Erich Gonzales is cast as Joey, the “sassy cupcake girl” from Ilocos in the upcoming romantic-comedy Suddenly It’s Magic.
Made cynical by her previous experience with love, Joey comes across Asian superstar Marco Hanson, portrayed by Thai heartthrob actor Mario Maurer. Their serendipitous meeting happens when Marco tries to escape his fame in Thailand and comes to the Philippines.
The characters of the star-crossed lovers in Suddenly It’s Magic, says Star Cinema executive Enrico Santos, were tailor-made for Erich and Mario.
Santos, also a television and film director, said in a blog conference held on September 24, Tuesday night, “Nauna ang pairing bago ang istorya.”
The film started shooting scenes in Paoay, Ilocos Norte last April, when Maurer flew back to the Philippines after his fan meeting early this year. In May, it was the turn of the Filipino crew to visit Thailand where Erich shot scenes with Mario and other Thai actors. Their stay in Thailand lasted for almost a month.
The production of Suddenly It’s Magic is a milestone for Star Cinema since it gave them the chance to work with people from another Asian country.
Santos says that the production did not exactly encounter major predicaments while filming. A few challenges arose from the fact that it was their first time to work with a crew from abroad.
“Mahirap kasi yung first time, eh. [Pero] wala kasi yung mga abnormal na difficulties.”
He cited an example, “Limitadong-limitado ang time ni Mario dahil ito yung time na bigla siyang sumikat sa China. So konting-konting date yung binigay niya sa amin.”
He added that the Thai crew, including Mario, is used to 12-hour shifts. “So, pag nag-aala una na [nang umaga,] medyo bumabagsak na ang mukha…”
But other than that, says Santos, everyone was a pleasure to work with.
“Meron rin silang quirks tulad natin. Like si Mario, puwede mong pa-make up-in kahit kanino pero hair stylist dapat dala niya. Conscious siya sa hairstyle.”
Santos likewise conveyed that Mario was not someone difficult to please.
“Mabo-bore 'yan pero magdala ka ng skateboard, masaya na 'yan. So madaling pasayahin.
“Difficulties? Nothing out of the ordinary… Madaling pasayahin si Mario. Mga toy car models na maliit, masaya na.
“Yung wallet niya, made in the Philippines. Yung wallet sa Boracay na isda, yun ang wallet niya.”
ADOBO. It is because of Erich Gonzales that Mario Maurer learned to love adobo.
The morena beauty narrated that the Thai actor requested for the popular Filipino dish during their shooting days in Ilocos.
“Gusto niya makatikim ng adobo," recalled Erich. "So, nagkataon gabi pa kukunan yung eksena. So nakapagluto ako ng adobo for them. Yun, nagustuhan niya.
“Sabi ko, ‘You don’t have a choice. You have to finish that.’
“Kasi effort yun, di ba? Kahit hindi masarap, sabihin mong masarap!
“But I think he liked it naman,” relayed Erich, who displayed hospitability by providing Mario and his team with folding chairs.
Erich said that their warmth towards their Thai co-workers was reciprocated when it was her crew’s turn to visit Thailand.
“Siya naman nagdala ng folding chair at maraming Thai food siyang pinatikim sa akin!”
The actress reacted to the professionalism Thais as well. According to the actress, their Asian co-workers were punctual.
“Kasi we start 8 am. We noticed talaga ‘pag [sinabing] 8 am, 8 am andun na lahat.
“Kailangan by 8:30 tapos na lahat ng ilaw and all so parang …wow sobrang professional sila lahat!”
Erich’s experience would not be complete without picking up basic Thai expressions such as sawadee ka (hello), kapunka (thank you), sawei (beautiful or cute), lon (hot or warm), sabai dee mai (how are you?), and chandrakun (I love you).
ERICH TALKS ABOUT MARIO. Having spent time with Mario while filming Suddenly It’s Magic, Erich learned that her leading man is more than just the angel-faced heartthrob he is known to be.
“He is really a superstar hindi lang dun sa Thailand, pati dito siyempre.
“[Pero] pag makikita mo si Mario parang hindi niya alam na superstar siya. Sobra siyang humble, sobra siyang down to earth.”
Erich describes her co-actor as a cool person who knew how to kid around.
“Masasabi ko na sa kahit sa konting time na yun, parang alam ko na magiging okay yung trabaho kasi napaka-cool niya talaga.
“Saka off-cam si Mario, napaka-ano niya… ano ba? He’s very playful. He’s very naughty.
“Napaka-ano niya… prankster siya sa road manager niya! Lagi siyang gumagawa ng kung anu-ano…
“Pero siyempre close sila, di ba? So, hindi mo naman yun gagawin sa mga taong hindi mo naman close.
“Mahirig siya magbiro!”
Mario, says Erich, is the kind of person who would teasingly tell her: ‘Ah, you look so good today’ but would jokingly take it back the moment he sees you’re flattered.
“Walang seryoso talaga. Parang hindi yung magpapaka-prim and proper ka…”
ILOKANA BAKER. Erich had to take baking lessons as part of her preparations for Suddenly It’s Magic.
The Cebu-born, Davao-raised actress relayed, “Meron na akong background ng cooking kasi Mama ko mahilig siya magluto.
“It’s different kasi— cooking and baking. Kasi sa pagbe-bake kailangang accurate lahat ng measurements mo, ganyan.
“Nag-aral ako ng baking kasi yung role ko dito, Ilokana pastry chef so gumagawa ako ng cakes and cupcakes.
“Ang hirap naman mag-pretend… So, lahat. Lahat inaral ko talaga. And it was fun, masaya!”
Apart from baking, Erich said that internalizing Joey’s character was the most challenging part of the job.
“Ang dami-daming baggage nung character ko. Siyempre, pagdating sa set, [pag] sinabi ng direktor na 'Take!' and then magro-roll na yung camera, parang kailangan ko siya isa-puso talaga.
“And ang bigat-bigat niya emotionally talaga. Parang kulang na lang, ayaw na niyang ngumiti.
“Ano siya, medyo romantically jaded siya kasi sobra siyang na-hurt.
“Parang nangyari sa 'yo yung nangyari sa kanya, parang ayaw mo nang mabuhay. Ang hirap din on my part kasi kailangan ko… [i-internalize]
“Yes, kumbaga yung vibe nung character sobrang [heavy]. Yun ang challenge for me.”
Suddenly It’s Magic is slated to hit theatres nationwide on October 31, 2012. The film, directed by Rory Quintos and written by Vanessa Valdez, will likewise be screened in Thailand.