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Carlo Aquino Almost Made It As An Official Cast Member Of "Squid Game"

This is the role he was supposed to play in Netflix's phenomenal South Korean series

ABS-CBN artist Carlo Aquino was supposed to be a cast member in the trending South Korean series Squid Game. In an interview with his agency, Star Magic, Carlo shared that he actually auditioned for this action/survival drama, but he couldn't push through with filming due to pandemic-related travel restrictions.



Back in June 2020, Carlo hinted on a possible project when he shared on Instagram a photo of a handwritten letter he received from director Hwang Dong-hyuk who wrote, "Dear Carlo, thank you for your efforts. Looking forward to working with you in near future. Take care."  


When Squid Game was finally released last September 17 and quickly became a buzzworthy series, Beatrice Candaza, the sister of Carlo's partner Trina Candaza, reshared this post and revealed that the project he was supposed to work on with the said director was, in fact, this phenomenal Netflix series. On Instagram Stories, Beatrice writes, "@jose_liwanag was supposed to play a role in Squid Game but travel restrictions happened. I remember @trinacandaza calling me and saying that they'll stay in Korea for a few months back in 2020. I'm sure there would be more opportunities."



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"Nanghihinayang ako e. Nakakalungkot na hindi natuloy dahil sa pandemic," Carlo laments while talking to Star Magic's Inside News team. "Nag-message sa'kin si Tita Cris, 'yung handler ko na, 'Oh may ano daw, gusto magpa-audition. Napanood ka daw sa Isa Pa With Feelings. Baka gusto mo gawin, sa Korea, ganyan. Isang Korean series. 'Yung direktor, napanood ka.' Sabi ko, gawin ko 'yan talaga! Sayang naman 'yun. Tapos nandu'n na sila, si Tita Cris, sa usapan na, 'Hi Carlo, this is the attached schedule. Shooting days is 45 days, but for your character, Ali, it's 37 days.' I have it here. Talagang hinanap ko kanina, 'Asan ba 'yung email?'"


Carlo received the script for his part, which eventually went to Indian actor Anupam Tripathi. The character is a foreigner who enters the Game to provide for his family after his employer refused to give him his salary.   


The project that made the Squid Game director notice Carlo was the 2019 rom-com movie Isa Pa With Feelings that cast him as a sign language teacher for Maine Mendoza's character. Further proof of Carlo's acting chops and global appeal is his 2019 movie Ulan with Nadine Lustre, which earned him the Best Actor in a Leading Role (Regional) award at that year's Asian Academy Creative Awards. 



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Out of curiosity because of the buzz Squid Game has been making, Carlo watched the series not realizing that it was the project he auditioned for. He shares, "Siguro nu'ng mga episode 4, 5, sabi ko, parang alam ko 'yung mga sinasabi nitong taong ito. Hindi ako makatulog nu'ng gabi. Kinabukasan nu'ng pagkagising ko, 'yung eksena na na parang naipit 'yung kamay ng boss n'ya, sabi ko, 'Mommy, eto 'yung in-audition ko oh. Ito 'yung pumupunta pa ako sa ABS para gawin.' Hinayang na hinayang din naman talaga ako na s'yempre ang lakas, 'di ba trending ang Squid Game e. Sayang! At tsaka ang galing na para makagawa ka ng ganu'ng istorya na nasa isang malaking-malaking warehouse lang 'yung shoot pero sobrang engaging nu'ng series e."


He may have been sad about the circumstances not working in his favor, but Carlo said that he's at least happy for his fellow Filipino actor Christian Lagahit who made an appearance in Squid Game as one of the players in Seong Gi-hun's (Lee Jung-jae) team for the Tug of War round. 



Squid Game is a nine-episode K-drama about a mysterious survival game that enlists 456 players, who are all struggling financially, to compete in a series of Korean children's games. Little do they know that the seemingly harmless game will have them risking their lives for a cash prize of ₩45.6 billion (or approx. Php1.96 billion).


The series stars Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo, Oh Yeong-su, Jung Ho-yeon, Heo Sung-tae, Wi Ha-joon, Anupam Tripathi, and Kim Joo-ryoung. With the show's incredible success, it even became the first Korean drama to take the top spot in Netflix's top 10 weekly most-watched TV show charts in different countries, including the United States. As of this writing, Squid Game remains the top 1 series in the Philippines on the streaming platform, followed by another Korean series, Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha


The fans of Squid Game are left wanting more of this drama series. If and when season 2 happens, here's to hoping Carlo finally gets to be a part of it. 


Lead photos by @sambokojim via @jose_liwanag


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