Flying high



WITH several endorsements, a fantasy-action television series, a new album, and an upcoming concert, things are far from slowing down for Alden Richards.

The 26-year-old actor and TV host.

who has been in the business for nine years, is foolproof that determination and gratitude will take you places.

Like a childhood dream fulfilled, his new TV plum “Victor Magtanggol” is described as the grandest and most expensive project his network has ever produced.

His character, Alden admits, is not far from who he is in real life—a young, hardworking guy who puts his family above all, a good son and brother who won’t give up through thick and thin, and a friend who is always there.

The series is currently picking up and making an impression among its viewers, despite stiff competition and the “Norsegate” controversy it initially created.

“It’s everything Alden Richards. Tanggalin lang natin ‘yung superhero angle … ‘yung pagiging family-oriented, and sometimes I’d set aside my personal interest in favor of other people. So I have to say na hindi ako masyado nahirapan in creating the character,” Alden said of his character in GMA Network’s primetime series.

With his grounded sense of responsibility to balance both reel and real life, the Kapuso heartthrob remains a hot property.

And since every one wants a piece of the prestige, Alden remains the kind of celebrity you can easily walk up to and ask a photo op with.

The man makes stardom seem like it’s no big deal.

The Play! pool sat down with the endearing gentleman before his jam-packed mall shows two weeks ago and had a lively conversation with him about fulfilling a childhood dream, staying ahead, and what it takes to fly with both feet on the ground and head on the sky.

Just like them superheroes. (NRG)

Are you brushing up on Norse mythology as you go along with the project? Like right now, do you still have a time to read up?

Actually, nung ginawa na namin ‘yung project, that’s the only time when I knew of Norse mythology at nagulat ako dahil very familiar lang ako sa Greek at Roman mythologies.

And I didn’t know na may Norse and ‘yun pala ‘yung origin ng Asgard.

Akala ko dati while I was watching Marvel movies like Thor ay fiction lang siya.

I thought na it was a made-up story. ‘Yung Troy narinig ko na but ‘yung whole Nordic myth itself akala ko hindi siya totoo.

But when we did ‘Victor Magtanggol’ dun ako napa-research ng konti na it is part of Scandinavian culture.

Even ‘yung smallest of concepts meron silang god for that so mas complex dahil hindi lang isang god, mas marami silang sakop as one god.

How’s the story developing?

So far we are in the stage na ‘yung struggles niya as a superhero at the same time hiding his true identity sa family, especially the ones that are close to him.

Kasi ngayon ginagamit ni Loki yung close na mga tao kay Victor para masaktan siya.

Tino-torment siya para i-give up yung Mjolnir niya.

Yung hindi niya naiintindihan or nako-comprehend kung kaya ba niya maging superhero tapos may conflict pa within himself, his family and at stake ang safety ng kanyang community.

Yung sometimes he would set aside his family in favor of other people.

Basically dun pa umiikot ‘yung story ng buhay ni Victor.

Did the short controversy—criticisms that “Victor Magtanggol” is a copy—work to the series’ benefit?

Well, on that aspect napag-usapan talaga siya; they think that we copied something.

But apparently, I don’t know siguro just like me na ngayon lang nabigyan ng knowledge about Nordic mythology aspect.

Siguro on that aspect ‘Victor Magtanggol’ also made people realize na Nordic mythology is a lot and we inspire and get concepts, characters, and stories from that.

I think it’s just that mas familiar lang talaga ‘yung majority with Marvel.

Mas nauna lang talaga ‘yung Marvel in terms of how they tell the story of Thor and the way they tell the story of Thor in the movie was told quite well.

So like most of us, like us Filipinos and other cultures, doon na sila namulat na ‘yun ‘yung original story.

In a way, nag- appear kami na copycat, but apparently we made it clear in the soap na we didn’t copy anything.

Alden Richards as Hammerman, the superhero alter ego of Victor Magtanggol.

What sets Victor Magtanggol apart from other mainstream superheroes?

Considering it is the same archetype of stories we have before na for a normal person na biglang naging chosen one, and ‘yun naman talaga ‘yung basic formula for a superhero story.

So parang ngayon the character would differ based on the attack of its actor.

So for me ‘yung difference ni Victor Magtanggol is ‘yung the sacrifice niya.

He’d sacrifice his whole life to be of service to other people na parang wala na siyang tinitira sa sarili niya.

Na ultimo sa love, hindi sa pwede ma in love, at hindi niya pwedeng gawin ‘yung mga gusto niya dahil may mga responsibilities siya as a superhero.

What’s your take on “Victor Magtanggol” as an issue-centered superhero in the modern time?

Well, currently we are tackling issues of some Filipinos.

Like when we started his story, we showed that he was an OFW.

Though we just highlighted a few scenes, these are scenes na nangyayayari talaga sa totoong buhay ng mga Pilipino.

That’s why we want to impart that Victor Magtanggol is an original concept for Filipinos to watch and for us to get inspiration from kasi we aspire the lives of other people.

We want Victor Magtanggol to magnify the knowledge that we Filipinos have certain attitudes na nakakalimutan na with the fast-paced world right now, and with social media and technology.

We want Victor Magtanggol to be a reminder for us na… teka, we are Filipinos and ito ‘yung attitude natin, ito ‘yung culture natin, and we want to bring them back.

