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Enrique Gil Is Taking Flight and Taking Charge

We sat down with the “I Am Not Big Bird” star and caught up with him on the major changes that are steering his showbiz career in a different direction

Enrique Gil on Metro Man for I Am Not Big Bird
On Enrique: Knitted top and jacket by Zara, pants by Bershka, and sunglasses by Celine | Photography by Ria Regino

Enrique Gil is entering a new era. After being away from the limelight for quite a long time, he is back to tell us more about the man that he has become.

Three years of quiet and a quarter-life of learning and yearning is what it took for Enrique to realize that family is his greatest feat. Before taking a break from showbiz, it was a cycle of sleepless days and nights and a dead-tired body—not that he is complaining but he finally ached for some air.

“When I was working for almost 15 years, I was just out and really focused on working so I really lost a lot of time with my family, with my friends,” he fathomed. “To be able to stay and be with them for three years really meant everything to me.” When asked what kept him absorbed in leading a life away from showbiz, he replied, “I think my family. Spending time with them [kept me busy], you know?” 

Recently, Enrique, or Quen to his dear friends and family, decided to make a bold move. He was close to leaving the entertainment industry, but it seems his mission here isn’t over just yet. “Sabi ko, ‘I’m not just going to leave the industry nang ganiyan lang.’ I want to leave something behind,” he declared. Realizing a new purpose, he not only returned to acting, he also equipped himself with a new production company so he could pursue his passion and contribute to the growth of the industry at the same time. 

Enrique shared what his visions are for his latest venture: “We built Immerse Entertainment, the production company. So sabi ko, ‘When I come back, I want to do films and hopefully open up opportunities for other artists to be able to expand their genres,” Enrique told Metro.Style, hopeful of the success of his creative business. As a creative himself, he wants to take Filipino talent to a whole new level and navigate creating films and content that would transcend the local entertainment landscape. 

Producing his first project under Immerse Entertainment’s wing (in collaboration with Black Sheep and ANIMA Studios), the upcoming raunchy comedy movie I Am Not Big Bird, Enrique aspires to paddle Philippine cinema towards the cusp. “We can really break through. Filipino cinema can break through international [cinema],” he pictured. “So that’s the dream and the plan. At least ’yun—’yun ang gusto kong maiwan dito sa showbiz industry.” 

Enrique Gil on Metro Man for I Am Not Big Bird

The simple things to love

Enrique Gil is such a tireless soul. When crunch time comes, he leaves no loopholes and gives off a gushing energy to every great offer that knocks but keeps his toes on the ground. Often, he would sleep in the wild even, embracing short naps and no shut-eyes to make the most of the opportunities coming his career. That is why when he took some time off, he sure savored the slowness of each passing moment. But the time has come for him to step into the limelight again.

“[It] is perfect timing ’cause my sister moved out, ’cause she migrated to Spain. My brother moved out. So you know, those three years, before they actually started to move out, we were all together,” he explained, proud of the memories he has ticked off with his family. “So I really enjoyed those three years as a complete family. I think it meant the world to me and I really enjoyed it. As in! I think I enjoyed it too much.”

During his time away, Enrique also treated himself to the dream of a lifetime—the real luxury that is time. “Fame, everything—I would give it up to be spending time with my family,” he began, looking back on what he realized following his hiatus. “My sis is getting older. My mom is getting older; she’s not getting any younger! So to be able to spend time with her eating at the same table [is what means the most to me]. Simple things are actually what mean the most to me.”

Sure, he missed showbiz and the everyday hustle, but home is exactly where his heart is at its happiest. “So you realize these things—that ‘Oh my gosh, ang sarap pala, nandito lang ako sa bahay!’ I’m in my bed—sleeping on my bed, usually! And I don’t even see my bed. I would sleep in the car or the tent. So ’yun! I just realized the simple things are right there. Yeah! You have to really cherish [them] talaga.”

