‘Action-packed scenes, intensified romance’ mark BarDa’s return to primetime
From “Maria Clara at Ibarra,” where the lines were more formal, movements were more polished and romantic encounters coasted on charm, Barbie Forteza and David Licauco find themselves doing a 180, as they take a leap into the action genre.
This time, in “Maging Sino Ka Man”—GMA 7’s television adaptation of the iconic 1991 movie of the same title—the characters are rough around the edges; the scenes, more physically demanding; and the interactions, closer and “more intense.”
“We’re getting physical—we’re doing action!” Barbie said at a media conference for the said special limited series, which premieres on GMA 7’s primetime block today.
“Maging Sino Ka Man”—which originally starred Sharon Cuneta and Robin Padilla—follows Carding (David), a petty thief willing to cross the line for his loved ones including the orphans he looks after. Despite his tough demeanor, Carding is consumed by guilt over the death of his brother, whom he vows to avenge.
Carding’s life is turned upside down when he meets Dino (Barbie), who, unbeknown to him, is actually a woman in disguise. Dino, as it turns out, is a business empire heiress named Monique. She’s forced to hide her identity, take odd jobs and leave her life of luxury in a bid to escape a painful past and the people out to harm her.
“Playing two characters, Monique and Dino, is challenging because their nuances are very different. It’s hard for me to act boyish because I’m not like that in real life. Una, lampa ako. The movements are not what I usually do so, I really have to exert effort. I have to study the character well and know where she’s coming from. Looking like a man is not enough … It’s a challenge, but also a dream role for me,” Barbie told the Inquirer.
It was a completely different experience for Barbie. Not only did she have to deliver the physical demands required of her, but she also had to acclimatize herself to the palpably masculine working environment, led by director Enzo Williams.
“You always have to be ready for action [scenes]. But like I have said, lampa ako in real life. And this is the first time in a long while I have worked with a very macho director. The people on the set are mostly men, so I also have to toughen up,” related the award-winning actress, who watched films by Hilary Swank, one of her favorite movie stars, as part of her preparation.
She also watched the original film to get a better feel of the characters and story. “Sir Robin was so funny. Miss Sharon was just the cherry on top. It’s so good. Seeing it made me realize why it’s iconic and it made me even more excited for the project,” Barbie said.
As an athlete and former varsity basketball player, David didn’t have too much trouble with the physicality of his character. But as a clean-cut guy used to affluent boy-next-door roles, playing a swaggeringly brash delinquent tested his mettle.
“The challenging part for me was the way Carding talks. In the movie, he talks really fast and hard. But as you may have noticed, I talk more slowly so that was tough. I watched the original movie several times. I tried to imitate Sen. Robin and observed friends who talk similarly. I practiced. And with the help of our director, hopefully, I was able to give the role justice,” he said.
“I prefer doing romantic scenes because acting can be tiring … But working with Direk, I found out that there are nuances in doing action, and I was able to learn them,” he added.
An endearing dynamic
The cat-and-dog dynamic that made a lot of fans fall in love with Klay and Fidel remains palpable from the teasers shown at a recent press conference. They just took it up a notch. “Level-up na kami from aso’t pusa—leon at tigre na kami,” Barbie said, laughing.
Barbie and David’s chemistry in “Maria Clara at Ibarra” was spontaneous and unexpected. They’re fortunate, they said, that they never had to work on it or force it. Now, it’s all a matter of helping each other nail their respective characters, and hopefully, meet the viewers’ expectations.
“Thankfully and fortunately, the chemistry came out naturally. Here, our goal is to make people see us in a different way … make a total transition from the characters of our previous project. We’re comfortable working with each other and I think that translates as chemistry onscreen,” added Barbie, who teased that fans can expect “intensified” romantic scenes from her and David.
In fact, one scene from the teasers that had BarDa fans going crazy was of Dino tending to a sick Carding who ends up embracing her in a fit of delirium. “We didn’t have a lot of close contact in ‘Maria Clara at Ibarra’ because it was set in the old days. Now, we’re nose-to-nose—ganung levels. The closeness is more physical, the romance is intensified.”
“Our chemistry is only getting better. There’s familiarity,” David said. “The more we spend time together, the closer we become and the more we get used to each other’s acting style.”
David knows that he and Barbie have big shoes to fill in “Maging Sino Ka Man” but he would rather enjoy the process and take things one at a time. “I just try to live in the moment. When you think about the pressure, you just end up in a place of anxiety,” he said. “So I will just do my best, believe in my director and Barbie. Working with her makes difficult things much easier.”
Barbie is the vastly more experienced actor and has a proven track record. She’s also well acquainted with the celebrity aspect of show biz and tends to take the lead when the introverted David finds himself overwhelmed by all the attention. But the success of their partnership, Barbie stressed, is a product of teamwork.
“He was the one who started the Twitter-serye about ‘Maria Clara at Ibarra.’ I just tagged along. The fans liked it and our team-up enjoyed an increase in online engagement. So, I’m sharing this with David. His hard work and dedication to make this partnership work benefits the both of us,” said Barbie, who commended David’s initiative to undergo personal workshop and stunt training.
“Knowing that a busy guy like him will take the time to improve his craft … I’m so proud of him for doing that,” she said.
But more than anything, it’s the friendship they have formed that Barbie will always cherish. “In this industry which can be cruel, being able to find a friend is a big deal. It’s not easy being in our shoes, so it makes me so happy knowing that we have each other’s backs,” she said. INQ