Coco Martin and Julia Montes did not exactly have a good start when they were first paired for a major project.
In 2012, ABS-CBN cast them as lead stars of the prime-time series Walang Hanggan.
Though they previously worked with each other, there was a noticeable “awkwardness” between them.
In an exclusive interview with ABS-CBN on Friday, July 30, Coco recalled how his relationship with Julia as a love-team partner began.
He said, “Kasi malalim iyong pinagsimulan namin dahil nagkasama kami ni Juls noon, hindi pa sa ABS-CBN, may iba pang show.
“Ano pa siya noon, bagets. 13 or 14. Ako siguro, mga 21 'tapos nagtangka ako sa kanya—nagtangkang mambola. Na-reject ako.”
Years later, in late 2011, Coco and Julia met again on the set of Walang Hanggan’s promo shoot.
It turned out that Coco still felt miffed after being rejected by Julia before.
Laughing, Coco narrated, “’Tapos noong nagkita na kami noon sa Walang Hanggan… dahil na-reject ako before, ‘Ah ganun, ha!’ Siyempre, masungit ako noong promo shoot.
“And then after that, noong ako na iyong masungit sa kanya dahil feeling ko ni-reject niya ako, naramdaman niya noong nagshu-shoot na ng Walang Hanggan, nag-i-start na kami, ‘Bakit parang hindi kami open?’
“Parang everytime may eksena, feeling niya, sinusungitan ko siya.”
It even came to a point when Coco had to tell co-star Dawn Zulueta that he was not feeling the chemistry between him and Julia during their scenes.
Coco continued, “’Tapos one time, parang nagkaroon ng party ‘tapos nagkukuwento ako kay Ms. Dawn, ‘tapos inaadvise-an naman siya ni Miss Dawn tungkol sa character niya.
“'Kahit bata iyong role mo, iparamdam mo na matured ka kasi hindi ka si Mara [Julia’s real name] o si Julia, ikaw dito iyong character mo.'
“’Tapos sinasabi ko kay Miss Dawn, ‘Oo nga po, hindi ko nararamdaman iyong chemistry namin, feeling ko parang wala.’”
But apparently, it was just Coco’s way to make Julia cooperate.
“Honestly, kumbaga pang-motivate ko lang iyon para makaganti sa kanya, and then after that, ayun, nakita ko namang nag-effort.
“Actually, noong meron kaming promo shoot noon sa Walang Hanggan, tinuturuan ko siya, ‘Turo mo, turo mo!’ Sinusungitan ko siya noon.
“’Tapos siya naman, bilang bata, ‘Ano ba ito? Bakit ang awkward? Bakit ang sungit?’
“Hindi kami komportable sa isa’t isa and then after that, noong tumatakbo na iyong taping naramdaman ko, siya na iyong nag-e-effort.”
THE COCOJUL TANDEM
It took quite a while before Coco and Julia warmed up to each other, and they broke the ice by talking about what happened in the past.
Coco said, “Nakilala na namin iyong isa’t isa ‘tapos parang in-acknowledge na rin namin kung ano iyong past, naging komportable kami.
“’Tapos humaba na iyong Walang Hanggan, naging komportable na kami sa isa’t isa kapag magkatrabaho na kami.”
TV viewers soon noticed the CocoJul tandem.
“So siguro iyon iyong nakikita sa amin ng mga CocoJul, noong fans namin, kapag magkasama kami, iyong chemistry.
“Pero kadalasan, sa umpisa, nagkakahiyaan kami, e. Siguro iyon nga, bilang iyong personalidad namin, pareho kaming mahiyain.
“Kaya sa umpisa, hindi agad iyong swak na parang nagdye-jell, e. Medyo may awkwardness pero ang maganda doon, kapag nakabuwelo, kapag nag-iinit na, doon mo na nakikita iyong chemistry.”
JULIA’S POINT OF VIEW
Julia, for her part, did not take Coco’s “kasungitan” negatively. Instead, she used it to motivate herself to perform better.
She said, “Siguro, in terms of doon sa role, mas ipinakita ko sa kanya na kaya ko iyong sinasabi niya na di ko raw maramdaman.
“’Tapos iyong mga misconception na akala niya, ayaw ko sa kanya, siyempre napag-usapan din naman.
“Parang na-prove ko naman na okay ako sa kanya.”
Julia also got to know more of the real Coco, or Rodel Nacianceno in real life, as they worked on Walang Hanggan together for 10 months.
“Sabi nga nila, mas makikilala mo siya kapag nakakasama mo every day, hindi iyong after work, ‘tapos na.
“Iyon kasi, dahil every day magkasama kayo, mas nakilala ko iyong totoong Rodel.”
It was in the 2013 film A Moment In Time where they got really comfortable with each other.
Coco quipped, “Doon lang sa lola niya, bantay sarado, e!”
After A Moment In Time, Coco and Julia worked together on two more projects: Ikaw Lamang (2014) and Wansapanataym: Yamishita’s Treasure (2015).
It was not mentioned in the interview, but Coco and Julia are said to be a real-life couple.
In April 2019, showbiz insiders confirmed to PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) that Julia got pregnant and gave birth, and that Coco is the father of the baby.
But both stars and their camps neither confirmed nor denied the rumors.
In March 2021, Coco and Julia were spotted on vacation together in Boracay.
In an interview with Mega Magazine in July 2021, Julia confirmed that she is in a not-so-secret relationship. However, she did not name the guy.
On July 31, 2021, it was announced that Julia is about to enter the cast of FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano as Coco’s new leading lady.
She is expected to be seen in September 2021, in time for FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano’s sixth anniversary.