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EXCLUSIVE: Fil-Am cast in ‘Boys over Flowers’ US remake

The F4 of "Between Boys and Friends" and their counterparts in the Korean version. (From top left) Joseph Almani, Trenton Culkin, Napoleon Tavale, Jason Mordeno, Kim Joon, Kim Bum, Kim Hyun Joong and Lee Min Ho, manila bulletin, manila bulletin entertainment

The F4 of “Between Boys and Friends” and their counterparts in the Korean version. (From top left) Joseph Almani, Trenton Culkin, Napoleon Tavale, Jason Mordeno, Kim Joon, Kim Bum, Kim Hyun Joong and Lee Min Ho (Photos courtesy of “Between Boys and Friends” and KBS websites)

A Filipino-American has been cast to play one of the lead roles in the upcoming American adaptation of the popular Japanese manga series “Hana Yori Dango,” which was turned into the TV drama serials “Meteor Garden” in Taiwan, “Hana Yori Dango” in Japan and “Boys over Flowers” in South Korea.

Actor, model and rapper Jason Mordeno was chosen to play one of the “F4″ in the US adaptation titled “Between Boys and Friends.”

“I’m [100 percent] Filipino and I’ll be turning 21 this November,” he told Bulletin Entertainment.

“Between Boys and Friends” is set in the elite school of Ellison University. Zoey Taylor (Shan Cai in “Meteor Garden” and Geum Jan Di in “Boys over Flowers”), to be played by actress Riley Rae Baker, is a dancer from a middle class family. She is accepted into the university and discovers the bullying of F4.

The leader of F4, Liam Montgomery, will be played by actor and model Joseph Almani and fans are curious to see if he can fill the shoes of Lee Min Ho, Jerry Yan and Jun Matsumoto, who all played the lead roles in their respective serials.

Mordeno will play the role of Noah McCallester, one of the F4, who is Song Woo-bin (played by Kim Joon) in the Korean version and Mei Zuo (played by Vanness Wu) in the Taiwanese version.

“A good friend of mine told me about this upcoming project that people all over the country will be auditioning for it. I wasn’t really sure how immense it was at first until the casting directors told me the eastern part of the world will know who I am if I got cast,” he told Bulletin Entertainment.

To prepare for the audition, Mordeno said he did his research and watched the Korean version.

“I researched almost everything about the series and started watching the anime and Korean versions. Basically, I studied more about ‘Boys over Flowers’ than my classes at school that week,” he said.

He passed the first audition and got a callback.

“Once I got the second callback, they paired me with someone who was already cast as Chloe, played by the beautiful Suteara Vaughn, so that gave me a definite plus in the audition. The next day, they called and left a voicemail saying since I didn’t pick up my phone they were going to give the part to someone else. I called them immediately when I heard that, but they told me they were joking at the end of the voicemail and to expect a lot pranks on set. That’s when I realized I’m going to be working with really special people,” he said.

He said he is excited to be part of the series and work with the cast.

“I’m more than honored to be part of such an amazing cast. Being the youngest of the F4, I feel truly blessed to be amongst great individuals. Definitely looking forward to working with my cast mates and our production team,” Mordeno said.

He was born and raised in the US but he’s been to the Philippines twice.

“I went twice to the Philippines: once when I was just a baby and the other when I was in 6th grade ,” he said, adding that “unfortunately I can’t speak (Filipino) but I understand a little.”

Mordeno directed short films in high school and acted in theater productions. He is also a rapper by the name of A-Son.

Another Filipino-American is part of the series. Jackie Averia will play the role of Piper, Zoey’s best friend.

The filming of “Between Boys and Friends” will start on Oct. 21. The 16-episode series will be released online starting in November.