How comedian Joey Marquez was cast for 'OTJ'
Actor credits 'transformation' to director Erik Matti
MANILA -- A confused Joey Marquez had to call up Erik Matti, his director in the upcoming film "On the Job (OTJ)," when he offered him a role in the crime-thriller set in gritty Manila.
"Sabi ko kay Direk (Matti), 'Direk, are you sure? Do you trust me?'" the 55-year-old comedian said during a recent press conference for the local release of "OTJ" on August 28, three months after its world premiere in Cannes.
In the Star Cinema and Reality Entertainment co-production, Marquez plays policeman Joaquin Acosta, who is assigned on the trail of inmates temporarily released from prison to become contract killers.
Marquez, who rose to fame in the late '80s as a mainstay of the ABS-CBN sitcom "Palibhasa Lalake," said he was surprised to be tapped to join "OTJ" considering his track record as a comedian.
"Ang surprise ko dito, no'ng pinadalhan ako ng script... Kasi binasa 'yung script and I could not imagine myself being part of the movie. I'm a comedian!
"Binasa ko 'yung mga characters. 'Hindi naman ako siguro ito, hindi ako ito, I am sure.' Nowhere in the script can I find na pwede ako mag-fit in until Direk told me I'm playing the policeman," he said.
Matti said he personally chose the cast members of "OTJ," which include Joel Torre and Gerald Anderson as for-hire assassins, and Piolo Pascual as an NBI agent working with Marquez.
While his co-stars were already accustomed to the serious tone of "OTJ," Marquez said getting into his role required some amount of motivation.
Crediting Matti for his take on the character, the comedian said, "The thing I would like to relate is how Direk motivated me. Now I believe na kahit hindi ka pala magaling na artista, pag magaling ang direktor mo, mata-transform ka na."
"Kaya sabi ko I give so much faith and trust in Direk, and I'm thanking him for trusting me to be part of this wonderful movie. Actually, I couldn't believe na tinanggap ko, eh," he said.
Explaining his decision to pick Marquez to play Joaquin, Matti brought up the comedian's "charm" on-screen despite being cast in a film described by the director as a "conspiracy thriller."
"Everyone thinks he's just a comedian, na 'yun lang talaga. But the one that attracted me to give him the role for Acosta is the fact na si Joey, pwede siyang maging 'kupal' (a Tagalog slang generally used to refer to an obnoxious person) pero charming pa rin.
"If any other actor did it na magaling sa kupal, they will just be kupal all the way, 'di ba? Pero with Joey, alam mong kupal siya pero mahal mo siya eh," Matti said.
Admittedly pressured to level with the performance of his co-stars, who are relatively more experienced in doing drama, Marquez added, "I tried to do my best."
"I tried to contribute in my own little way kung papaano mapapaganda 'yung movie. Kaya 'yung preparation ko rito was not to disappoint my co-actors and my director," he said.