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Entertainment

KathNiel on return to romcom roots & future of their reel-to-real life tandem

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
KathNiel on return to romcom roots & future of their reel-to-real life tandem
Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla topbill ABS-CBN’s upcoming romcom series 2 Good 2 Be True. Under the direction of Mae Cruz- Alviar, who also helmed two of the couple’s box-offi ce hits Crazy Beautiful You (2015) and Can’t Help Falling In Love (2017), the show starts streaming on Netfl ix come May 13, or 72 hours before the May 16 premiere on free/pay TV.
Netflix

Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla are going back to their romantic-comedy roots in their 10th year — going 11 this 2022 — as a loveteam.

The reel-to-real pairing, fondly called KathNiel by fans, topbills the upcoming ABS-CBN series 2 Good 2 Be True. Director is Mae Cruz-Alviar who helmed two of the couple’s box-office hits Crazy Beautiful You (2015) and Can’t Help Falling In Love (2017), plus their big-screen debut via the anthology film 24/7 In Love (2012).

The Kapamilya stars’ enduring teamup can perhaps boast of the most number of titles on the streaming service Netflix Philippines. As of writing, at least seven of their movies and series are available on the OTT platform. But what makes 2 Good 2 Be True extra special is it will start streaming on Netflix by May 13, or 72 hours before the May 16 premiere on free/pay TV.

2 Good 2 Be True is the TV project that KathNiel has been asking for the last two years. Given the pandemic situation, they wanted their comeback to be in the mold of earlier works — kilig, light and fun to watch for the audience.
Netflix

In a recent Zoom chat with The Philippine STAR, Kathryn shared their reaction on working with the international streamer for 2 Good 2 Be True: “We got really excited because sino bang merong ayaw na maka-reach ng mas maraming audience? Especially now, kami madalas babad sa Netflix. Especially during the pandemic, the past two years, parang lahat ng tao, ‘Ano ang napanood mo sa Netflix?’ Alam mo yun? Ganun na siya kalaki, unexpectedly, especially here in the Philippines.”

“So, when we were told about it, we were definitely excited because more people can watch this. It makes us proud that slowly pumapasok tayo dun and we’re very grateful to Netflix for giving us this opportunity,” she added.

Last September, KathNiel celebrated a decade since their tandem was born on the youth-oriented ensemble show Growing Up in 2011 and solidified when they became the titular leads in the succeeding teleserye Princess & I in 2012. The last time they appeared together in a series was in the lockdown-themed sitcom The House Arrest of Us.

2 Good 2 Be True is the TV project they’ve been asking for the last two years. Given the pandemic situation, they wanted their comeback to be in the mold of earlier works — kilig and fun to watch for the audience. Request granted and more: They got to play an active role in the rom-com’s creative process, including development of the story and characters.

The synopsis is about Eloy (Daniel) and Ali (Kathryn), who are both broken by love complications in their parents’ lives but have found their way into each other’s arms. It will be revealed that they’re connected more than they realize.

“Nag-request kami ni Kathryn na gusto namin ng something light na series, a nice breather from the times we’re in,” said Daniel. “So, when the story was formed and the casting was given to us, we were so happy.”

Besides the cast assembled for this project, including veteran stars Ronaldo Valdez, Gloria Diaz, Irma Adlawan, Gelli de Belen, Romnick Sarmenta, Cris Villanueva, Smokey Manaloto, among others, the actor noted that “the storyline of every character, I think that’s also the main attraction of the series.”

Kathryn also shared, “I think it’s safe to say, actually up to now, we’re very involved in the (development of the) characters and where the direction of the story goes… From the very start, I think, yun yung easiest way, just to be honest with what we feel. Kung di kami masaya or masaya kami sa prinesent nila, sasabihin talaga namin.

“And we’re happy because this is a collaboration with the writers and all which is ‘di talaga naging madali na process para makuha yung tono na hinihiling namin. But then, after how many revisions, after how many drafts and finally, with the right people, alam mo yun? We’re really on the same page, lahat,” said Kathryn.

For the 26-year-old, it’s teamwork that will spell success for a project.

