Ruby Ruiz earns hugs and praise from ‘Expats’ costar Nicole Kidman | Inquirer Entertainment

Ruby Ruiz earns hugs and praise from ‘Expats’ costar Nicole Kidman

/ 12:15 AM July 15, 2022
Ruby Ruiz in Hong Kong

Ruby Ruiz in Hong Kong

Little did actress Ruby Ruiz know that it was a past experience, which she thought was most humiliating at the time it was happening, that would enable her to become an effective performer in the biggest career break of her life so far.

Ruby was already a professional actress when she decided to fly to Canada in 2004 on a tourist visa (with open working permit) to find a better-paying job there. “I thought I’d be able to find an office job there, but I was wrong. I swallowed my pride and opted for a job that was easier to find. I worked as a nanny. My employer liked me so much that I lasted for three years with them. Little did I know that this particular experience would help a great deal in my work as an actor later on,” recalled the award-winning actress.

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Eighteen years later, Ruby would land the role of a Filipino nanny working for the character of no less than American-Australian actress Nicole Kidman in the Amazon Prime Video drama series “Expats.”

Like a breather

The series, which is based on Janice Y. K. Lee’s 2016 novel “The Expatriates” and is expected to be released in 2023, is still halfway through taping. Ruby’s character will be seen in the first six episodes, which were all shot in Hong Kong, she reported.

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Inquirer Entertainment asked the actress what it was like to be part of the production, wherein Nicole wasn’t just a cast member, but also an executive producer. To this, Ruby said: “They were all very professional, but acting with Nicole felt like a breather for me. You know that I also teach acting. When I first did my scene with her, I realized that how she acts is what I’ve always wanted to achieve personally. It’s acting that is seamless from the truth. It’s so natural, as natural as breathing.”

Ruby continued: “Nicole is very friendly. She said she liked me because I was also a natural in front of the camera. I remember that whenever the chair assigned to me would be placed next to hers, I would really feel nervous. I was sure I’d die of nosebleed. One time, we had a small talk—I won’t say anymore what it was about—and her reaction was, ‘Oh my God! I’m so mortified!’ I told her, ‘Excuse me. I forgot something.’ I left and looked for someone to ask, ‘Can you Google the meaning of mortified?’”

Ruby said she had many memorable moments with Nicole after that. “After doing one scene, she held my hand and said, ‘You were so good. Congratulations!’ I told her, ‘No! It was all you. I just reacted to you.’ She said, ‘We have chemistry,’” Ruby recalled.

She added that, at this point, it’s still unclear whether the program will have a second season. “Working for that show was something else. Initially, they found a real-life Filipino nanny to play the part but then later realized that they needed a professional actor—someone who is able to hit precision while showing the correct emotion—so they hired me. They would later ask me, ‘What school of acting did you come from?’ I’d say, ‘It’s my life in the Philippines. Eighty percent of my roles there are nannies. I already know it by heart.’”

Nicole Kidman

Nicole Kidman —REUTERS

Nothing but good words

Ruby also had nothing but good words for Lulu Wang, the Chinese-born American filmmaker who directed her episodes with Nicole. Lulu is also an executive producer of the series.

“She’s a genius! It had been a pleasant and very stimulating experience to be on her set,” said Ruby. “I’m also very grateful to her because I learned later on that, she really fought for me. She told the casting director, ‘I really wanted that woman from the Philippines.’ Apparently, someone saw my movie ‘Iska’ and tried to look for me.”

She added: “At that time, our country was still on the COVID-19 red list so they didn’t want to risk bringing someone from here to Hong Kong. Eventually, they made everything happen just to get me. That’s why for the first scene I did with Lulu as my director, I knew she was nervous. In her mind, she was probably asking, ‘Is this woman, who I fought so hard to get, worth all the effort?’ When we were done, everyone clapped! She hugged me. I assumed that was her way of saying, ‘Thank you!’ Of course, I didn’t want to disappoint her,” recalled Ruby.

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Asked whether there were other “clap-worthy moments” on the set involving her, Ruby said: “I have this crucial scene with Nicole that all the other producers were watching out for. When the time to shoot it came, I didn’t feel nervous at all. I guess it’s because I’ve already fully embraced my character by then. Nicole hugged me and then said, ‘You’re so good.’ In my mind, I thought, ‘Parang wala naman ’yon. Umano-ano lang ako!’ That scene, for me, was one of the most beautiful performances in my 40 years as an actress. I just hope it won’t get edited out,” she said, laughing.

Ruby said that with the project, she is confident that the demand for Filipino nannies abroad will go up as well. “I also hope that this will translate to more projects for me and for other Filipino actors. I just pray that when this gets released, attention will be focused on us. Whenever people on the set praised me, I’d say, ‘I’m not the best in our country. We have an array of great actors there. I hope you get a chance to work with them.’”

On the local front, Ruby is currently busy promoting Christian Paolo Lat’s “Ginhawa” (Solace) and Rain Yamson II’s “Angkas,” which are both finalists at the 18th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival that will run from Aug. 5 to Aug. 14.

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