Heaven Peralejo doesn’t mind being called a ‘sexy actress’
While she has recently grown more comfortable about showing skin onscreen and doing scenes deemed “daring” by some, Heaven Peralejo doesn’t really see herself going beyond what she did in her Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) entry, “Nanahimik ang Gabi.”
“I’m confident of my own body, even if it doesn’t fit other people’s idea of what a really beautiful body is. But I love my body. If a project needs me to do sexy scenes for it to work, then why not? But I don’t want to do a film that revolves entirely around that,” she said at a recent press conference.
In the suspense thriller, Heaven shot a drawn-out pool sequence in which she wore a two-piece swimsuit, as well as an intimate scene of her canoodling and sitting on the lap of her leading man, Ian Veneracion. Anything more than that she won’t do.
“Hindi ko kaya!” said Heaven, when asked by a show biz columnist if she thinks she has the heart to do what the “Vivamax babes” do in their sexy flicks. “I’m leaving that up to them.”Having said that, the 23-year-old actress doesn’t mind being called a “sexy actress.” It’s the people, she pointed, who gives the term a negative connotation. “Well, if they think I’m sexy, why not? The word ‘sexy’ is sometimes used with malicious intent… But why can’t women just be sexy?” she said.
There are bashers, she admitted. But she doesn’t let them get into her. “I just think that it’s because I did my job effectively. And I feel glad for both the good and bad reactions. Truth be told, you need that to generate buzz and make people watch the film. The scene I did [with Ian] was short, but there was tension. And you don’t need to show everything to generate that,” she said.
In courting Heaven to do the film, director Shugo Praico and the Rein Entertainment team had to win over the actress’ mom too.
“I initially thought of turning it down. It took a while before they convinced me. But we were able to arrive at a middle ground on what I can and can’t show. I was such a baby and thought that I wouldn’t be able to do what was required… But I kept an open mind, and realized that it’s not really about the scene, but the message we want to show,” she said.
“And they were all very respectful,” she added. “They made sure to illustrate every shot they planned to do, so I could see beforehand the shots they intended to do.”
Heaven’s mom, who also manages her career, went over the script herself before green lighting the project for her daughter. “She’s protective of me. I’m grateful for that. She assures me that I won’t lose my way because she’s there to guide me. That’s one thing I feel confident about,” she said.
The challenge and reward
Another challenge was shooting the action set pieces. “There were scenes where I had to be roughed up… It was no problem during rehearsals, because we did it on foam. Well, we had none of that during the actual scenes, so I got bruises,” she related.
Thankfully, her hard work was rewarded with an MMFF best actress nomination. The award went to Nadine Lustre of “Deleter,” but Heaven was ecstatic just the same. “Grateful is an understatement. Lord, you have been so great to me. To be even nominated as best actress in this year’s MMFF is already a big win for me, especially since this is my first leading role in this kind of genre,” she said. “My heart is so full.”
It was also an honor, she added, to work with such talented actors as Ian and Mon Confiado, who won the MMFF best actor and best supporting actor awards, respectively. “I couldn’t be more proud. I have said this multiple times, but I feel so honored to be able to work with you.”
At the end of the day, the film festival isn’t exactly a competition, Heaven pointed out. “I don’t see it that way. Every entry is its own genre and has its own message. What we really want is to inspire people to return to the cinemas and watch movies. I’m so happy to be part of this event,” she told the Inquirer. “This is something I have always looked forward to. As an actress, I have already imbibed that desire to make people happy. If we can inspire them, why not? I would like to be part of their worlds,” she said. INQ