[Transcript of a reporter’s interview with me last February 14, 2019 about Alone/Together]
JAO: Of course, I said yes to the role!
REPORTER: Huh? Are you talking to me?
I know what you’re thinking—“But Jao, with all the offers you’ve received, why choose this role?”
No, I wasn’t thinking that. Excuse me, but who are you?
And your answer is as good as mine. It’s the script. When I first read the role of Ismael, I was challenged by complexity of his character. And I think at this point in my career, I need to be pushed outside my comfort zone. Accepting the role of Ismael Gomez is not only a natural transition from the body of on-screen work I’ve done in the past, but also a smart decision career-wise. What Would Meryl Streep Do, I asked myself.
I’m not even talking to you in the first place.
What preparations I did for the role? Hmmm. Well, first thing we have to understand is that the character of Ismael is an everyday persona we are all familiar with but never had the chance to be portrayed in movies ever. He’s the typical straight-A from the outside and comfortable with his life but internally conflicted by how his achievement as a topnotch Geophysicist is pulling him further away from what truly matters…that is, sparking joy in his ancestral tribe by making them see the silver lining in everything. It’s typical, right? But never been portrayed on film.
Stop. I’m just here to sit down. Please be quiet.
You’re right, “pleased” is the word—I’m so pleased to be given the opportunity to bring his character to life. And with that is this heavy moral obligation to do it justice. So in terms of preparation, a lot of historical readings about key culture-changers here and abroad and across timelines, a lot of immersion in different communities in the Philippines to find the common theme of dread in current state of the country, and of course, you guessed it, a lot of introspection.
I wasn’t guessing. Nobody noticed you in the film.
Fine, if you insist, I’ll tell you how much of Jao is Ismael. I think about 10 percent of Ismael Gomez is Jao Bautista. And I think that’s the wonderful thing about the challenge ng director sa akin: How can I become the person who I never was.
I know that look, Jimmy. (Laughs) You want me to talk about the iconic silip scene.
I’m not Jimmy. There’s no Isamel Gomez role in Alone/Together. And please shut up.
First of all, I’m not proud that it took me more than three takes to perfect that expression. Ayan ha, I told you a secret, something juicy you can write about for my fans. And second, there was a lot of disagreement between me and the writer-director Antoinette Jadaone prior to the shoot concerning the motivation ng character. Thank goodness that on the day of the shoot, I can feel that direk Tonet trusted that I can bring the character to life so much so that I didn’t get any instruction from her. In fact, I don’t remember her talking to me at all—which I think is the perfect indication that the director has absolute faith in her actor. Ultimately, it’s teamwork.
What was the question again? (Laughs) Oh the scene. Sorry, been doing interviews since yesterday sa premiere. I thought I’m already used to this but it can still feel exhausting at times. But don't get me wrong—I’m enjoying my time with you, Jimmy! So, anyway, about that scene which people are now calling iconic…so iconic that it was already established in the trailer! Yes, the rumors are true that I had to do method acting for that. And not to mention physical training. Para when the scene requires me…sorry, my character, Ismael Gomez…to finally look at the hullaballoo on the stage, the audience will feel the overwhelming tension in his soul at that moment. Yung push-and-pull ng pride and regret. Empowered but emancipated. Curious and starving but at the same time withdrawn and sexy. The combination of all those is the perfect embodiment of a kind of pain that will be seen in film for the first time. As an actor, it’s my job to show in the eyes of Ismael that specific feeling that Tin was forcing to hide in her face. Tin, of course is played by my colleague, Liza Soberano. Ibang Jao Bautista po ang mapapanood nyo dito.
Sino ka ba?!
Sure! (Faces cam) Hi! I’m inviting everyone to please watch Alone/Together in cinemas nationwide. Kasama ko po dito sila Ms. Liza Soberano and Mr. Enrique Gil at marami pang iba. Magkaka-global screening po kami so yung mga Jaonatics, Jaolistas, and Ka-jao worldwide, I’m sure matutuwa po kayo. Just follow us on Facebook and Twitter for schedule ng meet-and-greet ko together with my cast members. This film is directed by Antoinette Jadaone kaya siguradong kikiligin at matutuwa kayo. May action, comedy, drama, a bit of action, love story, lahat-lahat na. Graded A ng Cinema Evaluation Board kaya makakaasa kayo pampamilya ‘to. Hello to my family watching at home, to my friends, to Tita Celia and Ninong Martin, mga taga-baranggay Sta. Quiteria, hello po. Thanks for watching this interview. I love you!
There is no camera, you idiot.
Of course we can selfie, Jimmy! You don’t even have to ask ano ba!
[End of transcript]