MANILA — In the five years since “The General’s Daughter” was first conceptualized, the project was revised and put on hold numerous times, but one aspect remained untouched: the choice of actress who would portray the titular character.
For Dreamscape Entertainment Television, the production unit behind “The General’s Daughter,” it was Angel Locsin as Rhian Bonifacio, or nothing.
Now the action-drama series is finally set to premiere on January 21, with Locsin in her first lead TV role since 2014’s “The Legal Wife.”
“Gawa na itong istorya na ‘to, matagal na,” Dreamscape creative head Rondel Lindayag revealed. “Hindi alam ni Angel ‘to — four, five years ago, na-pitch na namin siya. For Angel talaga, pero that time, hindi siya puwede.”
Locsin has said she had agreed not to take on a TV series during the time she was set to star in the superhero film “Darna,” which was first announced in June 2014. She eventually had to withdraw from the project in 2017 due to a spine injury for which she continues to have physical therapy.
Over the “parked” period of “The General’s Daughter,” it went through a number of changes, such as Rhian being originally being part of the Navy SEAL, Lindayag told ABS-CBN News. In the final version, Locsin’s character is an officer in the Army Nurse Corps.
“In-adjust namin sa times ‘yung kuwento, pero ‘yung mismong karakter, sa kanya talaga bumabalik,” Lindayag said.
Explaining Dreamscape’s insistence on casting Locsin, even if it meant putting the project on hold for several years, he said: “Siya ‘yung may angas, e. Mabibilang natin ang puwedeng gumanap nito.
“Si Angel, may charisma na alam mong mapapatumba niya kahit malaki. Iyon ang mahirap hanapin sa ganitong konsepto, ‘yung mala-Angelina Jolie. Kaunti lang sila, e. ‘Yung sexy pero may tindig. Bihira ‘yung ganu’n. Alam mong kaya niyang tapatan, acting-wise. Maraming requirement ‘yung role, e, kasi multi-faceted.”
Directed by Manny Palo and Mervyn Brondial, the series follows Rhian — a soldier raised to kill her own father — in conflicts both physical and emotional as she navigates a double-life. A trained assassin embedded in the military, she finds her once steely focus uncertain when her target and his family start regarding her with a kind of love she, until that point, has not felt.
With a story spanning two generations and three families, “The General’s Daughter” is bolstered by a casting coup that’s been put at the forefront of the show’s promotions.
In fact, the project has been dubbed “the biggest teleserye of 2019.”
“Isang proof na lang ay ang nakikita niyo sa harapan niyo,” director Palo said, referring to the cast being on stage during a press conference early this week. “To gather such a roster na ganito kalaki, ganito kahusay in one teleserye — it says it all kung gaano kalaki. These characters are fully fleshed out at binigyang justice ng mga artista.”
Joining Locsin in the series are screen veterans Albert Martinez, Tirso Cruz III, Eula Valdez, Janice de Belen, and Maricel Soriano. Also part of the cast are Paulo Avelino, JC de Vera, Arjo Atayde, Ryza Cenon, and the breakout tandem of Loisa Andalio and Ronnie Alonte.
Matching the big-name cast is a scale of production that’s not frequently seen on TV, according to Lindayag.
“Number one, bihira tayo gumawa ng ganito. As a matter of fact, ‘Probinsyano’ ‘yung huli. Paisa-isa lang tayong ganiyan, e,” he said, referring to another Dreamscape production, “FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano,” which debuted in 2015.
The pilot episode alone, Palo pointed out, will be packed with action scenes that will give a taste of what to expect from the series’ run.
“In terms of technical scale, ‘yung iba mapapanood niyo sa unang araw pa lang. Anglalaki ng eksena. May eksena sa ere, sa lupa, sa ilalim ng tubig. Maniwala kayo, may mga underwater scenes kami. May eroplano, may helicopter, may barko. Lahat na yata,” he said.
While “The General’s Daughter” will offer no shortage of high-octane sequences — Locsin is dubbed a queen of the genre, after all — Palo emphasized that the series foremost a story about truth and family.
“Ang nagpapalaki naman sa teleserye hindi ‘yung mga ganitong eksena, e, kundi ‘yung kuwento mismo… It’s not just a military drama. The military component is just a milieu. At the core of the narrative is still a very strong female character torn between two warring families,” he said.
Lindayag added: “‘Yung pinaka tema is on truth. There’s always three sides to a story. Your side, my side, and the truth, and no one is lying. Napaka angkop sa panahon ngayon. The truth, hahabulin ka niyan, lalabas at lalabas.”