Martin del Rosario on what it’s like kissing his 2 leading men in ‘Born’
If filming his first onscreen kiss with a girl was already nerve-wracking, what more doing it with men?
“I was very nervous, of course. But we were all professional about it,” actor Martin del Rosario said of the kissing scenes he shot with his two leading men, Kiko Matos and Akihiro Blanco, for “Born Beautiful”—a spinoff of the internationally acclaimed comedy-drama “Die Beautiful” by Jun Lana.
The script, Martin related, required his character—the trans woman mortuary beautician and pageant kontesera Barbs Cordero—to go for the kisses like she “really meant it and wanted it.”
Martin didn’t want to give anything less. “We didn’t have any second thoughts. So we talked beforehand and just gave it our best. They wanted us to give off heat. And as an actor, I don’t want to give anything half-baked,” he told reporters in a recent pocket interview.
“The one with Kiko was wilder; the one with Akihiro, romantic and passionate,” the 26-year-old actor added.
Expectedly, much of the hype and talk online centered on the intimate scenes. But the movie, Martin stressed, is more than that.
Directed by Perci Intalan, “Born” takes place after the sudden death of Barbs’ best friend, Trisha (Paolo Ballesteros). She tries to move on and go about her life normally. But after another friend passes away, she begins to think that her being transgender is a curse, forcing him to pretend that he’s a straight man.
Before long, Barbs finds herself crossing paths with Trisha’s ex-boyfriend Michaelangelo (Akihiro) and her ex-boyfriend Greg (Kiko), further complicating her situation.
“I think it’s understable that there’s a lot of attention on the kisses, because that’s something you don’t usually see here in the Philippines. But it has a bigger message. Barbs’ story has heart,” Martin said. “It’s about finding happiness after all the tragedy that has befallen her.”
“Born” also touches on the different challenges and issues transgender people face on a daily basis. “It makes us reflect on [gender] acceptance—something straight people don’t really have to think about,” he pointed out. “It’s about having the courage to be true to yourself—daring to live and love.”
“I got to learn more about their lives,” he added.
The role of Barbs was supposed to be reprised by actor Christian Bables, whose performance in “Die” earned for him an Urian trophy. As the replacement, Martin is already anticipating the inevitable comparison. “I accept that. But we have different ways of interpreting the character,” he said.
A lot of the challenges about playing the role were physical—the grooming, the clothes and shoes, the movements and “tucking what needs tucking.”
“I had to have my body hair waxed. And I’m quite hairy so it turned out a little bloody! My eyes watered throughout,” he recalled. “I had to fix my bouncy walk. Wilma Doesnt trained me in working the catwalk for the pageant scenes … It was one of the toughest parts for me.”
Martin’s drag makeup also proved to be a chore for the production team of the GMA 7 soap “Hindi Ko Kayang Iwan Ka,” which he juggled with “Born.” “I play a goonish character in the show, so that’s quite the contrast. They had a hard time getting my eyeliner off,” said Martin, who’s flattered when people tell him that he looks like Dawn Zulueta when all made-up as a woman.
“Born,” which will also have a series adaptation in Cignal Entertainment, opens in theaters on Jan. 23. “All the hard work was worth it,” he said. “The character is complex, so the job was difficult, challenging. I feel a sense of achievement.”
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