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VP/Cover: Arjo Atayde, the Making of the Cattleya Killer

VP/Cover: Arjo Atayde, the Making of the Cattleya Killer

From the creative minds of director Dan Villegas and writer Dodo Dayao, nearly three decades later after the events in the 1996 film Sa Aking Mga Kamay comes the thrilling sequel taking the form of a series—Cattleya Killer. Led by Arjo Atayde as Anton Dela Rosa, he plays the role of the son of Christopher De Leon who reprises his role as Joven Dela Rosa, the investigator in the 1996 case. The follow-up continues the dark legacy of a serial killer in the Philippines who should have been long gone, a spine-chilling story that will stimulate the audience’s minds and will revisit the fear we all thought was already subdued and concluded.

VP/Cover: Arjo Atayde, the Making of the Cattleya Killer

ABS-CBN International Production and Nathan Studios Inc. bring forth a project that showcases the talents of Filipinos on the international scene in its collaborative work with Amazon Prime Video, an international streaming platform. In addition, it impresses as the first-ever Filipino series to be screened and invited to the prestigious MIPCOM Festival in Cannes.

Joining the two leads are brilliant actors Zsa Zsa Padilla, Jake Cuenca, Nonie Buencamino, Jane Oineza, Ricky Davao, and Ria Atayde, among others.

The original movie tried to tackle the gripping and horrifying idea of a serial killer in the Philippines, Gene Rivera, portrayed by Aga Muhlach, who targets unfaithful women and leaves a cattleya flower on the body of his victims as a signature. He then crosses paths with Joven Dela Rosa played by Christopher de Leon, the investigator in his case, when the serial killer decided to prey on his wife Camille Dela Rosa breathed to life by Chin Chin Gutierrez.

A fan of the original when it came out in 1996, Arjo Atayde, five years old at the time, can remember fearing for his life and screaming with the damsel in distress in the film, Chin Chin, when he watched it. 

The actor grew up admiring the movie, oblivious to the fact that years later, Director Ruel S. Bayani, head of ABS-CBN International Production, will call him to star in its sequel after twenty-seven years to don the role of one Anton Dela Rosa, the son of the cop Joven Dela Rosa. Here, he becomes the prime suspect when a copycat of the Cattleya Killer emerges.

“It is not a remake, it is a continuation of the story. So, we were very much shocked. Kahit kami nagulat that there is a continuation of the movie that we watched and admired years ago.”

Arjo details his reaction upon finding out about the sequel to Sa Aking Mga Kamay (1996)

Despite saying that there is no point of comparison between the 1996 version and the 2023 sequel, Arjo discussed how the latter is shot differently in terms of the tone and several other aspects of the Prime Video series.

“It is very modern and complex compared to the [1996 movie]. Not really trying to compare, because obviously, I adore the original, but this series is more complex. Coming from that fantastic and beautiful story already made, it was such a good transition.”

Arjo respectfully draws a comparison between the original and the series

Not forgetting to honor Christopher De Leon who plays his father in the project, he called him ‘the biggest factor in the movie’ as the veteran continued his role from the original movie to the story in the present time.

“We already have a proof of continuation of the story of the Dela Rosa family headed by Tito Christopher de Leon. Kaya yung reactions niya was one of the things I was looking forward to because as actors, we were excited to see how he will portray his character from way back. True enough, he studied and watched the original. He still brought the nuances and the movements with him in this series. That’s what amazed me when we watched the pilot. Sabi ko, ‘Ah, okay, he is still the Dela Rosa cop.’

Arjo putting into words how he looked forward to Christopher De Leon’s work as Joven Dela Rosa

Arjo even continued on to describe how the veteran actor was so professional, always on top of his game, and a master of the script. What inspired him the most, however, is the undying passion that Christopher has, ‘the fire in making all of these beautiful films and series’ as he described it.

The 32-year-old actor mentioned how the returning thespian was undeniably a big help to them thinking that he and his other co-stars remain newbies compared to the star.

