Benjamin Alves admitted to feeling “a little scared” when he was offered to portray Arnel Cowley, the husband of the late actress Isabel Granada.
Eventually, the actor agreed to accept the role in GMA News TV’s drama anthology Wagas.
The 28-year-old Kapuso actor couldn’t fully express his reaction then, but he remembered learning the news about Isabel’s passing while he was on a trip to Bangkok, Thailand.
“It was so sudden,” he said of the ’80s TV star who died of brain aneurysm on November 4, 2017 in Doha, Qatar at the age of 41.
Benjamin told PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) in a recent interview that he prayed before accepting the offer.
His fears vanished upon realizing that the Wagas episode featuring the love story of Isabel and Arnel would be told from the point of view of Arnel.
He added that Arnel came to the set to be interviewed and also to watch the show’s taping.
“Nando’n si Sir Arnel the whole time, which shows how strong he is,” Benjamin said.
“It was really brave of him to come to the set and you know, actually even this whole time, you know it’s been what, a month, he’s…
“I don’t know how it feels to lose somebody that suddenly… Just to lose somebody in general is hard especially if that somebody is your wife.
“So I don’t know how, you know, I don’t know… I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for him.
“But it takes a lot of courage, a lot of strength, you know, para mapagusapan siya. I mean for him to talk about it when he gets interviewed or things like that.”
During the taping, Benjamin got to talk to Arnel, and asked him, “Sir, what keeps you going?”
Benjamin remembered Arnel telling him that the widower “just wants to honor his wife.”
“You know, he understands that his wife is a public figure,” Benjamin said of Arnel.
“And he wants to make sure that ’yong pangalan ni Isabel Granada lives on, and it’s done about the right way.
“I guess that’s why he agreed to put up with us, to make sure the story is told. I admire him so much for his strength.”
Benjamin is thankful that Arnel was around to help him navigate through his emotions.
“He was more than willing to talk about it,” the actor pointed out.
“I can’t imagine myself if I had to go through that. I’d close off… I don’t know how I would be.
“So for him to do that, for me it speaks of his strength, courage… Probably there are days you know, you wake up and your wife’s not around.
“But again, he’s doing this to honor his wife, and that’s amazing!”
Benjamin noted that Arnel got emotional during the show’s taping of what he called a beautiful and inspiring love story.
This is because, he surmised, that the episode’s story is told from the beginning, when Isabel and Arnel were kids, until the ending, which proved to was sudden and tragic.
“I hope the people will see the beautiful side of their love story, you know, and how beautiful, talented Miss Isabel was, you know, so people take it the right way,” he said.
Isabel is played by Kim Rodriguez, whose recent acting credits include the drama series Destined to be Yours and Pinulot Ka Lang sa Lupa.
Benjamin happily reported that the Wagas production staff made sure that Kim would look like Isabel, particularly the late actress’s signature wavy brown hair and long eyelashes.
He remarked that Kim did a “wonderful job” in playing Isabel, adding the young actress knew “how sensitive the subject is” and that she respected Isabel so much.
“So hindi lang ito trabaho para sa akin and kay Kim,” he pointed out.
Directed by Jeffrey Hidalgo, the Wagas episode featuring the love story of Isabel Granada and Arnel Cowley will be aired on December 16, 2017.