MEMORIES AS ACTING ARSENAL ACCORDING TO CAST OF DIRECTOR NUEL NAVAL’S ‘THE LOVE AFFAIR’
by Pablo a. Tariman
“When you put complete trust on your actors and give them leeway on how to attack their roles, you usually get the best results.”
Thus said Direk Nuel Naval who will make his Star Cinema directorial debut in “The Love Affair” which stars, among others, Dawn Zulueta, Bea Alonzo and Richard Gomez.
Naval said the film is about three characters at the crossroad of their lives and who are on the brink of big decisions that will later change their lives.
He elaborates: “What they are now is because of these choices. I am lucky to have these three distinguished actors in the cast because they don’t behave like puppets at the mercy of their master. They are thinking actors capable of giving substantial inputs that will help make the characters look real. Richard (Gomez) and Dawn (Zulueta) are married and that status helped us flesh out the story and where it would take us.”
Dawn cites the importance of digging into your own life confronted with new assignments and new roles especially the controversial ones.
In the movie’s trailer, there is a fiery confrontation scene where Richard chastises Dawn for her character’s infidelity and in the process delivering a line complete with breast-grabbing and crotch-fondling.
Taken out of context, Dawn says that scene would look very improper especially that audiences have no idea what the characters went through.
Even with this controversial trailer, Dawn says she had no qualms portraying the part as she knew her character inside and out. “Many things happen to people some of them not so pleasant. In portraying this character, you know that one day, this big confrontation will happen and it is up to you how you can project a good reaction no matter how obscene the part looks. When you play roles like this, you are actually given a lesson on how to cope with your past and how to deal with the present. In time, you understand yourself better and at the same time, you understand other people better, too.”
Naval is overly familiar with these emotional terrains as he has megged several episodes of Maalaala Mo Kaya and was both director and production designer (Anak, Milan) of some projects like Magkaribal (2010) and A Secret Affair (2012).
As director, he encourages his actors to plumb into their private lives to bring out the best in their portrayals.
Richard can only agree. “In our job, it is important to go back to your past experiences and take stock of memories both happy and sad. Most of the scenes in The Love Affair happen in real life. When you have gone through that, you didn’t have to dig deeper because it is already in you. On the other hand, past experiences teach you how to understand yourself better and you learn how to forgive yourself as well. The lesson here is that you have to take care of our memories because they will come handy when some roles are offered. Just put them in imaginary cabinets because they are tools that you can use in the acting profession. Happy or sad, we should always have them with us.”
Dawn says she now fully understands the dynamics of marriage as she plays real life roles as wife and mother. “Your past allows you to choose the kind of motivation needed to make the part real.”
Studying her role, Bea admits there are many things in her life she cannot define. And then after the camera rolled, she realized she’d been through that before. “When you hit some rock bottom crisis in your life, you tend to be in denial phase because we like to appear strong inside and out. But in the end you discover you are a better person because of those trials. You also realize you have to be rid of hatred and regrets because you cannot be capable of love if it doesn’t exist in your being. You have to become whole and happy to be capable of reciprocating love.”
Dawn shares something familiar. “We go through constant change every day of our life. What you know today of course you did not know back then. On the other hand, you learn something new every day. Just because you what where you are now doesn’t mean you know everything. Sometimes you say ‘if I only knew what I learned today, I could have done better dealing with crisis in the past.’ But then there is also no point in in indulging in remorse. You become a better person because of some experiences in the past. Bad memories bring out the best and the worst in some people. It’s up to you to decide which side of your persona you are comfortable with.”
Indeed how to bring out those daily doses of pain and sadness in the film has become Naval’s expertise.
He can perhaps only agree as Bea contributes: “I think all of us carry a measure of pain in our lives. In front of the camera, naturally the director expects us to be honest. Is the character really happy or is she capable of it at the moment? These are things that come when preparing for the role.”
Naval is happy to discover that the members of the cast are real artists who know when a scene – no matter how controversial – is necessary. “As a result, they no longer question why they have to go through certain difficult portrayals. For another, we don’t have that yawning age gap and that allows for a smooth collaboration. I welcome their suggestions, they are always on the look-out on how to enhance a scene. When they report on the set, they had everything figured out and that helps make my directorial job easy.”
What Direk Nuel wants to achieve in every project he handles is clear to him: “There is no ifs and buts about this. Personally, I just want to reach as wide an audience as possible. You finish a project with hope that your message will be understood. There is nothing like an audience going home with full appreciation for what you did.”
“The Love Affair” directed by Nuel Naval opens in all theaters on August 12.