DECADES be­fore Paolo Balles­teros ren­dered the In­ter­net in awe of his makeup trans­for­ma­tions, du­pli­cat­ing the look of the world’s most fa­mous women, com­edy idol Joey de Leon was way ahead of the trend when he as­sumed the role of Barbi on the big screen.

Ob­vi­ously in­spired by the all­was rem­i­nisc­ing the time I would Amer­i­can fash­ion doll Bar­bie by tra­verse Edsa to go to au­di­tions Mat­tel, de Leon’s would-be trio and VTRs. But today, I was drivof movies de­buted in 1989 with ing not for those au­di­tions but a clever sto­ry­line. He por­trayed to at­tend a press con­fer­ence for the very mas­cu­line Bar­tolome del Rosario who was forced to be­lieve that I did Die Beau­ti­ful cre­ate a fe­male al­ter ego when he and now, here comes Barbi,” the was wrongly ac­cused of a crime. 34-year-old ac­tor said grate­fully. Thus, Barbi was born to be­come the block­buster “Barbi: Maid in the Philip­pines,” with two more in­stal­la­tions in “Barbi 2: For Pres­i­dent” in 1991, and “Run Barbi Run in 1995.”

A mem­o­rable char­ac­ter in Philippine com­edy, its cre­ators—com­prised of di­rec­tor Tony Reyes, Orly Ila­cad of Oc­toArts Films and, of course, de Leon among other tal­ented in­di­vid­u­als—found the in­spi­ra­tion to res­ur­rect Barbi with the multi-awarded per­for­mance of Balles­teros as the tragic trans­gen­der in 2016’s “Die Beau­ti­ful.”

In the most ca­sual of terms, the de­ci­sion was prac­ti­cally a brainer.

Nev­er­the­less, the re­make of Barbi af­ter 22 years is a tall order for Balles­teros, and the ac­tor knows it.

“Noth­ing feels real to me,” he de­clared in­cred­u­lously at the up­com­ing movie’s grand press con­fer­ence at Lim­baga 77 Res­tau­rant in Que­zon City.

In play­ing the role of Tr­isha in Die Beau­ti­ful, Balles­teros amassed a slew of Best Ac­tor awards from pres­ti­gious award-giv­ing bod­ies such as 29th Tokyo In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val, the 40th Gawad Urian Awards and the 1st En­ter­tain­ment Edi­tor’s Choice Awards for Movies or “The Ed­dys.”

“When I was on my way here, I

Com­plete tran­si­tion

The 34-year-old ac­tor reprises the iconic role of vet­eran co­me­dian Joey de Leon (left) who brought Barbi to life on the big screen from 1989 to 1992 star in the movie as well. “It ’s not like they had to have my ‘yes’ be­fore mov ing on with the project but when they told me they thought of Paolo to do th i s long time ago, I But de Leon, who threw his full sup­port for the project by be­ing present at the press con, sin­cerely told Balles­teros he de­serves to be where he is today.

“Be­sides be­ing more beau­ti­ful than me when he trans­forms into ‘Barbi’,” the vet­eran co­me­dian ad­mit­ted, “Paolo is re­ally good at what he does. Ma­gal­ingsiya — ac­tu­ally silang­tatlo nina Jose Manalo and Wally Bay­ola [ bet­ter known as JoWaPao in their noon­time show “Eat Bu­laga”], and we al­ways look for­ward to be Balles­teros is the new gen­er­a­tion Barbi en­ter­tained by this trio dur­ing i was so happy h the seg­ment ‘Juan for All.’ They for him,” the don’t outdo one an­other but orig­i­nal Barbi con­tin­ued. “In they work to­gether while still fact, I im­me­di­ately agreed to be show­ing their re­spec­tive brands part of the new movie when they of com­edy.” of­fered me to be part of it. Parang

As such, to wit­ness Balles­teros’ com­plete tran­si­tion di’ba?” de­vel­op­ment as a host and ac­tor in De Leon frankly added, “If the noon­time made it easy for de it wasn’t my dabarkads Paolo Leon “re­lin­quish” Barbi’s crown to who’d be star­ring in the movie, the younger co­me­dian, and to co- I don’t think I’d even do it. I’m semi-re­tired al­ready and mak­ing a movie can tire you out. But like I said, it’s Paolo, it’s Tony, it’s Boss Orly, who are all like broth­ers to me—how could I say no?”

Mil­len­nial Barbi

Mean­while, the pro­duc­tion team im­parted that Balles­teros’ Barbi will un­dergo an up­date from de with the mil­len­nial age.

This time, her al­ter ego will be Billy Baya­gan, a clos­eted gay, who the ex­pec­ta­tions of his fam­ily. The Baya­gans are fam­ily of po­lice

In his ef­forts to be like them, al to be a se­cu­rity guard only to be ac­cused of killing his em­ployer. And so, with Bar­tolome del Rosario’s guid­ance, Billy turns him­self into Barbi to escape the au­thor­i­ties.

For Balles­teros, the chal­lenge now is to en­sure his Barbi looks dif­fer­ent from the now beloved look of Die Beau­ti­ful’s Tr­isha.

“Since this is a vis­ual medium, I’ve had to think hard about what Barbi should look like. I started cre­at­ing her given the role. I made my eye­brows longer, my eyes big­ger and so on and so forth...” he shared.

Thank­fully, the Barbi Balles­teros en­vi­sioned quickly re­ceived de Leon’s stamp of ap­proval, which can only mean the pub­lic should be in for a wor­thy re­make.

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