Freeman Cebu Entertainment

Piolo: ‘Toni’s acting intimidated me

Vanessa Balbuena - The Freeman

After starring in the acclaimed socio-political 2013 thriller “On The Job,” Piolo Pascual returns to his romantic leading man roots via the Star Cinema Valentine offering “Starting Over Again,” where he’s paired for the first time with Toni Gonzaga.

Set for a Feb. 12 nationwide release, viewers of the movie’s trailer have already expressed excitement on witnessing a heart-tugging love story about second chances unfold on the big screen. 

Piolo was just in town for the Kapamilya Caravan show at the Ayala Terraces with network co-stars John Lloyd Cruz, Jodi Sta. Maria, Maja Salvador and Richard Yap. The group also rode the ABS-CBN Sinulog float during last Sunday’s grand parade.

In a media huddle at Banilad Town Centre’s Choi City, Piolo shared that “Starting Over Again” tells the story of a couple who break up, with the girl later on trying to woo back the guy she left with nary an explanation. An added complication: Piolo’s character is now in a happy relationship with another woman played by Iza Calzado.

The Olivia Lamasan-directed film marks Piolo and Toni’s first team-up, ten years after she first shared the screen with the actor for a popular softdrink brand where she screamed the now famous line “I love you Piolo!” While Piolo was already a household name then, Toni was practically an unknown.

“She was only 16 when we did the softdrink commercial; very innocent-looking,” recalls Piolo of his initial impression of the “Home Sweetie Home” actress. 

“Even now that she’s in her late 20’s, you won’t even think she’s that old already because medyo ano eh…I don’t want to say she hasn’t been that exposed — sheltered, in a way. But one thing I noticed about her at 16 up until now is her drive. You know how she is as a performer, a host, and my discovery when we did the movie is her passion. I was even intimidated working with her because she’s very raw. She’s not a typical actress in soap operas na may karga agad. Magaling siya magdala. She trusted our director too much, kaya maganda ang lumabas.”

Did he have that gut feel that the young commercial talent would later on carve her own name in the industry? “Everyone has a chance in showbiz. But with Toni, I didn’t know at that time that she could also sing, act and host. But at 16, she really had that drive. I knew there was something she could offer, more than a pretty face.”

Business gamble

Now that working with Toni has been crossed off his list, Piolo was asked if he had dream co-actors in mind. “In this business, we just appreciate and get challenged by whatever comes our way. People come and go. Basta masarap katrabaho, okay lang. Hindi naman tayo namimili,”  he answered.

Career-ending intrigues might have plagued the heartthrob the past years, but his list of 2014 projects proves how talent and charisma remain his best selling points.

This year, Piolo says, he might come up with an all-original album. A soap opera, a solo concert in May and other concert tours are in the offing. Plus, he has a psycho-thriller titled “Silong” opposite Rhian Ramos in the works.

He’s also keeping his prospects open as a producer. After wrapping up the last in the “Kimmy Dora” trilogy, Piolo reveals that his partners at the Spring Films production outfit are waiting for a good script to flesh out next.

“There’s a couple in the pipeline, but the scriptwriting process is what’s most difficult. So whichever gets done first. Hopefully, we’ll have one this year,” he said. “It was my first time last December to join the MMFF as a producer. As a producing company, of course we felt bad. But that’s how it is: in any business, there are gambles. You just have to be open. You can’t be jaded just because your first try didn’t yield a good result.”

He says Eugene Domingo’s star-making turn in “Kimmy Dora” wasn’t something they at Spring Films planned. “When Joyce [Bernal] saw her potential, we just gambled on it. It wasn’t something we planned to do. If there is someone with the same potential, and we get a good script and a good director, then why not? But so far, I haven’t seen anyone in the same level as Eugene’s.”

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