It’s hard to believe that the beautiful and talented Jean Garcia is showbiz’s latest 50-year-old. She is actually slimmer than ever, more radiant than ever, and in fact more energetic than she ever was in her younger years.
Jean shared this piece of trivia with the T-Zone herself just a few days after her golden birthday on August 22. We sat down for a one-on-one interview for this column’s online version on our new show on The Manila Times Digital TV, “CSI: Celebrity, Style, Inspiration,” which was posted on September 3. (The episode’s still up on the official Facebook Pages of TMT TV and CSI and www.manilatimestv.com, by the way, so please click and watch!).
There, Jean talked about surprising herself that she pulled off an action movie for the very first time in her decades-long career as the lead of Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino entry “Watch Me Kill” by Director Tyrone Acierto. She went on an intense Krav Maga training to prepare for the role of an assassin and definitely felt empowered by the whole experience.
“Even taking everything I learned on the shoot on location — by the dirt roads, in the middle of huge fields, under the heat of the sun — I didn’t expect that I’d be able to do all that especially at my age. We did the movie last year so I was already 49 so it’s such an unexpected opportunity to do an action-drama at this point in my career. That’s why I’m so grateful to Direk Tyrone he trusted me with the role. I know I wasn’t his first pick but I really gave my everything here and I hope I won’t disappoint,” said the much-loved actress.
Here then are more snippets on The T-Zone’s interview with action’s newest golden girl. Watch Me Kill opens along with the rest of the all-Filipino line-up of movies for the 3rd PPP on Friday, September 13.
Tessa Mauricio-Arriola: How does it feel to be fabulous at 50?
Jean Garcia: I feel good. Para naman sa akin kasi, pag tumatanda ka at dumadagdag ang iyong edad, ang ibig sabihin lang ‘nun ay nagkakaroon ka ng mas maraming experiences — mas marami kang natututunan. Yung wisdom mo ngayon mas iba na at yung pag-iisip mo nag ma-mature na. So ako I’m just enjoying my life and nagpapasalamat ako sa Panginoon dahil pinaabot niya ako sa ganitong edad na healthy, masaya sa buhay, at marami pa ring trabaho ino-offer sa akin. So I’m really very, very grateful na ito nandito ako sa position ko ngayon, and I’m happy and actually proud that I’m 50.
TMA: There’s definitely so much to be excited about at this golden crossroads and one of these is your PPP entry. Usually, we see you so glamorous — prime time TV’s famous Madam Claudia of “Pangako Sa’yo” Moreover, you’re a noted dramatic actress but all of a sudden, we see you with a shotgun in hand for Watch Me Kill. How did this all happen?
JC: To be honest, hindi lang naman ako yung kinonsider ni Direk Ty for the movie, but he sent the script through my manger Manny Valera and my handler Tet de los Reyes Rivera and nagustuhan ko kaagad. Actually na-in love kaagad ako. One, because hindi talaga ako nakagawa ng ganitong klaseng pelikula at tatlong dekada na ko nagtatrabaho dito sa show business. First time na may offer na ganitong klaseng pelikula sa akin so I was really excited. Ang hiningi ko lang talaga kay Direk is kung ako yung gusto mo diyan, tatanggapin ko pero bigyan mo ko ng pagkakataon magkaroon ng training. Sa pag-handle ng weapons, yung fight scenes namin and all. Sabi ko kailangan ko ‘to para at least sa shooting, confident ako na humawak ng baril so mag co-concentrate nalang ako and mag-fo-focus nalang ako sa acting ko and sa gusto niya ipa-portray sa akin. Thankfully it all worked out.
TMA: Can you tell us more about your training?
JG: I had an intensive training with the International Krav Maga Federation here in the Philippines. Actually ang trainer ko, ang nagturo sa akin was the head and the director himself, si Dindo de Jesus. Tatlong weapons yung ginamit namin — parang Gloc 9, tapos meron ding machine gun and shotgun also. Yun yung mga weapons na ginamit namin sa pelikula.
TMA: Was the experience empowering?
JG: Oh definitely! Kasi takot talaga ako sa mga ganyan pero dahil nag-train nga ako under kay Dindo, magaling siya at alam kong safe ako so I was very confident during the training. Nawala yung takot ko dahil sa kanya. Tapos nung nag-sho-shoot kami, automatic na kapag binigay na sakin yung baril, alam ko na kung paano siya hawakan. Tapos ito pa! Kaya lalo pa akong na-excite is because yung Krav Maga dito sa Philippines, siya din yung nag-train kay Keanu Reeves for “John Wick” under Krav Maga US. Taray di’ba? (laughs). So now ang tawag nila sa akin sa Krav Maga, “Jean Wick!”
TMA: How would you describe your character Luciana here? I learned from the director it isn’t strictly and action movie but more of a drama and a psychological thriller.
JG: Yes, I’d say minimal naman yung because the movie is more about the story of this hired killer na si Luciana — kung ano yung past, yung backstory niya, bakit siya naging hired killer. [It will answer] bakit nga ba doon napunta ang buhay niya based on the story of how she grew up. And then it shifts to her present na hired killer na siya and paano siya nabubuhay every day.
What I can say is hindi ito yung the usual na Jean Garcia na lumalabas sa pelikula or sa TV. Iniba namin ni direk yung atake from having no makeup and being totally deglamorized. Talagang mahuhulas ka rin naman because yung location namin is almost all exterior kami. Kung may interior kami bahay lang or yung pub house ni Jay Manalo na kasama din namin sa pelikula.
Iitim ka talaga at maalikabok with all these trucks na dumaadaan to pick up rock and sand from the lahar areas ng Pampanga and Zambales. And then nag-cu-cut kami pag dadaan sila kaya physically mahirap talaga with the heat and everything.
Pero napaka-peaceful at napaka-payapa ng aming shoot kaya very proud din ako sa grupo na ‘to. First and foremost, si Direk Ty kasi he’s a good director — sobra — and you will see that in the film.
TMA: Of course, the PPP besides screening an all-Filipino lineup is also a competition festival. What are your expectations come the awards night?
JG: I have none whatsoever. Ako kasi, unang una, masaya lang ako na nakasama kami sa pitong pelikula dito sa Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino. Kasi madaming pumasok at pumili lang ng pito at nakasama kami dun. ‘Dun palang, happy na ako. Ayoko nang isipin yung nomination; ayoko na munang isipin yung mananalo ba kami. Ang gusto ko lang is mai-share namin yung hard work na ginawa namin sa pelikulang ‘to. Everyone — especially Direk Ty, all the actors, the production staff, the crew, even yung utility namin. Yung hard work namin dito sa pelikulang ito ang gusto ko sanang mapanood lang ng mga tao. If it will be a box office hit, bakit hindi di’ba? So if anything yun talaga ang dream ko — hindi na yung manalo ng award o ano. Ang gusto ko nalang maging successful siya.