will be played by Jodi Sta. Maria. “So technically, Ms Jodi is my daughter in the movie. This is crazy, but I’m just so honored,” Elijah said, laughing. “This is based on a true story, and Edjop was assassinated. The question here is whether or not I will have a scene with her. That’s really all I can say about it.”

Elijah then recalled the time he first spoke with Jodi about the project. “Her show ‘100 Days to Heaven’ is the only teleserye I watched when I was young. One time, we both attended Gawad Tanglaw and sat next to each other. I told her, ‘I’m playing your father, by the way,’” Elijah recalled.

“She said, ‘Yes, I heard. I’m so excited. When do we start working together?’ We then started to talk about the whole project. I’m so honored to be working with her because I know how talented of an actress and how good of a person she is. I can’t wait to see the final product, honestly. It’s a big film and we want to get it right,” he added.

‘Essential projects’

Elijah said he wants to be identified for working on projects like this one. “Essential projects like this excite me. They challenge me and align with my principles as a person. That’s why I committed to this as soon as I read the script,” he pointed out.

“I don’t know what it would show to people about me as an artist. I’m just trying to justify Edjop’s life and story in the best way I can. The character is different from everything I’ve portrayed so far. He is the second character I’ve played based on a real person. The first one was Paciano Rizal for ‘GomBurZa.’”

As part of his research, Elijah said he read Benjamin Tolentino’s “U.G. An Underground Tale: The Journey of Edgar Jopson and the First Quarter Storm Generation.”

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“I’m enjoying the process,” said Elijah in relation to how he is developing his character. “But at the same time, I feel so much pressure because I know how much Edjop as a person means to our producer, Ms Joyette, and to the Filipino people, as well as to the opposition. I hope people get a lot of lessons from this in regards to family, love for one’s country, and love for one’s faith. The film is like that in essence. It’s a beautifully written story.” INQ

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TAGS: Elijah Canlas, Jodi Sta. Maria

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