Indie star is busiest actress in town
Stage, TV and movie thespian Madeleine Nicolas will be the first to shrug off the title, “busiest actress in Cinemalaya.”
Yet, she appeared in six films in the recently concluded annual indie fest, in various sections: Shorts (Mario “Max” Celada’s “Pasahero”); New Breed (Loy Arcenas’ “REquieme!” and Vincent Sandoval’s “Aparisyon”); Directors’ Showcase (Jose Javier Reyes’ “Mga Mumunting Lihim” and Raymond Red’s “Kamera Obskura”) and Exhibition (Ed Lejano’s “Qwerty”).
On top of these indie projects, she was among the handful of Filipino actors picked to play small parts in the Hollywood action thriller, “The Bourne Legacy,” directed by Tony Gilroy.
As luck would have it, Nicolas was in the United States at the time of the film’s premiere in New York. She was in Maryland to visit relatives. She took time off from her nanny duties for her grandchildren so she can attend the red-carpet event held at the Ziegfeld Theater in Manhattan on July 30.
She admitted that she got “excited” every time she saw the film’s billboards in Times Square and the posters on taxicabs and in subway terminals in the Big Apple.
On the big night, the theater was packed—all 1,100 seats taken, she recounted.
“Toward the film’s end, the audience laughed when [Filipino actor] Lou Veloso entered [the] frame. He did not say anything… it was not even meant to be humorous, but he was funny. It served as a comic relief after all the action-packed scenes,” Nicolas reported. After the screening, the audience applauded heartily, she said.
The actress played a landlady in the movie and worked for two days. On the first day, she was in a huge crowd scene. On the second day, she shared a crucial sequence with lead stars Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz.
“I had no lines; only a reaction shot,” she said. “I happened to be in the same room as Jeremy… and he was very quiet before the cameras rolled. I didn’t bother him while he prepared for the scene. He didn’t fool around. I admire that kind of discipline. After the shoot, Jeremy and Rachel smiled and shook my hand.”
She remembered Gilroy telling her, “Good reaction, Madeleine.”
Nicolas said it was “flattering and encouraging” to hear that director Gilroy and stars Renner and Weisz had positive comments on the Filipino actors. “It inspires us to strive harder,” she said. “I hope they will remember us for future projects.”
She hoped that “Bourne” would lead to more international projects for the country. “We offer good locations and infrastructure, highly skilled and resourceful personnel and talented actors—they can rely on government support as well.”
While Nicolas’ appearances in five Cinemalaya movies were brief, she played the lead role in the short film, “Pasahero.”
“It was a fun shoot,” she said of “Pasahero.” “[The director] allowed me to improvise. [He] didn’t tell me the film’s ending until it was time to shoot it. I found the ending simple, touching and heartwarming.”
She feels strongly about championing budding filmmakers. “We need to support the new generation of filmmakers, writers, actors, production staff. They will play a large part in shaping the future of the Philippine film industry,” she said.
She has no qualms about accepting roles, whether in a full-length or a short film, mainstream or indie, directed by a veteran or newbie.
“We cannot underestimate the power of short films,” she pointed out. “It is a big challenge to tell a story in a capsule and to make the audience understand what you want to say.”
She is also glad that seasoned actors like Anita Linda, Eddie Garcia and Ama Quiambao brought home acting trophies from this year’s Cinemalaya.
“It’s a welcome development,” Nicolas explained. Usually, senior thespians are relegated to supporting roles in the mainstream, but in indie films, older actors are allowed to shine, she said.
“I am happy that Ama has been recognized,” she added. “She has been working onstage and onscreen for so many years now.”
After “Bourne,” Madeleine has another international film in the offing: Cannes-winning Filipino director Brillante Mendoza’s “Captive,” top-billed by acclaimed French actress Isabelle Huppert, will be screened in Manila in September.
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