Tuesday, October 22, 2013

EXCLUSIVE: Joseph Almani confident in playing lead role

By JONATHAN HICAP, Manila Bulletin
The main actor in the American version of the Asian dramas “Boys Over Flowers” and “Meteor Garden” said he is secure and he does not feel any pressure playing the lead role.
Joseph Almani (Photos courtesy of Mr. Almani)

“I am confident in my work,” actor, model and stuntman Joseph Almani told Bulletin Entertainment in an exclusive interview.
Almani will play the role of Liam Montgomery, the leader of the F4 group, in “Boys Before Friends,” the US adaptation of the Japanese manga “Hana Yori Dango,” on which the Asian versions were also based.
The role of Liam in the series is Korean star Lee Min-ho’s Goo Jun-pyo in “Boys over Flowers,” Jerry Yan’s Dao Ming Si in “Meteor Garden” and Jun Matsumoto’s Domyouji Tsukasa in “Hana Yori Dango.”
Since Almani was cast in the series, fans have compared him to the Asian stars, but this has hardly pressured him.
“Not in the least! Those guys are already established accomplished and proven actors and they did a great job! They deserve all the credit for their work. I would hope that my work would stand on its own. Every actor brings choices and something new to the character. One of the fans on Twitter compared it to playing Batman,” he said.
Almani, who auditioned for the role and got a call the next day that said he got it, is looking forward to do the series.
“Of course I am excited to be working on such a fantastic project. The legacy of this show and the sheer number of people it has touched is astounding. Personally I am a huge fan of the BBF world and I am honored to be a part of that,” he said.
For the role, Almani watched the Korean, Taiwanese and Japanese TV versions of “Hana Yori Dango.”
“I will say that I like all the shows for different reasons,” he said.
Almani told Bulletin Entertainment that he’s the oldest of four kids and he has two brothers and a sister.
He shared, “They are my best friends and family is my heart. I wasn’t the best student in school. I kind of chose my own assignments (the ones I liked). I have had to study harder out of school to make up for my rebellious nature. I hated school as a kid; now I wish I had the time to go back. There is so much I am interested in and want to know!”
Almani, who has held more than 40 jobs to date, said, “(It’s) a regular joke with my friends and family. The last count, I’ve had over 43 different jobs, some of which were full blown careers. Like I said there is a lot I’m interested in.”
About acting, he said: “I have worked on several Independent Films and artistic shorts. Status has never really been a factor in choosing which projects I work on. As with most actors in Hollywood, you must love what you do and you work on what you can. I personally love anything artistic or that sends a message but it is a nice change to be working on a project of this stature.”
Almani considers modeling as a fun job as well.
“I get to be as wild and crazy as I want to be and really push my expressions! Film and TV are often about subtlety, more often than not you play someone else. With print I get to be more of myself. Modeling is all commercial. My most recent shoot was with Smirnoff for a campaign in Asia,” he said.
His being a stuntman also had to do with his love for action films.
“Stunt work is also just something I have always done for fun and expression. I have always been a very physical person and I am a huge action film fan. I grew up watching Bruce Lee movies and knew from an early age that I wanted to do action films. I have a background in martial arts and gymnastics and my childhood was very active so I guess it’s only natural I found my way to stunts,” Almani explained.
Of the three careers, acting is his priority. “My focus has always been acting. It is my life,” he said.
When the US series was announced, there were mixed reactions from fans that started comparing it with the Asian versions. Almani said it is natural for people to compare the different adaptations.
“Fans are fans and they get attached to the characters they grow with throughout a series. I would be protective too! I think a lot of the comparisons are natural but each series has had its own perspective it has brought to the series. An American version of a show can’t be expected to translate exactly but after reading the scripts of ‘Boys Before Friends.’ I feel that it does a pretty good job of getting the message across. The story line is amazing and it is something that I can really be proud of. The previous shows have done great, we don’t want to mess with that. We’re going to do a great job, too,” he explained.
Almani is satisfied with the team behind “Boys Before Friends.”
“I am thrilled to have this production company heading up this project. They are all diehard fans so what more could you ask for!! No one really understand the battles they are going through to bring this series to America. It has not been easy but they push through it every day,” he said.
To the fans, Almani’s message is: “I support fans opinions no matter what they are. The fans with a positive supporting message are the ones I look at the most. There is only up and forward for me. There will always be negativity. To those who are hating on the show, I say, ‘Wait till you see it, you will be surprised!’”

Link to my original article on Manila Bulletin online http://www.mb.com.ph/exclusive-joseph-almani-confident-in-playing-lead-role/
To contact the author, send email to sangchusan(at)gmail.com

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