James Reid, Nadine Lustre take on mature roles in new flick ‘Never Not Love You’
Theirs was a love team born out of romantic comedy movies, but this year, James Reid and Nadine Lustre are ready to break free from the genre that made their moniker, JaDine, one of the most popular pairings in Philippine showbiz history. Today, their latest film, “Never Not Love You, opens in cinemas nationwide.
“I always say our projects are more mature than the last one we did, but this time it’s really more mature. In fact, for Never Not Love You, viewer discretion is advised because of the language,” Reid cautioned at the movie’s grand media conference.
“And we are not only daring in this movie in the sense that we’re showing [more skin]but our characters themselves are very daring,” the actor continued.
In Never Not Love You, Reid plays Gio, a freelance graphic designer, and Lustre as Joanne is a management trainee in an ad agency/direct-selling company.
Their young, carefree and reckless love affair ends abruptly as their dreams take them on different paths and their life choices eventually tear them apart. Fate brings the couple together again a few years later where they discover that so many things have changed in them, including the kind of love they once had for each other.
As soon as the official teaser and trailer for the movie came out—viewed almost two million times as of the writing—fans and industry observers quickly described the tattooed smokers Gio and Joanne, who readily agreed to a live in setup, as a total departure from the innocent and wholesome characters Reid and Lustre have always portrayed.
It will be remembered that the young couple first treaded the roles of teenagers in love for their big screen debut, “Diary ng Panget” (2014) and subsequently, “Talk Back and You’re Dead” (2014), “Para sa Hopeless Romantic (2015) and “This Time” (2016).
Eventually, when they crossed over to the small screen, JaDine graduated from high schoolers to young professionals via phenomenal primetime teleseryes “On the Wings of Love” and “Till I Met You.”
“I think it’s time to take it to the next level. I’m sure they are used to seeing typical rom-coms so they want to see something different. We’ve really pushed the limits here,” Reid noted of their transition.
Lustre agreed, expressing their excitement to go beyond their usual genre.
“I’m really excited to try new roles and finally we are doing something new. Never Not Love You is more real, more raw and more true to life for us,” the actress shared.
Asked if they are afraid their fans might be too shocked to see them this “mature” in their latest outing, Lustre said she is confident the fearless generation they cater to will relate to their new characters.
“I believe the generation now is starting to be more open minded about things and to embrace what’s really happening now, so they’ll see themselves in Gio and Joanne.”
Beyond their characters, Jadine also finds themselves in new territory what with director-writer Antoinette Jadaone’s unique style of storytelling for the movie.
“At first to be honest, I was scared to do this. It’s an experimental film—a lot of the scenes were actually improvised. Even the way it was shot, parang indie [independent film],” Reid divulged.
As it turns out, the team began filming with a solid backbone for the story but unlike most movies they have done, the scenes and lines in Never Not Love You were not cast in stone. Oftentimes, Jadaone would get inputs from the love team and revise the scenes, allowing collaboration among the director and her actors.
“When it was presented to us, hindi pa buo yung kwento,” Lustre shared.
“Since it’s improv, we were practically completing the story while we were shooting. Like, we’d shoot one scene, see if it works and that was the only time when Direk Tonet would decide how the subsequent scenes will be,” the 24-year-old actress further detailed.
Partly shot in London, Lustre also considered shooting overseas a challenge they had to hurdle.
“Shooting in London was a different experience. But while London has given us the character that’s so perfect for the movie, it also taught us the difficulties of working with a skeleton team. Unlike the local setup na kumpleto yung crew, we were very limited in London and so multi-tasking talaga for everyone,” Lustre narrated with a hint of pride the production pulled the whole thing off.
But for Reid, one of the bigger challenges in Never Not Love You was acting like new lovers. From being mere co-stars and eventually best friends, as they would always say in earlier interviews, Reid and Lustre admitted their romantic relationship in 2016 via the sold-out concert “JaDine In Love.” Since then, the couple has been inseparable and became more public with their affection.
“We are so comfortable and so close that acting like everything’s a first—like first kiss—gets really hard,” Reid admitted rather sheepishly.
Lustre came to his rescue and added, “Noon kasi, when we were just starting, of course we were still reluctant to do those scenes, but now we are so used to each other.”
“Meron pa ngang scene where I, as Joanne, was very touchy towards Gio, which hindi talaga dapat kasi we were still getting to know each other in the movie. So we had to redo the scene,” Lustre said laughingly.
One of the early praises for Never Not Love You, based on their trailer, is that the movie seems well rooted in reality and tackles issues that young couples face. As such, it poses the most classic question in relationships, that of “will love ever be enough?”
This, coupled with millennials’ penchant for anything that’s love-related, is what makes Jadine hopeful that the movie-going public will come and see their latest work.
“The millennials, pagdating sa love, nag-twi-twinkle yung mga mata nila and dami nilang nasasabi about it. So I’m really hoping they’ll see our movie,” Nadine expressed.
But more than the promise of “kilig,” Lustre said she hopes their movie will be a good reminder for young couples to keep their relationships in touch with reality.
“Somehow, our movie will give out pointers on relationships. Isa dun ay dapat hindi lang love ang nagpapatakbo ng buhay. Because it reality, there could be love in a relationship but one or both are not really happy.
“Like in the movie, my character Joanne loves Gio but she has to sacrifice her career for that love. Soon, she’d realize na gusto pala niya yung career niya. Will her love for him be enough not to feel incomplete without that career? So yeah, that’s one example,” Lustre generously noted.
And as for Reid, he hopes that one of the takeaways their audience will get from their movie is that love is not the be all and end all in life.
“For me, one of the lessons of the movie is that love is not always the thing that pulls you together; it can be the same thing that will pull you apart. When that happens, couples should remember that sometimes, to grow as individuals, they need to grow apart,” Reid ended.
Produced by Viva Films and Project 8 Corner San Joaquin Projects, Never Not Love You opens nationwide today, Black Saturday.