Many would probably agree sibling rivalry is as old as the hills and so common in families. But when do you say it has gone too far?
For the characters that sisters Toni and Alex Gonzaga play in their upcoming movie, it is when one man enters both their lives at the same time.
In the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) 2018 entry “Mary, Marry Me” the two play sisters Mary Jane (Toni) and Mary Anne (Alex), whose relationship is threatened to be ripped apart by rivalry over Pete (Sam Milby).
Based on the trailer of the RC delos Reyes film, Mary Anne seeks the help of Mary Jane, a professional wedding planner, to orchestrate her wedding with Pete.
However, Mary Jane and Pete turned out to have a romantic past. The sisters seem to not mind it at first, until it becomes the cause of conflict between the three of them. At one point, Mary Anne tells her sister to not “steal” her fiancé.
Intriguing as it is, curious reporters asked Toni and Alex at a recent press conference if they have both fallen in love with the same man in real life.
“It never happened to us,” Alex declared, noting she and Toni have different tastes in men.
Alex shared it’s automatic for her to say “no” to any and all male celebrity linked to Toni in the past.
“I remember I had a crush on Direk Paul (Soriano), but when I got home she (Toni) told me, ‘Hey Alex, you know Paul? He’s texting me.’ So from that moment, I knew I had to treat him like my Kuya,” Alex shared as example.
The film is dream come true for the Gonzaga sisters. Although they have always wanted to work with each other in a movie, this is their first.
“People often see our dynamics in real life through Alex’s vlog. I believe we have this strong bond and chemistry and I just want to see how it would reflect on the big screen,” Toni said.
Sharing the camera for the silver screen has its advantages and disadvantages. For one, they were able to draw strength from each other and their own tight-knit relationship. Yet, they’ve also stepped on each other’s toes quite a few times on the set since they know each other too well.
Alex described Toni as “perfectionist.”
“She’s so pakielamera,” she laughed. “But I actually admire her for being generous and respectful.”
Toni related how her sister played a huge part in bringing out her emotions.
“Alex knows me so well. She knows how to pacify me. She knows the right button to push. Of course, my sister always makes me happy,” she smiled.
The 34-year-old has no problem if Alex got the spotlight in the film.
“I can proudly say she did well in the film and I’m just so proud of her.”
“Mary, Marry Me” is extra special as it marks the reunion of the blockbuster Sam-Tin tandem after 10 years. The two brought kilig to their legions of fans in the past through the films “You Are The One,” “You Got Me,” and “My Big Love.”
With their undeniable chemistry, many believe Toni and Sam once had a romantic relationship.
They denied it.
“It was just MU (mutual understanding),” Sam said.
Whatever the case, Toni is happily married now to director Paul Soriano.
“I guess this is just the perfect project for us,” Toni said when asked what took their reunion so long. “Sam and I have taken different paths in the past years. We’ve grown so much now as individuals… it’s just perfect timing.”
“Sam is version 2.0 now. Super better version. I see his maturity, his professionalism. I’m just glad we got the chance to work again.”
The actress also shared Paul sees no problem with their on-screen reunion.
According to Toni, the director respects their jobs as actors.
“I just want to share that Paul is 100 % hands-off with this film,” she noted. “He comes to the set just to say ‘Hi,’ but he never tried to intervene with the film’s process.”
“As for Sam, he knows we’re just playing a role. And he understands if we really need to get into our characters. He respects that because he also wants the best for our film.”
Asked to compare and contrast the Gonzaga sisters, Sam gave interesting reply.
“Alex is the times 10 version of Toni, whose very subtle,” he shared. “Both of them are intelligent, beautiful and confident in their own different ways.”
Who’s the better kisser, Alex butted in.
Sam turned red.
Now a producer
Toni pitched “Mary, Marry Me’s” concept some three years ago.
“I always had this concept in my head, though I don’t want to take full credit because our team made it more likeable,” she noted.
The film was originally only under Ten17P production, headed by Paul himself. But when he and Toni watched the finished product, they decided to come up with another production outfit.
“When the movie was finished, it is so glossy, so mainstream, so Toni-brand,” she explained. “So Paul talked to me and said, ‘It was so bright, I just felt that this has to be in another film outfit,’ because when you look at Ten17P products, it’s more of indie-like films intended for festivals.”
And so TINCAN production was born. What’s with the name, we asked.
Toni explained: “Tin is my name, while can means ‘I can do it also.’ Tin can produce, Tin can do films like this. It also symbolizes a Tin Can or de Lata because there are so many useful ways to recycle it. It’s like a small idea that can be developed into something else using your creativity.”
Joining Alex, Toni and Sam on the cast are Melai Cantiveros, Moi Bien and Bayani Agbayani.
First festival movie for the sisters
“Mary, Marry Me” Toni and Alex’s first filmfest movie.
“I remember when we were kids we would always look forward to the MMFF, and we would fall in line to one of the movies which we wanted to see. Then fast forward to 20 years and we’re in one movie which will be screened during Christmas,” Toni said.
“This was such a new stage in my life. After doing this film, I have so much respect for the production people like I look at the production staff, the production assistants, the DOP (director of photography), the directors with so much respect because nobody really knows, you don’t know what the people behind camera went through before you watch a film.
“They do all things from start to finish. I realized that actors have it easy because we sleep inside the car, do our make-up, sleep while the production is setting up the location, and concentrate on the script and our characters.
“The production people, they are the ones to come early, do the set-up, then stay after the shooting is packed-up—then take a meeting for the next shooting day.
“They are the people behind the success of every film. It was like they’re the icing, we’re the chiffon cake. They are the foundation.”
“Mary, Marry Me” will be in cinemas nationwide starting Dec. 25.