MANILA, Philippines -Amid released publicity photos and mounting anticipation for the upcoming film based on the life of Filipino teen martyr Saint Pedro Calungsod, JM de Guzman backed out from playing the title role of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) entry.
De Guzman's father Ronnie confirmed in an interview with an entertainment website that the actor will be withdrawing from starring the indie film San Pedro Calungsod: Batang Martir due to be released in the festival this December.
The elder De Guzman cited the actor's "health" as reason for withdrawing from the project, saying that he does not want his son to suffer tedious production and hours required to film the movie.
De Guzman is "going through something," his father said.
The movie's director Francis Villacorte said in the interview that regrets that the cast is losing De Guzman, whom he has always thought to be the "ideal actor" to play Calungsod - the catechist martyred in Guam in the 1600s.
"The role is very demanding emotionally, mentally, physically," Villacorte said, adding that he understands the elder De Guzman's concerns.
Villacorte, who is now in search for another actor who can replace de Guzman, reportedly worked on the script for two years prior to offering the title role to the actor.
"I suppose, since we’re telling a story of faith, it takes some kind of faith in the material and in the subject for people to really commit to the finish line," the director said.
Fans, meanwhile, started to speculate on who can play Calungsod in the film, posting their guesses on social media.
Villacorte said that he will soon formalize De Guzman's withdrawal through the MMFF committee.