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Alex Mallari Jr., a Filipino Canadian actor, may seem tough and deadly in his role as Christos in Netflix’s sci-fi action film “The Adam Project.” But that’s just one part of what Alex does well.
We spoke with the actor at 34 years old, who moved with his paternal grandmother (whom he affectionately calls “Inang”) from Lubao to Toronto when he was 4. He attributed his friendly personality and good nature to his Canadian roots and Pinoy heritage.
“I’m very different from Christos who is an asshole. Alex laughed when asked about his mean character.
“I think I am very kind. This is due to two things: I am Filipino and I am Canadian. These are two of the most kind things anyone can do in this world. Ryan is an amazing person and a great friend, unlike Christos.
Alex is no stranger to acting. Apart from his role as a career-boosting Syfy star in “Dark Matter,” he also appears in “Shadow Hunters”, “Designated Survivor,” and “Nikita.” He is also a regular character in the Netflix series “Ginny & Georgia,” where he plays a police detective.
Although that is a lot of work, it doesn’t mean he is less excited about the “The Adam Project” gig.
He said, “Perhaps the hardest part about getting the role was wrapping my head around the fact I was going in a movie directed Shawn Levy with stars Ryan Reynolds, Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo.” I was walking alongside these giants! It was finally time for me to stop walking with these giants and get to work. Everyone on the set was so full of energy.
Alex was asked if he could understand Filipino. My family is Kapampangan, so I am a Lubao native. One thing is certain: I know when I’m in trouble, especially if my parents are pissed at me (laughs).
Alex stated that he had to quit another highly-coveted project in order to participate in “The Adam Project.”
He recalled that he was filming the fourth season of “Workin’ Moms” while he was there. “Then my managers reached out to me about an offer for the movie, ‘Resident Evil.’ They called me back in the afternoon and said, ‘OK, here’s what’s the deal. You also have ‘The Adam Project. What movie would you like to make?
“I couldn’t do both of them, because there was one day in the shooting schedule that they couldn’t work out. As much as I love “Resident Evil,” because I am such a big fan of the franchise, the chance to work with Shawn, Ryan and Zoe was something I couldn’t refuse. After speaking with Shawn about the role, I called Jim Churchman, our stunt coordinator, and it was all over quickly.
Alex was determined to do the right thing as an actor but he tried to add some Pinoy flair to his action scenes.
Alex said that improvs were not something Alex was allowed to perform because he was working with experienced actors. Maybe it’s a Filipino thing where I want to respect my elders. It was more like “I will work according to your conditions and let me just compensate by that because I’m thankful to be here” for me. I didn’t really have any ideas.
“In terms of preparation, from the moment I learned about it, I adhered to a strict diet since Ryan Reynolds is working with me (laughs). I exercised a lot and did taekwondo (which I am proficient at), as well as boxing.
“But, there was one thing I asked for. You can see the two sticks I pulled out of the bag that weren’t there originally. Jim called me to ask if I was skilled at any weapon. I replied that there was a series called Dark Matter where I spent a lot of time using a katana.
“It was great that they were open to my desire to represent the Philippines in some capacity. Although we’ve only done a few [arnis] moves together, I am so glad that the movie was made!
Alex was also asked to share his story as an actor in Hollywood. Are there more opportunities for people of colour?
Alex said, “They’re definitely improving.” “There was a time that we could say Hollywood wasn’t doing a good enough job of incorporating inclusion into the picture. But that is no longer the case. It’s not like Hollywood does a terrible job.
“My journey as an actor was fun and I have learned a lot. The Philippines aren’t well-known. I don’t look like the typical Asian, and you rarely see Filipino characters in a break-down–until now, which was great. When you are given an audition, a breakdown will be where they list down the characters they would like to play. These opportunities are becoming more common for me.
“Until then, most of the roles I’ve applied for were open-ethnic. However, I feel that there should be more Filipino actors and more Filipino writers, publicists, and directors. It was great to work with a Filipino director of photography. Things are changing, and it’s good to know that I am helping future generations, regardless of how small, open doors. They’re the ones that really matter.
Which period of your life would it be if you could travel back in time and correct some wrongs?
“Oh, man. Alex said that if I could, I would keep my Filipino language skills so that I could have nurtured my relationship and friendship with my Inang. “It was at this point that we moved to Canada and I became so determined to speak English because I didn’t want to feel excluded, that I lost my Kapampangan ability.
“It didn’t really put a wedge between me and my Inang, because we spent every single day together, which was a blessing. She’d go to the Philippines for a while, then travel to San Francisco and spend time with us. I treasure every moment of that. Communication became difficult at times. But we did our best. This is the wrong I would correct, without a doubt.”