“Surprisingly, I had no difficulty dealing with them. I guess it was because they believed so much in the concept and they were equally selfless,” Diaz told Inquirer. “While I made sure to give them equal treatment, I didn’t hear them complain about anything.”
Diaz described his lead stars as generous performers.
“Walang sapawan. In the beginning, that was one of my worries—ang magsabong sila sa set—but nothing of the sort happened. They would always arrive 10 to 20 minutes earlier than the call time. No one wanted to keep the other waiting.”
He added, “Marian calls her costar ‘Ate Ai,’ while to Ai-Ai, she’s ‘Baby Girl.’ They genuinely like and respect one another. I hope to work with them again, if their home networks would permit.” (De las Alas is a contract artist of ABS-CBN; Rivera, of rival channel GMA 7.)
Diaz said the idea to make “Kung Fu Divas” sprouted from the controversial YouTube video of two females engaged in a catfight over a guy at Market! Market! in Taguig City.
He explained, “We all love cat fights. I thought: What if the two females had extraordinary kung-fu abilities? That would be the ultimate cat fight!”
To make his dream film, the director said he needed two queens. “Hence, the casting of Ai-Ai and Marian. This was intrinsic to the story and not just because of the box-office potential.”
Diaz added that many potential producers found it a crazy idea, but not De las Alas and Rivera, who also decided to coproduce the film.
Diaz added that the movie also found inspiration in “Kung Fu Hustle,” which combines special effects and martial arts. Of the 2004 action-comedy hit, he said, “I find it very funny how the actors aren’t gay but exhibit gay sensibilities. I pitched the concept to a lot of producers, but it was only last year that we finally got enough funding. Now, we also have the technology to do it locally.”
He has directed both De las Alas and Rivera in several TV commercials but, Diaz said, “Doing a film is very much different. I realized that everything that had been written about the two and their work habits were not true, and that the good writeups on them were incomplete.”
He continued: “Marian surprised me. I already knew that she was good, but I didn’t realize that she had depth. Ai-Ai is undoubtedly a good comedienne in front of the camera. Amazingly, off-cam, she is also very funny.”
Diaz said he would start writing his next project as soon as post-production work on “Kung Fu Divas” was completed. “We’re editing now; it’s taking a while, since the material is post-prod heavy,” he said. “Most scenes were shot on virtual sets. We’re working on the CGI (computer-generated imagery).”