Why Jake Cuenca Said Yes To Kontrabida Role In “What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim”

Jake Cuenca admits thinking: “Parang hindi ako masyadong masaya with the role”

Jake Cuenca admits that it was not an instant “yes” when he was offered the role of Morpheus in ABS-CBN and Viu’s Pinoy adaptation of the hit K-Drama series “What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim.”

The series, which streams on Viu, is headlined by Kim Chiu and Paulo Avelino.

Jake, who is known to be one of ABS-CBN’s prime leading men portraying different bida and major kontrabida roles in Kapamilya shows, is seen to be playing support in the series.

In an intimate press conference with select members of the media on March 20 at Pandan Asian Café, Jake was asked if he had apprehensions about accepting the role.

Jake answers, “Well, it took a little bit of convincing, to be honest with everyone. Parang, of course, in hindsight, di ba? ‘Tapos pinanood ko din, di ba?

“So, when I watched it, sabi ko, ‘Wait lang, parang, maybe we can look for something, you know, bigger or ganyan?’”

Jake Cuenca
Jake Cuenca as Morpheus

Ultimately, it was the late Deo Endrinal, then Head of Dreamscape, and ABS-CBN executive Cory Vidanes who met with him to discuss the role.

He continues, “But sa akin, I’m happy I did it. The ones who convinced me to do it were Tita Cory and Sir Deo. So, noong inupo nila ako, they guaranteed me na, ‘We’re gonna make the role even better, we’re gonna tweak it for you kasi you’re the one doing it.’

Ako naman, sabi ko, for Sir Deo, after the pandemic, kung meron akong oportunidad to work with people that I do love—of course, I love working with Dreamscape. I love working with ABS-CBN, I’m gonna take it.

Kasi at the same time, parang in hindsight nga, mabuti na lang I did kasi if I didn’t accept it, I’d feel very bad.”

Weeks before “What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim” was launched, news came out about the untimely death of Deo Endrinal.

Jake recalls, “Kasi siyempre, nabigla tayo lahat when Sir Deo passed away, right? So, yung the whole time noong wake, because I went every day, the whole time I was there was telling Direk Chad [Vidanes], then I’m telling sina Tita Cory, I’m so happy I did the project.

“I’m so happy I did it kasi if Sir Deo passed away, then I had to tell him no, tinanggihan ko ‘to, I might have to live with that for the rest of my life.”

Jake is also happy that the writers tweaked the character of Morpheus. He said, “They gave me enough to play with the role that it made me really interested.”

The 36-year-old actor then gave a glimpse into the changes in his character which is the older brother of Brandon (Paulo).

He explains, “You’re gonna see it’s very different from the original. You’re gonna see na yung role, kasi they were able to change it a little bit in a sense of ginawa nilang mas Pinoy, di ba?

“So, they were able to tweak some of the roles. So, in hindsight, sabi ko nga, parang noong unang in-offer sa akin, dumating sa akin, sabi ko, napanood ko na, e. Sabi ko, parang hindi ako masyadong masaya with the role, di ba?

“But, ito na nga, parang noong nandoon na ako, from the moment I got the scripts—kasi maganda naman sa ‘Sec. Kim,’ kumpleto na yung script pagdating. So, I got to read everything and for me, it was interesting.

“So, I hope for my audience that they find it interesting as well at saka, at the same time, sana I give it justice kasi like I said, parang, the original actor who did the role was very, very good. So, I hope I can just give justice to it.”

Jake is also not the type to gauge roles depending on if he is the lead or not but more of how will he be able to play around its character, especially in kontrabida roles.

The same is true with his two previous characters: Eros in “The Iron Heart” and Benjie in “Cattleya Killer,” where he played the villain.

He says, “To be honest with you guys, parang tanggap ko na e, in a sense of like, parang, I really do flourish when they offer me roles like this.

Yung hindi siya yung… hindi siya everything on a silver platter, you know? When they gave me Eros, it didn’t look like that either. And then, I had to make the most of what I had. And then, it blew up to what it was, di ba?

“Same thing with ‘Cattleya Killer.’ I told Direk Ruel [Bayani], ‘Whatever role that is, I will do it.’ Kasi for me, I’m a big fan of the movie. So, for me, kahit ekstra lang ako diyan, I’ll do it.”

He is also thankful to his mother network, ABS-CBN, for always giving him roles that allow him to expand his range as an actor.

“And then, yung natutuwa naman ako sa ABS-CBN is because when they do offer me something or give me a role, it’s always very interesting and meaty.

Parang hindi pa kumpleto yung mga script noon, e, and then, nagulat na lang ako towards the end, ‘Wow, palaki nang palaki nang palaki yung role ko.’

“So, I think I’ve come to embrace the fact that they give, they put me in roles like this for a reason. Kumbaga, they put me in a project like this for a reason, and at the same time, they really believe na I can elevate it.

“And ako, honestly, when a role comes to me… that’s why I prepare so hard, kasi I want to elevate it. That’s always my intention when I do a part. At the same time, it’s also like, yung counterpart ko naman doon, whoever I’m acting across, kunyari, whether it be Richard [Gutierrez] or Paulo. I’m also doing a movie with Baron [Geisler] right now, they know my capability so they also give their best.”

READ ALSO: What Made Paulo Avelino Say Yes To His Role In “What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim”

Not your ordinary kontrabida

But for “What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim,” Jake says that his fans would see a different type of kontrabida in Morpheus.

He says, “When you watch it nga, it’s different from the ones I did in the past kasi maraming angsts, di ba, yung mga ginagawa ko? Like, a lot of baggage, a lot of emotions, intense emotions.

“But this one, I think while I was crafting this role, I told myself na rather than bring out the emotions, parang what I wanted to do was make it more sentimental.”

Jake wants to stay true to how Korean actors approach these types of characters.

“The guys, they’re very demure, soft-spoken, and obviously, parang you can’t… kumbaga you have to give it to them kasi yung acting nila came across for the whole world. Kumbaga the whole world recognizes the Koreans.

“So, noong pinapanood ko ‘to, sabi ko, I wanted to get a lot of the sensitivities of the Koreans. I want to stay true to the role. So, that’s the way I approached it kaya siya yung parang intense emotions and all these things, sabi ko, parang gusto kong takeaway ng fans or gusto kong i-takeaway ng audience ko from this is more of like, sentimental. Ganun yung dating.

“Parang I wanted something that, if I make you cry here, it’s not in a sense of like, ‘grabe!Alam mo yun, pag teleserye kasi, hinagpis, di ba, is the word.

“Here, I approached it very calmly. Like, very calm noong dating noong mga eksena, even sa trailer na nagsuntukan kami and everything like that. My approach to all the sequences was more calm and more like, ibang approach.”

READ ALSO: Kim Chiu, Paulo Avelino To Headline “What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim” PH Adaptation

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