FACE TO FACE WITH LIZA SOBERANO
by Pablo A. Tariman
In this late afternoon presscon with everyone complaining about summer’s soaring temperature, Liza Soberano and other members of the cast of “Just The Way You Are” arrive close to three hours late and that allowed you to watch and memorize the movie’s trailer over and over again.
But suddenly, there is a whiff of fresh air as you realize the leading lady is a real beauty from head to foot and a real sizzler the longer you tarry at her face.
Paired with Enrique Gil in “Forevermore” as Maria Agnes Calay, she has acquired national memory recall as the poor struggling princess of La Presa somewhere in Benguet where a little community became a tourist spot after the initial teleserye taping.
In the hit TV love story directed by Cathy Garcia Molina, the character of Liza had her share of trials and tribulations enough for her followers to develop phobia for anyone named Alexander ‘Xander’ Grande III gallantly portrayed by Enrique Gil.
Indeed, the success of the teleserye was enough for them to earn the monicker as this year’s ‘breakout love team.’
Indeed, the TV attraction ended with a bang so loud it gave way to a sudden screen project featuring the Forevermore love team.
By now, it is a foregone conclusion that the best source for potential blockbusters is the pop fiction gold mine in Wattpad where Kimberly Joy Villanueva’s “The Bet” evolved into Star Cinema’s “Just The Way You Are.”
Villanueva’s story is about a popular guy named Drake (Gil) who makes a bet with his best friend Andrei (Ives Flores) to make the nerdy transferee, Sophia (Soberano) fall in love with him in thirty days.
The first thing Direk Theodore Boborol and his project team did was to do away with the book’s title (“The Bet”) and to come up with a title that has more audience appeal.
Understandably, the new title has wider ‘kilig’ appeal sounding as it did like a line from a popular love song.
But the possibility of real-life romance is not lost even on Forevermore Direk Cathy even from the very start of the taping. She could sense the two liking each other and as any good story went, the teleserye gave way to a breakout love team.
One can sense why the movie press is in a hurry to confirm a real-life romance as a means to promote the movie.
Liza and Enrique find themselves parrying questions that they are not in a position to answer in black and white.
What they are sure of is that they have good rapport; their friendship is real and special.
Whether they will go beyond that status is for the media to find out on their own.
Meanwhile, Liza would rather talk about her new role and how it differs from her part in the popular teleserye.
Says she: “I suppose my role as Sophia in this movie is bigger than life. She doesn’t like to openly communicate what she feels inside and there are layers of characterizations you need to bring out from her character. It is a big challenge on my part and I hope I did justice to it.”
Enrique says her movie character has many things in common with his Alexander Grande III part but he is keen on making it distinctly different.
Direk Theodore Boborol has the difficult job of seeing to it the movie doesn’t duplicate the story of the Forevermore. “The first order of the day is to let them realize the movie differs a lot from the teleserye which has a national following. After making this clear, I set out to build strong characters by way of several acting workshops for the cast. I told them that they are actually free to get inputs from their real life encounters to make the characters look real. I like to think we succeeded in making a good story about friendship and the redeeming values of a good family life.”
The director knows the limits of this love team.
For one, Liza is only 17 and hence no kissing scene.
But the stages of a young lady gradually making discoveries about the opposite sex is discreetly portrayed on the screen.
She has this screaming scene after seeing Gil nude in the bathroom and she has another scene gaping at the semi-nude Gil while fixing his car.
But the pressure of living up to the success of Forevermore is too real not to be ignored.
Adds Direk Theodore: “The pressure is there of course but when you are doing something different, it has to be different indeed without losing the flavor of the winning love team. I try to ignore the pressure by focusing on a good collaborative effort between me and the cast. We help each other come up with something new but real. We do our best not because of the pressure but we do believe we have something different to offer and we really hope it works.”
Liza admits she has learned a lot from doing the teleserye and its success opened new doors for her. “I am only the other love interest of Daniel (Padilla) in Got To Believe and it understandable why their fans don’t like me. But after Forevermore, they start to look at me in a more positive way. The new treatment for me is actually overwhelming. I could feel more love than resentment.”
“Just The Way You Are” starring Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil and directed by Theodore Boborol opens in all theaters on June 17.