MANILA—Actor Paolo Contis described his first-time leading lady, Yen Santos, as a complete professional with whom he easily formed chemistry for their film, “A Faraway Land.”
“Yen is very professional,” Contis told reporters during a virtual roundtable about the Netflix release.
He recounted a time during filming when Santos had to remind him of his lines, as an example of the actress’ dedication to their craft.
“Actually nakakahiya nga sa kaniya, kasi I don’t read my scripts. I don’t like reading scripts, kasi pag sobrang name-memorize ko, nawawala sa puso ko. Si Yen, pagdating sa set, alam niya ‘yung script. Kapag hindi ko alam ‘yung dialogue ko, ‘Ito ang dialogue mo.’ ‘Thank you,’ ” he shared, laughing.
As first-time co-stars, Contis said building chemistry with Santos was “very easy,” despite having limited interaction ahead of the filming in Faroe Islands.
“During the first day pa lang, we were able to talk about what we want to happen for the movie. Yen was very open to suggestions. I was very open to suggestions. Direk was very open doon sa mga gusto namin gawin together sa mga eksena,” he said, referring to filmmaker Vernoica Velasco.
“It was easy, considering we didn’t have time for a reading or any workshops. First time namin magkita ni Yen was the look test, and then shooting na. Malaking bagay na professional siya at professional din ako, na we both wanted the same thing for the film, so it worked well.”
‘PAG NAGMAHAL KA, ITODO MO NA’
In “A Faraway Land,” now streaming on Netflix, Contis portrays Nico, a journalist filming a documentary about overseas Filipino workers. The undertaking leads him to Faroe Islands where he meets Majhoy, played by Santos. In a span of a week, they are caught in a whirlwind romance, but must soon face the reality that Majhoy is married.
“Natutunan ko kay Nico, pag nagmahal ka, itodo mo na,” Contis said of his character. “You don’t know kung kailan ka mawawala sa mundo. You don’t know when you’re going to get a second opportunity in life.”
“You can call Nico a hopeless romantic. Some people can even call him an asshole, for pursuing Majhoy. Pero, sabi ko nga, hindi mo alam kung kailan ka tatamaan ng love. At pag tinamaan ka, it’s your decision whether to do the right decision or the wrong decision, or kung talagang makikinig ka sa puso mo. Iyon ang natutunan ko kay Nico. Lahat ng bagay, hindi lang sa love, dapat itodo mo.”
Contis admittedly sees similarities between him and his character, specifically being direct in expressing his thoughts.
“More or less, I often say what I want. I often do what I have to do when it comes to work, when it comes to love,” he said.
“Ang pagkakaiba lang namin ni Nico, emosyonal siyang tao. Ako, hindi masyadong emosyonal na tao. I normally keep things to myself. I normally keep things hidden. Pag may dinadala ako, I’m just really, really quiet.”
Contis surmised that perhaps, like Nico, it would serve him well to be “more vulnerable, and be more open to my emotions when it comes to everything.”
REFLECTION ON MARRIAGE
The actor also shared his reflection on the topic of marriage, in light of Majhoy’s situation in “A Faraway Land,” of being left wanting in a committed relationship.
Contis, in real life, is known to be in a six-year relationship with actress LJ Reyes, with whom he has a 2-year-old daughter.
In the past week, the two have been rumored to have recently separated. Neither of them has gone on record about a supposed breakup.
Contis made no direct mention of his current status with Reyes during the media roundtable, nor did he address speculation surrounding his ties with Santos.
“Marriage is about love, understanding, and a lot of sacrifice. I believe that if may kulang doon, matutuloy kayo kay Majhoy, na makikita kung ano ‘yung kulang, kung ano ‘yung mali,” he said.
Referring to the husband of Majhoy in the story, he added: “We made sure that Sigmund is a good person, pero may kulang. Kasi sobrang dahil pag si Sigmund ginawa nating masamang tao — nananakit. Ang typical na niya.”
“Ang struggle niya is mabait naman si Sigmund, pero iba pa rin. Of course, you have the age, you have the culture. So kung hindi buo ‘yung loob mo, kung hindi magkakasama ang love, trust, and friendship, lahat tayo matutulad kay Majhoy.”
Following the release of “A Faraway Land,” Contis has been earning raves for his earnest portrayal of Nico, with viewers commenting on social media that the film brought them to tears.
Contis, who is also known as a comedian thanks to his years-long stint on “Bubble Gang,” believes that his performance as Nico was effective partly because he is rarely seen in dramatic roles.
“People don’t see me often cry, because they always see me do comedy. Sabi nga nila, mga comedians, we really hide what we feel,” he said.
“Maybe pagdating ng araw na lagi na akong iyak nang iyak, baka hindi na effective. Kailangan ko nang bumalik ulit sa pagpapatawa, ‘di ba?” Contis quipped.
He expressed gratitude to comments praising his portrayal, saying he makes it a point to lend truth to his characters, especially in drama.
“Again, I’m very thankful. I do my best to act from the heart. I do my best to put myself in the character. Kaya naman ‘yung iyak sa mga characters ko, totoong umiiyak ako. Hindi ako nandadaya. I really feel. And that’s why people feel what I feel,” he said.
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