John Lloyd Cruz is, no doubt, the quintessential Filipino actor. He is smart, he knows and loves his craft, he can pull off any role—no matter how complex—he is loved and respected by everyone he works with, and he can captivate the Filipino audience with every stunning performance on TV and film.
This is why John Lloyd needs no further introduction. He has been capturing hearts and drawing fans ever since he started in the industry at the age of 14. From the totoy in Palibhasa Lalake and his memorable role as Rovic in Tabing Ilog, to the much-adored leading man that he turned into for One More Chance and A Very Special Love, to, finally, the top-notch artist that he has become for award-winning films as Honor Thy Father, John Lloyd has, indeed, undergone a huge transformation throughout his 20 years in show business.
And we have witnessed his immense growth as an artist in front of the camera. We have been witnesses to his acting prowess with his various leading ladies, his various roles, and his significance in the industry.
After 20 successful years as the John Lloyd Cruz everyone has fallen in love with, he finally talks about the man behind the fame and the spotlight.
This is John Lloyd Cruz—unedited and uncovered.
Your journey to stardom started when you were discovered accidentally by a talent scout in a mall in 1997. If you weren’t discovered then, what do you think you might have become?
Doon na sa abroad. Kasi at that time, ’yung mga kapatid ko, nag-Amerika sila, so may pamilya kami doon. Baka taxi driver sa New York, dancer sa gabi—’di ko alam eh! ’Yun ’yung biggest question mark, kasi ang aga ko pumasok sa business. I remember my last ambition was to become a pilot. ’Yun na ’yung huli. Pero sa financial (status namin dati), parang ’di kayang paaralin ako sa flying school, so malabo.
Kaya malamang, sumunod ako sa mga kapatid ko sa Amerika.
What was your first most memorable experience in showbiz?
That first time na lumabas ako sa TV will always be special. Sa Compañero Y Compañera, minolest ako ni (character actor) Allan Paule. Scout master ko siya du’n .’Yun ’yung unang-una kong ginawa sa TV. Hindi ko makakalimutan ’yun. ’Tsaka ’yung pelikulang Magic Temple, kasi papanoorin ko ’yun nu’ng hinabol ako nu’ng talent coordinator.
Can you cite three highlights in your entire 20 years in the industry that you consider blessings?
Personally, highlight in the sense na talagang nanginig ako, parang hindi ko alam kung anong mangyayari, ’yung gano’ng level. When I was launched in 1997, ang dami ko agad shows. I was doing four shows—apat yata ’yun, sunod-sunod,’tsaka Gimik. ’Yung time na ’yun, nu’ng natanggal ’yung Gimik, sunud-sunod din silang nawala. Lahat ng apat na ’yun, naglaho parang bula.
Gusto ko ’yun, kasi kinabahan ako. Gusto ko ’yun, kasi ’di ko alam kung anong mangyayari. I was so emotional nu’ng in-announce sa aming lahat. Grabe, iyak ako nang iyak, mukha akong tanga. Akala ko, end of the world na. Tapos sila, lahat sila, alam pala nila na meron pang Tabing-Ilog na darating.
Second, ’yung Tabing Ilog, it ran for five years. Doon talaga nahulma ’yung pagmamahal ko at ba’t ko hilig itong trabaho namin. For five years, every Wednesday, pupunta kaming Pagsanjan (Laguna), magte-taping kami magdamag. So bukod dun sa cast ng Tabing Ilog—sila Patrick (Garcia), sila Kaye (Abad), sila Jodi (Sta. Maria)—ang kasama namin du’n sina Daria Ramirez, Pen Medina, Susan Africa. Medyo tanga ka na lang talaga kapag hindi ka natuto. Napakaganda talaga ng naging silbi nu’n, kaya milestone para sa akin ’yung Tabing-Ilog, kasi doon talaga ako natuto. ’Di ba, pag linggu-linggo, kasama mo sina Caridad Sanchez, makikita mo kung paano siya magtrabaho, makikita mo kung paano niya iniintindi ’yung ginagawa niya, so napakalaking bagay. Parang du’n ako nag-college.
’Yung third siguro, it has to be what Star Cinema made for me and gave me. ’Yung filmography.’
Who served as biggest influences in your career?
I really learned from the best: sina Daria Ramirez, Pen Medina, sina Tita Caring. Tapos nu’ng nagkaroon kami ng teleserye ni Bea (Alonzo), sina Lorna Tolentino, Ricky Davao, Johnny Delgado—Diyos ko! Tapos ’yung mga naging kaibigan ko, like sina Ronnie Lazaro and Joel Torre, malaki ang naging impluwensiya nila.
