Look! Chinoy theater actors Reuben Uy and Herbie Go in Super Bowl commercials

Look! Chinoy theater actors Reuben Uy and Herbie Go in Super Bowl commercials
Philippine Daily Inquirer
April 23, 2016

Screengrab of "Higher" video commercial.
Theater actor Reuben Uy has been cast in a US commercial for Toyota Prius that aired during the pre-game segment of this year's Super Bowl, the annual championship game of the US National Football League.

The ad begins with a child staring at the sky from his bedroom window. His father fetches him in a red 2016 Prius and a montage of scenes follow where the child stares at the sky from the car's backseat.

The child grows up to become an astronaut played by Uy.

As the father looks at an old photo of himself and his son, the camera cuts to Uy, in a space suit, standing on what is presumably another planet, looking out into space (where the Earth and the moon can be seen).

The 60-second ad, titled "Higher," can be viewed on Youtube.com/ToyotaUSA.

There are also Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese voiceover versions, presumably targeted at Asian American markets.

The ad's pregame appearance at the Super Bowl meant it had a huge audience debut; this year was the 50th Super Bowl, with Coldplay, Bruno Mars and Beyoncé performing in the halftime show. The show itself had a reported 111.9 million viewers.

This year's average cost for a 30-second commercial slot in the Super Bowl was $5 million (roughly P240 million).

Watch video here:

Party guest
Screengrab of Amazon's Echo video commercial.
Meanwhile, Herbie Go, theater actor and former Tanghalang Pilipino artistic director now based in New York, was cast as a background actor in a commercial for Amazon's Echo, a hands-free, voice-controlled speaker device for Internet access.

He plays a party guest, together with Missy Elliott, in Alec Baldwin's home as Baldwin demonstrates what an Echo can do.

The commercial also aired during the Super Bowl and can be viewed on Youtube.com/Amazon.

Go's recent theater acting credits include "Gospel of Matthew," "A Couple of Poor Polish-Speaking Romanians" and "AutoMotive" for East River Commedia, and "Auto da Fe" for International Wow Company.

On TV, he was cast as a shopkeeper in the HBO series "Girls."

He recently directed a staged reading of Juan Miguel Severo's "Hintayan sa Langit," translated into English by Ralph Peña.

Watch video here:

Hot suit
Reuben Uy
Uy, now based in Los Angeles, has a commercial agent who got him the slot to audition.

He recalls: "They had me act out the scenario, then I came back for a final callback. I found out through my agent that I booked the part!"

His part took one day to film. "We really shot on a different planet," he jokes. "We shot on location in the Inland Empire, a region in southern California."

He notes: "The space suit was really hot inside. Good thing the weather was around 85°F (29°C) that day because usually it's in the hundreds (38°C or higher)."

Filipinos have seen Uy in commercials before. He played a Chowking chef in its delivery hotline commercial. He's seen stir-frying ingredients in a wok and the camera pulls out to reveal he's actually cooking on a moving delivery motorcycle.

"I proceed to do a kung-fu leap to deliver the dish to the customer," he says.

He's also appeared in commercials for PLDT, Smart, Mountain Dew and Jollibee.

Theater background
Herbie Go
"I was a really hyperactive kid who needed a creative outlet," he says.

"My sister Charry convinced my parents to enroll me in a theater workshop with Repertory Philippines. Actually, she was the one who wanted to join so she used me to get in, too," he says, laughing.

"Robbie Guevara was my teacher, he saw something in me, and he gave me the confidence to pursue this craft."

Uy's credits in Manila include World Theater Project's "The Threepenny Opera" as Readymoney Matt; Actor's Actors, Inc.'s "Hedda Gabler" as Eilert Loevborg; Tanghalang Pilipino's "A Streetcar Named Desire" as Stanley Kowalski; Dulaang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas' "Orosman at Zafira" as Abdalap and "Rizal X" as Jose Rizal; Atlantis Productions' "Piaf" as Charles Aznavour, and Rep's "Altar Boyz" as Luke and "Jekyll and Hyde" as Lord Savage.

He was cast as JJ in the 2013 film "Metro Manila," with John Arcilla, Jake Macapagal and Althea Vega.

Uy is thankful for his theater career in Manila, which gave him the opportunity to play non-Asian roles.

"I was lucky to play roles such as Stanley Kowalski, Eilert Loevborg and even Charles Aznavour," he says. "In the US, it would have been a stretch for an Asian to play an Armenian, but in Manila, no one batted an eyelash."

Since relocating to the US in 2013, he's been in Candlelight Pavilion's "The King and I," Theatrum Elysium's "Hamlet2" and East West Players' "Beijing Spring."

He is currently part of the TV gag show "Pun Plip Pridays," which airs every other Friday on LA 18 TV, a channel for the Filipino-American community in Southern California. The show is syndicated to KIKU station in Hawaii.

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