Enchong and Kiray’s love-hate relationship
As on-screen partners in the horror-comedy flick “I Love You To Death,” Enchong Dee and Kiray Celis constantly work on striking a balance in their relationship.
Enchong said that whenever he was quiet on the set, the usually perky Kiray would step up to make him laugh. When Kiray would feel uncomfortable doing a romantic scene, Enchong would make her feel at ease.
When the teen comedienne would get riled up discussing a particularly touchy issue, just like what happened during their hourlong interview with the Inquirer on Monday, Enchong would patiently try to pacify her. “But when Enchong is angry because he is feeling tired or hungry, nag-i-English! That’s why I leave him alone,” quipped Kiray.
“In the beginning, I couldn’t relate to her and the other members of the cast. She’s only 19 and I’m 27. I was quiet because I was observing them, just to know where I will eventually be positioning myself,” said Enchong during their visit to the Inquirer office in Makati City.
The ice broke between them, Enchong said, while they were filming a romantic scene at a parking lot. “The scene was really physical. I started spanking her butt. She then reacted by touching my chest,” the actor recalled. Kiray said she didn’t mind this, “kasi libre hawak!”
“I Love You To Death” will be screened in theaters nationwide starting July 6. Here are excerpts of Inquirer’s chat with Enchong and Kiray, including Kiray’s outburst over what she thought was a condescending comment by her leading man and the actor’s reaction to the apology posted on Twitter by Sandro Marcos, son of vice presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos.
The interview wasn’t always smooth-sailing, but it was also the spontaneity and “unstaged” quality of Kiray and Enchong’s reactions to each other’s answers that made their unlikely tandem consistently fascinating:Tell us something about the film.
Enchong: The film is about two childhood friends who promised to love each other through thick and thin, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer. Something happens to my character Tonton—he dies and resurrects just to fulfill the promise he made to Gwen (Kiray). The film has romance, horror and, of course, comedy.
Kiray, how do you feel about being called this generation’s comedy princess? And how different is your characterization here from the one in “Love is Blind”?
Kiray: More than my project with Derek (Ramsay, ‘Love Is Blind’), I really feel the pressure here [for the movie to be a success]. I feel the need to prove that I deserve that tagline. I just don’t let it get to my head.
I’m different here, because in “Love Is Blind,” I just did comedy, whereas here, there’s also drama. I shed real tears.
E: I see Kiray as someone who is very comfortable with making people laugh. I was surprised that she knew even my lines and other important details required for the shoot. She may be funny, but she’s serious about what she does.
What was your first reaction when you were asked to do this movie with Kiray?
E: I’m celebrating my 10th year in the business this year, so I want to do something different. The fact that this movie is with Kiray makes it different.
How was it working with director Miko Livelo?
E: I’m not used to working with someone my age. With the likes of Laurice Guillen and Rory Quintos, there’s a certain level of strictness and discipline. I found Miko to be very relaxed as a director.
K: Miko is good at doing horror-comedy. I first worked with him in “Parangnormal Activity.” Sometimes, he’d think of funny lines for us to say on the spot. This was why producers Jun Lana and Perci Intalan thought of getting him when they coproduced this film for Idea First Company with Regal Films.
Enchong, how did you feel when you learned that you weren’t the first choice to portray Tonton?
K: I actually told producers that I didn’t want to work with the actor they previously picked. Tito Fanny Serrano, who does my makeup and designs my outfits, said that since he doesn’t know the guy, it was likely that the moviegoers didn’t know him, either. The guy has to be in the same level as Derek, at the very least, in terms of popularity.
E: I’m happy that I was chosen. Kiray was looking for a good match.
K: I have the biggest crush on Sam (Milby). They inquired if Sam was available—but then, I thought I wouldn’t be able to act in front of him. In scenes where I should be scared, I’d just feel giddy! Baka hindi ako magtrabaho—baka lumandi lang ako.
Enchong, is this also the reason you’ve started appearing in indie films?
