Mysterious Maverick: Paulo Avelino In A Riveting Portrayal Of A Villain In "Flower Of Evil"
Swinging through and through from primetime series to big screen blockbusters, chameleon actor Paulo Avelino changes his skin once again in a portrayal of a "straight-out villain"
Bringing forth a character that is fine-tuned to the taste of the mass market is a challenge for many actors, but Paulo Avelino is no stranger to versatility. At his very core is a wealth of emotions waiting to be excavated.
Paulo, who currently stars in the Philippine adaptation of the well-loved award-winning K-drama Flower of Evil as the real Jacob del Rosario, tells Metro.Style, “I wouldn’t say I’m versatile, [but] I want to be.” Despite a cartload of achievements and milestones in the acting department—with breadth and depth in his body of work on both the small and big screens—Paulo remains grounded and rooted, but ambition never wears off. “I want to play different roles all the time, just because it challenges me as a person. Also, as an actor, it helps me grow,” he reflects.
Vision, vulnerability, and versatility
Paulo has been a part of the industry since 2006. And while it’s hard for him to say himself what it is that has allowed him to stay in the entertainment scene for this long, the viewers’ adoration and his long list of awards are clear proof of what fueled his ride all along: his inarguable talent.
His humility comes close second, recognizing the need to grow and improve with each and every stop. “Inconsistencies,” Paulo points out when asked what he considers his weakness. “I’d like to improve on that and just be more consistent with the role or character.”
What seems to be a constant challenge for Paulo adds to his constant charm and charisma. Though fame is inevitable for an actor of his caliber, he has managed to keep his private life private, and shunned the spotlight as much as possible. Just as he’s passionate about acting, he’s also determined to strike a balance and ultimately live a simple, happy life. “Wala na akong pinapangarap, e. Gusto ko na ng tahimik na buhay… tsaka masaya,” he laughs.
On a serious note, Paulo continues to talk about his dreams at this point in his life and career: “Maybe one is I hope I get to produce more films in the future that, someday, my kids or my apo would be really proud of. Another bucket list is to travel more—go to other countries I haven’t been to.”
Recognized for his work in TV series like Walang Hanggan (2012), Bridges of Love (2015), The General’s Daughter (2019), and Marry Me, Marry You (2021), as well as hit films like Heneral Luna (2015), The Unmarried Wife (2016), Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral (2018), Kasal (2018), and Fan Girl (2020), Paulo only wills to navigate around fresh landscapes that veer away from his previous portrayals.
His latest film, Ngayon Kaya, with Janine Gutierrez, which was released in cinemas recently is an example of how much he’s adept in switching gears—a celebrity who’s not who he seems to be in a drama with a dark twist (Fan Girl) and an artist trying to thrive in the music industry amidst a complicated relationship in a romance-drama (Ngayon Kaya).
“Whenever I’m asked what role I want to play next—I always say I just want something different from what I’ve done in the past,” he shares. “I just want something new.”
In front of the camera and behind it
Acting, to Paulo, is a craft he considers his calling, one he never fails to answer and exert effort into with every project he’s pulled into. “I think acting is addicting [sic],” he quips. “Portraying different characters is addicting [sic] and exciting, and I’d like to evolve into someone who would stay in the business after our prime or maybe tackle different roles in the future.”
Apart from acting, he also cultivated his backstage and behind-the-scenes career and founded a film production outfit. He called his studio WASD Films, where he sits as chair; Janine’s movie, Dito at Doon, was co-produced by Paulo. As a gamer, Paulo derived “WASD” from the keyboard keys W, A, S, and D, which function as direction buttons for gamers. “On the creative side, I’d like to be behind cameras as much as I’m in front of it, because you get a broader look on what’s happening and you could specify where things need to improve on,” he tells us.
How he maneuvers his ship in such a cutthroat field is something that sparked insight against Paulo’s streak of quiet responses. The reserved actor quickly replies out of plain passion at the mention of this topic. “What I value most about my craft is maybe just the craft as a whole—everything about it,” he enthuses. “I know it’s a cutthroat industry, but once they know you’re hungry and you take time to go out of the box to immerse in what you do or what you want for your career or your craft, I think it shows.” Noting that there is a need to invest in undivided time to upgrade one’s talent, Paulo emphasizes, “People would see it, especially here. We’re in show business, where people are good at seeing [the] stuff we do.”
Of pruning and Flower of Evil
An actor who always has surprises up his sleeves, Paulo treated his fans to a trending revelation of his latest series portrayal—the mysterious Jacob del Rosario, a character he shares with his Flower of Evil co-star Piolo Pascual. His participation in the series, which also stars Lovi Poe, was kept secret for an added layer of mystery. “I think it was a surprise because I wasn’t really announced as one of the cast [members], but it was pitched to me beforehand. Everyone knew from the start that I was part of it, except people outside production... The whole production was quiet [and] mum about it. I think people also kept asking who Jacob del Rosario is. Upon introducing the cast, I think they found out na, ‘Uy, kulang nga. Kulang nga ng character na i-po-portray, so everyone was just mum about it.”
