September 14, 2021 is a day Iñigo Pascual will not soon forget. Not only did the actor and singer turn 24 that day, it also marked his first shooting day for the Fox drama series, “Monarch,” his first official foray into Hollywood.
“Monarch” tells the story of the Romans who has built a dynasty in the American country music scene. The family is led by Dottie Cantrell-Roman (Susan Sarandon) and her husband, Albie (Trace Adkins). They have three children: Nicky (Anna Friel), Gigi (Beth Ditto), and Luke (Joshua Sasse).
Iñigo plays Ace Grayson, the 18-year-old adopted son of Nicky and her husband Clive (Adam Croasdell).
After working on the series for almost a year, the show finally premiered this month, also on Iñigo’s birthday week. “Parang birthday gift talaga siya,” he tells host Bianca Gonzalez in a CinemaNews interview on CinemaOne. The first two episodes are now streaming on iwanttfc.com.
On his very first day on the set—his birthday—the production team prepared a surprise for him and it was the show’s lead star, Sarandon, who carried Iñigo’s birthday cake. “Sobrang kilig ko nun,” he says.
The young actor says he met the actress a few nights before they started shooting. They even attended a local concert together and he found her to be very nice and down to earth. She saw her fall in line like the rest. “It's nice to be able to witness that. At nakaka-humble siyempre.” Still, he didn’t have the guts to request for a photo with Sarandon. “Nung dinner, nahiya naman ako. Ayoko ilabas ang pagka-fan boy ko. ‘Papicture po.’ Hindi naman pwede ganun dun,” he says, laughing at the memory.
But on his birthday, he managed to tell Sarandon: “All I want for my birthday is a picture with you.” And she warmly accommodated his birthday wish.
Iñigo got to act with the award-winning actress a number of times, but it’s mostly in the ensemble scenes. “Yung character ni Susan, she’s very strong. [Although I’m close to her] mas close ako sa lolo ko,” he says, referring to the character of Trace Adkins, with whom Iñigo had a moving duet on episode 2.
The young actor had so many fond memories while working on the series. But his first week, he says, was very noteworthy. A newbie in Hollywood, he didn’t know how things usually went on the set. “Nakatambay lang ako, and I was looking for the restroom. Hindi ko talaga alam saan ako pupunta,” he recalls. It’s uncommon for stars to attend shoots with a road manager, so he asked one of the makeup artists to point him to where the comfort room was.
“You have a trailer. Why don’t you just use the bathroom in your trailer?” the makeup artist told him. He was surprised to find out he’s been assigned his own trailer. Utterly speechless. He was so overwhelmed he almost broke into tears.
His co-star, Emma Milani, had a similar experience. “First major project niya rin sa States. Nakakatuwa na sabay naming naranasan na may trailer kami. VIP treatment kung sunduin kami sa airport ng magandang sasakyan. Para talagang pelikula yung lahat ng nangyayari,” he says.
The young actor had a great time doing the show and learned a lot too because everyone was very accommodating. Like many of his co-actors, Iñigo also had to learn to speak with a Southern accent for the series. “Yun ang isang kinatatakutan ko bago ako sumalang doon,” he admits. “Nung ginawa ko ang audition, hindi naman ako nag-Southern accent. I didn't want to sound like I was trying hard.” In the end, he did it the way he would normally speak English.
He also had to learn how to properly sing country, says Iñigo who mostly does pop and R&B. “Out of all the stuff na ginawa ko, isa yun sa challenging. Yung nakasanayan mong style na pop R&B, it’s like all of a sudden you have to forget it. Sobrang strict sila sa details,” he shares. But he assures his Filipino fans that the “Monarch” soundtrack is definitely something to look forward to. “It’s very country Iñigo, it’s very different,” he says.