TOM Rodriguez is proud to play the lead role of Fr. Xavi in Fox Network Philippines’ first local film production, “Maledicto” (which means bad words like a curse or insult). This is a horror film where he plays a priest all set to perform an exorcism on Miles Ocampo as Agnes, a student in a Catholic school who is under demonic possession. How did he prepare to be convincing in his role since he doesn’t look like a priest it at all?
“It’s very challenging for me kasi I’m supposed to memorize so many Latin lines during exorcism scenes and it’s not easy,” he says. “Yung role ko, he’s not a conventional priest kasi he’s also a psychologist who becomes a skeptic after his sister, Inah de Belen as Mara, died under mysterious circumstances. So may bali 'yung role kasi nga the priest is questioning his faith and yet he’s tasked to perform an exorcism.
“Also, he’s different from other priests kasi very modern siya, tactless at may pagka-arrogant kaya nasampal siya ni Jasmine Curtis Smith, who plays a nun named Sister Barbara pero tinatawag kong Sister Barbie. Before we shot the exorcism scenes, I always make it a point to pray to ward off any bad vibes kasi, once, I had a scary encounter when we were shooting a film in the old house of Juan Luna in Ilocos Norte at parang napasukan ako ng bad spirit. I don’t want that to happen again.”
The film is directed by Mark Meily. So how is it working with Mark? “The best word to describe him is he’s very cool. Relaxed lang sa set. He did extensive research on exorcism and even talked to a real life exorcist from the Catholic church, so you be assured that everything that happens in ‘Maledicto’ is authentic. He’s very particular with his shots. May storyboard siya and he collaborated well with cinematographer Boy Yniguez in coming up with great, atmospheric visuals.”
Tom is also enjoying his role as Michael in “Dragon Lady”, who’s considered the black sheep in his Chinoy family and is regarded as an outcast, just like Janine Gutierrez who plays the title role. “We’re all very happy as the series is rating very well on GMA-7’s Afternoon Prime so we’re all inspired to work to make sure we maintain our high ratings.”
We then ask Fox SVP and general manager Jude Turcuato on why they went into film production. “We’ve produced docus and sports shows before, but we also want to have our own scripted content properties, like what Hong Kong and Korea are doing now with their worldwide productions,” he says. “Our bosses in Los Angeles made us spend a week there meeting producers and attending shoots for their shows and they want to see if could do similar shows here. For the past two years, we read about 100 scripts submitted to us before finally choosing “Maledicto,” written by Palanca-winner Jonathan Guillermo. It was the best script given to us and we felt we can have a good shot with it. This is done in cooperation with Cignal and Unitel.”
“Maledicto,” opens nationwide on May 1, distributed by Star Cinema. The movie also stars Eric Quizon, Martin Escudero, Franco Laurel, Nonie and Shamaine Buencamino, Liza Lorena, Nina Ricci Alagao and Menggie Cobarrubias.