The real reason why Toni Gonzaga is out of US film production ‘Asian Persuasion’

Don Tagala, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 01 2022 06:23 PM

NEW YORK - Principal photography had started for the primarily Asian-American feature film called “Asian Persuasion” and its director says they’re already halfway through its 20-day-shoot schedule. 

“Asian Persuasion” is a romantic-comedy set in New York City.

Playing the lead roles are award-winning actress KC Concepcion, Hollywood actor Dante Basco (“Hook”) and other notable stars from Tinseltown such as Paolo Montalban (“Cinderella”), Scarlett Sher (“The Hustler”), Kevin Kreider (“The Bling Empire) among many others.

“It’s an Asian rom-com. It's about a couple, me and KC, that split up. We have a kid and kind of figuring our life afterwards and I have a whole plan of trying to get her married off, so Mickey, my character, can get away from his financial kind of problems there,” Basco said.

Concepcion meanwhile said she is proud to be part of the cast.

“To be able to perform with them, and including Scarlett, yung anak ko dito, she actually played Constance Wu's daughter sa ‘Hustler’ tapos meron siyang bago ngayon with Gemma Chan. And I feel really excited na naging daughter, daughter ko rin siya,” Concepcion said.

She added that she had long wanted to be part of a rom-com.

“I’m very happy na nung binasa ko pa lang yung script, na feel ko agad na this is for me. It was the perfect role for a romantic-comedy na matagal ko nang gustong gawin. It was so perfect and to come back with this project.. nakaka-proud.”

Tony award-winning Broadway producer-turned-film director Jhett Tolentino said the movie had mostly Asians in its cast by design, and that it was also a statement against Asian hate. 

This is Tolentino’s directorial debut. 

“My directorial debut, I have to say, I'm still finding my bearings right,” Tolentino said. “So what I'm doing now is just based on the script and what I wanted to find truth from every character. And I'm so blessed with these pros.”

Tolentino admitted to ABS-CBN News that when the project started, Toni Gonzaga was first in mind to play the lead role.

“Okay, I just want to make this straight. Toni Gonzaga was my first choice. Right. And then two weeks before our pre-production, so mid-February. I got an email from her management saying that she has a conflict or in the schedule.”

Tolentino said that at that time, arrangements have already been made for Gonzaga’s trip to New York and her political affiliation had nothing to do with her leaving the production. 

“Yung sa akin lang, once you commit tapusin, and then so yun, I started the petition. I paid for her work visa. Nagbayad na kami, and then yun, they gave a notice na hindi siya... conflict of schedule. And ako naman, yeah, I have to admit I panicked a little… Kasi siyempre two weeks before ng pre-prod wala ‘di ba, So kaya ko tinawagan si Sharon, sabi ko, ‘Nasaan ang anak mo?’” Tolentino shared.

For Tolentino, it was a minor setback and the show moved on while keeping a positive attitude.

Tony Labrusca, who is playing a cameo role in this movie, felt that positive vibe while filming on the set.

“The way he runs his production, you know, it's just it's the most professional thing that I've ever seen and I can't wait till it's like that in the Philippines too. So yeah, it's just so much fun and I'm really happy to be working with Jhett on this project,” Labrusca said.

“Asian Persuasion” is hoping to make its premiere at the Metro Manila Film Festival in December 2023.