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Only In Hollywood

Mermaid in ‘Pirates’ part-Pinoy

By: - Columnist
/ 10:37 PM May 05, 2011

LOS ANGELES — A Filipino-Puerto Rican-American actress, Daphne Joy, is one of the “all-natural beauties” selected to play mermaids in “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.”

The blockbuster franchise’s producer, Jerry Bruckheimer, was quoted as saying, “I don’t think they had breast augmentation in the 1700s. So it’s natural for casting people to say, ‘We want real people.”

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Daphne, an Olongapo native who speaks Tagalog, confirmed in our recent e-mail interview: “The role required that the actresses be great swimmers and also surgery free— meaning, no breast implants!”

Although she has previously appeared on TV shows and music videos, Daphne struggled with the first requirement. Even with crash courses in swimming before the audition and a couple of weeks before she began filming her scenes, Daphne was called by the lifeguards who stood by on the set as “the mermaid who can’t swim.”

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Excerpts from our interview:

How did you land the role?

My manager, Jonathan Baram, called me and said he had a great role for me. When he said it was a mermaid role, I was already sold. Then when he told me it was for “Pirates of the Caribbean,” I was like, “Okay, we definitely have to book this!” He submitted my photos to the casting agency and I auditioned with about 50 girls at a pool in Los Angeles. It was the same audition day where I met my other fellow mermaid, Antoinette (Nikprelaj).

What were the role requirements?

At first, I was hesitant to audition because I’m not actually very good in swimming. I had about a two-week notice before I found out they wanted to see me for the role. Within those two weeks, I practiced in the pool at my local gym and even hired a swimming coach. I was determined to land this role, or at least try.

Can you describe your character?

I play one of the five principal mermaids, along with Gemma Ward, who plays Tamara. The mermaids play pivotal roles in the movie. Mermaids are always thought of as beautiful, desirable creatures of the sea. We possess those traits plus a “killer” streak that you have to wait and see! We have scenes with Sam Claflin and the other pirates.

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What was it like to spend a lot of time in the water?

As the other mermaids swam perfectly, I was the helpless one who trotted right behind them! I let everyone know I just started swimming lessons two weeks before filming. The pool at Universal was always heated, but after a few hours we were freezing and asking for coffee and tea to warm us up.

Can you talk about working with Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz?

Four words: a dream come true! One day, after we finished rehearsal, the crew said that they wanted us to meet Johnny. He was a gentleman, funny, charming and handsome. He is iconic. I briefly met Penelope and she was as breathtaking and striking in person as she is on camera.

Do you have scenes with Michael Ilano Rosales and other actors of Filipino heritage who are also in the film?

Unfortunately I didn’t have any scenes with Michael Rosales, but hopefully down the line, I will be able to work with him and other great Filipino actors in the future.

Are you familiar with Dyesebel, a beloved Filipino comics mermaid character?

Yes, my lola watches The Filipino Channel every day and I have caught a few of those shows. They are very entertaining.

Can you talk about your heritage?

My father is Puerto Rican and my mother is from Olongapo. My dad was a former marine and while he was stationed in the Philippines, he met my mother in Subic Bay. My mother wanted me to experience Filipino upbringing so we stayed in the Philippines with my grandmother and uncle until I was 8.

I love Filipino food. I grew up in very humble surroundings and feel very blessed with everything I have been experiencing thus far in the States and with my career.

What Filipino values did your parents teach you while growing up?

Respect elders, and family always comes first. Growing up in the Philippine is humbling. It made me appreciate everything that I have now and gives me a broader outlook in life. I’ve met some Filipino-Americans who can’t even enjoy our food. I feel so blessed to have grown up knowing my culture and valuing my roots.

Do you get to visit the Philippines?

I haven’t been back since I was a little girl, but hopefully I can in the very near future! I have heard nothing but great things from friends who have visited recently. I miss it!

What’s next for you?

I have been filming some independent movies, including one with Danny Trejo called “House of the Rising Sun.” I just finished filming “Freelancers” with Robert De Niro, 50 Cent and Forest Whitaker. The acting bug has definitely bit me and I’m going to keep living my dreams!

E-mail the columnist at rvnepales_5585@yahoo.com.

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