‘Scary side’ of portraying a contravida
Thea Tolentino, Liezel Lopez and Lianne Valentin find playing villain roles fun. But dealing with fans who can’t seem to distinguish real from “reel”—not so much. In fact, things can get pretty “scary” at times.
Lianne’s performance as the mistress Stella in the afternoon drama “Apoy sa Langit,” for instance, had random people sending her death threats on social media.
“I would get messages that go, ‘I know where you are. You’re currently in Tagaytay and there’s a bomb where you’re taping.’ I also get messages from anonymous accounts saying that they would kill me and my family if they ever chance upon us in person. Some leave comments like, “‘RIP Lianne Valentin,’” she told the Inquirer at a contract signing event for Sparkle, GMA 7’s management arm.
“I know that they’re probably just trolling me, but still, it can be scary, especially since some of them know where I come from,” she said.
For her part, Liezel Lopez, who played a greedy and wicked daughter in “Babawiin Ko Ang Lahat,” can’t help but respond to bashers once in a while. “People would tell me on social media, ‘O, sino na naman ang aagawin mo? Humanda ka kapag nakita kita…. Sama ng ugali mo.’ Some would wish death on me,” she told the Inquirer.
‘It’s just a character’
“There are people who can get carried away with what they watch; they can get so hooked,” added the actress, who was also cast as a villain in the upcoming live action series “Voltes V: Legacy.” “So, sometimes I tell them, ‘It’s just a character! Huwag masyadong high blood! It’s the scary side.”
While most of the threats Lianne and Liezel have gotten are from people on social media, Thea has had encounters with fans who went as far as touching her.
“One day, I was out having a meal, and then suddenly, someone pinched me and said that she finds me infuriating. I couldn’t do anything, so I just said, ‘Thank you.’ But in my head, I was like, ‘Did you really have to do that?’” she told the Inquirer. “I didn’t receive death threats, thankfully. Maybe it’s because at the height of me playing a villain—“The Half Sisters’ days (2014 to 2016)—people weren’t into social media the way they are now. But I do hope people can be more discerning.”
But instead of letting these negativity and threats get to them, they just choose to see the brighter side of the situation: They must be doing their jobs well to elicit such impassioned reactions.
“I guess I would rather get those reactions than people saying they don’t like our show,” Liezel said.
Asked what they think made producers think they are suited to contravida roles, the three young actresses agreed that the top reason must be their looks. “It’s my eyes! Some people think I’m giving them a side eye even when I’m not!” Liezel said, laughing. “And I think it’s also because I have this sexy image.”
“Looks, definitely!” Thea said. “People would judge you or assume you’re masungit even if they haven’t talked to you.”
“Some people tell me that my face has this ‘resting contravida’ look,” Lianne added, laughing. “But maybe that’s why they saw potential in us as villains.”
Thea recently got a taste of what it’s like on the other side of the fence: In “Mano Po Legacy: The Flower Sisters” she plays a meek and kindhearted protagonist. “It’s more challenging to act kind than to shout or show anger. I’m not really choosy with the shows that I do. I take every project as a challenge. I’m used to giving intimidating looks, so here, I had to soften things up. And it’s good because I get to diversify my range,” she said.
But for now, Thea prefers playing villain roles and the room for experimentation that comes with it. “In playing a villain, you have to really understand the character and dig deep, and discover why the character is a certain way. Not all villains are created just for the sake of being evil—there’s a reason behind their actions. And in that regard, they seem more real to me,” Thea said.
While Liezel is happy with the kind of roles and projects being given to her, she hopes to prove one day that she can be versatile as an actress. “I have been doing photo shoots where I look more soft and innocent, so that people can see that I can do that kind of role, too … so that people don’t have a limited perception of you. I want them to go, ‘She’s not just fierce—she can take on good or bad characters; play a daughter or a mother,” she said.
Lianne, on the other hand, tries to come up with ways to make each character portrayal different from the last. “I ask myself how I tweak my approach. What I have realized is that there are different types of villains, and you can attack them differently. A lot of them aren’t full-on wicked; they have human sides, too. And you can play up your personality,” she said. “It’s exciting.”