Breathe Again pairs Ariella Arida, Tony Labrusca for the first time

Leah C. Salterio - The Philippine Star
Breathe Again pairs Ariella Arida, Tony Labrusca for the first time
Ariella and Tony have trained together in free diving, which is different from scuba diving, to help build on their chemistry.

MANILA, Philippines — Beauty queen Ariella Arida, Miss Universe Philippines 2013, is set to surprise viewers when she goes sexy and daring with steamy scenes in her first starring role in the film, Breathe Again, directed by Raffy Francisco.

Although she previously did supporting roles in director Darryl Yap’s Sarap Mong Patayin and Nuel Naval’s More Than Blue, both for Viva shown last year, Ariella is so grateful for Breathe Again. “The role is so easy to relate to,” she acknowledged. “This is the first lead role that Viva gave me. They gave me so much trust.”

It was the first time for Ariella to work with Tony Labrusca, her leading man in Breathe Again, filmed in Anilao, Batangas. They shot mostly outdoors. The film streams on Vivamax starting June 3.

“Before that, we had our training for our free diving, so doon pa lang, I got to know Tony more,” Ariella said. “Especially nasa dagat kami. Iba kasi ang nabibigay na vibe ng dagat. So I think it helped us better that we connected instantly.”

Apart from the workshop before the lead stars started filming, Ariella and Tony trained together in free diving, which is different from scuba diving.

“When the character was pitched to me, I was very excited,” Ariella admitted. “First time ko gagawin na free diver ako. But we really had training before we started shooting.”

“Akala ko, it would just be easy na makikita ng tao, sisisid ka lang pero kailangan mo din ng technics na hindi siya talaga basta pwedeng gawin.”

Although this is their first time together to do free diving, Ariella acknowledged Tony is a lot better than her. “He’s a good swimmer. With him, I feel safe underwater. He was there to guide me through.

“I’m really so grateful to Tony. He’s a great actor. I’ve watched his films. Our scenes, although intimate, we could laugh right after. He is one co-actor who after we did the scene, I could ask him how was the scene we did. Hindi ako mahihiya.

“Kahit intimidating at first for me si Tony, sa simula lang pala ‘yun. Hindi pala siya ganu’n talaga. On and off set, we’re good. That brings out the natural aura of the characters we are playing.”

Ariella also commended their director for guiding them even through the underwater scenes. “If we go deep underwater, mas malalim si direk Raffy,” Ariella said. “Kung matagal kami sa ilalim, mas matagal si direk.”

Director Raffy had a hand in writing the script, too, for Breathe Again. “The past five years, I’ve fallen in love again with the ocean,” he admitted. “I re-ignited my love affair with diving and I discovered this new sport, free diving.

“Free diving makes it accessible for people to enjoy the underwater world, unencumbered by all the equipment. All you need are masks, fins and a snorkel and you can stay underwater for a long time. That’s something I want to share within this realm of a full-length film.”

Direk Raffy proudly pushed the boundaries of his film in terms of sexiness. “The core of the movie is finding yourself,” he explained. “Breathing is a very personal thing. The journey of the narrative towards the main character is finding your breath again.”

Unless one might think Breathe Again is only “sexy and romantic,” Ariella shared towards the end, there is something that will jolt the viewers.“Ika-bibigla nila and that is why it’s titled Breathe Again. Inter-connected ang mga pangyayari from beginning to end.”

Tony noted his “beautiful and very confident” first-time leading lady was very gracious all throughout their filming. “What really shone for me, Ara (as Ariella is fondly called), was just so gracious about everything,” Tony said. “This was just a fun film to make, although it was not the easiest filming underwater.

“I saw her character and how game she was. She didn’t complain. No bad attitude. I was just really amazed with her work ethic,” he added.

Conquering his fear of the ocean is something Tony had to deal with to film Breathe Again. “Mahilig akong mag-swimming, pero ayoko ‘yung hindi ko nakikita ‘yung ilalim ng dagat,” he said.

“May mga scenes kami na nasa gitna ng dagat, so I was feeling anxious already. There was also a scene na gabi, nag-dive kami. That was a challenge for me. Na-conquer ko din naman ‘yun.”

There was a time when both of them were practically on the beach the whole day. “She told me, ‘Baka ‘pag hinalikan mo ako, salty na ako,’” Tony recalled. “Even our intimate scenes, easy lang.”

His take-away on his character, Robert, in Breathe Again, Tony maintained, “Sometimes, we meet the right person but at the wrong time. We fall in love, pero bawal pala. Masarap talaga na meron kang makilalang tao na nakaka-intindi sa ‘yo. Masarap magmahal kahit saglit lang.”



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