Piolo, Lovi exceed each other’s expectations in Flower of Evil

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Piolo, Lovi exceed each other�s expectations in Flower of Evil
Piolo Pascual and Lovi Poe.

MANILA, Philippines — Piolo Pascual and Lovi Poe are leading the Philippine remake of the multi-awarded 2020 South Korean drama Flower of Evil.

Produced by Dreamscape Entertainment with ABS-CBN, the series comes with a number of firsts. Through the pan-regional streaming service Viu, it’s the first adaptation drama from the Philippines to stream simultaneously in 16 markets, namely Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar and South Africa. It’s also the first project pairing up Lovi and Piolo, and the first drama of the former since her network transfer in 2021.

Following its premiere on Viu last June 23, Flower of Evil also started airing on ABS-CBN’s A2Z channel, Kapamilya channel and Jeepney TV.

The romance-thriller tells the story of a female police detective Iris (Lovi) with a nagging suspicion that her husband Jacob (Piolo) is a serial killer.

During a recent exclusive chat with The STAR, Piolo said their version is faithful, from beginning to end, to the original material but “we treat it in a way that’s very Filipino. In terms of the approach, the sensibilities and the way (our characters) are to each other, it’s very different (from the Korean show). You’ll see the cultural differences.”

romance-thriller tells the story of a female police detective Iris (Lovi) with a nagging suspi- cion that her husband Jacob (Piolo) is a serial killer.

As a K-drama fan, Lovi appreciates K-storytelling for its attention to detail. “That’s what’s nice about what we did here, too. I am very proud that we have different shots of every single detail in every scene because it’s like reading a book. You imagine the tiniest little detail, like the touch of the hand, how I hold his face, and you’re going to see that here, too.”

Meanwhile, Piolo was doing another TV project, the sitcom My Papa Pi, while filming Flower of Evil. Asked how he shifted to and fro between vastly contrasting roles, he jokingly said, “Wala namang (shift),” before adding, “but it helps that it was a bubble. With the sitcom, I was able to shake it off right away as soon as I was done with it. And going back into the lock-in (for the series), it was pretty hard because we were doing a chunk of very difficult scenes. But it was also more of an advantage because we were in our own world.”

For Lovi, the shoot had to be squeezed into her equally tight schedule that has seen her flying in and out of the country these past months. The actress has been pursuing an international career. Last year, she was confirmed to star alongside English actors Alex Pettyfer and Poppy Delevingne in the British film The Chelsea Cowboy as the legendary blues singer Dana Gillespie.

Addressing our question about her next international project, she said, “There are some things but I can’t really talk about them yet. But it’s an exciting time. I’m trying to balance being here and also being out of the country at the same time. Soon! Series? I can’t really say yes until it’s ironed out. It’s a dream for sure. That I would love to do. But when things work out eventually, I will (speak up about it).”

Meanwhile, we chanced upon Dreamscape Entertainment boss Deo Endrinal after this two-on-one interview at the ABS-CBN compound, and he said that it was due to the “successful experiment” of the just-concluded The Broken Marriage Vow being available on Viu that paved the way for Flower of Evil’s multi-territory streaming. They have also acquired the rights to another K-drama for a possible remake and are eyeing to cast a loveteam.

Below are excerpts from our interview with Piolo and Lovi, who obviously enjoyed working together:

It’s your first time working with each other. How was it?

Lovi: “He’s very maalaga. (Piolo interrupted to ask the staff to move a spotlight so it wouldn’t directly hit Lovi’s face). See, maalaga. He’s always looking out for others. It’s been really a good experience because he always gives his best, sometimes, even beyond expectations.”

Piolo: “Coming into the bubble, we did some workshops together. I guess I kinda set that tone and the kind of commitment she would give. I enjoyed myself. Besides (the fact that) I missed acting on TV, it was a big factor that it was Lovi because what she gave was just really…it makes you happy, and she pulls everyone with her energy.

