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Arjo Atayde’s career has palpably skyrocketed to another level, and he is, without doubt, a rising star of his generation.

Photo from Instagram (@arjoatayde).

Having to start off with small supporting roles in the entertainment industry, the versatile actor continues to thrive and has already garnered big roles—and even bagged an award for Best Male New TV Personality for his performance in Maalaala Mo Kaya, at the PMPC Star Awards back in 2012.

Photo from Instagram (@arjoatayde).

However, in an exclusive sit-down interview with StarStudio.ph, Arjo admits that he was surprised that he was handpicked for the role of Benjo, a barber, in the iWant series Bagman, a socio-political thriller produced by Dreamscape Digital and Rein Entertainment.

He says that his role in the was a career-defining moment for him, and adds that he couldn’t be happier and thankful for this opportunity.

Photo from ABS-CBN Lifestyle.

“I was shocked na they gave me the project. Kasi I thought that it was just a series na ipapalabas sa iWant. I didn’t know that [it] would be this big, that there was gonna be a billboard outside ABS-CBN, and that there was gonna be so much promotion. It’s overwhelming. Am just really thankful for everything. I didn’t expect to get the role to be honest. I was like, wow, this is a blessing.”

The Bagman star said that from the very beginning he felt connected with the material, the directors and his character, and made the most out of what was given to him.

Photo from ABS-CBN News.

“I was really happy after reading the script. My heart was into it. So I just tried to squeeze in my position, and try to work around it. I was one with the script, character, director, production and vision. They’re a sick team—the character development that Direk Shugo (Praico), Direk Philip (King) and Direk Lino (Cayetano) created was just on point. They trusted me so much and I am very thankful,” Arjo said, grinning.

Photo from push.com.ph.

“My preparation for Bagman was creating a character based on the story they gave me. I tried to blend in and I tried to absorb everything from the personality. Nuances, I don’t plan that eh. I play it by scene. The preparation is just creating,” the Kapamilya star said. 

ARJO’S TAKE ON BAGMAN

Photo from ABS-CBN Entertainment.

The star underscored that this socio-political thriller not only takes on similar issues that our country is currently facing but also tackles what other people around the world have to endure. He stressed that he is proud to be a part of a project that addresses a national issue, which he believes has to be exposed.

“So, it’s very relatable to a lot of people around the world. it’s not just Filipinos. It’s more of a worldwide market that tackles that not every poor person that does something bad was born to be bad,” Arjo shares. “You will realize so many things because this is happening today. It’s an eye-opener to a lot of people. And as I always keep saying, I’m proud to say that this story has to be told and it has to reach people. They have to see this.”

ARJO’S CHARACTER “BENJO”

Photo from ABS-CBN Entertainment.

In the digital series, Arjo Atayde portrays an anti-hero named Benjo Malaya, a struggling barber with limited resources. Desperate to make ends meet for his family, Benjo becomes blinded by money and power and ends up working for a corrupt governor, played by Raymond Bagatsing. Having to succumb to the complicated world of dirty politics, the barber’s life becomes chaotic and ends up sacrificing his own morals and values.

Photo from Instagram (@arjoatayde).

Arjo, however, clarified that his character, who could also be deemed as an antagonist by others, is not.

“He is not a bad person. One thing I realized from the story is that some people who snatch and do these budol-budol stuff, they do it not because they want to do it.”

The star continued on by saying that there are reasons why people are reduced to illegal affairs. “A really bad reason comes in, in their life, for them to be capable of doing that because they don’t have any other way.”

ARJO ON DOING MORE CHALLENGING ROLES

The rising star divulged on how challenging it was portraying his character, who gets sucked into the dark side of politics. Arjo recalls the days when he would get burned out having to put so much effort into his role but said that as an artist, it only makes him hungrier to do more heavy roles.

“It was mentally and emotionally draining. Because I would go to the tent, and I’m smashing someone in the face at 7 in the morning.  How good of a morning can that be,” Arjo shares, laughing excitedly.  “The next scene, I have to shoot someone. The next scene I have to spy on someone.  The next scene someone’s beating me up. The next scene someone’s gonna try to kill me. It’s just a circle going round and round.”  

Photo from push.com.ph

The versatile actor passionately adds, “I want more. I want more, more, more and more. I want to do more. Definitely not stopping here. I want to do different roles. I have plans. And hopefully… well, let’s see how it goes.”  

WHY WATCH BAGMAN

Photo from push.com.ph.

The Kapamilya star further stresses that this iWant series (which anyone can stream for free—just download the iWant app) is indeed one of the kind, and reiterates that a lot of people can relate to it. Arjo assures that a film like Bagman has never been done—and urges Filipinos to come to see it.

Photo from ABS-CBN Entertainment.

“Our country is not getting any better. The reason behind that is, we always blame the people in position. We always pinpoint, not knowing that everything starts from us. That is one thing I realized. And once you watch Bagman. You will know what I’m talking about. Because everything starts from us. You could be a bagman, bagman is uto or nauto. You have to watch it because of the story that has never been told in Philippine television and cinema. Never.” 

Photo from push.com.ph.

Arjo adds, “It is reality, it is today, and it’s us. That’s why you have to see it”

This engaging digital series is indisputably one to watch—now.