‘He never said a word’: The real reason John Lloyd looked the way he did in 2019

MANILA — Despite drawing comments for growing his hair and beard long in 2019 — a stark contrast from the clean-cut matinee idol image he had been known for — John Lloyd Cruz never once explained his drastic transformation and in fact opted to stay away from the limelight.

At the time, in mid-2019, Cruz had been a year and a half into his hiatus from showbiz, with only candid photos taken by fans cluing in the public on his whereabouts, and his appearance.

When photos of Cruz sporting a full beard and shoulder-length wavy hair went viral, not a few remarked that the actor supposedly neglected his looks.

Now it can be said: Cruz’s purposely unkempt appearance was the specific instruction of his director at the time, Lav Diaz, for the film “Historya ni Ha.”

That’s according to Hazel Orencio, Cruz’s co-actor in the period film, in a Facebook post paying tribute to the lead star and explaining his method of acting.

“Back in 2019, so many things were said about JLC and this look. He kept mum, never said a word, never reacted. People forgot that he is first and foremost an actor; it was just him preparing for a role in a film set in 1957. He prepared, nonetheless,” Orencio wrote.

Cruz went as far as reflecting his character’s personality of being reclusive, according to Orencio — a belated context that now explains why the actor, despite his A-list stature, had been so evasive of being seen in the media during his hiatus from mainstream.

“He didn’t cut his hair and he made his beard grew as per Lav’s instruction. He immersed in the role of Hernando Alamada, a ventriloquist who used to work in cruise ships as an entertainer. Recluse, never talks. It was just Ha, the doll, doing the talking for him. It was an advantage to him, a valid excuse to be quiet.

“Yet it doesn’t mean he wasn’t challenged. The act of being silent alone for all the criticisms he got for looking that way was challenging; much more plunging into a ventriloquist role — something he has never done yet,” Orencio said.

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