“Perhaps, the secret lang talaga to a successful project is yung pagiging collaborative niyo lahat para masaya kayo nagtatrabaho at masaya kayong uuwi kasi alam niyong masaya kayo sa ginawa niyong proyekto,” she said.

“With us, personally, we really don’t want to do a project where our hearts are not completely there. And with this project, we felt that this is it.”

Daniel and Kathryn were careful not to give away any spoilers during the interview, but based on official trailers, sparks fly between them during the initial encounter, but not the romantic kind.

A hotel incident leads Ali to accuse Eloy of being a scammer. After she lands a job as personal nurse to a wealthy man (Ronaldo Valdez), she finds Eloy being hired also as a mechanic.

Eloy, however, has another reason for getting close to Valdez as he wants to know his connection to his father ending up in jail. He goes on a charm offensive to try to win over the seemingly romance-resistant Ali who declares she will never fall for his supposed schemes.

Daniel was tight-lipped about his character, only saying that Eloy works for his father and for his dreams. “He aspires to become a lawyer. He’s an ordinary guy who has dreams, works hard and perseveres.”

For Kathryn, her character represents Filipinas working nonstop for survival, not just for themselves but also for their families. Apart from being a nurse, her character is also an online seller. “She’s the kind of woman who does different things on the side but able to juggle them all,” she further said.

Ali was also exposed early on to the harsh realities in life and has a built-in wariness towards love and men in general.

“Growing up, she builds a wall around her, na kailangan niya maging strong person para hindi siya maloloko, walang lalaking magpapaikot sa kanya,” Kathryn said. “As the story moves along, (the audience) will know what will be her purpose as a nurse. And I’m very happy because we all know how valuable and important nurses and the people in the medical field are. It feels good to be representing that job description. It’s a big honor for me.”

Interestingly, after about 15 onscreen projects together, both admitted feeling very nervous filming 2 Good 2 Be True. Kathryn explained, “Every project, after matagal kang nagpahinga, hindi mo alam how to go back, kung saan ka magsisimula, kakapa ka ulit, the normal things we’d feel every time we do a project. And kaba rin kasi iba ang set-up now sa taping, there’s a bubble, we can’t go home as much as we want. You really need to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally because, wala eh. We have to adjust to everything happening now. So yun yung medyo challenging sa amin, the taping schedule.”

With a loveteam that’s rock solid and still going strong even after 10 years, The STAR asked what else are their goals in the next decade. Daniel hinted that their next 10 years will be more focused on their life together off-camera.

“Sa totoong buhay na yung next 10 years ng teamup. Siguro after 10 years, mas kalmado na buhay namin, ano? Mas sa personal na buhay (na). What do you think?” he said, before asking Kathryn, “Loveteam pa ba tayo (laughs)?”

“Actually, di natin alam,” the actor continued and reiterated, “Pero mas maraming mangyayari sa amin, kaming dalawa, sa mga personal namin na buhay. Kami as Daniel and as Kathryn. Mas duon na yung (next) 10 years. But as loveteam pa rin after 10 years (laughs)? Bigyan naman natin ng pagkakataon yung mga baguhan natin.”

“Yeah, but it will always be there,” Kathryn readily agreed. “Hindi na mawawala.”

Daniel said, “Forever na ‘to, Diyos ko!”

Kathryn stressed that KathNiel wouldn’t have existed if they weren’t partnered in the first place. “Wala rin kami kung di talaga kami tineam-up. So ang dami talaga naming memories, nitong loveteam.”

Although these past three years, they’ve achieved their goals of taking on films without each other — Kathryn with Hello, Love, Goodbye, and Daniel’s Whether the Weather is Fine — it appears that they’re still open to do more solo projects.

Kathryn said, “So, in the next 10 years namin, ang dami gusto rin gawin ni DJ na projects, ako rin, individually and together, ang dami pa.

“But perhaps we’re at a point where whatever happens, we support each other off-cam. Kung ano gusto mong gawin, suportado kita diyan kasi kailangan din yung individual growth aside from our growth together and yun yung sure kami. Kahit ilang years pa — 10 years from now, five years from now — andito lang kami, cheering for each other kung ano ang mga plano namin gawin sa buhay.”

KATHNIEL

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