In a project surrounded by such brilliant actors, the lead of the series acknowledged the influence of the artists who came before him, sharing how he has always learned a thing or two in the shoot every day. All he needed to do was to absorb everything he found helpful. 

Interacting with the veterans and observing the way they deal with their craft, ‘the sincerity and the natural side of their acting’ blooms and overflows. There were times, Arjo said, that he was not already in the scene, working, but unconsciously just watching the actors in awe.

“To be able to collaborate with all of them, to work for the first time with Ms. Zsa Zsa, Tito Boyet [Christopher de Leon], work again with Tito Lito Pimentel and Tito Nonie Buencamino—actors who have actually inspired me and I look up to and mentored me for all of the series—was an amazing privilege. I’m legitimately blessed because dun po ako natuto eh.”

Arjo in his appreciation for all the actors who he learned a lot from

Passionate about his craft, Arjo has his principles. One thing he maintains is to not portray the same kind of role, twice. By doing this, he stated that he learns a lot more, taking on distinct characters that challenge his skills and abilities.

“If it’s something that you haven’t done, you question yourself why you’re there and what you should do. That is the point of being on the creative side of your head. You use everything—heart, soul, and mind—they are all personal. However, it is about pretending to be someone for two minutes and dropping all of that. Truly, it is the best journey and job one could do despite the fact that it is not easy.”

Arjo on the reason why he prefers not to do the same role twice

As his first time doing a psycho-thriller role, the politician-actor detailed how the character is draining and a ‘mental game’. He described how he, as Anton Dela Rosa, despite occasionally projecting a straight face, has many things running in his head that people have no idea about.

The key to pulling it off is being true to oneself as an actor and it will transpire onscreen. Director Dan Villegas wanted his acting to be very subtle—subliminal in some ways.

See Also

The performer behind Anton Dela Rosa expounds on the number one mission of ABS-CBN International and that is to push for their content to be recognized more abroad, helping expose Filipino content to a broader genre and a more diverse audience. The showcasing of local talent helps aid the understanding of Filipino topics, beliefs, and other relevant representations. 

“We are not here for selfish reasons, it was really to push and to be of help to all the productions who are hoping for a better [entertainment] ecosystem to have here in the Philippines.”

Arjo on the importance of Filipino representation to an international audience

Describing his involvement in the series, he called it the ‘best experience in my eleven years of career,’  stating that professionalism was apparent in everyone and that people were on the same page. 

“Everyone was on their A-game but it was not all work because we also enjoyed and had fun. Everything just fell into place.”

Arjo reiterates the experience of being part of the creation of the series

When asked what makes Cattleya Killer different from the original and the other films and series in the same genre, Arjo had one thing to say.

“It is something different, honestly—differently shot, written, and executed. No mean to offend but it is the first time that we were able to prepare in a highly professional way for something like this. I guess the discipline of every person and the good rapport in the set all transpired into a quality series.”

Arjo on what makes Cattleya Killer stand out

Honoring the craft of helming a fantastic film with the 1996 movie’s masterful creation, a first-of-its-kind way back in the day in terms of its overall concept and the darkness of its tone, it provoked the feeling of dread and horror. As it transitions into the 2023 sequel in the form of an enthralling series, Arjo Atayde leads the petrifying expansion of the Cattleya Killer mythos that will not only bring fear and anxiety to its audiences but, hopefully, also prestige and appreciation to the Filipino talent behind it.

Publisher | Richie de Quina & Gwynn Crisostomo
Editor-in-Chief | John Luke Chica
Senior Editor | Rapha Garcia and Angela Baltan
PR & Advertising Manager |  Josh Austria
Digital Manager | Allen Esteban
Words by Rapha Garcia

Photographer | Ria Regino
Photo Edited by | Jose Mendiola
Grooming | Ryan Panaligan
Styling by | David Milan

Special thanks to EJ Mallari and Ren Stephen Dingli

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