Why the Sarah-John Lloyd tandem clicks

Why the Sarah-John Lloyd tandem clicks

by Miguel Dumaual, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at 04/02/2013 11:22 PM

Director cries over success, says there was 'so much fear'

MANILA -- The director of what is now dubbed "the most successful [PH] romantic-comedy trilogy of its time" credits the series' success to the "magic" between its lead stars.

"May be there's really magic between them," Cathy Garcia-Molina said of John Lloyd Cruz and Sarah Geronimo, who portrayed sweethearts Miggy and Laida in three films helmed by the box-office director.

This "magic" spawned the film series which has the distinction of all its installments being box-office successes.

The first two entries, "A Very Special Love" and "You Change My Life," released in 2008 and 2009, respectively, are both in the top ten highest grossing local films.

"It Takes a Man and a Woman," which is billed as the conclusion of the film franchise, has likewise become a monster hit, with a two-day box-office take of at least P65 million.

The Star Cinema and Viva Films co-production, which opened last Saturday, is still showing in theaters nationwide.

In an interview with ABS-CBN News on Monday, Molina traced the beginnings of the hit "love team" of Cruz and Geronimo, now dubbed "AshLloyd" by their fans (Asher is Geronimo's second name), to 2006, when the two starred in an episode of the drama anthology "Maalaala Mo Kaya" (seen above).

"'Yung chemistry, to be fair, 'MMK' ang totoong naka-spot with the episode that they made. Sinundutan lang natin, dinugtungan lang natin, and I'm happy that they were able to carry through 'yung chemistry na 'yan," Molina said.

"But it was already there, in-enhance lang siguro, tinulungan ng script para mag-improve, pero andoon na," she said.

'Mutual admiration'

The director also surmised that the "kilig" generated by both actors as Miggy and Laida owes much to their relationship and personal history off-screen.

In an earlier interview on the entertainment talk show "Showbiz Inside Report," Geronimo admitted that she developed feelings for Cruz after working together in "MMK" and later as they filmed "A Very Special Love."

At the time, however, the actor had only started dating actress-host Ruffa Gutierrez. Cruz also admitted, in the same joint interview, that he failed to give time to Geronimo when "she needed me."

Their relationship, by Cruz's admission, started to turn awkward over the course of filming "You Changed My Life." They only managed to renew ties as friends, and "address tension," when they began work on "It Takes a Man and a Woman" in 2012.

Asked on why she thinks the relationship of Miggy and Laida may feel "convincing" to moviegoers, Molina raised the possibility that "there [may be] truth to it."

Laughing, she said, "Siguro, I don't know. Sabi ko naman, may mutual admiration naman talaga 'yung dalawa for each other eh. "Hindi man siya natuloy into a romantic kind of love, but definitely the two love each other, kahit bilang magkatrabaho... may be a little more than that."

She added, "Gusto talaga nila 'yung isa't-isa, ano. 'Yun na nga, don't take me wrong, it's not the romantic kind of love, hindi siya na-push to that, but ang hirap din namang makasama ang isang love team na ayaw mo."

"So definitely it should come, at least at the start, from liking that person, and I think they both like each other," Molina said.

As seen in the bloopers reel shown at the end of "It Takes a Man and A Woman," Molina said the warm friendship between Cruz and Geronimo was particularly infectious among the staff as they filmed the project.

"Si Lloydie talaga namang tuwang-tuwa 'yan kay Sarah sa lahat, pati mga pagkakamali ni Sarah, kasama sa ikinatutuwa 'yan ni Lloydie. Tapos si Sarah, up to now natutunaw pa rin siya sa tingin ni John Lloyd Cruz," she said.

Molina added, "Lalo na si Sarah, dahil sa pagiging bungisngis niya, hawa na kaming lahat, so tawanan nang tawanan, kahit nagagalit na ako sa katatawa nila. Pero part ng fun 'yon eh."

Laida Magtalas 2.0

However, it wasn't all breezy on the set of "It Takes A Man and a Woman." Certain challenges they had to tackle, Molina recalled, was finally shifting gears in the mood and theme tackled by the final installment.

"Kasi part 3 talaga, hindi siya ganon ka-light as compared to 1 and 2," Molina said. "Kasi galing ka sa breakup, it was really very hard on Carmi (Raymindo's) part, the writer, and my part, and of course the actors, ano -- paano pagagaanin ang isang mabigat na premise."

In "It Takes a Man and a Woman," Miggy and Laida try to co-exist in the same company after breaking up over a character portrayed by actress Isabelle Daza.

With more experience and a "fiercer" attitude after spending years in the United States, the returning Laida even challenges Miggy, her former employer, in his business decisions.

