Arjo Atayde may be in the news as of late because of his romantic association with the sensational Maine Mendoza but come 20 March, another actress is set to steal the rising actor’s heart, at least in a new web series for streaming service iWant.
Arjo will be officially launched as the leading man in Bagman, dubbed as “a gritty socio-political drama series” where he plays the role of Benjo, an embattled family man whose barbershop business is set to be demolished to give way to a government project.
With a baby on the way, he is forced to find other means of livelihood outside of lawful bounds — eventually becoming a “bagman” (a person tasked with collecting or distributing dirty money) to a corrupt governor.
Playing his wife in the series is seasoned actress Chanel Latorre. “My role Samantha is very challenging because she represents the struggle of a lot of women in the world today,” she told this writer during Bagman’s recent press conference.
“She is conflicted between her love for her husband and her virtuous principles. Would she succumb to the good life that her husband is giving her and her family even if it comes from illegal means? Would righteousness prevail? A lot of people can relate to being stuck to this system of corruption happening in this society and I am more than honored to play an honest portrayal of a dishonest system. The reality of it makes it a challenge.”
Chanel added that she is saddened how the “bagman concept” is “deeply ingrained in our society today.”
“The bagman comes in different forms. If you want something done fast, you have to go through a bagman. If you want to buy something at a cheaper price, buy from the bagman. If you want to eliminate you enemies, get a bagman. Sometimes we may not be aware of it but we all contribute to a bagman’s existence,” the actress mused.
While Chanel considers the role of Samantha as her meatiest in years, the 29-year old Samar native says the best thing about being part of Bagman is working with Arjo.
“My mother is an avid fan of ABS-CBN teleseryes. In one of Arjo’s early shows, she said, ‘This actor is very good. He will soar high. I hope you will get to work with him.’ I can’t help but think how much my mother might have prayed for this to happen. Because of what she said, Arjo had always been the actor I dreamt of working with,” she recalled.
“Arjo has the full package to be a big leading actor. First off, look how gorgeous the man is! My gosh, dashing good looks and he only needs to say ‘hello’ with his uber manly voice to sweep any girl off her feet. I’m not surprised why his girlfriend fell in love with him.”
Chanel added that Arjo’s good looks is perfectly complemented by his unmistakable talent.
“He always seems to improve with every project. It takes humility and hard work to do so and he has that gift. In my experience working with him, he has never complained how tired he is even if he has been working endlessly. I admire him for asking if he did the right thing in a certain scene or if he can approach another scene in a different way. He is a thinking actor.”
As Chanel has been known for having no inhibitions when it comes to doing love scenes and even outright nudity in her past films, she absolutely has no qualms about doing steamy scenes with Arjo in Bagman.
“It is my aim as an actor to portray my role as genuine as possible. We are adults and I think it is just normal to experience sensuality. It should not be the focus of any story as one scene does not define a whole project or the totality of a character. I play a devoted wife in Bagman so if we did have a sensual scene as we are a married couple here, can one say that my character as Sam is just a sexy role? Is playing a devoted wife defined by just that act?” she pointed out.
“To play a character honestly, one requires complexity. Let us open up the minds of our viewers to see that. I come from an educated family that has always been liberal and open regarding various issues. They fully understand my job as an artist.”
As daring stories go, Chanel considers Bagman as the “most intense” in her career to date. “People must watch this,” she urged.
Also starring Yayo Aguila, Alan Paule and Raymond Bagatsing, Bagman is a 12-part series written and directed by Shugo Praico. Produced by Dreamscape Digital and Rein Entertainment, it will stream for free on iWant starting 20 March.