Sarah Geronimo is one tough cookie.
More than an hour after her one-on-one interviews with Manila press and bloggers started, she faces Cebu’s entertainment media in a video conference for her movie “Unforgettable” and just as enthusiastically and tirelessly answers questions, like she’s being asked them for the first time.
“We want to highlight the very special connection between my character and a dog (a Jack Russell named Happy in the film) as well as her love for her family. She’s pure-hearted, loving, honest. She will do anything and everything for the people she loves,” says the multi-awarded singer-actress and box-office star when asked about her role as Jasmine, a young woman with Asperger’s Syndrome, described as “a developmental disorder characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication.”
Jasmine goes on a journey with her dog to visit her sick grandmother, hoping her furry friend will help cure the old woman.
It’s a character that’s very close to her heart, says Sarah who like Jasmine is also a dog lover. Prior to filming, she took time to get to know her newest screen partner, making sure they were comfortable with each other. What makes the film even more special is that it was Sarah herself who thought of doing a dog movie “para maiba naman” and fearlessly pitched the idea to directors Jun Robles Lana and Perci Intalan, creators of the blockbuster movies, “Die Beautiful” and “The Panti Sisters.”
“It was a very pleasant surprise that Sarah had a lot of ideas and suggestions that actually allowed us to push the storytelling further. Bago na nga ‘yung idea, mas naging bago pa when she gave her suggestions,” says Intalan.
“It also became more difficult to make, honestly but what we loved about it was that it was her suggesting things that would make the movie better but not necessarily making her job easier and that allowed the film to evolve to what it is,” he adds.
Jun, who did a dog movie titled “Bwakaw” in 2012, says that for “Unforgettable,” they just wanted to be effective in telling a story and present a believable character “na mag re-resonate sa audience.”
Both filmmakers acknowledge the challenges in creating a film that involves a dog and what it entails from the entire team.
“You need a star as committed as Sarah to do a film like this kasi hindi sya basta-basta nagagawa. It takes a lot of commitment not just from the production but also from the cast,” Intalan says.
“You need to also have a star who understands that no matter how big a name you are, it doesn’t matter to the dog. Kung ayaw nyang mag perform, wait tayo … take 2 tayo, take 3 tayo,” he adds.
Suffice it to say that Sarah is no ordinary star. It is this sense of commitment and her wide understanding of her craft are among the many reasons why Sarah, who broke into the scene at age 14, has made it this far and so successfully in the business and with no signs of slowing down.
According to Sarah, adjusting to having a dog as a co-star was a breeze.
“Sobrang masaya, sobrang enjoy. To my surprise, hindi po talaga ako nahirapan working with a dog. Kasi itong aso na ito, sa tingin ko actor sya in his past life,” she narrates fondly.
Listening to Sarah describe Milo (the dog’s real name) one would think that she’s talking about an actual “leading man.”
“Sobra syang professional, naka deliver sya sa lahat ng eksenang ginawa namin, from beginning to end. Talagang magaling sya, sobrang focused. Parang tao nga ‘eh. Mas magaling pa sa tao, mas magaling pa sa akin,” she says.
Sarah says her character, Jasmine—who she described as fearless and strong-willed, served as her inspiration.
She says “Unforgettable” will remind families of what truly matters.
“Napaka courageous ng character ko. Ako kasi aminado ako na kahit medyo matagal na ako sa business na ito, duwag pa rin ako ‘eh. Takot ako to take risks. Takot akong mag fail. ‘Yung character ko, kahit mag fail sya, she will stop at nothing para sa mga taong mahal nya. She will stand by her beliefs and conviction.”
“It will remind us na napaka importante ng pagmamahalan ng buong pamilya, accepting the differences ng bawa’t isa dahil doon magkakaroon ng harmony and peace. It will remind us to continue loving and accepting one another,” she says.
Produced by VIVA Films and The IdeaFirst Company, “Unforgettable” also features Gina Pareño and Regine Velasquez-Alcasid.
The family drama will open on October 23 in cinemas nationwide.