The set-up later proves challenging for the former couple to withstand, making it difficult for them to finally come up with a "happy ending."

"Galing kayo sa magkaaway eh, galing kayo sa infidelity, so parang ang hirap-hirap sa aming lahat, kasi lagi si Sarah, bilang Laida, ang pasok siyempre galit. May galit, hurt pa rin, pain, ganyan, so ang hirap-hirap niyang kambyuhin to make it lighter," Molina said.

Part of this challenge, the director said, was letting go of the "giggly" and vibrant persona of Laida as seen in "A Very Special Love" and "You Changed My Life." In the first film, the high-spirited Laida is seen as an avid fan of Miggy, a society figure thanks to his family background.

In the second film, Laida is seen as a devoted and giving girlfriend, but later feels neglected by Miggy, who increasingly becomes tied to his family business.

Referring to "Laida Magtalas version 2.0," as seen in the film series' conclusion, Molina said she had felt that the move was "risky," even if it came as a mandate of sorts from management.

"Mahirap baguhin si Laida kasi una, ang gusto ng management mag-mature, and yet part of the maturity is tatanggalin mo kung saan kilala si Laida, the giggly one, the tawa nang tawa, 'yung nakatingin lang kay John Lloyd -- hindi na pwedeng ganoon si Laida," Molina said.

She added, "So kami talaga, pag si Laida lagi mong kinakargahan ng 'O, pained ka, galing ka sa infidelity and ganyan,' laging sumusungit, so talagang lagi, 'Sarah, Sarah, tanggal sungit, tanggal sungit!'"

The director credits the "success" of the new Laida to Geronimo, who she said is now "synonymous" to the character.

"You will always look for that cuteness in Sarah whenever she comes out -- the Laida smile, the Laida way of smiling. You will always look for that in her. And I'm so happy na natanggap si Sarah with that 'version 2.0' nang... wala I'm just so happy. Thank you, thank you," Molina said, turning emotional.


Like the 24-year-old actress, Cruz, to Molina, has made his onscreen persona in the "You Change My Life" series uniquely his. The director surmised that with any other actor or actress taking on the roles of Miggy and Laida, the film series would be largely different.

"Laida and Miggy wouldn't be Laida and Miggy kung hindi sila (Geronimo and Cruz) ang artista. I'm not saying it's going to be something less, but definitely different. Iba pag si John Lloyd, iba rin pag si Sarah," she said.

"I mean, we can always make Bea (Alonzo) Laida, or Toni (Gonzaga), Laida, you know, any actress. Pero magkakaroon ng ibang bihis, kasi bawat artista naman may iba't-ibang interpretasyong sa ibat ibang karakter," Molina added.

Both Alonzo and Gonzaga were paired with Cruz in various films directed by Molina -- "One More Chance" and "Miss You Like Crazy," and "My Amnesia Girl," respectively.

"Laida is Laida now because of Sarah. Miggy is Miggy now because of John Lloyd," said Molina.

The director said the development of all three films specifically had Cruz and Geronimo in mind as Miggy and Laida, which contributed to the "convincing" realization of the characters.

"Nung ginagawa talaga 'yung script, kasama roon 'yung kakayanan ng artista pag isinusulat ni Carmi (Raymundo). Alam ko she is very much inspired whenever she writes for John Lloyd kasi she knows John Lloyd can deliver the nuances para mabuo 'yung isang character," she said.

'So much fear'

Admittedly, veering away from the established "characterizations" of Miggy and Laida as seen in the first two films proved challenging for Molina and Raymundo. But with the enthusiastic reception to "It Takes a Man and a Woman," the director feels especially thankful that the gamble paid off.

Turning emotional over comments that the last film is her best in the series, Molina recalled that there was "so much fear" in continuing a story last seen in 2009.

"Four years have passed and ang audience mo naman hindi mo sure kung tatanggapin ka pa hanggang ngayon especially since we're offering something different.

"Ang hirap, ang daming pinagdaanan, maraming pagtatalo kung saan nga ba tatanggapin si Laida ngayon -- the old Laida, the gigglish one, o itong bago, 'yung nagmature na," she said.

Molina also expressed gratitude to Star Cinema management for supporting the direction the team has taken in concluding the series.

"It was a risk we had to take, it was something we had to fight for ... and I'm so happy na minahal pa rin. I'm so emotional because--who wouldn't be?--I mean, it's an overwhelming success.

"Kahit ano kasi na pinaghihirapan mo tapos nag-succeed, parang natatanggal lahat ng pagod mo, and you can't help but be emotional out of joy, out of extreme joy. I'm very happy with the outcome," she said.



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