Filipinos in ‘Bourne Legacy:’ Very patient, always punctual

FilAms cast as factory workers. Luis Pedron is second from left in front row wearing yellow shirt. Photo by Troi Santos, who is also among the performers together with his wife Mapet Santos, Victor Palmos and Richard Reyes.

By Elton Lugay

Who coulda known? That just days after he rented the “Bourne Trilogy” on Netflix, Luis Pedron would get a casting call for him to appear in “The Bourne Legacy.” Luis would get to play two roles, that of an airline passenger and a factory supervisor.

“I believe in the Law of Attraction,” said Luis, himself an indie filmmaker and a film festival organizer. “I rented the ‘Bourne Trilogy’ and watched all of them. I was surprised to be on the Bourne set only a few days after that.”

“The Bourne Legacy,” directed by Tony Gilroy, is the fourth in a series of Bourne thrillers written by Eric Van Lustbader. About 40 percent of its scenes were filmed in the Philippines, with a cast of stars that included theater actress Madeleine Nicolas.

In New York where the filming continued, the production would cast more than 50 Filipinos in small roles. Luis recounted to The FilAm how he got a call from Grant Wilfley Casting inviting him to be part of the group of Filipino actors “acting as if we were flying with Jeremy and Rachel Weisz to the Philippines.”

“This was a two-day shoot at JFK at the American Airlines Terminal,” recalled Luis. “Since the scenes were going through TSA and boarding a real American Airlines plane (even though it was still on the ground) we had to go through the American Airlines ticketing counter and get ticketed and pass through TSA every day. We had to present our IDs every day as if we were really boarding an international flight to Manila.” They were not flying, but had to follow strict FAA security regulations.

When he thought that was the end of his several minutes of fame, Luis got a call again from the same casting agency. He was told about a big factory scene that required about 400 people, more than 50 of them Filipinos. In this particular scene inside the New York Times printing plant in Flushing, Queens, Luis – with his stern, bespectacled Filipino-Chinese look — was cast in the role of a factory supervisor.

For the supervisor role, about 15 actors – a mix of Filipino and Chinese performers — were selected.

“But we all looked Filipino. We had a separate fitting day at Kauffman Astoria Studios in Long Island City,” he said.

Since Grant Wilfley knew Luis was active in the Filipino community in New York and that he spoke Tagalog, the agency enlisted his help in calling for more Filipinos in the cast. Luis looked no further than his coterie of close friends.

“I got to recommend fellow Filipinos to be on the set for the big factory scene. I was also assigned to be the official Filipino interpreter on set. Feeling ko UN interpreter ako,” he let out a chuckle.

Luis is no stranger to acting in Hollywood movies. He’s been a Screen Actors Guild member since 1998. The union has merged with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and is now known as SAG-AFTRA, which continues to negotiate working conditions and wage agreements between its members and production companies.

SAG member Luis Pedron

Among his film credits are speaking lines in the Filipino American film “American Adobo” (directed by Laurice Guillen); Kim Cattrall’s assistant in “Shortcut to Happiness” (directed by Alec Baldwin); Mark Ruffalo’s camera assistant in “13 Going on 30” (directed by Gary Winick); as Chinese soldier in “Strip Search” (directed by Sidney Lumet); as ensemble prison dancer in Michael Jackson’s “They Don’t Care About Us” (directed by Spike Lee); and in scenes in the soon-to-be- released films: as 12-Step treatment participant in “Thanks for Sharing” (directed by Stuart Blumberg), as English professor in “Admission” (directed Paul Weitz) and as Wall Street broker in “The Wolf of Wall Street” (directed by Martin Scorsese).

“I’m used to being in a Hollywood set,” continued Luis.

Doing “Legacy,” the cast was on set at about 3 a.m. almost every time. “We went directly to wardrobe to wear our costumes before eating breakfast. It was harmoniously orchestrated by a lot of assistant directors and staff on set. The atmosphere was ‘Hurry up and wait.’ That’s the Hollywood mantra.”

More on his experience: “As professional actors we are trained not to take pics, ask for autographs of the lead actors nor talk to them. Because they might be concentrating on their roles. Director Tony Gilroy was very hands-on on set. He was very meticulous. It was a Hollywood set, even though it was shot on film, there were lots and lots of takes.”

Luis said it was “truly memorable and a blessing” to be working with his closest friends on set. “I miss cabbing with Troi and Mapet Santos, Victor Palmos, etc. early in the morning and eating with my Filipino people during the wonderfully catered lunch. Galing talaga.”

Pedron said he was paid almost $2,000 for the five-day shoot.

“I am so proud of the Filipinos on set, always punctual and so patient. There were a lot of waiting and a lot of working on set too. Especially because we had early call times every day and long hours. Lagi pa rin silang nakatawa and nag-eenjoy,” he said.

Looking back, Luis cracked that maybe he should start watching the James Bond films, hoping to be hired in the same serendipitous way. “Wow, it will be truly a dream come true.”

Also cast were photographer Troi Santos and his wife Mapet Martinez Santos. Mapet was a factory worker and Troi another supervisor.

Troi had four scenes – two with the lead actors Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz — but no speaking lines. “Factory floor talking to factory workers walking towards the camera where Jeremy and Rachel will come out of the door after we pass, hallway near manager’s office talking to male and female managers, in catwalk working on computer where Jeremy and Rachel will pass by running, and in the manager’s room window looking outside to check commotion,” he said.

This is Troi’s first acting role. “Wala nga akong balak mag casting. Pinilit lang ako ni Luis. Sabi ko basta hindi makikita ang mukha ko sa pinilakang tabing okay lang.” For his participation in this film, he became SAG-eligible.

He described the New York crew as “very respectful and very kind,” and Tony Gilroy, the director, as “a really nice guy.”

Even if his scenes end up on the cutting floor, Troi said it was an experience of a lifetime for a couple of reasons: It was his first time to appear in a Hollywood film with his wife, and he met a Filipino crew member, safety officer CarloVito Santangelo.

“I asked one of the crew if he was part Pinoy and he said how did you know, and I said we can smell Pinoy blood,” Troi said.

“The Bourne Legacy” will be in theaters on August 10.

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