TOKYO — Shaina Magdayao is cautious not to claim becoming the muse of acclaimed director and slow cinema stalwart Lav Diaz, but her lineup of projects would indicate that may indeed be the case.
The 28-year-old actress beamed over the tag, but in a measure of humility, only opted to say, "It's an honor to be able to work with him, it's an honor to be called his muse."
Magdayao spoke with ABS-CBN News on the sidelines of the 31st Tokyo International Film Festival, where Diaz's "Ang Panahon ng Halimaw (Season of the Devil)" is being screened under the Crosscut Asia section.
This year, the category is focusing on music-infused films from Southeast Asia.
Magdayao plays the lead role of Lorena, opposite Piolo Pascual's Hugo, in the monochrome musical about forced disappearances during the time of Martial Law.
"Iba 'yung talent niya. He's a genius," Magdayao said of Diaz, who also wrote the lyrics of the rock opera. "I wouldn't ever say no to a Lav Diaz film."
Already, Magdayao is wrapping up work on another Diaz film — her second with the director — about overseas Filipino workers. She could only offer broad details, including that it will be a musical, and will also star Charo Santos-Concio.
The screen veteran and ABS-CBN executive was Diaz's lead actress in the Golden Lion-winning "Ang Babaeng Humayo (The Woman Who Left)" in 2016.
"Tungkol sa atin 'to," Magdayao said of the ongoing project. "You know, pinapalabas sa ibang bansa, or kinikilala ang films ni Direk Lav, pero lahat ng content nito, tungkol sa ating mga Pilipino."
A third collaboration with Diaz, Magdayao said, would begin filming once she returns home from Tokyo.
She said she cannot divulge any details at this time.
The ABS-CBN star, an industry "veteran" owing to her childhood start as an actress, credited Diaz for further improving her craft.
She pointed out the welcome challenge of Diaz's filmmaking process, of only strictly taking one take of any scene.
"More than anything, grabe siya ka-encouraging. Grabe siya ka-supportive. He really trusts his actors, so parang, during the process, you get to trust yourself also and believe in your talent," she said.