Donny Pangilinan on video games addiction: I’ve gone through that phase
For Donny Pangilinanan, who plays lead in the first Filipino-produced sports drama movie “GG,” the hardest part about working on the project is acting alongside his mom, Maricel Laxa.
“That’s the biggest adjustment for me. You might think it’s easy for me because we’re close. What’s hard was separating being a son in real life from this version of me called Seth. He is someone very different from who I am in real life,” Donny told reporters during a recent event where some never-before-seen clips from Prime Cruz’s movie were shown to the media.
“This is a dream come true. Ever since I joined show biz, it’s always been my wish to have a project with my mom. It will be something that I’m sure we will look back on as the years go by, as a movie that we will never forget,” said the actor.
In “GG,” which stands for “Good Game,” Donny plays Seth, an aspiring pro gamer. As he mourns the death of his grandmother (Boots Anson-Roa), Seth is forced to live with his estranged mother Iya (Maricel), and lead his underdog esports team, called Tokwa’t Bad Bois, in secret.
“How did we convince Mom? My sister Hannah (who’s the creative producer) just told her, ‘Mom, you’ll play kuya’s mom here, OK?’ That’s it. End of discussion,” Donny said, laughing. “Seriously, I’m sure it went through a process, given the script and material. I don’t think mommy will agree to do a project that she doesn’t truly believe in. This is the best project for us to finally be a part of. It all worked out, I guess.”
Both Donny and Maricel pointed out that their characters are very different from who they are in real life. “We needed to adjust because we’re not portraying ourselves. Even though Iya and Seth are mother and son, they’re not us,” she pointed out.
“It felt weird in the beginning. I didn’t even know if I should greet her the same way or not on set,” added Donny. “We really had to internalize. It wasn’t awkward—it’s the feeling that you’re in a scene with your real-life mom—but overwhelming. There were times when I didn’t know how to attack my scenes. It helped that we had a team helping us portray two completely different characters. I hope that the audience will see this.
”Another challenge for Donny was to be able to “live a gamer’s life at this level.” He explained: “When I finally had a picture of how professional gamers live their lives, as well as how much hard work they put into it, this made me respect them more. It’s a real profession, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly.”
Turning to the gamers present at the event, Donny said: “I salute all of you. That’s why we made sure to have our gaming consultants on the set. We didn’t want to portray people from this community the wrong way. This is a big deal to us. We even have our Philippine team that competes worldwide. It’s considered a sport on many levels. We studied everything, from the hand movements to the way you communicate with each other. We took all of that to heart. With the help of the guys who went to set, this became an unforgettable experience for me. Hats off to you, guys. We hope we represent you well.”
Achieving the ‘look’
Also part of the challenge in making the film was putting in work to achieve the “look” that his producers wanted for his character, said Donny. “Hannah told me that I’d have to bleach my hair. I said, ‘There’s no way I’m ever going to do that!’ Well, look what happened! I really had to color my hair for two months! We did quite a job in hiding this, I would say,” he added.
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Donny’s dad, Anthony, then said that with all the color changes Donny had to go through, he is lucky he still has healthy hair. “In between filming, he had to do a commercial, then tape for his teleserye, so he had to dye his hair black for both instances. It’s amazing that his hair is still intact,” Anthony said, laughing. Asked what he liked most about playing Seth, Donny said: “For one, Seth—who is called Escape in the gaming world—is very determined. He has gone through so much in his life, but he never gave up on his dream. I won’t say Seth is perfect. Often, he gets carried away by his emotion, but he doesn’t give up until he is exactly what he wants himself to be.”
There was also a discussion on whether or not video games and gaming are bad for the youth. Maricel shared her thoughts with reporters. “I also judged my kids because I always see them on their phones. But really, this was merely a reflection of what I do with my phone. How much time do I really put in using my phone or gadgets? Do I allow my time to be used in good or bad ways?” As a parent, the reminder to me is that esports can be a good thing as long guidelines and boundaries are set by both the parents and their children,” she began.
“When my kids were younger and gadgets were still not the norm, we already set boundaries and we all agreed on them. This is why anything that’s not part of what we talked about is considered bad. So in a family setting, I urge members to have healthy communication when it comes to gadgets and esports,” she pointed out.
Donny agreed with Maricel and said: “Everything in life should be taken in moderation. You have to set your limits. I’ve also gone through that phase. I got addicted to ML (“Mobile Legends”). I’ve experienced it, so I know what I’m saying. There are good and bad sides to esports in general and we hope to showcase a lot of that in this movie.”
“GG” is a coproduction of Mediaworks, Cignal Entertainment and Create Cinema. It also features Baron Geisler, Gold Azeron, Johannes Risler, Igi Boy Flores, Kaleb Ong and Ronaldo Valdez. The still-unreleased theme song is performed by Moira dela Torre. INQ