E: I did the film with Kuya (AJ Dee titled “Turo Turo”) because he said he wanted to work with me before migrating to Oslo. I said yes without knowing what I was going to do in the film. Yes, I was the kontrabida there. I did “Lila” because it’s dark and gritty. I’ve reached a point in my career where I wanted something different just so my drive as an actor will not disappear.
Kiray, do you see yourself doing dramatic roles?
K: Why not? But I don’t think that will happen anytime soon. I started feeling the pressure of having that comedy princess tagline last month when a director asked me to play the role of the best friend of the lead character. I agreed, but Regal Films declined, saying I can’t play second leads anymore. I said I didn’t mind playing support. My priority is to make money.
Enchong, how are things between you and Sandro Marcos now?
E: There was never really a head-to-head between us. It was actually his poser who offended me, not him. But I stick to what I’ve tweeted. We’re all entitled to our votes … to express our beliefs. I was identified with a certain candidate—and [the unpleasant exchange] was my fault. But then again, not every artist is as vocal as I am. Admittedly, I sometimes get in trouble for being like that. That’s why I was looking at photos of Edsa a while ago (referring to the framed photos hanging on the walls of the Inquirer’s board room that he saw when he arrived). My parents were there.
What are your thoughts on Edsa?
E: The second People Power was the reason I took developmental studies under political science, which I already finished. I don’t like it when people pick other people’s pockets. We also have them in this industry. We show them respect, but they steal behind our backs. It’s unfair because we’re all paying taxes—ours is one of the highest in the world. Don’t you feel frustrated sometimes? The streets are not well-lit at night. Cases of rape are increasing. Traffic is horrible …
K: You shouldn’t be asking him questions like that! He will not stop talking.
Enchong, what do you get from singing that you don’t get out of acting?
E: The instant gratification when you’re onstage. It feels so good to see the audience enjoying. A lot of people raised their eyebrows when I released my album, but this is what I really love doing. Being onstage feels better than being in the rain shooting and reciting my lines at six in the morning.
K: When you’re an actor, you should also know how to sing and dance. If not, what will you do at a mall show? Will you show the audience how good you are at crying?
You recently broke up with Samantha, your girlfriend of two years. What have you picked up from the experience?
E: I realized that it’s very hard to prioritize several things at the same time. I’m trying to get a grip at what I really want in the business while, at the same time, I have my family to think about. You have to set some things aside.
Are you still friends with her?
E: We texted each other about this interview. She said she was leaving it all up to me. She can give me a call anytime she needs me. I wonder why it’s hard for other people to be friends with someone they used to love.
Can you imagine yourself falling for Kiray, or someone with the same sense of humor?
E: No. Other actors would say, ‘Yeah sure!’ To begin with, our age gap is very wide. I don’t want to appear like a cradle-snatcher. Secondly, I don’t want my answers to be too showbiz-y.
K: Hoy! Lagi na lang siya ang tinatanong. Tatanungin n’yo rin ba ako kung gusto ko si Enchong? I read an article on push.com that really hurt my feelings. He was quoted to have said that he wouldn’t fall for me because we’re not on the same level. We usually get asked that question when we’re promoting a love team, even Derek was game. I got really angry with Enchong’s comment.
E: I was very clear with what I said—I meant our age gap.
K: Ah talaga lang ha? I got so mad that I posted on Twitter: “’Di tayo magka-level? Nakakahiya naman sa ’yo.’ I’m glad I can tell him how I feel now.
E: So you were carrying this emotional baggage all this time? Why would I say that when I know it’s offensive? We’re in the same business, so you know that this always happens. I also posted something on Twitter recently, because I was angry. During an interview, I said I was willing to do experimental projects, so I don’t mind doing a gay movie. And if it’s really needed in the film, I said I’d be willing to do a kissing scene. The headline of the story was very bad. I said I’d stay quiet, but I will remember who wrote it. I want to tell Kiray that she knows better than to believe everything she reads. This is unfair to us actors, [because] this affects our relationship with each other.
K: It’s not a big deal.
E: You tweeted something about it. Big deal ’yon!
K: If it was a big deal, I would have tagged you.
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