Freeman Cebu Entertainment

Nadine Lustre in bloody, violent film comeback

Vanessa A. Balbuena - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — Seems her legal battle with Viva is being set aside for now as the actress dubbed as the country’s Multimedia Princess returns with her latest film under the company that made her a star.

In a Zoom interview for her movie “Greed”, there was no sign or talk of an artist supposedly trapped in an oppressive years-long contract. Instead, the 28-year-old repeatedly expressed excitement and gratitude at finally being given the chance to veer from her usual genre and prove what else she’s capable of – ala Johnny Deep, she would say.

It’s a “shocking” Nadine that her fans and Vivamax audiences are promised in the Yam Laranas-directed suspense thriller that co-stars her for the first time with Diego Loyzaga. “Greed”, now available on Vivamax Plus and will be accessible next month yet to regular plan subscribers, also features the capable Epi Quizon.

Set in a remote village, a young couple finally has the chance to free themselves from the hardships of life and start anew as they win the biggest prize in the lottery. Not wanting anyone to know about this great news, they0 decide to keep it a secret until they have moved to a different town. But a former neighbor learns about their dumb luck and tries to steal it from them. What follows after is a nightmare of a hunt fueled by dark intentions and selfishness.

“My character, Kitchie, is your typical dalagang Pilipina na mahinhin. Her relationship with Diego’s character, although they are together, hindi boto yung parents niya sa kanya,” shares Nadine of her role. “Lumaki siya na medyo sheltered, she has strict and smothering parents so their relationship is really forbidden. She no longer wants to live with her parents, her father especially, because she doesn’t like how they treat her. She is also strong-willed – gagawin niya lahat para maging okay sila and gumanda yung buhay nila.”

Nadine, whose last film was 2019’s “Indak,” appreciates the shift in her character and is hoping to do similarly challenging roles.

“She’s courageous also because in the story, noong mag-umpisa ng magkagulo-gulo lahat you will see that she will start making the decisions in the end. She will have a shift. If sa umpisa mahinhin lang siya, eventually when things get harder, you will see how this will change her into a different person.”

How does it feel to be back?

Sobrang na-miss ko siya kasi ibang-iba talaga ang pakiramdam kapag umaarte, at iba din yung feeling when performing, kapag kumankanta at sumasayaw. What I miss about acting is portraying a character. I’m really happy to have worked with Direk Yam because ever since napapanood ko ang mga pelikula niya. In fact ‘Aurora’ is one of my favorites among his films. So when Boss [Vic] and Direk pitched this to me, I was very excited. Ang saya ko din because this time it revolves around a family, hindi na romantic comedy or just plain drama. It’s thriller-horror, so it’s very exciting for me.

So many things I unlearned because I haven’t been in front of a camera for a while. There were many instances I was unsure how to shoot or smile during shoots. Back to zero ulit yun skills ko. When shooting with Direk Yam, feeling ko may kulang or mali. Nakakapanibago talaga. But then eventually naibalik ko naman with the help of Direk and my co-actors.

Is this a full-on comeback?

Definitely I can say na tuloy-tuloy na. Gusto ko na ulit bumalik sa acting. It’s really something I enjoy and miss doing. I’m really happy because this time around everyone is trying to make an effort into changing the genres or the stories that are being given to me. May effort talaga na ibang klaseng mga pelikula na ang gagawin ko. Noon kasi medyo pare-parehas lang. I guess pa intense nang pa intense yung mga story na ibibigay sa akin.

What have you been up to the past two years?

Nag-start ako mag-music. I released an album in 2020, around October. It was released on my birthday. Ang dami ko din inayos sa buhay ko personally with my family, my health as well. And I think with the whole pandemic it was really a struggle for everyone. Not just being at home – meron din kasing mental repercussions yung pandemic. So ang dami ko talagang inayos sa sarili ko. Mas nag-focus ako sa music, but I’m really happy because at least ngayon nakaka-arte na ako and there are new projects, mga bagong kwento that are offered to me so it’s exciting. Mainly that has been my journey for the last two, three years – talagang inuna ko talaga ang sarili ko.

How was it working for the first time with Diego and Direk Yam?

Direk Yam likes thinking out-of-the-box. Chill lang kami lahat on set. Of course lahat ng effort binibigay namin, but there’s really no negative energy on set. The script was really good. When I read it the first time, naisip ko talaga sa sarili ko, ‘My gosh this is really happening.’ Something that’s not rom-com or drama. It’s very bloody and violent. Yun ang pinaka nagustuhan ko working with Direk Yam. He doesn’t have a censor and he does everything and anything for art. With Diego, magkakilala na kami but we weren’t close ever since. Dito lang talaga sa ‘Greed’ kami nakapag-bonding at nakilala yung isa’t-isa. Naging friends, pretty much. He’s super easy to work with. Ang saya lang talaga namin sa set. Even si Kuya Epi nagkukwentuhan lang kami during break time, ang dami namin napag-uusapan. Pero pag work, work talaga. What I loved about the whole team is the energy they give once we do a take, especially those scenes na literally and figuratively madugo.

How did you hurdle all the challenges with your famiy, moving to Siargao, love life, etc?

It’s really difficult. Wala namang madali. But with all the things I went through, what I learned is that when you’re facing a crossroad you really have to deal with it. Kasi kapag itinabi mo lang, eventually it will come out and mas mahirap. So if the challenge is in front of you, you have to face it. I’ve been kinder to myself as well when I handle things and when I’m not satisfied with how I handle it, I don’t beat myself up. I always just say ‘Ah it’s okay. At least next time I know how to better handle it.’ It’s just a matter of being courageous and facing all these things. Mahihirapan ka but at the same time, mahirap talaga ang buhay. You just have to brave it.

Are you still open to being in a love team?

I feel like I ‘m already past the love team phase. I do believe it’s something that a lot of celebrities go through. It’s not a bad thing. It’s a partnership, it’s team work. If you’re in a love team, you pull each other up. Now I’m in that phase where I yearn for scripts that are mind-boggling. I don’t mind doing thriller, action, horror, or even…sabi ko nga kay Direk Yam when he was asking what I like my next project to be, sabi ko gusto ko maging psychopath naman. Much like Johnny Depp – if you look at all the characters he’s done, his range is so wide and that’s something I also would love to do because I love putting myself into a character’s shoes.

Your character in ‘Greed’ wins the lottery. What will you do with the money if it happens in real life?

I want to help dog shelters and to people who need them the most. I know it doesn’t sound believable that I’ll just give away the money pero ang nagpapasaya sa akin is when I get to be of help to others. Especially ngayon ang gulo-gulo sa Ukraine and they need assistance. Also to provinces that were affected by Odette.

What is your advice to young actors who are likewise contemplating change?

Do not be afraid of change, of trying new things, of exploring. I was also scared before, thinking what if hindi magustuhan ng mga tao at mga fans ko. But if you don’t, you will also be boxed. I don’t want to be known only for romance or drama alone. I want to show what else I’m capable of. I also don’t want to look back with regret that I didn’t do the things I wanted.


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