Darna, a creation of Mars Ravelo and easily the foremost Philippine comic superhero, has long enjoyed a multimedia life beyond her print origins, with films and TV series under a succession of studios and networks. By 2013 however, Darna and other IPs of the Ravelo estate came under exclusive ownership of ABS-CBN, with a new “Darna” movie starring the character’s GMA7 portrayer (turned Kapamilay star herself) Angel Locsin planned. When Locsin dropped out of the production, the role was given to Liza Soberano in 2017, until she too withdrew last April. While a new ABS-CBN Darna has yet to be found, another Kapamilya talent has made known her intent to play the heroine’s iconic arch-enemy.
As ABS-CBN News tells it, actress Denise Laurel, who can currently be seen in the long-running police tele-serye “FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano,” gave a great accounting of herself in an informal “audition” to become Valentina the snake-woman for the still in-development “Darna” movie. Said audition happened on ABS-CBN’s “Tonight with Boy Abunda” last Thursday, July 4. Laurel, a guest that evening, was asked by host Boy Abunda if she was interested in taking up the role of Darna, only for Laurel to express interest in Valentina.
Abunda then challenged her to an impromptu audition for the snake woman, even providing her a Valentina headdress (which was handed to Laurel by a stage hand due to Abunda’s professed fear of snakes). Once she put on the prop however, Laurel stalked the stage with sweeping hand gestures and a sinister piercing gaze, while reciting Valentina’s signature chant catchphrase which was shown on prompt. Abunda and the audience were impressed enough that the former admitted to being unnerved by the skit. Following her act, Laurel candidly remarked that the trick to playing the role was “all in the eyes.”
ABS-CBN has lined up Jerrold Tarog (“Heneral Luna” and “Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral”) to direct the “Darna” film, and his name is about the only one truly confirmed as being involved in the project which had seen no less than two lead actress departures, as stated earlier, and one directorial change. Tarog’s predecessor had been Erik Matti, who had also brought in his production company Reality Entertaiment. However he has moved on at roughly the same time as Angel Locsin’s first announcement of being unable to reprise as Darna. The company is insistent that despite all circumstances, production remains ongoing.
In the meantime, aside from her regular stint in “Ang Probinsyano” Denise Laurel will also feature in the next episode of courtroom anthology “Ipaglaban Mo,” which will air July 6.
Image from ABS-CBN YouTube Channel