How real-life couple Gabbi Garcia, Khalil Ramos were chosen to headline Love You Stranger

by James Patrick Anarcon
Jun 29, 2022
GabLil
GMA Assistant Vice President for Public Affairs Angeli Atienza on Gabbi Garcia and Khalil Ramos as leads in Love You Stranger: "They don’t have to convince us na in-love sila sa isa’t isa kasi andun na yun, e, sa batuhan nila.”
PHOTO/S: Love You Stranger (GMA-7)

Real-life sweethearts Gabbi Garcia and Khalil Ramos auditioned for their roles in the GMA Public Affairs series Love You Stranger.

This was revealed by Angeli Atienza, the network's assistant vice president for Public Affairs, in a recent Zoom interview with PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal).

Aside from her role as assistant vice president, Angeli is also the concept creator and head writer of the series.

She said of Gabbi and Khalil, whose love team is known as GabLil, “Isa talaga sila sa pairs na kinonsider, they are really up there in terms of kung sino yung puwedeng gumanap.

“Pero to be sure na fit sila talaga for the role, nag-audition pa rin si Gabbi and Khalil sa amin, nag-reading pa rin.”

Other pairs were also asked to audition for the role, but GabLil had the right chemistry for Love You Stranger.

Angeli recalled, “Actually, may several pairs kami na ni-reading. And then noong yun na, tinitignan na namin kung paano i-deliver yung lines, paano nila gawin yung character.

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“Sabi namin, parang ito yung magandang series for GabLil, kumbaga yung first prime-time series nila together, iba.

“Medyo serious, e. Hindi rom-com na ie-expect mo na dahil real-life couple sila, of course, it’s a love story. Pero kumbaga medyo dark nga siya, so may kaunting edginess dun sa characters na kinaya nila.”

In fact, only Gabbi and Khalil were the real-life couple considered for the role.

Angeli further explained, “I think nakatulong yun, hindi ko sure, ha. Kasi noong inaano na nila yung batuhan, parang may ano sila, e, natural chemistry.

“Siyempre, dahil totoo silang mag-dyowa sa totoong buhay, kumbaga, they don’t have to convince us na in-love sila sa isa’t isa kasi andun na yun, e, sa batuhan nila.”

Angeli did not name the other actors considered, but some of them were “medyo new actors” and “established na pairs na nagpa-prime-time soap.”

Love You Stranger tells the story of LJ (Gabbi), a film production designer whose mentally challenged mother (Andrea del Rosario) is believed to be cursed by the Lilom creature of Sta. Castela.

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LJ has settled in Manila but finds her way back to Sta. Castela when she is hired to join the film crew of Ben (Khalil Ramos), a filmmaker interested in making a movie about Lilom.

Apparently, LJ and Ben share a wonderful past as childhood friends, but are unaware of their past connection as they work on the project and fall in love.

In early 2021, GMA-7 announced that Gabbi and Khalil are headlining Love You Stranger as their first prime-time series together.

Love You Stranger is also Khalil’s first series under GMA-7 after signing with the network in October 2020.

GABLIL’S PERFORMANCE

According to Angeli, Khalil and Gabbi delivered what was needed for the roles during their taping.

Angeli described Khalil as “aktor” while Gabbi is a “revelation.”

“Aktor kasi si Khalil, e. So yung character na artist-director, medyo mysterious yung character, dalang-dala na niya agad sa unang reading pa lang.

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“Gabbi is a revelation kasi si Gabbi, mas sanay tayo sa kanya na medyo rom-com. Although she played Alena sa Encantadia rin, so yun yung medyo tatak sa kanya na character.

“Pero ito kasi, may heavy scenes siya, e. Heavy yung scenes niya with Andrea (del Rosario), Khalil, mabigat.”

Love You Stranger director King Baco said that the couple performed “beyond expectations” for the series.

He said, “Sobrang bigat na kung mapapanood niyo, iba talaga, iba sa mga ginawa nila before.

“Sobra as in ang lalim, sobrang lalim ng mga hugot nila, basta yung iyak, ang complex kasi may mga revelations sila na, ‘What the? Bakit ganun?’

“Ang surprising ng performance nila doon kasi ako, beyond expectations talaga. Sobrang nakaka-proud sila.”

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GMA Assistant Vice President for Public Affairs Angeli Atienza on Gabbi Garcia and Khalil Ramos as leads in Love You Stranger: "They don’t have to convince us na in-love sila sa isa’t isa kasi andun na yun, e, sa batuhan nila.”
PHOTO/S: Love You Stranger (GMA-7)
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