Ito ay para mapaalala natin sa next generations.

How’s it like getting into those costumes?

‘Yung costume, it would take a good 10 to 15 minutes before we are in it.

‘Yung struggle lang talaga namin is when we go shoot outdoors kasi mainit.

Actually ‘yung inner suit ko is medyo makapal siya and what I enjoy about being in a costume is that we become a different person —unlike the character we play and our real selves, and with that may nadadaragdagan, and it’s a new experience for us.

Kaya hindi mo na naiisipan ‘yung hardships, hindi mo na naiisip ‘yung init, or even yung restricted movements kasi you are able to portray someone that most kids would get inspiration from.

You said that this is your dream role. What other roles do you aspire to take on?

Sa ngayon kasi ‘yung ultimate dream role ko is ‘yung parang multiple personality, kagaya nung movie na “Split.”

Exactly like that of James McAvoy, ‘yung dissociative identity disorder.

What’s your response to critics saying you’re too handsome to play a Pinoy superhero?

How should I say this? (laughter).

Actually Victor Magtanggol is seven years in the making and it was an idea pitched by Ms. Annette Gozon, so it was just a concept years and years before and ngayon lang siya nag materialize.

Apparently I was next in line to have projects so nabigay siya sa akin and sakto lang since I’ve always wanted to portray a superhero.

I’ve never done it before so eto na po iyong chance to portray one.

What’s the vibe like working on the set?

Masarap katrabaho ‘yung mga katrabaho namin.

It doesn’t feel like work when you’re there.

What has been the greatest challenge so far in portraying a superhero?

I get to portray a dual character na isang normal na tao and the superhero, so medyo I need to make an extra effort na wala masyadong makitang element of the human character of the superhero.

That I think is one challenge.

And yung relationships because yung characters namin is really complex dahil hindi lang kami naka-connect on one character.

We have relationships halos sa buong cast halos in terms of the story.

So iyun yung obligation mo as an actor—how to relate to each and every character in a unique way.

Aden and (left) Pancho Magno, who plays the Norse god Modi in “Victor Magtanggol,” answer questions at the Cebu press conference.

What traits of Victor are similar to your own?

In creating the energy for Victor Magtanggol, portraying him is hindi masyado malayo sa akin.

Actually lahat.

It’s everything Alden Richards, tanggalin lang natin ‘yung superhero angle … ‘yung pagiging family-oriented, and sometimes I’d set aside my personal interest in favor of other people.

So I have to say na hindi ako masyado nahirapan in creating the character.

What can you say about the ratings and the current competition?

We’re very happy with the position that we’re in now kasi as per study we increased the slot three points than the show before us, so in a way we are happy with what we are doing now.

And ratings-wise ‘yun naman talaga ‘yung basis and we can’t avoid that.

‘Yung reality is in the numbers. But with the network support right now, we are just focused on the material we are doing, and if ever we will win in the ratings we’d be grateful.

But we are more focused on creating the story for the regular viewers.

Would you say that you’ve already captured your target audience now that people and kids are talking about it?

Actually the show is conceptualized for a young audience, for the family, for the majority.

Ang sarap lang sa feeling na you’re doing a show na identified by the public.

It’s so funny because like with Janine, she was in Rockwell and there was this English nang English na kid.

Sinabihan niya si Janine: “Hey you’re that reporter in Victor Magtanggol, right?”

One time dumaan naman kami in a construction site and workers called me by my character’s name na Victor.

Then again my assistant’s name is also Victor so hindi namin alam kung sino ba talaga ang tinatawag nila.

All in all it is to make a difference na even if you’re not that special kasi it’s an inspiration for people to see something that we all can make a difference in our own little way. Big or small, it doesn’t matter.

How are Janine Gutierrez and Andrea Torres as leading ladies?

Janine and Andrea are very easy to work with.

The setup can be complicated but sobrang professional and all of us respect our work to the highest level.

Like we would go to workshops together because we value the craft so much na we have the same professional outlook, the same dedication.

Amazing kasi members of the cast are sharing their inputs, at nakakatuwa dahil parang hindi lang ito trabaho, parang we are devoting our lives and
efforts for the show.

All of these make our bond even stronger.

What other projects are you working on right now?

I have an upcoming concert (“Adrenaline Rush”) on Sept. 21.

Wala munang movies as of now.

Probably next year I will start to do films, so sa ngayon focus muna on “Victor Magtanggol” kasi it’s quite big a responsibility.

We have to cope, and we have to know the needs of the viewers kasi importante po iyun.

So far, what has been the most heartwarming response to you as Victor Magtanggol?

Well, one thing that moved me was when I met this kid … I don’t know if you’ve seen it sa (Kapuso Mo) Jessica Soho … si Niño, who has no arms.

This kid looks up to Victor Magtanggol.

He does construction work by himself, he goes to school, nagsisibak siya nang kahoy, even with no hands.

“Victor Magtanggol” has so much to offer for kids like Niño, to people who need inspiration, especially Niño who has no complaints.

Sometimes ang dami pa nating reklamo sa buhay but here’s this kid na walang braso and still he continues to fight.

I guess that’s what we would like to do, continue sending out that message na we all can be a superhero kahit ano pang kalagayan mo sa buhay.

TAGS: Alden Richards, flying, high, Victor Magtanggol
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