Soon to turn 18 years old in March, Julia Montes took on her most grown-up role yet in her first romantic flick, A Moment in Time. The Star Cinema-produced movie stars the young actress with Coco Martin, who was also Julia’s leading man in the primetime hit Walang Hanggan.
It was their solid chemistry— which made fans of the soap in the country and abroad fall in love— that prodded the ABS-CBN film-producing arm to follow up Julia and Coco’s loveteam with a movie project.
A Moment in Time casts Coco and Julia as star-crossed lovers Patrick and Jillian whose lives are connected even before their meet-cute on an ordinary day while both their characters are in transit via the metro’s LRT (Light Rail Transit).
From the typical guy-chases-girl scenes, the film progresses into heartbreaking drama. As soon as Patrick and Jillian start falling in love, they find out a fact about their past that takes a toll on their brewing romance.
At the premier night of A Moment in Time last Tuesday, February 12, Julia told PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) how pleased she was that all her hard work paid off.
“Ang hirap po talaga i-explain kung gaano ako kasaya. Kasi nung shinu-shoot namin yun, halo-halo yung pakiramdam namin— kinakabahan, na-e-excite, and excited din sa magiging feedback ng tao, kung anong magiging reaksiyon sa bago naming character ngayon.”
The actress worried that she and Coco would remain as Daniel and Katerina (their characters in Walang Hanggan) in the minds of the audience.
“Nung nakita namin yung reaction ng mga tao, parang kami… ‘Aww.’ Worth it! Worth it lahat ng puyat, lahat ng pagod!”
ALL GROWN-UP. As an actress, Julia has the ability to translate emotion beyond her years. After her breakthrough role in the teleserye remake of Mara Clara, the half-Filipina, half-German beauty took on the more serious role of Walang Hanggan’s long-suffering heroine, Katerina.
She takes is up a notch higher in A Moment in Time, this time as the sheltered Jillian who comes of age as she learns her first lesson on love and heartbreak. Thus, the film challenged Julia to brave her first kissing scene.
During the post-premiere screening interview, Julia told PEP.ph that a huge part of why she agreed to do a bolder role was because she trusted her co-actor.
“Masaya ako kasi si Coco pa rin yung ka-partner ko sa grown-up role ko kasi nga gaya ng sinabi niya, sa Walang Hanggan, yun yung first talagang love story role ko and siya yung nakasama ko.
“And then, sa big screen, siya uli. Ibang pakiramdam sa akin.
“Panatag ako kasi kilala ko yung tao. Basta hindi ako nahirapan kasi siya yung ka-partner ko.”
Asked how exactly she felt as she saw her first kissing on the screen, Julia said she felt anxious and uncomfortable.
Awkwardly laughing, she said, “Nahiya ako. Nung una sabi ko, ‘Alam ko ito na yun, ito na yung scene na kikiss ako!’ Sabi ko, ‘Ano kaya reaksyon ng tao?’ E biglang nagkasagiwan!
“Sabi ko, ‘Okay ba yun? Okay ba yun?’ Yun yung nasa isip ko!”
What told her that she was ready for this? What made her decide to do her first kissing scene?
Julia answered, “Siyempre parang for me, ano yung bago naming ipapakita sa movie? Nakita kami ng tao sa Walang Hanggan na intense din naman yung role namin as lovers, as Katerina [and] Daniel na pinaglaban yung pagmamahalan namin.
“Paano namin ipapakita na iba si Jillian at si Patrick. So, sabi namin, why not naman give it a try?
“And sabi ko rin naman, si Coco pa rin naman ito, e.
“Nakasama ko siya nang matagal, and kilala ko yung tao, maalaga yung tao. Sabi ko, bakit po naman i-a-ano. Parang why not?”
In a nutshell, Julia made a career move— a risk to further her skills as a serious actress.
Smiling, she added, “Sabi namin, kung ano yung kinabitin nila sa Walang Hanggan, ito, binigay na namin. In a way, parang thank you namin [sa fans].”
GOING SEXIER? Of course, the conservative Julia, who was raised by her grandmother Flory Hautea, thought twice about saying yes to A Moment in Time. She initially thought that doing a kissing scene was a premature move for a young actress who is barely 18 years old.
Julia admitted, “Nagdalawang-isip, opo. Kasi parang sabi ko ayaw ko pa. Wala pa akong eighteen, e!
“Baka naman magulat yung tao. Baka naman iba yung isipin ng tao sa akin.”
Recalling the moment she made up her mind, the actress firmly stated, “Pero sabi ko, role lang naman ito.
“Isa pa, gusto nga namin ipa-ano sa tao na iba talaga yung… makakalimutan muna nila for a time si Katerina, Daniel.
“Ang maaalala nila, Jillian, Patrick. Yung love story nilang dalawa. So, sabi namin, wala namang masama do’n!”
In October last year, Julia posed for Cosmopolitan Philippines, a women’s magazine known for its modern ideas on love, relationships, and career. On the cover, teenage Julia, dressed in a bright pink dress, never looked so womanly before.
Will she keep evolving into a bolder version of herself considering the turns she took in her young career?
She laughs off the idea of posing for the men’s magazine, FHM.
Julia quips, “A, yung katawan ko po hindi pa ready!”
No, she told PEP.ph, it is not that she is not confident with her body— “Para kasing for me, puwede naman akong maging sexy na hindi naman nagpapakita ng too much skin!
“I’m not sure pero for me, yun lang. Ang vini-visualize ko, puwede naman akong magmukhang sexy kahit naka-shirt lang ako.
“Alam mo yung hindi ko kailangan magpakita ng skin? So, hindi ko pa alam sa part na yun.”
Even while she has experienced her first screen kiss, Julia said that this does not necessarily mean that she will be more daring on her next projects.
“Hindi ko pa alam! As of now, wala pa po akong alam. Pero kasi happy lang ako sa mga binibigay na opportunity sa akin.
“Kasi gaya nga ng sabi ko, marami nasa edad ko na [kahit] na mas matatanda sa akin, na puwedeng gumawa nung— talagang sakto sa kanila yung edad— pero sa akin binibigay yung opportunity.
“So sabi ko, I’m so super blessed lang! And happy talaga sa mga nangyayari.”
YUMMY! Looking back, Julia cannot believe that she was able to do the seven kissing scenes in A Moment in Time.
She remembered how awfully jittery she was.
“Kinakabahan kasi parang… hindi ko alam kung papaano ko siya gagawin, kung paano ko i-a-arte!
“Kasi gaya nung sa aming dalawa ni Coco, laging iniisip lang namin, ‘Dapat natural, dapat natural, dapat natural.’
The actress recalled freaking out at the last minute. “Hindi ko alam kung paano magmukhang natural ito kasi hindi ko pa siya na-e-experience!”
Julia also shared how Coco gave her words of encouragement. “Sabi niya, ‘Mahirap ito ituro pero bahala ka na. Kaya mo na yan!’
“Sabi ko, ‘Thank you, ha! Thank you sa pagtulong!’
“Pero yun yung feeling. Hindi ko talaga alam kaya yung mga reaksyon ko dun, mapapansin niyo talaga, teary-eyed, hindi ko talaga alam!
“Kumbaga, in a way, as Jillian, first time niya ma-experience. Ako rin, first time kong ma-experience!”
As a final question, Julia was asked to describe her first kiss in one word. In an early interview, Coco himself said it was “yummy” for him.
Now her turn, Julia gawkily offered, “Kung yummy, yummy din! Alangan namang sabihin kong mas yummy kasi two words yun!”