WATCH: Piolo Pascual: 'Love Is Not All About Being Romantic'
With My Amanda topping Netflix’s trending shows on its first week, Piolo Pascual must be feeling pretty good. Pascual, whose Spring Films co-produced the film with Alessandra de Rossi’s A World of Our Own, received the project as a gift from his co-star. “It was a pitch to me by Alessandra after Kita Kita, which we produced for her and Empoy (Marquez),” he says in an interview with Esquire Philippines.
“She wanted to give me a gift. She said she had something in mind. So she pitched me a concept and I said, ‘Yes!’ right away. Since we’re into producing, we decided to produce it and she got into producing, as well. And we just decided to do it ourselves,” he continues.
Pascual, one of the country’s marquee actors, has been producing for over 10 years and explains the production process this way: “First of all, he greenlights a project. And then we go from there, you get your crew. For me, the main consideration is the script.”
The script, in this case, is written by de Rossi, who also makes her debut as director. “If you’ve got the right script, the right writer, the right director, and the right cast, then you're good,” Pascual says, adding how he relishes in making “something out of nothing.”
“That's why I enjoy producing because you come up with a product, and then you complete it together with your whole group, your whole crew,” he explains, noting how much more involved he is with the process than when he’s just in front of the camera. “It's fun to do, more than just being an actor, just going through the set. With production, you do the pre-prod, you do the casting, you do the script and everything, and you take so much time doing post-prod, and it's nice to be able to, you know, kind of see [the project] becoming a film. And I always enjoyed that process.”
My Amanda is unlike Pascual’s other projects, he says, because the film, “is uncensored Alessandra.” He remarks on his co-star and co-producer’s hard work: “What she gave for this project is so much of herself, as you're going to be able to see when you watch it, because [if] you’ve seen a lot of her films, you know she's a chameleon. But this time around, she shows her true self.”
'It's so true. It's so candid, it's so honest, it's so truthful.'
“And that for me is the gem of the film. It's so true. It's so candid, it's so honest, it's so truthful. And we just had so much fun doing it, because this was close to home for Alessandra because, you know, these are bits and pieces of our life,” he continues. More than any other film de Rossi has done, My Amanda is deeply personal.
De Rossi’s script takes inspiration from her personal relationships, her best friends, her guy friends. “And so it was easy for us because we were always together,” Pascual explains, “and even before this film, we did a show together.”
“I don’t want to say it's a walk in the park. But seeing the film, the outcome, the output, I was just really amazed at how much Alessandra gave for us to be able to see a film that was borne out of her own experiences, out of her own creative mind. So I'm just really delighted to be chosen by Alessandra to be in this film with her. And it was [such] an experience for me. If asked to do it again I'd say yes in a heartbeat,” he says.
My Amanda is an unusual film. It’s not quite a rom-com and it can be baffling as to where the germ of the script originated. “The idea came from her, obviously,” Pascual says matter-of-factly, “[It] came from her own experiences. This is her concept. So actually, it's for her to answer that [question], but based on my experience, I believe this film wants to show that love is not all about being romantic.”
“Our love can be experienced [from] different angles, different ways. And I think that was one thing that we were able to show because we were like treading on eggshells—it was hard to kind of not have that seduction moment, and be seduced by your partner, especially Alessandra,” he says.
De Rossi was adamant about depicting a completely platonic relationship despite the intense romantic subtext. “It was pretty clear from day one when she pitched it,” Pascual says. “The only hard part was for us to make sure that we are able to send a message across that as unbelievable as it may seem, it can happen.”
“This is she, she's everything in this film,” says Pascual as he introduces de Rossi who jumps into the conversation. Asked what made her decide to direct a film, de Rossi responds with her infamous candor, “It was just very spontaneous. The script was just sitting there for like, a year, I guess. And then no one [would direct it].”
She admits the film’s unusual angle and the incredulity of the people she approached, “so even the directors that I talked to were like, ‘Is this true?’” adding that people tried to change the core concept of the film. “Should we add this angle for marketing purposes? And I'm like, ‘just let me do it,’” de Rossi says with a laugh. “Ako na lang.”
“I didn't write it thinking I would be directing it,” de Rossi confesses, “It was actually for Piolo and Joyce Bernal to direct.” Pascual doubles down on de Rossi’s concept, asking her, “the real intention is to show that it is possible, right?”
'I have special friendships with them. And they treat me like a dude. And I love them!'
“Yes,” de Rossi responds, “because it's based on … How many guy friends do I have? A lot? Some are married now. Some are just there. I have special friendships with them. And they treat me like a dude. And I love them!” She laughs, and Pascual adds, “She’s just one of the guys.”
But de Rossi clarifies that My Amanda isn’t her life story. “It's about the friendships that I have. It's based on this person, my best friend. By the way, my best friend's name is TJ. He's PJ,” she says, pointing to Pascual, “I use TJ and we really call each other for Fluffy and Fream. Yeah, in real life. We were friends since I was 22. I'm turning 37. And whenever we see each other, it's like we’re still 22. We never grow old”
Pascual talks about de Rossi’s friend TJ: “When TJ visited us on the set one time while we were doing a soap opera I guess that's when it clicked.” He then explains how seeing TJ and de Rossi’s friendship proved that men and women could have platonic relationships “because you actually you can.”
“So I'll say it again. That's why we did this film because we wanted to showcase a kind of love that can be done in this kind of film,” Pascual says.
“Yeah, and TJ is not an isolated case, I have more guy friends,” de Rossi chimes in, “and they're just really good, good, good friends, and I just love being friends with men because there's they don't judge.”
“So women judge?” Pascual kids de Rossi, their real-life relationship a mirror of Fluffy and Fream.
“No,” she answers, “but they talk. They talk too much!”
“Because you talk too much!” Pascual laughs.
“Exactly my point!” de Rossi counters, laughing, “Who would want to be with someone like me?”
The banter is refreshing and the question about partners comes up. How do partners feel about being friends with someone of the opposite sex? “Okay, they’re kind of intimate, right?” de Rossi explains, “like we hold hands …”
“Sometimes she kisses me and I push her away…”
“Eww!” de Rossi laughs, continuing, “When we're in relationships, we're not like that. Like when you are in a relationship, I don't just hold your hand while you're driving. I mean, there's supposed to be some level of respect … I’m gonna be a third wheel now!”
Asked about the experience of her directorial debut, de Rossi answers, “I had so much fun! But it wasn't easy at all. I would say acting and directing at the same time … please don't ever do it,” she admonishes. “I mean, if you're a perfectionist, don't ever do it.”
My Amanda is now streaming on Netflix.