Like Piolo, Paulo started to work on this project without prior knowledge on the original material. “One of the preparations I’ve done is to make sure I didn’t go watch the original Flower of Evil, because I think it clouds my process,” he admits, as he details the rigorous training he had to undergo in hopes of doing justice to his dark and complex character in the series. “And another one is we actually did a character workshop with Nonie Buencamino—me, Lovi, and Piolo—even before the show started.”
“The biggest challenge for me in the series is really the character of Jacob del Rosario,” Paulo describes, pruning and shaping his character to what he thinks are the essential elements and consequently growing with the role. “It’s too tricky—it’s tricky to handle. I think I overdid some of the things I wanted to include in [my] character. It’s just fine-tuning everything throughout the journey so it’s not too much for the levels—not too high and not too low. I try to keep it within what’s just in the middle.”
Going all-out in his game
Every project and every character is different, and for Paulo, there’s always more to it than just getting acquainted with the onscreen persona through the script. There’s an opportunity to dig deeper and act according to his interpretation, as is the case with Jacob.
“What if you accept a project and you have to go all-out based on what the script is and being true to the core of your material? I wouldn’t like to limit myself in what can’t be done or kung anong p’wede or bawal. It’s more of if I accept a project, I’m willing to stick to it till the end,” Paulo asserts with a strong sense of self.
Jacob to Paulo is “a straight-out villain”—“wala nang pasikot-sikot,” he adds. But since it’s also something new for him, it’s inevitable to learn in the process of bringing this character to life. He offers, “The thing with me is every project adds up to my personality. One day, you’re playing a good boy. [The next] day, you’re playing an evil person. Specifically, for this [project], maybe I just got to appreciate life more. Coming from a villain who just keeps on pushing violence without remorse, you just get to see everything from a different perspective. It helped my personality and, I would say, you get to mature in every role, because you just don’t learn stuff about your character but you also absorb everything around you.”
Bedeviled with a brooding nature and a nonchalant shrug to moral standards, Jacob del Rosario slices through the series with an enigma so strong it encapsulates darkness in daylight. Paulo’s addition to the pulsating and heart-pounding melodrama-thriller surprised the televiewers, as he did not appear in any of the press conferences and promotional events. But when he was finally announced to be the much-awaited villain, the viewers couldn’t help but gush about how perfect he is for the role, with the announcement even becoming a trending topic online. “I hope it got our viewers excited and I hope they like how everything turns out,” he says.
Though an adaptation, ABS-CBN and Dreamscape Entertainment kept the spine of the story but aligned it with the Filipino appetite through well thought out nuances. No wonder this Viu Original Adaptation is a top-rated show on the streaming platform. The spine-chilling series, which follows a female detective and his double-faced husband who is the suspect of a killing spree, is helmed by Lovi Poe (Iris del Rosario) and Piolo Pascual (Jacob del Rosario/Daniel Villareal).
“Another thing that they could expect is that it would be different from the performance of the Korean counterpart,” Paulo emphasizes. With the sudden turn of events in the July 8th episode where Paulo was first seen, the Flower of Evil fandom and audience await what is in store for the cunning subject that is the mysterious Jacob del Rosario.
The moment Paulo Avelino as Jacob del Rosario emerged on the scene, we all knew that darkness has come to light. Portrayed by an actor with such a calm, quiet demeanor, the mad, crazy Jacob shows up unconscious, but underneath every calm, expect that there is chaos.
Flower of Evil is directed by Darnel Villaflor (Dahil Sa Pag-Ibig, Nathaniel, Sandugo, Walang Hanggang Paalam, Huwag Kang Mangamba) and Richard Ibasco Arellano (La Luna Sangre, The House Arrest of Us, Make It With You). The creative team of this adaptation includes writers Danica Domingo, David Diuco, China Gabriel, Hazel Uychiat, and Li Candelaria.
The rest of the cast includes bigwigs from Philippine entertainment, seasoned and well-respected actors and actresses: Agot Isidro, Edu Manzano, JC de Vera, Joross Gamboa, Denise Laurel, Joem Bascon, Pinky Amador, Epy Quizon, Joko Diaz, Jett Pangan, Archie Adamos, Gardo Versoza, and Rita Avila. Child actress Sienna Stevens is introduced as Luna, Iris and Jacob’s adorable six-year-old daughter.
The drama premiered last June 23 across 16 territories (Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Myanmar in Asia; Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the Middle East; and South Africa) through Viu, and last June 25 via the Kapamilya Channel and A2Z.
New episodes of Flower of Evil are released every Thursday and Friday on Viu and every Saturday and Sunday on Kapamilya Channel, Jeepney TV, and A2Z!
Check out our cover story on Flower of Evil stars Lovi Poe and Piolo Pascual here.
Photography by Erron Ocampo of Metrophoto / Metrophoto for Brands
Sittings editor: Grace Libero-Cruz
Grooming by Jett Torrevillas
Styling by David Milan, using clothes by Joey Samson
Videography by Pat Buenaobra
Special thanks to Dreamscape Entertainment