By BOY VILLASANTA
Filipina actress Marife Necesito has a breakout role in the scorching domestic drama "Mammoth", a film that includes Hollywood stars Gael Garcia Bernal and Michelle Williams.
"Mammoth" is directed by critically-acclaimed Swedish director Lukas Moodysson. Moodyson is a winner of the Guldbagge Award (the Swedish counterpart to the US Oscar Awards) for Best Director.
Moodysson's film is about a love triangle between a businessman (Bernal), his wife (Williams) and the nanny (Necesito).
Moddyson also directed and produced Memphis Films' "Dogville" starring Nicole Kidman and Bjork"s "Dance in the Dark."
Necesito is not a superstar in the Philippines, but she is a respected actress on stage, film and television productions. Necesito passed a rigorous audition to bag the plum role.
Necesito bested other respected local actresses in the "Mammoth" tryouts, including Alessandra de Rossi, Chinchin Gutierrez, Joyce Jimenez and even seasoned theater and screen thespian Pinky Amador.
Necesito made a good impression during the tryouts after she improvised a scene from a story that was told to her on the spot.
Her improv included dialogue that she made up and delivered in English, Filipino and a mix of the two.
Eventually, she made the trip to Sweden where she was oriented on how to tackle her role in "Mammoth".
Necesito's character serves as a case study on the realities of globalization and the importance of being able to cherish and appreciate the people in one's life.
"It’s like one must care for what we have for if we lose them, we can’t bring them back except to relive them in pictures like a dinosaur or a mammoth," Necesito explained.
Bernal was already a celebrated actor in Mexico when he was finally noticed in Hollywood for his role in the Brad Pitt-Cate Blanchett film "Babel".
So far, Bernal has starred in five Oscar-nominated films: "Amores Perros" (Best Foreign Language Film, Mexico); "El Crimen de Padre Amaro" (Best Foreign Language Film, Mexico); "Y Tu Mamá También" (Best Original Screenplay); "The Motorcycle Diaries" (Best Song, Best Adapted Screenplay) and "Babel" (Best Picture, Best Director, Best S. Actress, Best S. Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing, Best Score).
Williams was one of the stars in the US soap "Dawson's Creek". Later on, she became a recipient of Best Actress awards and nominations for her role in Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain".
She is also known for being the ex-girlfriend of deceased Australian actor and Hollywood star Heath Ledger. Willams and Ledger have a little daughter, Matilda.
Necesito has only good words about Bernal and Williams, describing them as "very professional and warm".
"They’re not pains in the ass like what we usually hear about some Hollywood stars. They are very human and kind," she observed.
The Filipina has fond memories of talking to the two actors during breaks. "Michelle was very interesting. When I was talking to her, she would shift from her own person to the film character. She’s really immersed in her character)," Necesito said.
According to Necesito, they were still filming "Mammoth" scenes in Sweden when word got out about Ledger's death. She said that Williams was very emotional and flew to New York where Ledger's wake was held.
Bernal, on the other hand, was a very amiable person and fun to be around with, said Necesito.
Some of her scenes in "Mammoth" were shot in Manila. The others however, were shot in an especially constructed set that mimicked a Manila setting.
"[It's amazing.] They had to reconstruct the Manila set in Sweden. Magaling ang production designer nila. Nakuha talaga ‘yong atmosphere ng isang mahirap na parte ng Maynila. You know, ‘yong maraming nakasampay na damit at may mga lata ng sardines at instant noodles sa loob ng bahay," she said.
Necesito had to shuttle from Sweden to New York to Italy for the filming. "I am looking forward to work with them again. It was really an experience," she said.
"Mammoth" is slated to hit the silver screen this year and Necesito hopes it is released in the Philippines.