ELIJAH Canlas won several best actor awards both here and abroad for “Kalel, 15”, which was directed by Jun Lana. He is now reunited with Direk Jun in “About Us But Not About Us”, which is a veritable acting duel between him and Romnick Sarmenta.
The film just had its press preview and everyone agrees that both Elijah and Romnick give superlative performances that they should both be nominated (or even win) as best actors in the coming Summer Metro Manila Filmfest that starts on April 8, Black Saturday, in theaters nationwide.
Elijah plays a very intriguing role as Lancelot, a UP student who you’d think is harmless, but something will be revealed about his true nature by the time the film reaches its final act. Romnick is his teacher, Ericson, who helps him when his stepfather beats him up black and blue.
The movie is basically like a two-character play, with just the two of them conversing with each other from start to finish inside a restaurant, but it is very well written by Direk Jun, who says the characters are all reflections of his own self. You’ll get hooked by the interaction between the two major characters.
So how did Elijah prepare for his role as a scheming young man who turns out to have his own perversions and dark personal agenda?
“The time of preparation for my character involved a lot of script analysis and one-on-one meetings with Direk Jun Lana,” says Elijah. “This is one of the most difficult characters I’ve played kasi Lancelot is a flawed character that has many layers. But he is a survivalist who did everything just to keep himself afloat. Kasi andami talaga niyang pinagdaanan.”
Lancelot was also the victim of a pedophile. “Yes, at 10, he was even abused as a child by a pastor with the permission of his own mother. Also, at one point, I assume the persona of another character who is older than me, so I had to change even the way I look and talk. It’s a dream role for any actor. I have to empathize with my character to be able portray it well. And with the guidance of Direk Jun the whole time, I think naitawid ko naman yung character ko.”
How is it working with Romnick Sarmenta? “It’s nice kasi he opened up kaagad. First time namin to work together at nakipag-usap siya agad sa akin. Kaming dalawa lang ang magka-interact, so it’s important for us to have good rapport. It’s good that he also does theatre, kaya nagkasundo kami during the entire shoot which is in just one location.”
About his lovelife, it’s common knowledge that Elijah is now going steady with Miles Ocampo. They met when they were paired in “Paano ang Pasko/Pangako?” for IdeaFirst and TV5 nearly two years ago. So how are they doing?
“We’re okay. But at the start ng taping, hindi siya nakikipag-usap. Para siyang may sariling mundo. But when I talked to her, she replied naman and then we started texting each other. Doon nagsimula. Right now, we’re both busy, but we try to find time for each other. We’re both still learning, so we try to help each other grow.”
Have they ever had any tampuhan? “Yes, when I did ‘Livescream’ for Direk Perci Intalan, may sexy love scene ako with Katrina Dovey and when she learned that I’ll do it, medyo nagselos siya. She asked kung kailangan ba talaga ‘yung eksenang ‘yun. But she understood and she cannot do anything about it naman kasi alam niyang part ‘yun ng work ko as an actor.”