Why director Mike de Leon was unhappy with Atom Araullo in ‘Citizen Jake’

May 28, 2018 - 5:11 PM
Atom Araullo in Baguio on the set of "Citizen Jake" (Cesar Hernando/The Star file)

TV personality Atom Araullo would still prefer being a journalist than an actor, in what seemed to be his reaction to film director Mike de Leon’s disappointment aired in a Facebook post.

“Journalism pa rin. Kung gagawa man ako ng proyekto sa larangan ng showbiz siguro hindi na ‘yung sa harap ng camera dahil madami akong idea ngayon na gusto ko ring makatrabaho ‘yung ilan sa mga nakilala ko sa ‘Citizen Jake,’ pero sa kabilang banda ang dami ko pang gustong gawin bilang mamamahayag eh,” said Araullo on Monday.

Amid the success of Citizen Jake, de Leon described on Facebook how the lead star Atom Araullo was not the “gritty” journalist he had expected, but later praised his acting skills. His post has since been deleted.

“I only realized later that Atom’s journalism was not exactly the kind of journalism I had in mind. It’s not the gritty kind but more of the celebrity-centered schlock that sometimes verges on entertainment, even showbiz,” de Leon posted on May 21.

Citizen Jake, which he made with Araullo and comic book writer Noel Pascual, was de Leon’s long-awaited comeback to the movie industry after 18 years.

From reporting to acting

In an interview with PhilStar, Araullo describes his first foray into movie acting as “a chance to communicate in a new medium,” being a movie enthusiast himself.

“Having the chance to be part of Citizen Jake, with Mike de Leon at the helm, is something that really appeals to me. It was also an opportunity to learn in an industry I’m not really familiar with,” Araullo said.

In 2017, Araullo bid farewell to the Kapamilya community, where he had worked as a reporter for more than a decade. He later joined the rival GMA network where he busied himself with several shows such as Adulting with Araullo and the Atom Araullo Specials.

De Leon’s grievances

Despite knowing Araullo only as a former reporter, casting him to play the lead role seemed like de Leon’s plan in the first place.

“I thought it interesting to work with someone whose work was journalism and who I thought shared my political convictions. I have known and worked with outstanding journalists before when I was politically active during the latter years of the Marcos era,” de Leon explained.

The director praised Araullo for being “perfect” for the role of Jake, and that he did a “terrific” for a newbie in the industry.

“Even if ‘Citizen Jake’ is my most personal film, sometimes I feel it’s a film Atom and myself made together, through thick and thin, through upheaval after upheaval and unfortunately there were many,” de Leon commented.

De Leon joined the era of Philippine cinema with National Artists Ishmael Bernal and Lino Brocka during the Marcos dictatorship in the 70’s.

His timeless features include Batch ’81 (fraternity hazing), Sister Stella L (nun activism), and short films Sa Bisperas (1972) and Monologo (1975).

In 1975, he worked with Brocka in the reputable noir Maynila: Sa Kuko ng Liwanag.