True blood

Pepe Diokno (The Philippine Star) - October 11, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - In the American movie Blood Ransom, Anne Curtis plays a woman caught in the middle of a kidnapping, but it’s a secret that she’s hiding that should have the perpetrators running in fear. The movie hits theaters on Oct. 29, and audiences will finally see the role that got Anne to put her local showbiz career on hold for — two years ago, she took a leave from hosting Showtime to shoot Blood Ransom in Los Angeles, and she says the experience was unlike anything she’s done before.

Joining Anne in her international film debut is Alexander Dreymon, an actor whom Filipino audiences may know from an arc in American Horror Story: Coven. The Hollywood upstart is somewhat of a nomad, having grown up between Germany, France, England, Switzerland and the United States — and now, he finds himself in Manila to join Anne in promoting Blood Ransom. Supreme took the opportunity to sit down with the two to talk about the film, auditioning for roles, and the world of difference between the American film industry and ours.

SUPREME: Anne, how did you get involved in this movie?

ANNE CURTIS: One of my friends asked if I wanted to audition for a part. She said it was going to be an indie film to be shot in the States. I said, “Sure, why not?” It was really weird for me because I hadn’t auditioned for a part in a long time, so I was very surprisingly super nervous about it.

It seems unheard of, Anne Curtis auditioning for a part.

ANNE: I was like, you know what, why not? Why not try? It felt like starting over again. I think the last time I auditioned was when I was 16. I auditioned for Kampanerang Kuba, and I auditioned for my first ever role in Magic Kingdom — and I actually liked those auditions because I was so challenged. But before I was an actress, I was a commercial model and I did a lot of auditions. VTRs — you stand in front of the camera and they ask you to turn to the left, turn to the right, and smile. (Laughs.) I’d have to say those were really awkward.

Alexander, as an actor in Hollywood, you must be used to auditions.

ALEXANDER DREYMON: Well, when you do a pilot season in Los Angeles, which goes from January up until maybe late March, you have an audition a day on average, sometimes more. So, as soon as you’re done with something, you go home, study the next part — and every part is different so you have to invest your whole energy in it — and that’s kind of like a baptism of fire. I’ve always felt that there is screen work, theater work, and there’s auditioning. It’s a completely different beast.

Anne, what attracted you to Blood Ransom?

ANNE: It’s something I haven’t done before, and I wanted to experience a different industry. The experience was great, it was awesome, it was refreshing. Even if it was a low-budget indie film, it’s just crazy how different it was for me shooting in the States.

How different is it between there and here?

ANNE: In the Philippines, we have so many people on set; there, they don’t have as many, but the people are efficient. We only do 12 hours of working time, we get a 12-hour turn-over time. There’s craft table that’s always there, where everyone, not only the artists but also the crew can get and eat. And for me, it’s like we should have this in the Philippines. Kawawa naman our crew. Here, productions are hand-to-mouth. Sometimes, we tape in the morning for a teleserye that will air that evening. We shoot movies that already have a play date. It’s a stressful environment, and it does suffer, the quality of what we’re doing. Unlike this film, we shot it two years ago, and you’ll see that time can make it perfect. It makes me want our industry to be like theirs, and I believe we will. Slowly, you have all these young filmmakers. You look at Cinemalaya and all these different events and it’s slowly becoming that. So, even the mainstream stuff will just get better.

The trailer for the movie gives us a hint of an action-packed movie. Did you both have to film any challenging scenes?

ANNE: There’s a lot of running, running on roofs, vomiting, all this… Driving a Mustang in the middle of the desert. It was scorching hot, but it was beautiful.

ALEXANDER: Staying awake was challenging because we shot most of the scenes at night. I always wake up very early in the morning no matter what time I go to bed, so I would operate on three hours of sleep a day.

Anne, I hope you don’t mind me grilling Alexander for a bit, but Alexander, did you know when you were shooting that Anne is a big star here?

ALEXANDER: No. No. I mean, they told me that she was a big deal and she’s obviously an extremely gorgeous girl; she’s beautiful not only on the outside but on the inside as well, so I can see why the Filipinos love her so much. But I didn’t know much about Filipino culture at the time — regretfully, because now I’ve come to love it, being here. But to be honest, I’m still not aware — I see her billboards everywhere and I think it’s really cool, you know, but to me, she’s still Anne. It’s nice, I don’t think I see her as anything else than she is.

What else has surprised you about Filipino showbiz?

ALEXANDER: Filipino show business is full-on and pretty crazy. In the United States, everything is planned to death. You would know what kind of shows you’d be attending months or weeks in advance. Here, it’s all spur of the moment. You just gotta be ready and roll with it. I quite like that, actually.

You were on TV discussing a kissing scene you have with Anne. What did you think of that?

ALEXANDER: Yeah. (Laughs.) Every time I’ve gone on TV, they ask me about that. For me, it was so not a big deal that I kind of have to get to grips with the fact that there’s so much hype about that here. I find it quite amusing.

What surprises you about the country in general?

ALEXANDER: The kindness of the people just blows my mind. I’ve been here for almost a week now and every single day, I’m taken aback by how generous and loving and welcoming the people are. I think the world would be a much better place if it was like that all over. I also loved seeing Intramuros. There’s so much history here, so much culture. I really can’t get enough of it. I’ve started driving out of Manila today and the country is gorgeous. I really want to come back and see more.

Anne, what have you learned from your Blood Ransom experience?

ANNE: That you have to have patience and the willpower to keep on trying. This film opened up my eyes to maybe trying it one day — try heading over there and auditioning. Then again, I can’t leave what I have here. I’m so happy here and I love Manila, but there will always be that curiosity and one thing I learned is that it’s OK to have that curiosity.

Alexander, what are some of the lessons you’ve learned on your climb up the Hollywood ladder?

ALEXANDER: To just keep going and deal with yourself — you know, compare yourself to yourself and not to where other people are at. I think that’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned.

What’s next for you?

ALEXANDER: Next is a project called The Last Kingdom for BBC UK and BBC America. It’s an eight-part based on a series books by Bernard Cornwell called The Saxon Series.

We wouldn’t ask what’s next for you Anne, because you’re always busy —

ANNE: (Laughs.)

But what is on the horizon that excites you and scares you as much as this project?

ANNE: (Thinks.) After this, I hope more roles that are experimental like this will come my way.

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Tweet the author @PepeDiokno.

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