“She will do everything that’s being asked of her to do. Such a trouper. So yun palang, na-a-appreciate mo yung ginawa mo because of that. And I’m really thankful because she studied her role so nakaka-inspire to actually give it your best. Kasi matsa-challenge ka. The show is really challenging but what she gave, for me, that’s all I really needed to get out of my comfort zone and trust the process.”

Flower of Evil lead stars with Dreamscape Entertainment head Deo Endrinal.
Photos courtesy of Dreamscape Entertainment

Lovi: “That’s why he’s saying all these things because I feel the same way. I wouldn’t be able to do all these things if it weren’t for him. Because when he’s on set, he’s suddenly the character. Of course, he’s very different. I’m glad he’s very different from his character. Hahaha! But, he’s just the character all of a sudden. He’s so good at what he does.”

You’re both known to partner well with different actors. But how would you describe your pairing?

Piolo: “There were a lot of scenes where we didn’t have to say anything. We felt each other too much that we were just pulling each other to trust the scene, the director, each other. Nakakatuwa talaga! Ganda ng partnership.”

Lovi: “Because a lot of times, all I had to do was look into his eyes. Sometimes, I would go behind him and hug him like as if I was holding on to him. I always go behind (Piolo) for some reason. Hahaha! There’s something about it. Because when I see him walking away, it makes me so sad. Little things like that.”

Lovi, you play a detective here. Do you think women make better detectives?

Lovi: “Hahaha, yes! Women’s intuition. You know, what’s right sa sinabi nila sa trailer, most of the time (it’s correct) unless you’re known to be extra paranoid… Actually, (my character is) not paranoid. I don’t know, pero yun nga, yung pagiging detective niya, it’s natural to her. But I think somehow (women are better detectives).

“Is my intuition good? I’m usually so chill. I don’t really think of things like that (that would jeopardize your relationship?). Well, my character as Iris is very trustworthy. That’s probably why, through the years, she never saw anything about her husband. I think yun ang similarities namin, we trust. I easily trust.”

Piolo, your character has a troubled past. Where did you draw inspiration for your portrayal?

Piolo: “Good thing my past is not haunted. I didn’t have to draw from that. But it’s the love that actually supersedes everything. He was always that kind of person but he was made to believe otherwise so it was really hard to deal with that. You think you’re this person because everyone made you believe that, but you know in your heart, you’re not. So, in some ways there are similarities in terms of how he’s able to express his love, the way he wants to be seen as a person… It’s all about the kind of love he was getting and what he could give.”

Anything new you learned about the acting craft by doing this series?

Lovi: “I learned something new because of the different directions we had to take in every scene. We’ve done really nice stories in the past, and most of them are relatable in such a way that we may have gone through them already. But this is really something different. It’s not like I’m married to a ‘serial killer.’ You had to go through a lot in terms of imagination. It was a great learning experience.”

Piolo: “There were a lot of things that I had to unlearn about myself, how I treat my work and how I approach my scenes, especially with Lovi. I just had to really feel her, as long as you know your parameters as your character, then you can easily let go. That’s what I learned when I did this. When I was able to let go, knowing how far I could go, I was able to let loose and be lost in a scene. So, I told myself, pwede pala.

“Ang sarap that at my age (45), at this point in my career, I am able to surprise myself at times… This is the reason I’m in love with what I do because I’m able to get out of my comfort zone and think out of the box and to just really challenge myself.”

How do you choose your next projects?

Lovi: “It makes a huge difference who you are working with and the kind of story that you have. Sometimes, it really just boils down to that. I’ve been blessed to work with Piolo in my first project as a Kapamilya and it’s something like Flower of Evil, oh my god!”

Piolo: “I’d want to push the envelope. I want to be part of that movement where you can do something different, something elevated. And to be shown in so many countries, to be given this platform (Viu), it’s an honor… It’s above you. You’re just a part of a bigger whole. You want to be part of that. And for me, stories are a big factor, that’s your offering (to the audiences). If it’s just something that’s a walk in the park, I would gladly pass. Also, of course, it depends on who you’re working with.”

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