Zanjoe Marudo, Kylie Verzosa paired for first time in romance drama

Leah C. Salterio

Posted at May 20 2022 02:38 PM | Updated as of May 20 2022 03:01 PM

Zanjoe Marudo and Kylie Verzosa in 'Ikaw Lang ang Mahal.' Handout
Zanjoe Marudo and Kylie Verzosa in 'Ikaw Lang ang Mahal.' Handout

MANILA -- “Do you have any idea how much I gave up for you?”

The intense line was never uttered in real life, but was merely the dialogue of Lira, the character of beauty queen-turned-actress, Kylie Verzosa, in a confrontation scene with Andrei, played by Zanjoe Marudo, in the romance drama, “Ikaw Lang ang Mahal.”

A love story directed by Richard Somes, who was previously known for his horror films and action capers, “Ikaw Lang ang Mahal” marks the first team-up of Marudo and Verzosa.

Although it took the lead stars a few days before they connected, they had undeniable chemistry that oozes even from the trailer of the film.

Definitely, the chemistry didn’t happen immediately. However, after a few days, Verzosa felt at ease with her first-time leading man.

“At ease na ako with Z and comfortable na ako,” she said. “Z was very professional and very tahimik. For every film na ginagawa mo, may matututunan ka sa sarili mo.

“When I first read the script, I already fell in love with the story right away. Mahal ko na ang character ko. May natutunan na ako agad.”

Even before Marudo got hold of the script of “Ikaw Lang ang Mahal,” he lost no time to give his nod to the project.

“Kahit hindi ko pa nababasa ang script, aaminin ko, na-excite ako agad ng malaman kong si Kylie,” Marudo admitted. “Bihira akong may maka-trabaho na halos pantay lang sa height ko.

“Si Kylie, nagulat ako. Grabe ang preparation na ginawa niya for this movie. First scene namin, naramdaman ko na may something sa dalawang characters na pwede talagang mag-work. Kaya nag-enjoy kaming tapusin ang pelikula naming.”

Marudo reunites with Somes, who first handled him in “Shake, Rattle and Roll, 13” (2011) in the episode, “Tamawo.”

“Magaling din palang gumawa ng romantic film si Direk Richard,” Marudo said. “Habang binubuo namin ang pelikula, grabe ang passion niya sa lahat ng scenes. Simpleng eksena lang ang kinukunan namin, kung paano namin kami guide, pati sa ibang mga actors.

“Nag-script reading kami with Direk Richard and binantayan niya kami paano kami magde-deliver ng lines ni Kylie. Kaya naging madali para sa amin kung saan namin dadalhin ang mga eksena at characters namin.

“We were both excited sa mga scenes namin. Natutulog kami tapos nag hike kami sa bundok. Kylie and I proctected ourselves Kampante kami sa mga scenes naming na sexy kasi alam naming hindi kami pababayaan ni direk.

Filming in Sagada with a 12-degree weather, Marudo and Verzosa even had to wear heat patches so they could move and work comfortably.

“Masaya na kinakabahan kami,” Verzosa said. “Pero maganda naman ang experience. We had to hike at 1 a.m. and we reached the Sea of Clouds at 2 a.m.

“Then natulog pa kami. Kailangan naming hintayin ang araw at 5 a.m. Then we started shooting. We had to shoot a lot of scenes. Tuloy-tuloy lang. We didn’t have any problem.”

Somes cannot be any pleased with his lead actors, his best discovery about this project. “They’re one of the very best actors I’ve worked with,” he said about Marudo and Verzosa.

“It took us a very fine line how we worked around together, despite working in a very tight situation, with protocols, with pandemic and all. Aside from being workable characters, I was so surprised with the talents in terms of acting.

“I must say that I’m working really with brilliant actors. It was my first time to work with Kylie. She was really a revelation. With Zanjoe, I was so astonished upon discovering how he grew to be a very, very formidable and serious actor.”

Somes’ dream as a director was to really do a love story. However, he started filmmaking with a horror project.

“I’m so thankful because I was doing love stories on TV sa ABS-CBN,” he said. “Viva noticed it and gave me this opportunity to do a love story

“In a way, never did I doubt myself if I could really do it, especially with the love scenes and romantic scenes. I know how to create passion and romance.

“With the diversity of my journey as a filmmaker, I’m very proud to say that you should never stop surprising yourself. It’s very, very exciting times for all of us na makagawa ng ganitong pelikula.”

Working on every film is always an adventure and a journey for Somes. “When Viva gave me this opportunity to work on a love story which I really dreamed to do and they gave me two brilliant actors in the Philippines now, it was really an experience working with them.

“Most especially, when you’re sharing your vision with the film itself, knowing the characters, I conceptualized the story, too, written by my friend, Jim Flores. Somehow, this film is also an ode to my journey as a filmmaker.”

Admittedly, working on “Ikaw Lang ang Mahal” is a far cry from Somes’ other film projects in the past.

“Sobrang layo nito sa lahat ng ginagawa ko,” the director noted. “Maraming layers ang binuo ko dito sa pelikula. If I’m going to set a few major points in terms of technical, I’m so proud of my production design here.

“It was not me who did the job, but I tried to collaborate with my production design to work around with a palette. If you notice sa trailer, there’s a natural palette. I love the natural light of Sagada. We captured the magical moments of Sagada.

“You could still see signature strokes. Most especially with colors and design. At least nabigyan ko pa rin dito kahit ibang milieu and genre.

“The best ones are dealing with my actors everyday getting the best energy sa lahat ng ginagawa nila.”

Others in the cast of “Ikaw Lang ang Mahal” are Joel Torre, Ronnie Lazaro, Lara Morena, Guji Lorenzana and Cara Gonzales. The original theme, “Ikaw Lang ang Mahal,” was recorded by Mark Carpio. Streaming on Vivamax starts May 20.