What is your most memorable movie?
Mahirap—they’re all memorable to me in different levels. Lahat sila meron silang hawak-hawak na memory. Kaya mahirap mag-pinpoint ng isa o dalawa.
Pero siguro, the more recent one is when I worked with Ma’am Charo, finally, sa Ang Babaeng Humayo, na dinala pa kami sa Venice (Film Festival). To me, Venice is the most prestigious among the three (film festivals): Cannes, Berlin, Venice. Para sa akin, sa Venice talaga lumawak ’yung appreciation and pagkakaintindi ko sa ginagawa ko: how is it to be an actor, to be part of cinema, to be part of filmmaking. Parang ’yun talaga ’yung pinnacle. You have the likes of Joshua Oppenheimer, mga filmmakers that are maybe unknown to many of us.
Tapos when we went to Berlin, na-meet namin sina Clive Owen, Meryl Streep. Alam mo ’yun, ’yung film pala, kaya kang dalhin sa ganoong heights. Na para sa isang actor, sa isang miyembro ng film industry, napakalaki ng sinasabi (ng awards) sa lahat ng pinaghirapan mo, especially kapag medyo matagal ka na sa industriyang ito. ’Yung naging experience namin doon, na nalagay tayo sa world stage dahil sa film—kung hindi ako na-discover, hindi ako makakapunta doon.
Do you have a particular movie genre that you love doing?
I like films na mga parang Tanging Yaman. ’Yun ’yung mga gustong-gusto ko eh, ’yung mga family drama. Naalala ko, sabi ko dati, kapag nagkaroon ulit, (gusto kong gawin). Actually, nagkaroon ulit ng isang family drama: sina Bea, Coco, Tita LT, Tito Bong. Hindi ako napasama, eh. Pero gustung-gusto ko talaga mapunta sa ganu’n, kasi sobrang family-oriented ako. Kaso, hindi ako nabigyan ng pagkakataon na mapasama nu’n. Sayang!
You won the Gawad Urian for Honor Thy Father last 2015. How did it feel to be validated as an actor?
I don’t think any award should be a basis of any validation in anything that you do as an actor. Ever since nag-start ako, hanggang ngayon, hindi naman nagbago ang tingin ko sa awards. Yes, it’s a bonus: bonus sa hard work mo, bonus sa choices mo, bonus sa dedication mo.
How do you channel emotions for extremely emotional scenes?
Ang hirap talaga pag-usapan ’yung mga ganyan. It’s a process, eh. Minsan kasi, hindi naman kami confident sa process namin. Hindi ko naman siya inaaral. To this day, ganu’n parin ako. Raramdamin ko lang. Hindi ko alam kung paano ko gagawin until nandoon na ako sa mismong eksena. I think more than the process is, I guess, openness. It’s your willingness to be open.
How do you handle bashers? Was there a time earlier in your career that you were particularly swayed by negative comments?
There’s no such thing in my world; (bashers are) a waste of time. Life is short for bashers. They’re parasites to me—and I don’t like parasites. If you don’t like me, then don’t say a word about me. You don’t deal with bashers kasi it’s a one-way thing.
Was there a moment in your career that you questioned yourself?
Oo naman, especially in the last five or six years. Kaya nga nandito ako ngayon sa kung nasaan ako ngayon, eh. Minsan, kahit ayaw ko nang kwestyunin, parang halos mali na kapag hindi ko ikwestiyon, kung hindi ako nagtatanong. Ako kasi, I like discourse. I like to argue. Kasi kapag may argument, mas may lumalabas na mas substantial sa kung ano ’yung nandiyan na.
Is there something else that John Lloyd Cruz hasn’t done yet? Do you still have any dream role?
I always say na wala akong dream role. All I want is to be able to portray different roles. Totoo talaga! I’m only wishing for more collaborations with different directors.
Which directors in the industry do you still want to work with?
Ako, I still want to work with Erik Matti. I wanted to work with Direk Mike (de Leon) but it didn’t happen. Ang dami pa! Ang daming bagong energy, ang daming bagong director na naghihintay lang na mabigyan ng opportunity.
What sort of knowledge and wisdom can you share with the younger male stars that look up to you?
