Matteo Guidicelli: A hero onscreen and off

Matteo Guidicelli is going to be seen topless on big screens nationwide come 25 December. But not for a sexy film. He’s going to star as a modern Pinoy superhero.

The Cebu-bred Filipino-Italian—and husband of pop star Sarah Geronimo—is Pedro Penduko in writer-director Jason Paul Laxaman’s reimagining of the classic Filipino comic-book-hero-turned-movie character, Penduko.

Penduko, from Viva Films, is an entry to this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival. It is Guidicelli’s first foray into the biggest commercial film festival in the country, and he’s absolutely thrilled.

Talking to the press recently, the 33-year-old Guidicelli shared his pride and excitement at nabbing the role of the iconic fictional Pinoy hero with a magical amulet.

In Laxamana’s 21st-century Penduko, Guidicelli plays a 20-year-old “wimp” raised in the US who goes to the Philippines in search of his mother— then unwittingly becomes a town hero.

Guidicelli described the film as a “universal Penduko that’s out of this world.” He said that Laxamana’s adaptation “reflects what’s happening to the world today—with social media, with the digitalization of the world, [but] still interlacing that with Filipino tradition and culture.”

Fearing that the performances of the previous Penduko actors might influence him, Guidicelli just skipped through the previous Penduko movies (Laxamana’s is the fourth adaptation).

“You know, if you watch something, you tend to copy it. I want to come in with a fresh take,” he said.

Guidicelli (who was outstanding in Kerwin Go’s 2019’ crime-comedy Mina-Anud) cited Christopher de Leon and Albert Martinez as his main influences for what he described as “very minimalistic acting.”

“This is what I tried for Penduko,” said the actor. “Kumbaga, very real. Jason Paul wanted a very childlike characterization inside. So that was the push and pull that we had. I came in wanting to really be subdued, but sometimes he would go, ‘No, man, I’d like the childlike character to come out — that high-pitched, fidgety characterization to come out.’ So, we played it like that.”

Spotlight on kindness

Guidicelli is an Army reservist (his rank is 2nd Lieutenant of the Armed Forces of the Philippines). You can say there’s a hero inside of him.

He passionately talked about making a difference in the world by putting a spotlight on kindness. He particularly advocates responsible use of social media and hopes to be instrumental in contributing to the good of the community.

“I believe that media, what we do on TV, on social media, especially on social media… the power that we have is very, very big. All of us. What we write, what we show, what we produce, how we put out content. Even in Instagram Stories that last for 24 hours.”

“And this is important because a lot of kids are watching, a lot of people are watching. So, whatever we put out there, there will always be one out of 10 that will copy something.”

As for his career, “My hope is to continue working with talented people, with people that believe in the betterment for our people, for our country. Put out things that will inspire people to be good examples for the next generation, or for an individual just watching at home. To inspire somebody to be better.”

“At the end of the day, we all complain, ‘Sana this is better, sana that’s better.’ But let’s do our part in releasing materials that will inspire somebody, will make somebody smile and make somebody go out in the street and be a better individual. So that’s my hope: to put material out that can really inspire people— not just here, but around the world.”

Spoken like a true modern Pinoy hero.