How life experiences invigorate actors’ dramatic performances
Bea Alonzo and Dennis Trillo’s reunion project, the romance drama series “Love Before Sunrise” is, as one might say, right in their wheelhouse. Regarded as two of the finest actors of their generation, Bea and Dennis have proven their mettle in heavy drama time and time again both in films and on television for the past two decades. But while their names have become synonymous with the said genre, the work doesn’t really get any easier, they said.
“I have done a lot of dramas, and I believe they’re the reason people came to know me. But it can be exhausting to be honest—crying and doing intense scenes can be draining,” she told the Inquirer in a huddle, shortly after an advanced press screening for the soap’s pilot episode. But more than the physical and emotional toll, the real challenge, she said, is making sure that every portrayal is different from the last.
“The truth is, I have already done other projects with similar themes. Others would ask why keep doing the same things? So, I think the challenge is figuring out how to make the role different within the box you’re given,” she said.
This is where new life experiences come in. “Sa tingin ko, walang paulit-ulit, because as I get older, of course, I learn from my experiences. And there are moments and scenes that have me drawing from my personal life. And some of those things I didn’t have in the past, because I had yet to experience them,” she said.
Dennis echoed Bea’s sentiments, adding that doing dramas will never not be challenging. But the fact that he was paired with someone he hadn’t worked with for more than 20 years is more than enough to shake things up.
“Whatever kind of drama project you’re doing, the goal is to be emotionally affecting. You need to come up with scenes that will inspire and touch them, make them laugh and cry,” said Dennis, who was launched together with Bea as part of Star Circle batch 10 back in 2002.
“You have to put in the hours and work hard to be effective. Drama is no joke. And with different partners you create different dynamics. So, here in this show, you will get to see something different with the two of us together,” he added.
Produced by GMA Network and Viu Philippines and directed by Mark Sicat dela Cruz, “Love Before Sunrise” airs weeknights starting Sept. 25 on GMA 7’s primetime block.
Stella (Bea), a nursing student reeling from her father’s untimely demise, crosses paths with Atom (Dennis), a local eatery cook yearning for a sense of family. They fall for each other. However, once family and career enter the equation, they end up going their separate ways.
Years later, they meet again. Stuck in unhappy marriages, Stella and Atom regret letting each other go. Things get complicated when the two start throwing caution to the wind and giving in to their rekindled feelings.
While Bea and Dennis have already worked together—in the youth-oriented 2002 television series “K2BU”—that was so long ago they might as well be working for the first time. “It feels new and familiar at the same,” as Bea succinctly put it.
“But I like this feeling because there’s a level of trust. We were launched at the same time, so somehow, I feel like I can trust him. Even if we were apart, I became his fan from the sidelines and I would always cheer and root for him in his projects. I feel lucky and honored to be working with him,” Bea said.
Dennis described the reunion “magical.” “We started out in show biz at the same time. We went to the same workshops. I think our first dance production [on television] was with each other. We rehearsed together. And now, after 20 years, we get to work on such a good project,” he said. “I also feel lucky to be working with a talented actress like her. It’s the perfect project for us.”
If there was any awkwardness, it was only because they had to shoot some of the show’s most emotionally charged scenes in the first few days.
“There was a little ilangan because on our first day, we had to do scenes wherein the characters are already together. But Dennis and I are professional actors. We got over it easily to make the scenes work … Dennis has an air of mystery to him, which I think helped me with the falling-in-love scenes,” Bea said. As far as professionalism goes, Dennis was always “10 steps ahead,” Bea observed. “He’s a kind leading man. He’s a gentleman. He was never late. He came to the set knowing all his lines and what he had to do. So I felt like I had to step up.
“There was a taping day in Tagaytay. The traffic was terrible because I believed it was a holiday. The calltime was 1 p.m. Dennis was already there, while I and the production crew were all stuck in traffic. He was able to anticipate the traffic,” said Bea, who teased Dennis over the recent popularity of his funny TikTok videos.
“Ayaw akong turuan ni Dennis, eh! He’s the shy and quiet type. I want to enter his head, see what’s in his mind, because there were times when he would just smile or laugh suddenly by himself. So I was like, ‘Share mo naman ‘yan, baka puro kalokohan sa loob,’” she said, laughing.
Dennis, meanwhile, admitted to being starstruck by Bea on the set. “I was so nervous, I had to check the scene breakdown and how much I was supposed to do with her. Of course, that’s Bea we’re talking about … I have to do well. But once we found our rhythm, everything was free-flowing,” he said.
Chemistry is something that comes out organically. But sometimes, a deep understanding of the script helps. “When you really understand the relationship of the characters you portray, that reflects in the acting,” said Dennis, who admires not only Bea’s acting talent, but also the way she gives back to her fans. “I respect her and her work … the awards she has won. But aside from her talent, I see her love for her fans. She doesn’t get tired of taking photos with them. You can feel her love for people who appreciate her,” he said. INQ