It was a balmy Saturday night in early February and as much as I want to dislike rainy season, the cool wind was ready to calm my nerves. Standing alone at a rooftop bar, I wasn’t so sure who to talk to as I don’t like to talk to strangers when I’m alone (even though I’m an extrovert). From the corner of my eye, I spied a tanned and tall hunk with shoulder-grazing ombré hair held a drink in hand. Dressed in a black dress shirt with matching jeans, he wore silver rings alongside a delicate thin chain around his neck. Breaking into a friendly smile, he introduced himself to me. The moment our eyes met, I felt the mojo of a rockstar, the charisma of a politician and the aura of actor. If you believe that he is Aquaman, don’t be distracted. In fact, this 25-year-old Jason Momoa doppelgänger is no other than Joseph Angelo, a Bangkok-based Phukhet-bred actor.
The virtuous Virgo and I chat about fitting into gender conventions, why it’s cool to be inspired by women and if horoscopes make up character traits.
Acting has been an art you’ve passionately pursued since young; however, you’ve chosen to start your career in film. Why did you pick film over stage?
Joseph Angelo: Growing up on a tropical island in Southeast Asia, it was hard to find a decent play to watch or to even get into theatre, so I really didn’t have a choice but to choose film. [A]lso I wouldn’t say that I “chose” film, it just came naturally as I had such a big interest and curiosity on sci-fi and fantasy. Gaming and film were the portals to that world, and I was obsessed. But[,] I can tell you now that A LOT has changed over the years and ever since I studied acting in a drama school in UK, I grew a newfound love and started a beautiful and on going relationship with theatre and stage.
I’ve noticed that as an actor, you have to represent certain character traits that define masculinity. Do you feel that you have to fit yourself into a box to define gender and sexuality (through your role)?
JA: It’s true that there are certain character traits that you always see in acting, [which] we call it “typecast”. No matter who you are, when you first get in the industry you’ll always be typecasted, whether you’re a blonde hair/blue eyed or have dark skin and an afro. You get put into that role mainly because you “look the part”. In this day and age, things are changing and now we’re starting to see roles that are more universal. But in Thailand, sadly it still stays stereotypical. I will always play as a villain here just because of my long locks, facial hair and brown skin. Thai people identify that look as the “bad guy” compared to the protagonist (who always looks like a Kpop star). I just happen to look the part, so I fit into a box without even choosing to, and when it comes to playing a villain a lot of masculinity is involved (hence the facial hair!). People always tend to call my character “The Savage”, [so] I kind of dig it.
If you can name an actor who’s inspired you the most, who is it and why do you look up to him?
JA: Recently[,] [I’ve] been watching Viggo Mortensen (nominated for an Oscar on Captain Fantastic and Green Book), [so I] admire his character interpretations and [he] seems to play them all so effortlessly well.
Apart from men, I remember you telling me that you happen be inspired by women like Janis Joplin. How do women inspire you?
JA: Women are the muses, source of creative fire. They are worthy to be worshipped!
I feel that men aren’t that style-conscious enough to express their sexuality as boldly as women. Like, I have to crunch in more effort to doll up way more than you! For men who wanna look sexy, what’s your go-to wardrobe staple?
JA: Luckily men can get away with being scruffy, sometimes it’s sexy? Keep it simple yet interesting and bold. Just look at any rockstar from Lenny Kravitz to even Shawn Mendes!
When did you become comfortable with your own sexuality?
JA: [I] [a]lways felt comfortable with my sexuality [and I] grew up in a country with big influences on homosexuality and third genders. It wasn’t frowned upon unlike other countries.
These days, it’s hard to find true gentleman. What are the traits that make up for the ideal gentleman? Do you feel like you see yourself as a gentleman?
JA: “Gentle-man”, that should explain it all. Be gentle, warm, kind to everyone not just the opposite sex. I would say that I was taught to be a nice person – the people and the culture here in Thailand taught me that.
Based on my experiences, I find that Virgo men don’t really pressure women like myself to hook up on the first date compared to other signs. Why do you think that Virgos are so chill compared to say, Gemini? (DISCLAIMER: This writer is a Gemini and among all her dates, Gemini men always wanna hook up!)
JA: In my opinion[,] it may not have to be a [V]irgo. [It] could be on the person’s upbringing and traits. I have friends that were brought up similar to me who act the same on dates and happen to be a different star sign. In Thai culture[,] we have an expression called “Greng jai”, [so] it’s a feeling of not wanting to put another person out or hurt another person’s feelings. It’s a feeling of consideration for others. It’s not performing a certain act because somebody else might not feel good about you doing it. Thai people are very proud of this [and] it’s in their psyche. Personally, I like to read people and their body language (due to acting) and see how the other person feels.