Dreaming big, but downsizing

While showbiz can be financially and emotionally rewarding, it also comes with a price: freedom of time. Enrique’s character Luis Carpio, a man mistaken for a porn star in Thailand, in I Am Not Big Bird somehow reflects his professional reality.

“Well, he has a big heart,” said Enrique to introduce his character. “It’s a never-ending journey for his character and also for me. I think he got so caught up with work and his love life that he also kind of lost contact with his friends.” 

Inhibitions and anxieties, according to Enrique, are also things that even superstars and tastemakers have to endure. “I’m sure a lot of people experience the same things. You get [so] caught up in life and work that you tend to forget your friends who’ve always been there for you,” he mused, making sense of what he picked up in pursuit of silence. “I was happy I was able to be with my friends, ’cause every time they’d be going out, I’m like, ‘Bro, I can’t.’”

He continued, “[These are the] days you realize things like ‘Oh my gosh! Oo nga, ’no? Nakalimutan ko nayung mga kaibigan ko.’” So, during the years he was on a break, time for his peers was also a priority.

The last time Enrique graced Metro’s cover was with Liza Soberano in January 2020, as they were in the thick of promotions for their primetime series Make It With You, which unfortunately had to be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And now, with his new project, it is amazing to reconnect with Enrique and hear all about the stories he has been dying to share. 

Enrique Gil on Metro Man for I Am Not Big Bird
On Enrique: Leather long-sleeved jacket by Bershka, knitted top and trousers by Zara, and shoes from Traffic by Frank

Coming back with a better core

The difference between the Quen now and the Quen before is dramatic. Not that anything was wrong with it, but he felt he was playing safe. And now, growing means becoming more of a risk-taker. When an opportunity to present a different Enrique onscreen came, he dove right in.

“[I Am Not Big Bird] just reminded me of Hangover and all these movies that I love watching, kasi mahilig ako sa comedy. So I was like—automatically—‘I got to do this project. One way or another, I’m doing this project and we need to produce it and bring it out to the Philippine cinema,’ he answered when asked what pushed him to pursue his latest film.

“In my wildest dreams, I would never imagine that a film like this would be coming out to the viewers here, but we took a chance. We did it and I’m super happy and proud that we did,” he said. “I’m just happy that I got to do a full-blown comedy that I’ve always wanted to do.”

Enrique already deciphered what taking chances truly means, and moving with the intent to improve is now his love language. “It’s also okay to be scared and take chances sometimes ’cause you know, I was playing safe sometimes it gets a little boring. So if I’m going to come back into the same thing I was doing, would it really make a difference for me personally?”

“So sabi ko [sa sarili ko],” Enrique continued, ‘Coming back, how are you going to take a different route and do this film?’ So yeah, hopefully, the artists will get inspired and would want to venture out into different things.”

Enrique Gil on Metro Man for I Am Not Big Bird
On Enrique: Leather suit by Forever 21 and crochet top and pleated pants by Zara

Big change, big faith

Captaining his new ship has never been better, and choosing what he wants to do is what made Enrique decide to have a take-two in show business. “I think it’s really exciting for our industry right now, especially everybody’s coming back and watching cinemas again,” he stated. “So I’m just happy we’re going in the right direction.”

I Am Not Big Bird started with a Zoom session, and eventually, Enrique found himself filming once again for this Black Sheep, ANIMA Studios, and Immerse Entertainment offering. It is directed by Victor Villanueva, with screenwriters Lilit Reyes and Joma Labayen also at its helm. An open door, a God-given destiny, and a seamless set of friends on set in the form of Pepe Herrera, Red Ollero, and Nikko Natividad made it possible for him to manage.

“I think it’s very natural, ’no, ’cause we had only had a short time together before we actually started filming. We didn’t have workshops or anything—just script reading,” Enrique narrated. “We didn’t even have to try. Bigla na lang kaming nag-gel. We didn’t even know. It just happened. So yeah, they’re awesome! The cast is awesome.”

