Working with female directors seems to have become second nature to actor Piolo Pascual. After all, he’s already done a string of blockbuster romance films with these exceptionally talented artists: Joyce Bernal (“Till There Was You,” “Last Night,” “Paano Kita Iibigin,” “Don’t Give Up On Us”), Olivia Lamasan (“Starting Over Again,””Milan”), Rory Quintos (“Love Me Again”), and Mae Czarina Cruz-Alviar (“Every Breath U Take”).
In Netflix’s upcoming movie release entitled “My Amanda,” Piolo is back in the care of another woman. The guy was handpicked by actress and first-time director Alessandra De Rossi to star opposite her in a story of love and friendship, in a movie he produced along with Bernal and Erickson Raymundo (Spring Films), and Assunta and Jules Ledesma (AWOO which was built in partnership with VIVA Corporation).
At a virtual press conference hosted by Netflix this week, Piolo says he found it easy being directed by his co-actor in Lav Diaz’s “Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis” (2016). Primarily because she knew exactly what she wanted from the film.
“She knew her shots,” he says. “I didn’t have to think about Alessandra as an actress because I knew she could take it on. I knew she could handle it. I knew she could wing it no matter what. I just believed in the script, I just believed in the project, and I just went along with her. And I just had fun.”
The spunky actress also wrote the film’s screenplay, inspired by her own relationships with her male friends. The dynamics of Fuffy (Piolo) and Fream’s (Alessandra) friendship in “My Amanda” is based on her relationship with her real life best friend, TJ.
Piolo recalls Alessandra telling him that he simply needed to be himself. “Just come as you are,” she said, which was something he appreciated and took at face value. “It was a walk in the park.”
It also helped that the new director brought TJ to the set so PJ (Piolo's nickname) was able to observe his mannerisms and pick up a few things. The actor says playing TJ came easy to him. Perhaps the hardest thing the 44-year old star had to do for the movie was to grow his hair out. And have six ear piercings.
As for Alessandra’s style of directing, Piolo says she was very collaborative and listened to her actors. She was careful not to offend people and didn't force her ideas if she thought they can do it the way her actor preferred to do a scene. “She would give way. It was easy. That’s why she got hospitalized,” Piolo says, laughing, recalling how the fatigue, stress, and pent-up emotions took a toll on the debuting director’s health. She had to go to the hospital thrice in two weeks while at work on the movie.
There was a point during production when Alessandra was getting disappointed and frustrated, shares Piolo. The things she envisioned weren’t happening. “She was just taking on so much stuff,” says the actor. Good thing a more experienced director, Bernal, who is also creative producer in the film, was on hand to share her ideas with Alessandra. “What’s nice about their relationship is they’re open,” says Piolo about the two women. “They learn from each other. She was there the whole time.”
Alessandra says the movie was also inspired by how Joyce and Piolo treat each other as friends. “They’re like, ‘Come here, kiss me.’ I said, ‘This is so entertaining. My best friend and I are the same.’”
The magic of the movie, says Piolo, comes from the chemistry he and Alessandra seem to have in front of the camera, which comes across as very natural. “I was just following her instructions, but upon watching the film, I go, ‘Oh, wow, it’s nice. It’s nice to watch them.”
[The movie premieres on Netflix on July 15.]
Photos courtesy of Netflix