Paolo Montalban no relation to Fantasy Island's Ricardo stole moviegoers' hearts with his princely performance in Disney's 1997 remake of Cinderella. But don't expect him to pull out that glass slipper in American Adobo (in limited release Jan. 25). The indie drama finds him doing a full 180 as Raul, a charming but heartless womanizer.
Summing up his character, Montalban explains: "Take every quality you find in Prince Charming, still use those things to get the girl, but then make him a completely thoughtless man once he gets what he wants." Raul's one of five friends testing their love and self-esteem (and delicious meals) over the course of a year in New York City. Adobo writer Vincent R. Nebrida's bilingual script explores such universal themes through the eyes of Filipino-Americans.
"It's an accurate portrayal," offers Montalban, who was born in the Philippines and raised in New Jersey. "Non-Filipino viewers can get a window into what it's like to be a Filipino in the states." An equal-opportunity dater, Raul loves and leaves several women of diverse backgrounds. "For some Filipino men who come over from the Philippines," the actor says, "they find having non-Filipino girlfriends is a huge status [symbol]. For Raul, it's all about show, not about what's inside and the more bimbo she looks, the better."Despite the racy content of his scenes, Montalban made sure to keep his most private parts under wraps. "I had a 'no-butt' clause in my contract," he chuckles. "I'm saving it for the big money!" And no worries, ladies, the single 28-year-old hasn't shed that Cinderella sensibility entirely. "I'm still going to pull out chairs, because chivalry isn't dead, it's just taking a long nap," he declares. "I want to bring it back single-handedly."