'Bride for Rent' stars Xian Lim and Kim Chiu.Photo: Handout
1-on-1 with director Mae Czarina Cruz
MANILA -- "Bride for Rent" director Mae Czarina Cruz credits lead star Kim Chiu for the bursts of spontaneous comedy in the romantic film, which will hit theaters on January 15 as producer Star Cinema's first offering for the year.
The 23-year-old actress portrays Rocky, whose frantic search for a job leads her to an audition called by Rocco (Xian Lim). He is looking for a woman to pretend to be his wife, in the hope of accessing his trust fund. With the burden of preventing her family's eviction from their rented home, Rocky takes up the role which soon spirals into a long-term act.
Forced to get married in church at the request of Rocco's grandmother (Pilita Corrales), Rocky turns the table on her employer as she blackmails him to do as she asks while they co-exist under the same roof.
The set-up is ripe for comedic moments, as in the film's trailer, where Rocco is seen struggling with domestic responsibilities at the command of Rocky. The pretend wife has also won over Rocco's grandmother, who sides with her in the couple's arguments.
Cruz, whose last film was the 2013 blockbuster "She's the One," attested to Chiu's knack for comedy, crediting her improvisation for shaping key scenes in the movie. Among them, Cruz said, is the popular snippet in the film preview where Rocky says, "Isn't it amazing?"
Shortly after a recent press conference for "Bride for Rent," ABS-CBNnews.com sat down with Cruz to discuss what else to expect from the film. While it promises laughs, the romantic-comedy, Cruz said, will of course take a dramatic turn that "will make you love Rocco and Rocky."
"Bride for Rent" is the second film to co-star Chiu and Lim in lead roles, after the box office success of "Bakit Hindi Ka Crush ng Crush Mo?" in 2013. It also stars Tirso Cruz III, Dennis Padilla, Matt Evans, Martin del Rosario, and Empoy.
ABS-CBNnews.com: You mentioned that Kim and Xian had many ad-libs in the movie. What are specific instances you can share with us?
Cruz: Actually, in the trailer, the [part where Kim says], "Isn't it exciting?" That's her ad-lib. Kasi what I noticed with her when we did the camera test, meron siyang mga natural na, alam mo 'yon, mga hinihirit. When I saw that, parang I wanted her to explore and ayokong i-pressure siya. So ang ginagawa ko, pinapa-roll ko lang 'yung camera, and then tuluy-tuloy lang siya nagsasalita. Kung anu-ano na sinasabi niya.
'Bride for Rent'director Mae Czarina Cruz. Photo: Handout
O sasabihin ko, "O, gugulatin kita ah. I'll ask you questions." Kunwari, audition scene. Ako 'yung magbabato ng question. I won't brief her on what's going to happen, para it will come out naturally. Kasi parang gusto ko ma-feel niya 'yung parang talagang nag-o-audition. And then she became comfortable doing improv. Kumbaga, 'diba, improvisation 'yun. So I allowed her to do her own thing, and in the process, naging comfortable siya.
Kaya nga natuwa ako na by the end of the movie -- of course, the others baka maging spoilers. Pero 'yung like, "Isn't amazing? Isn't it exciting?" that's hers!
And Ms. Pilita Corrales' response to that was...
Sumagot siya! Bigla nalang. Ano rin, spontaneous!
So they went back and forth?
Yes, nagka-banter sila! That's why anggaling ng chemistry nung cast, kasi parang may hinihirit si Kim, si Xian, merong nahihirit. Si Tita Pilita is able to answer also. And then nagiging funny 'yung eksena. I guess it's because, 'yun nga, parang komportable sila sa isa't-isa. At may natural cuteness din kasi si Tita Pilita, so parang nagma-match sila doon ni Kim.
Would you say Kim has a knack for comedy?
Yes, definitely! As in talagang nakakatuwa kasi parang hindi niya in-expect. When we started this film, I had a one-on-one with her. Sabi ko, "So how do you feel about the success of your movie ['Bakit Hindi Ka Crush ng Crush Mo']?" Sabi niya, "Hindi ko akalain na nakakatawa pala ako." Sabi ko, "Oo naman!" When we did '24/7 [In Love]' -- kasi I did their episode, 'yung sa kanilang dalawa ni Gerald [Anderson] -- parang nakita ko na na meron siyang parang naturalesa na gano'n. Pero hindi naman siya na-explore o natodo.
Dito, sa movie na 'to, sabi ko, "Itodo natin, ilabas mo kung ano 'yung meron pa." And then naturally, lumalabas nalang! 'Yung hirit niya doon sa bed, 'yung naghihilahan sila ni Xian doon, marami siyang ad-lib. Minsan nga, nari-realize niya na ito lang 'yung dialogue niya pero humahaba dahil sa ad-lib niya, kung anu-ano nang lumalabas. And every take, may bago siyang binibigay.
And they turn out to be funny?
Oo, oo! As in, nakakatawa! When you watch the film, marami doon, as in it came from her!
As a director, would you say Kim is more suited in drama or comedy? Have you worked with her in a drama?
Hindi pa drama, eh. Comedy pa pareho, eh. I mean, rom-com. I would say that rom-com is her niche right now. I think she did well naman in her soaps before like "Ina, Kapatid, Anak." Pero iba 'yung...
Her level of comfort?
Yes, and 'yung naibibigay niya. Parang she is... The reason why I say she found her niche is kasi, as compared to other actresses of her generation, meron siyang nagagawa na hindi nagagawa ng iba. May naibibigay siya na hindi naibibigay ng iba. Kumbaga, she can be sweet, but she can be sexy. She can be funny, but she can do drama. So anglaki ng potential niya dito sa genre na 'to, in rom-com. I would say she's a "rom-com princess." She can own it and she can go very, very far pa pag nag-grow pa siya.
And with that said, can we still look forward to any drama scenes in the movie?
Yes, meron. And talagang you'll sympathize with her! Alam mo 'yun, parang you will really love her character. In-own niya kasi eh. She created this character. Actually, in reality, her name in the script was Raquel dela Cruz. Sabi niya, "Parang mas magandang pakinggan 'yung 'Raquilita!'" Kasi the way she says it... (laughs) Sabi ko, "Sige, okay naman." So they contribute. It's a collaboration. Parang pag may idea sila, binabato nila sa akin. That's why I said they both created their characters.
"She's the One" did really well at the box office. Are you feeling any pressure to live up to that accomplishment?
Iba naman 'yung feel nito, iba 'yung flavor. So parang that's the past, that's another project. I leave that behind, kasi kumbaga sa ano, new relationship. Wala ka nang hangover doon sa last na relationship. Ito, totally new, and I look at it na siya lang without comparing. And I just want to, like we did, we just had fun doing it. Masaya rin kami sa set, kasi walang pressure for them, from their last film, and no pressure for me, from my last film. We set it aside and just focus on this new one! And we loved the characters, kaya nabuo namin nang ganito.