As to how Big Bird surfaced into the sky, Enrique imparted, “I Am Not Big Bird originally was really planned for international film festivals lang talaga. It wasn’t actually supposed to be released here theatrically.”

“That’s why I accepted the role. I was like, ‘Okay, I can do that role. If this is just going to be seen in LA or Europe or South Korea, that’s fine. And I’ve never experienced an international film festival, so I’ve always wanted to experience that in another country and see the other films, [see] what other directors and actors are doing.”

Upon rendering an unusual role onscreen, Enrique suddenly realizes there is more to his matinee-idol status. The iconic and memorable characters he portrayed—case in point: Drake in Just the Way You Are, Xander in Forevermore, Tenten in Dolce Amore, Lakas in Bagani, Gio in My Ex and Whys, and Raf in Alone/Together—and will be portraying are bound to see Enrique’s range of skills.

His very line “No way, it’s coming out here! What will everyone say?” vouches for his fear of non-acceptance and failure, but he brought his A-game nonetheless. He panicked, yes, but he also practiced shrugging his doubts off, swimming in a sea of sharks and wielding his weapon—the courage from and trust of his colleagues.

Si Direk Cathy [Garcia Sampana] would always say, ‘You know, nakakatawa ka, Quen. Nakakatawa ka.’ Basta, she would laugh whenever we do funny scenes. So natatawa siya. I’m not saying that I’m really super funny but meron, meron naman [na sense of humor].”

While he hates heavy drama and de-stresses through horror and top-quality comedies, Enrique is quick to challenge himself as well into new iterations of a good genre. “I just want to make movies that in the future, I’d really want to watch over and over again. Some of my old movies, if I watch it once or twice, I’m good. Basically, I’ve done so much, but I haven’t really done the things that I’ve always wanted to do. So to be able to be in a position now [where I can] really focus on that, I’m just really happy—excited for what we’re going to be doing.”

Enrique Gil on Metro Man for I Am Not Big Bird

Taking charge

Besides his production business, Enrique is at the top of a ticketing company called Ticket2Me. “We’re also creating events since I used to dance a lot before on stage. So sabi ko, kahit matanda na ako, I can still provide some entertainment to people and let them watch concerts,” he thought. “I don’t plan on staying here forever but I think I can still produce. For sure, I’d still produce movies and still provide entertainment for the people kahit wala na ako onscreen or onstage.”

Taking charge and carrying out one objective at a time is Enrique’s learned lesson. He takes the risky routes now and is not afraid to be bigger, better, and bolder. “Back then, I was like, ‘No, I don’t think this is going to happen.’ Parang it felt so out-of-the-box or out of me but then, realizing it, ‘No, that’s really me, e.’ So I’m just doing what I want to do and hopefully, people will enjoy it and are happy about it,” the actor concluded. He is spared from the fear of failure now, hence the new and larger-than-life Quen.

Enrique’s mantra for 2024 is hard to pin down. He is still finding new things to navigate and enjoy but is extending and flapping his wings to fulfill his personal promises. He told us, “It’s just being me and trying something new. I think that’s what it is.” 

As to what era he is currently entering, Enrique answered, “I don’t know! Businessman era? Yeah, [it] could be… Taking-charge era!”

I Am Not Big Bird is coming in cinemas this February 14.

Photographer: Ria Regino

Editor-in-Chief: Geolette Esguerra

Sittings editors: Red Dimaandal, Grace Libero-Cruz, and Kate Paras-Santiago

Fashion Associate: Carla Buyo

Videographer: CJ Reyes

Editorial Assistant: Mika Yusay

Grooming and hairstyling by Posh Torres

Styling by Ton Lao, assisted by Mila Resulta

Photography assistants: Warren Diotay and Hipolito Gangani

Shot on location at Studio LAJ

Special thanks to Ranvel Rufino, Black Sheep, and The Hearty Grub