(Spoilers for "Ang Dalawang Mrs. Reyes" follow.)
MANILA - Judy Ann Santos has made no secret of losing confidence in her acting after a hiatus from showbiz to focus on her family. This, despite her superstar status being backed by decades of award-winning roles on the small and big screen.
The 39-year-old actress was candid about her apprehension in promotional interviews for "Ang Dalawang Mrs. Reyes," which posed an extra challenge for the drama veteran. Not only was it her comeback film, it was also primarily a comedy.
The Jun Lana film, which has so far raked in ₱120 million at the box office, centers on two women (Santos, Angelica Panganiban) who connive after finding out their respective husbands (Joross Gamboa, JC de Vera) are having an affair with each other.
"Natakot," was how Santos described her initial feeling being paired in the project with Panganiban, her former "Sa Puso Ko, Iingatan Ka" co-star who has since made a name as a comedienne.
"In fact," she explained in the January press conference for the movie, "after the third shooting day, I had to talk to sina Direk Jun and the rest of the production staff to ask if, 'Okay ba 'yung trabaho ko? May kulang ba? Ano pa ba ang dapat kong gawin?' Ganoon ako kawalang ka-confidence at all sa trabaho ko or sa sarili ko as an actress."
One such scene had Lianne (Santos) trying -- but failing -- to seduce her husband, Gary (Gamboa), after undergoing breast enlargement surgery. In that scene, Cindy is seen sipping wine before turning to show her newly implanted "enhancements."
That glass of wine, director Lana now reveals, was the actual thing. Before the cameras rolled, Santos needed a drink to let down her inhibitions.
"Talagang takot siya, e," Lana told ABS-CBN News in a phone interview. "When we were doing the film, takot talaga siya, nararamdaman ko. Nagtutulungan talaga kami."
"'Yung eksena lang sa swimming pool -- I think I can now tell this story -- bago namin kunan iyon, kailangan niya uminom, kailangan niya mag-wine. Nakadalawang baso siya ng wine," the filmmaker narrated.
Lana continued: "Natatakot siya. Sinabi niya sa akin, 'Kung gagawin ko 'to, kailangan i-embrace ko, kasi kapag hindi, hindi maganda ang eksena.' So sabi niya sa akin, 'Bigyan mo ako ng ilang minuto, iinom ako!' Nag-work naman!"
And work it did, as Santos earned raves not only for her serious moments as the vengeful Lianne, but also for her comedic timing. Among others, a scene where she is bed-ridden and under the effects of potent anesthesia -- while learning for the first time her husband's infidelity and actual sexual orientation -- was a hit among critics and moviegoers.
"By Santos's own admission, it took time for her to feel, genuinely, that she is still a competent actress. That pivot in her mindset, it seemed, unfolded on television via "Tonight with Boy Abunda," when Santos couldn't hold tears after being prompted by the TV host to tell her reflection the words she needed to hear the most, at this point in her life."
After a thoughtful pause, she answered: "Okay ka pa rin."