You know that you've made it as an indie darling in the Philippines when somebody puts your name in a search engine and ends up with a kajillion pictures of you in various states of undress.
By now Coco Martin must've already realized that this was all part of the bargain, considering that he auspiciously began his acting career playing different flavors of rent boy in Brillante Mendoza's art films, as well as other gay-friendly indies from known helmers.
Then Cannes started happening to Coco, via Serbis and Kinatay...
...and the world at large started taking notice.
The story doesn't stop at Cannes, though. Coco also started showing up on the ABS-CBN slate as everyone's favorite antihero, playing characters ranging from unhinged gangsters to vigilante lizard-wranglers. (Yes, I just typed the words vigilante lizard-wrangler. I kid you not.) He also started campaigning for Noynoy Aquino and even starred in a movie as a filmmaker following the current president-elect throughout the years. Meanwhile, he still hasn't abandoned his fans (of all genders and orientations) from the eye-candy years by modeling - once again, in various states of shirtlessness - for Bench.
Which then brings us to the question: How does one cross over from steamy indies to PG-rated mainstream stardom with such ease?
In Coco Martin's defense, I can say I'm less likely to tune out a teleserye whenever he shows up onscreen. He has the tendency to not play the same character twice, in spite of the typecasting. So far he has played trigger-happy nutjobs in two back-to-back seryes, but even then I could tell those characters apart, thanks to the different nuances that Coco brings to each character - gestures, body language, tones of voice. Even in a show crammed with established big-ticket names, Coco is almost always the best part of it all.
The other thing is that Coco doesn't seem to be the kind of guy who's going to stop being, well, Coco. He's not the guy that your grandma wants to end up with the girl, so it follows that he's also not the guy you want to see singing bad covers of Top 40 hits on your average noontime show. He is, however, the guy that you do want to see in a vodka commercial, because he's one of those rare booze endorsers that nobody wants to punch in the face. And of course, once he shows up at the nearest billboard in his underwear, you'll be almost thankful for the crappy Manila traffic.
But seriously, though: vigilante lizard-wrangler. Dang.
(Photo credit for screengrab: Exposay.com.)