"Alam niya yung istorya, and excited siya."
During her solo press conference for I Love You, Goodbye held last Saturday, December 19, director Laurice Guillen proudly told the entertainment press that her late husband Johnny Delgado would have enjoyed her latest work.
The "love drama" is Star Cinema’s official entry to the 2009 Metro Manila Film Festival and is topbilled by real-life couple Angelica Panganiban and Derek Ramsay. The film also stars Gabby Concepcion who portrays the father of teen actress Kim Chiu. Angelica’s character is caught in a love triangle with Derek and Gabby.
She continued, "Kaya nga nung nakita ko with the music na, iniisip ko na, ’Naku! Hindi na niya napanood, pero I’m sure mag-eenjoy siya’. Many times during the shooting ng peliukula, after na siya ilibing, naiisip ko, ’Ikukuwento ko ’to sa kanya’, tapos maalala ko, wala na pala siya," she mused.
With her husband’s death falling in the middle of filming, did she find it difficult to shoot the romantic scenes, considering that the film coincided with her period of mourning?
"Hindi naman problema ’yun sa akin," she answered. "I can put myself in focus. Nakatulong in the sense na I was living on the edge. ’Yun bang, so much more focused and so much more sensitive I guess. ’Yun bang, hindi ako ’yung parang laidback. Nakatulong yun. Because I was more keen. Like I said nga, kung minsan tawanan pa sila sa set, e. I’m in a period of mourning, but I can function," she stated.
She added that Johnny’s last moments inspired her to do better and to work harder just so she could impress her husband. "When you’re dealing with the possibility of losing a loved one, parang you’re living on the edge parati, so I was working on the edge."
During Johnny’s last week on this earth, Direk Laurice said she had six more days of shooting. She halted production during this time to be able to be by her husband’s deathbed. A day after his funeral, she resumed filming, wowing actors and the production crew of the film.
SENSUAL VS. PASSIONATE. I Love You, Goodbye is not a "love drama" for nothing. In the film, lead actress Angelica Panganiban has love scenes with both her real-life boyfriend Derek Ramsay and with actor Gabby Concepcion, who is 22 years her senior. The said love scenes are currently a hot topic in the entertainment circle.
During the press conference, the director finally shed light on the controversial scenes. She described Gabby’s as "very sensual and mature. Kumbaga, ’pag kumain ka ng gourmet, pati yung wine mo piling-pili, parang gano’n. Very sensual."
With Derek’s love scenes, she called them "very, very passionate. ’Yung eksena nila sa beach, that was really something. That was hot," she said, further building excitement for the movie.
Despite Gabby and Angelica’s huge age difference, Direk Laurice said that it didn’t come as a setback. She simply subjected them to a number of workshops and from there, "alam na nila kung paano yun."
GABBY: MORE MATURE I Love You, Goodbye is Laurice Guillen’s fourth directorial work with Gabby Concepcion. She previously directed him in Rosenda (1989), Una Kang Naging Akin (1991), and Tayong Dalawa (1992).
What does she think of Gabby’s big-screen comeback?
"You could see that he really missed acting in movies. And kahit meron akong pauulit sa kanya, he did it with enthusiasm. Never siya na para bang walang gana just because he was doing a lot of things. ang daming ginagawa ni Gabby pero pagka nasa set siya, you have him completely.
’Yung attitude, a lot more mature," she continued. "Tapos mas nakaka-deliver siya ng pain, mas naiintindihan niya yung mga relationships between husband and wife. Kung minsan nga kung nagmamadali kami, basta, yung gano’n, ’Alam mo na ’yan!’" she said with a laugh.
ANGELICA: ONE OF THE BEST. According to Direk Laurice, one of Angelica’s unexpressed concerns was that she was slated to work with someone with whom she has a real-life relationship, and that they play passionate lovers in the movie.
"Being always an actress," she began, adding emphasis on Angelica’s start as a child actress, "slam niya na pag nag-action na, hahayaan na niya yung character na mag-dikta ng gagawin niya, ng movements niya, ng pag-iisip niya, and the feelings. So concerned siya na baka may lalabas sa kanya na hindi kilala ni Derek, that he may not be able to accept. I think that was one of her concerns," she said.
But despite Angelica’s initial reservations, Direk Laurice said that she countered it by periodically reminding Angelica of her priorities—to choose between being an actress and being a girlfriend.
Having previously directed Angelica in Santa Santita (2004), the director has seen Angelica’s capabilities and hence considers her as one of the best actresses in the industry.
KIM AND DEREK: FIRST TIMERS. Hunky actor Derek Ramsay and teen actress Kim Chiu are first-timers on Direk Laurice’s directorial plate. Yet regardless of their lack of experience under her wing, the director said that both show great promise as actors.
"Mahusay si Kim. She’s got that star quality because meron siyang charisma. May presence siya talaga," she said of Kim, adding that the young actress was so bent on making her scenes appear good that she herself often asked Direk Laurice for a take-two.
As for the Fil-British Derek, "He’s a very intelligent person," she said. "It pays that he’s not a teeny-bopper anymore. Mature din ang mind, and mahusay siya sa linya, considering na marami siyang lines na mahahabang Tagalog. He’s able to deliver kasi naiintindihan niya yung proseso, kung bakit ganoon ang linya niya."
FULL-FRONTAL NUDITY FOR ANGELICA? Members of the entertainment press remarked during the press conference that Angelica Panganiban was heard on a separate interview, saying that if ever she decides to go for full-frontal nudity, she would only choose Laurice Guillen as her director.
To this, Laurice Guillen said, "I guess, oo. Hindi naman kami nagtatawagan or something, but it’s the way I relate with my actors. Hindi naman kami barkada, e. I’m never barkada with them. But I guess, nagsisula sa respeto at the same time, care. At the same time, ina-anticipate ko kung ano man yung concerns nila, mga feelings nila.
I make sure na maganda kalalabasan nila," she continued. "I make sure na maganda ang suot nila, na hindi mapipintasan. I make sure na maganda ang acting, kung hindi magte-take two ako. Kaya hindi sila nagrereklamo, kasi alam nila na sa ika-gaganda ng performance nila. Diretso lang naman ako sa kanila."
Direk Laurice revealed during the press conference that she is scheduled to direct another movie for Star Cinema titled Sa ’Yo Lamang. It will be headlined by Lorna Tolentino, but according to the director, the concept is still being developed.
I Love You, Goodbye opens in theaters on Christmas Day, December 25, 2009.