Aga-Alice film delves into depression

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    Alice Dixson and Aga Muhlach - Photo from Alice Dixson’s Instagram account
    Alice Dixson and Aga Muhlach - Photo from Alice Dixson’s Instagram account

    ALICE Dixson is happy to be reunited with Aga Muhlach in Viva’s newest release, “Nuuk”, which was filmed on location in distant Nuuk, the capital of icy Greenland in the most northern part of Denmark. So how is it working with Aga again?

    “It’s great! It always feels good to reconnect with a good actor like him!” she says. “The first time we got to work together was in ‘Hot Summer’ in 1989, followed by ‘Joeyboy Munti, Batang Ama’, his comeback solo drama with Regal in 1991. We were just in our early 20s then. The last film we did together was ‘Sinungaling Mong Puso’, with Vilma Santos, in 1992.

    “We’re now more mature. At 50 years old, we’re both older and wiser.”

    She plays a very complex character named Elaisa Svendsen in “Nuuk,” a psychological drama directed by Veronica Velasco. “My character has depression and she meets Aga in the story. Later, she doesn’t know if she really met Aga after he vanishes or she just made him up in her imagination. It’s not difficult for me to relate with my character as I also experienced depression when I first moved to Canada, whose very cold climate is similar to Greenland. The long winters heighten your feelings of sadness, which is why Greenland is said to have the highest suicide rate in the world.”

    She moved to Canada in 1998 after she married Ronnie Miranda, but their marriage ended 15 years later and she decided to return home to Manila and resume her showbiz career. In “Nuuk,” which opens on November 6 in theaters nationwide, she plays a Pinay married to a Danish guy.

    “Elaisa has been living in Greenland since she was in her early 20s. The movie opens after the death of her husband and she spirals downward into depression. It doesn’t help that she has a troubled relationship with her only son, Karl, played by Warneq Fleischer, a Filipino theater actor who’s based in Denmark. Then, just as everything starts to fall apart, she meets Aga as Mark Alvarez, a Filipino businessman who helps her cope with her woes.”

    ***

    KZ Tandingan is best known for singing, after winning in “X Factor Philippines” in 2012 and producing her own hit song, “Mahal Ko o Mahal Ako,” that gave her the Aliw Award for best new artist. Last year, she made waves internationally when she joined “Singer 2018” in Hunan, China.

    Now, she gets to foray into acting in the indie film, “The Art of Ligaw,” produced by the Davao-based company CoreMinds and directed by Jourdan Sebastian. She says she couldn’t believe it when her handler at Cornerstone told her she has a new offer.

    “Pero hindi raw sa singing kundi sa acting,” says KZ. “Siempre, I couldn’t believe it. Sabi ko, totoo ba ito? Hindi naman ako artista.”

    Direk Jourdan says they’re really looking for someone who speaks fluent Visayan. “The whole movie is filmed in Davao and the lead female character, Carisse, is a Visayan millennial provinciana working in a call center,” he adds. “Someone asked me to watch KZ singing a Visayan song and I said, I think I found my Carisse. Epy is our choice as the male lead, Jake, and we asked KZ to do some readings with him. Doon pa lang, nagalingan na kami sa kanya. At ang ganda ng chemistry nila ni Epy. We asked her to take an acting workshop. As the shooting went along, we realized we made the right decision in casting her as she has good comic timing, comes to the set prepared, memorized all her lines and always hits her marks. After this movie, we’re sure the industry will realize that she’s not just a good musician but also a good actress.”

    KZ also gets to sing in the movie, performing her original songs “Quicksand” and “Walanghiyang Pag-ibig.”

    Direk Jourdan says “The Art of Ligaw” will show that courtship or “ligaw” could be the good tradition that we have lost now that most young lovers go steady just on the basis of texting or of communicating through social media like Facebook.

    “We live in an era where everything is instant,” says Direk Jourdan. “We have instant coffee, instant noodles and also instant relationships that do no last very long. ‘The Art of Ligaw’ will show that courtship is an integral part of a romantic relationship as this is where prospective lovers can get to know each other more deeply before they make a commitment in their relationship.”

