“So far, so good” is how Jasmine Curtis-Smith describes the ongoing production of GMA-7’s remake of the hit Korean TV drama, Descendants of the Sun (DOTS), in which she plays a major role.
"Nakakapag-ipon na kami,” she said, referring to the scenes that they have shot, “para pag ready nang um-ere, kasado at pulido na.”
One of those scenes shows her character, military doctor Moira Defensor, meeting Rocco Nacino’s character, Sgt. Diego Ramos, at the hospital where the drama’s story begins.
Jasmine and Rocco take on the roles originally played by Korean actors Kim Ji-won (as Yoon Myung-ju) and Jin Goo (as Master Sergeant Seo Dae-young).
Descendants of the Sun first aired in Korea from February to April 2016 and later shown in other countries, including the Philippines through the Kapuso network.
In the story, Myung-ju orders Dae-young to pretend that they’re dating and tell about it to Captain Yoo Si-jin (played by Song Joong-ki), the commanding officer of the Special Forces unit that Dae-young belongs to.
It turns out that Myung-ju’s father, who’s a general and the commander of the Special Forces unit, wants her to end up with Si-jin, who’s not her type.
Myung-ju and Dae-young end up being friends and eventually falling in love with each other. But because of fraternization rules and the general’s disapproval of their relationship, Dae-young decides to stay away from Myung-ju. After a long time, they meet again in the hospital.
Jasmine recalled feeling anxious while filming that hospital scene.
“Medyo nakakanerbiyos siyang gawin,” she admitted. “Siyempre because there are parts in the story na talagang required naming gawin and huwag baguhin talaga.”
She added that she and Rocco were then just starting to make a connection as co-stars, and they knew that the chemistry between their Korean counterparts was a big factor in making DOTS a huge success.
“Happy ako na nalampasan na namin ’yong first na ’yon,” the actress pointed out. “Now it’s to maintain na lang with Rocco. So, I’m happy and excited, and very, very nervous.”
Jasmine noted that GMA-7’s version aims to be a faithful retelling of the original while incorporating some Filipino elements.
“Minsan, mahirap din ’yon ma-accept ng fans, di ba, because gusto natin ’yong version na tayo,” she said. “Pero we also have to consider na may mga tao na hindi pa napapanood ang serye na ’to, baka hindi sila maka-relate.
“So gagawin nating medyo localized lang ’yong mga bagay na ’yon para madali ma-capture ng mga hindi pa nakakapanood ng series na ito ’yong message, ’yong mismong story.”
She also doesn’t see any problem in adapting the South Korea-North Korea conflict that’s tackled in the original Descendants of the Sun.
“Meron tayong mga gano’n dito,” she said, alluding to the armed and civil conflicts present in some parts of the Philippines.
“Medyo hindi lang siya gano’n ka-extreme kumpara do’n sa North and South Korea na pag-aaway, but meron din tayo dito na mga nangyari na or nangyayari pa rin.
“Siguro ’yon ang i-incorporate nila para mas ma-localize siya o maintindihan nila ang pag-aaway. May mga ganyang themes dito.”
But Jasmine’s unsure, though, if they will also shoot some scenes abroad, just like what the original Korean production did in Greece.
“Wala yata,” she said, grinning. “I wish. I think pinag-iisipan nila. Pero hindi namin alam kasi kung meron ba o wala. Sa ngayon kasi wala pang nababanggit sa amin, e. Do’n pa lang kami sa kampo-kampo.”
But, yes, she watched the whole series—and she loved it!
“Kinilig ako sa kanila pareho kasi sobrang magkaiba ang love story nila,” she said, referring to the two pairs of lovers in DOTS.
She went on talking further about the love story of Moira/Myung-ju and Diego/Dae-young: “Pigil, pakipot sila na ang sarap pag-untugin. Parang mag-best friends na muntik nang the-one-that-got-away sa isa’t isa. Ako din, do’n ako na-hook.”
In playing Moira, she said she’s not straying away from Ji-won’s portrayal of Myung-ju.
“To be honest, not so much,” she admitted. “As much as possible, ’yon lang ang hiniling sa akin. I don’t know if it will change mismo sa story, but in terms of character portrayal, sabi sa akin ni Direk Dom [Dominic Zapata] na sana, stick to the original character para ando’n pa rin ang energy niya.
“Alam mo ’yon, nagpapaka-strong pero deep down, marupok pala siya pag dating kay Diego, di ba? Exactly, nagku-kunwaring ayaw. So ’yon lang ang hiniling ni Direk sa akin.”
In preparing for the military-medical drama, Jasmine underwent what she called “minimal” training, and enumerated some subjects she’s learned, such as “baril-baril, posture, technical assistance, mga saludo, pa’no magsalita sa senior mo.”
She explained, “Kasi mas linya ako sa medical military. ’Yong mga boys talaga kasi sila ’yong Special Forces. Though may mga eksena na papasali nila si Moira.
“Very minimal pa din ang action niya kasi in the original, halos wala naman. So ayaw din nila masyadong baguhin ang gano’ng image ni Moira, so that faithful pa din kami.”
DOTS Philippines has no airing date yet because, as Jasmine pointed out, no actress is on board yet to play the female lead role of Dr. Maxine Kang, whose name in the original Korean drama is Dr. Kang Mo-yeon (played by Song Hye-kyo).
The male lead role of Captain Lucas Manalo (Captain Yoo Si-jin aka Big Boss in the original) is played by Dingdong Dantes.
Jennylyn Mercado has been long rumored to be taking on the role of Dr. Maxine Kang, but no word yet from her camp or GMA-7. The Kapuso prime artist recently wrapped up her drama series, Love You Two, which aired its finale on September 13, 2019.
“Wala pa kasing confirmation, kung confirmed na si Jennylyn,” Jasmine said. “Other than that, lahat na kumpleto. Si Dr. Kang na lang talaga ang missing link.”
She observed that the delay in Dr. Kang’s arrival on the set has helped her and her leading man work on their scenes.
“I think ang ginagawa nila, kumambyo muna,” she said on the production’s strategy.
“Kami muna ni Rocco ang focus para if ever, pag dating ni Dr. Kang, konti na lang din ang shoot namin.
“Sila naman ang priority. Hard work niyo naman. Habang waiting kami kay Dr. Kang, kami ang nagtrabaho.”
JASMINE TO STAR IN THREE UPCOMING MOVIES
Jasmine is also thankful that she was able to finish making three movies before DOTS gets an airing date.
First off is the romantic flick, Cara X Jagger, opposite fellow Kapuso star, Ruru Madrid, which will open in cinemas this November 6.
Next, she shares the big screen with another Kapuso star, Glaiza de Castro, in the upcoming sci-fi thriller, Midnight in the Perfect World.
Then there’s Culion, a movie set in the leper colony found in Palawan, that Ricky Lee wrote and Alvin Yapan directed.
“Sana makapasok kami sa Metro Manila Film Festival,” Jasmine said of the dramatic vehicle that also stars Iza Calzado and Meryll Soriano.
In the near future, Jasmine sees herself going back to theater, which she last experienced in 2015 via #NoFilter, a collection of monologues staged by Sandbox Collective.
“Hopefully I can do again, maybe after Descendants, I’ll have time for it,” she said. “Kasi si Sandbox is really active at the moment. Fingers crossed, they’ll have a material for me.”
Sandbox Collective is also the producer of Himala: Isang Musikal. Jasmine spoke to PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) at the press preview of Himala: Isang Musikal last September 19.