As clichéd as it sounds, follow your heart, and it’s okay to be different. You wanna be different, it’s all right. Maraming takot ngayon kasi maraming judgemental. Parang nag-morph na siya into something na nasu-supress na ’yung potential ng iba dahil marami masyadong mapangmata, mapanghusga. Konting may masabi ka, konting may magawa ka, parang kinu-crucify ka na. Kaya’yung iba, natatakot silang i-express ’yung totoo. But it’s okay to be different. Huwag kang matatakot kasi pagka tine-test mo ’yung hindi mo alam, tingin ko, mas marami kayong magagawa o madi-discover sa sarili mo. And siyempre with discovery, kasunod nu’n ay opportunity.
When you’re not busy with work, what are you doing?
Right now, I’m always busy with work.
But if you have one whole day to yourself, how will you spend that day? What will you do?
I’ll be staying at home, tending to my plants and little collection of artworks. ’Yan na ’yung luxury for me. Ayoko ’yung late nagigising kasi nanghihinayang ako sa araw. But don’t get me wrong; I also like staying in bed, tamang magbi-binge-watch ka lang ng kung ano.
Pero siguro, a good day would be: umaga, ide-dedicate ko sa mga halaman ko; pangalawa, siguro I can see my friends, my family, or my parents, makipag-lunch. Mag-gallery hop kung may mga bagong shows na nag-open, tapos probably see some more friends for dinner. Para sa akin, ang gandang araw na nu’n.
On a more personal note, Lloydie, do you think you’ll be ready to have a family in the near future?
Hindi ko pa nahaharap ’yung tanong. Hindi pa. But I also want to know for myself. As of now, unfortunately, there’s too much work to do, and medyo marami pang kailangan harapin so kaya siguro hindi ko pa siya napag-iisipan.
What is one word to not describe John Lloyd Cruz?
I don’t want to be predictable.
Can you share with us one secret quirk or addiction that you have?
I think I’m addicted to Instagram, hindi ko lang ina-admit. I really enjoy it because I like photography. Marami akong mga nae-encounter pero hindi kami nagkakakilala, from the most remote areas like Latvia, tapos makikita mo na, ‘Okay rin itong ginagawa niya, ah!’ So parang may nangyayaring exchange nang hindi kayo nag-uusap. ’Yung exchange nangyayari through your photos, through your page, through your posts. Ang galing how it actually works, and then hindi niyo alam na nai-influence niyo na ang isa’t isa kasi nagkakaroon kayo ng common ground nang hindi niyo man lang pinag-uusapan.
Do you have a local celebrity crush?
May crush ako ngayon pero sobrang bata, eh, I think mga 25. Crush lang naman at tsaka may fiancé na siya. I think—ano bang tawag du’n— social media influencer? Blogger? Si Kimmy Wong, medyo popular siya sa millennials. She got engaged to her long-term boyfriend—hindi ko sila kilala personally, ah! Ang ganda lang ng theme nila. ’Yung fiancé niya ’yung nagte-take ng photos sa mga travels niya. Cool kasi I like photography tapos ’yung style niya, ang ganda eh.
When was the last time you cried so hard in private?
Not that hard, but last time I cried siguro was two days ago, out of this goal that I really want to achieve. Nakakatuwa pa kasi we’re having a good night, enjoy, inuman, enjoy lahat. Tapos I started telling them kung anong nasa isip ko, what do I want to achieve, na kapag hindi ko siya magawa, feeling ko wala akong kwenta. Then bigla akong naiyak. Naweirduhan ’yung mga kaibigan ko pero mabilis lang. That was the last time I cried.
What is your biggest regret?
I have no regrets, eh. Parang walang point. The moment it enters your head, tanggalin mo siya agad kasi walang point for you to regret. Ganu’n lang ’yun, ganu’n lang ka-simple.
Where do you see yourself in 10 more years? Do you have any goals and dreams that are still left unattained?
Marami, eh. I can’t even begin. A lot can happen even in six months. I just like to be as spontaneous as possible. But I have my plans; it’s just that mahirap pa siyang i-disclose so let’s see. Ako, doon ako excited palagi sa hindi ko alam kung ano ’yung mangyayari. So naa-appreciate ko pa ’yung spontaneity ng flow, na kung ano man ang mangyayari sa akin in six months to one year. Pero andu’n lang ’yung mga plano ko. You’ll see it. In 10 years siguro I’d like to think na I’m living my life.
Original story released in StarStudio September 2017 by Jovi Figueroa
Interview by AC Sales