    ***

    Jeric Gonzales was the winner in the artista search “Protege” in 2012 but his career didn’t take off right away. He was given supporting roles in soaps like “Pari Koy”, “Destiny Rose” and “Ika-5 Utos”, and now, finally, he’s given a lead role in “Magkaagaw” as Jio, a young man torn between an older woman, Sheryl Cruz as Veron, and Klea Pineda as his wife Clarisse. Did he ever feel frustrated when stardom took so long in coming?

    “There were times when I felt impatient but I know hindi naman ako pababayaan ng GMA,” he says. “Now, I think, dumating na yung right time to give me a lead and I was given ample time to really prepare for it. Physically, I trained at the gym regularly. I was careful with my diet, no more rice, more of high protein and fiber. For my craft, I took the acting workshops of New York Coach Anthony Bova very seriously and learned so much from it in handling heavy dramatic scenes. I also took sensuality worshops and it gave me more confidence in front of the camera.”

    He has love scenes with both Sheryl and Klea. How did he prepare for them? “I have to make sure that I not only look good, but also smell good. Nakakahiya naman sa kanila if I’m not at my best. I make sure I take good care of them while doing our love scenes.

    We’re taught to be very relaxed during the love scenes para hindi magmukhang napipilitan lang kami on screen and I think we achieved that.”

    Jeric is really feeling so blessed these days. Aside from his first starring role in “Magkaagaw”, he just won the best single performance by an actor trophy from the PMPC Star Awards last Sunday night. This is for the episode “Sex Slave” that was shown earlier this year in “Magpakailanman.”

    ***

    Thea Tolentino can’t believe that seven years have quickly passed since she won in the artista search known as “Protege”. ‘“I was just 16 then,” she says. “I was launched playing the title role of ‘Pyra, Babaeng Apoy’ but eventually, mas nakilala ako playing contravida roles after I played villain to Barbie Forteza in ‘Half Sisters.’ Since then, hindi ako nawawalan ng project and I’m very thankful to GMA dahil heto, I have a new show again, ‘Madrasta,’ where once again, contravida ang role ko.”

    “Madrasta” is now a toprater in GMA’s afternoon slot. Doesn’t she get tired of being a villain in soap after soap?

    “Not really, kasi iba-iba naman ang atake ko sa bawat villain role na ibinibigay nila sa akin, like in ‘Asawa Ko, Karibal Ko’ na transgender ang role. Pinag-aaralan kong mabuti ang character assigned to me, pati back story niya why she’s behaving that way, para naiiba-iba ko pati hitsura ko, like dito sa ‘Madrasta’, nagpaiba ako ng hair style at pati ng kulay ng buhok ko kasi mayaman ang role ko rito as Katharine, the husband of Juancho Trivino na iniwan siya at sumama sa lover ko, played by Ahron Villena.”

    How does it feel that she’s supporting Arra San Agustin who plays the title role of “Madrasta”?

    “She’s okay. Hindi siya basta magpapaapi sa akin dito. Lumalaban siya.”

    It’s common knowledge she’s going steady with Mikoy Morales, a runner up in “Protege,” who now plays Alden Richards’ best friend in “The Gift.” Does Mikoy find her grouchy and cranky considering she’s always making “taray” to someone in her soaps?

    “Not at all. Kasi sa harap lang naman ng kamera ako nagtataray. Off cam, sweet po ako, maniwala kayo’t hindi. I’m a good girl I am. Mikoy and I are very supportive of each other’s careers at hindi kami nakikialam at all sa isa’t isa.”

    In “Madrasta”, Gladys Reyes plays her mother-in-law as Juancho Trivino’s mother. Isn’t she fazed doing scenes with Gladys who’s an accomplished contravida? “Mabait siya at marami akong natutuhan sa kanya. In my first soap, ‘Pyra’, may eksenang sinampal niya ako. Hindi niya dinaya. Ang lakas talaga. Naiwan ‘yung marka ng kamay niya sa mukha ko. So doon ko nalamang in doing such scenes, bigay todo mo na. Don’t fake it.”