A ‘toast’ to Piolo

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Piolo_1How a shot of alcohol helped the dramatic actor through the toughest scenes

Peter O’Toole did it, and so did Martin Sheen, as well as Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and even Kiera Knightly. Take a swig or a shot of alcohol, that is, before shooting a movie’s big scene.

These are the names that will pop up on a Google search of famous actors who need a different kind of “sprit[tual]boost” on the set, and will shortly include the Philippines’ very own Piolo Pascual once this article goes online.

It was box-office director Olivia Lamasan (The Mistress, In My Life, Madrasta) who spilled the beans on the handsome dramatic actor when she shot the behind-the-scenes special of their Valentine’s movie, Starting Over Again, which opens on February 12.

Recalling her first time to work with the actor in the movie Milan (2004), the director affectionately related that Piolo confessed to her that he downed a glass of red wine before shooting the film’s climax.


“Tinanong niya sa akin kung anong gagawin niya doon sa scene where he had to make a wish,” Lamasan said in the clip. “I told him, close your eyes, tapos, umikot ka ng umikot, hanggang sa pag-bukas mo, makikita mo si Claudine [Barretto]. He did it perfectly and pagkatapos ng take, nanginig siya. Sabi niya, ‘Inang, uminom ako ng wine kanina.’ And to this day, that remains to be one of my favorite movie scenes.”

With director Olivia Lamasan and co-actor  Toni Gonzaga

With director Olivia Lamasan and co-actor
Toni Gonzaga

Smiling sheepishly when the lights came back on following the VTR, Piolo admitted to The Manila Times that while his latest movie—where he is paired with Toni Gonzaga—is a romantic-comedy, he had to resort to the unconventional acting method all over again for “the big confrontation.”

“Binuko na naman ako ni Inang eh,” he laughed, using the term of endearment Lamasan’s actors call her. “There was a scene in the movie between myself and Toni, which was really intimidating. ‘Yun yung confrontation scene [that’s partly running in the trailers]. Nakakahiya man sabihin, pero pumunta ako kay Inang before shooting tapos sabi ko, ‘Inang, dinadaga ako.’ And I had to ask her permission kung puwede akong uminom ng konti, parang noon sa Milan, para mabigyan ko ng tamang timpla yung eksena—because I owe it to the character.”

In Starting Over Again Piolo plays the role of Marco whose heart was broken by a much younger Ginny (Toni), only to cross paths with her again after a very long time. The former lovers find themselves with major unfinished business to settle at very crucial points in their lives.

A different kind of love story, Starting Over Again takes the huge risk of debunking the prevailing notion that for every romantic film, everything should end up happily ever after for its characters. Ultimately, according to Lamasan, the movie aims to communicate the fact that every choice in life has a rippling effect that one must inevitably accept and not everyone is blessed with a second chance to love.

Admitting that the project is very much lighter than his last two movies—the critically acclaimed political action-drama OTJ and 24/7 In Love where he played a mentally challenged character—Piolo said there were three factors that led him to accept the role of Marco. First is his reunion with Lamasan, who is arguably one of the most accomplished master storytellers in Star Cinema; the second reason being the realistic storyline of Starting Over Again, despite its rom-com label; and finally, his much awaited opportunity to work with Toni Gonzaga in a full-length movie, 13 years after they appeared in what is now regarded as an iconic commercial on Philippine TV.

Remember the soft drink commercial where a sprightly high school girl shouted, “I love you Piolo!” to the top of her lungs?

“This pairing is long overdue,” remarked Piolo. And he promises movie-goers, it will be well worth the wait.

Starting Over Again is part of Star Cinema’s continuing 20th anniversary celebration. It opens on February 12 in cinemas nationwide.

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