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Richard ‘seduced’ into baring more of himself

Above: Directed by Peque Gallaga, Regal Entertainment’s Seduction topbills (from left) Sarah Lahbati, Richard Gutierrez and Solenn Heussaff. Left: Richard on Seduction: I’ve been waiting for this kind of project.

MANILA, Philippines - How far did Richard Gutierrez go in Regal Entertainment’s Seduction? 

Seduction is Richard’s big-screen return after over a year of not having done any movie; and it’s also the mainstream comeback of filmmaker Peque Gallaga, whose opus Oro, Plata, Mata, and love-and-obsession-charged films like Unfaithful Wife and Scorpio Nights (credited for “revolutionizing” the concept of sexy films in the ‘80s) are fixtures in any certified Filipino cineaste’s best-ever-films list.

To have Peque as director was the push that the 28-year-old actor needed in shedding his long-held inhibitions in Seduction, the theme of which naturally required the actor — largely identified with general-patronage and adventure-fantasy projects on TV and in the movies — to engage in steamy and skin-baring scenes with co-stars Solenn Heussaff and Sarah Lahbati.   

“With this movie, from the first shooting day, I already said, ‘I’m gonna give my all. I would not hesitate.’ I trust direk Peque. I’m very comfortable with (him). So, when he asked me something, I trusted him and gave everything,” Richard said during a presscon at the Imperial Palace Suites last Monday, which was also attended by Regal matriarch Mother Lily Monteverde.    

In Seduction, Richard veers from his good-boy roles. He plays the struggling fireman Ram, who gets suspended from his work just when he needs the money to pay for his father’s kidney transplant. He rents a space in a room owned by Trina (Sarah). One night, Ram makes use of his looks to seduce the lonely Trina. He succeeds, but Trina withdraws afterwards. Then, wealthy, sophisticated Sophia (Solenn) enters his life, after he rescues her from a hotel fire. Feeling indebted, Sophia hires him to be her driver-bodyguard and eventually, she falls in love with him. Their crisscrossing lives make up this new cinematic experience, which tells of results and ramifications of (too much) love and desire, backdropped by the opposing images of water (as represented by Trina, who stands for security, love and comforts of home) and fire (which Sophia is — adventurous, exciting and scorching).

Richard said, “I would say that this is my most daring film to date. This is the kind of work that has pushed me to the edge of the cliff, something like that. I’ve been waiting for something like this.”

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But that is not to say he effortlessly shot the “flesh scenes,” which included butt exposure.

According to Peque, “Richard was terrified about flesh exposure! And why not? He was doing completely new and beyond.”

Peque even broke his own on-set rules to allow Richard to calm down frayed nerves. “To tell you the truth, Richard was drinking from morning till we shot (one scene), and I never allow my actors to drink. But the only person I allowed to drink on the set was Richard Gutierrez.”

But Richard surprised him — from Day One. “Usually on the first day (of shooting), don’t do anything hard, just make it easy… But there’s one scene where Richard is drunk at lalabas doon ang hinanakit niya, etc., etc.,” Peque related.

“And he was preparing for that the whole day, but I chickened out and said, ‘Richard, let’s not do this anymore, some other time, another shooting day. But he said, ‘Why when I’m ready for this?’ and it was a very difficult scene, he was drunk. I don’t wanna say the crying is hard, but the reason for a person to cry in a scene is because labas lahat ng mga weakness, hiya, lahat. You cry because you’re an asshole, and everything’s wrong with you.

“And I love acting when the actor surprises you and when the actor surprises himself, and I tell you, that first night, Richard really surprised me,” said Peque, letting out a few expletives to stress his point. “And that was just the first day.”

Didn’t Richard’s mom and manager Annabelle Rama object to the sexy scenes?

“Actually, she was against it! But you see, it’s not like, okay, we’ll do a butt exposure scene. It’s not like that. Even when I did Scorpio Nights, every love scene has a story. Not just technique. If technique only, it’s porno. Pero lagi na lang may dialogue ang mata, may dialogue ang pag-atras. A love scene is hard to shoot. Everything has dialogue. So we were not going after the butt exposure for that particular scene.”

“I allowed him to act,” Peque added, citing scenes wherein to his  delight, Richard, Solenn and Sarah were going their own way, caught up in their scenes, that “I just told them to just keep going. Their actions were taking them somewhere I didn’t expect to go.”

Peque said, “Here, Richard has matured and I think, he’s expecting also his audience to mature.”

Was it easier for Richard to shoot the sizzling scenes with Sarah, she being his real-life girlfriend?

Richard said, “At first, she was hesitant, of course, she’s not used to it and she’s not comfortable with it. We had a talk with direk Peque in a private room before the scene. And direk Peque explained to us the objective of the scene and what his treatment is going to be. (So) we became comfortable.”

Nevertheless, the actor and director would not call Seduction a sex movie and that moviegoers “should be excited about its whole story.”

While love triangle themes are a current trend in the movies, “we did something totally away from that; we did a love triangle away from the (trend). We did it our own way and I’m very happy that it came out this way,” Richard explained.

He was also gamely asked about any personal experience about being seduced. He admitted that he experienced several times in the past and easily gave in to them as well.

“Marupok kasi ako,” Richard said, stressing, “Dati, ha, dati.” He said that he’s now happily committed to Sarah.

Meanwhile, Sarah and Solenn were a no-show during last Monday’s presscon. Solenn is out of the country while Sarah is currently embroiled in an issue with her home network GMA 7, to which Richard also belongs. Mother Lily requested the media to avoid asking Richard about the issue, although Richard posted on his Instagram account a message for his ladylove: “@sarahlahbati conquering an uphill battle. No matter what happens love, I’ll always be here behind you.”

Nevertheless, Richard didn’t seem to worry whether or not the issue will affect the film’s promotional activities.

“In terms of promos, we still have to sit down and think what’s gonna happen. But I’m very happy with the film. It’s a film that I’m really, really proud of — and everyone behind it is very proud of it as well. Sarah gave a good performance, Solenn gave a good performance, and we’re all proud of the movie. We will try to promote the movie as much as we can.”

Seduction opens in theaters nationwide on Jan. 30.

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