“Surreal” was one of the first words that crossed Kylie Padilla’s mind on her experience working with Gerald Anderson for the first time.
She couldn’t believe it. As it turned out, Kylie used to root for “Kimerald”—Gerald’s successful former love team with Kim Chiu—years back. “I’m shy to admit it, but I was a fan! I used to watch their films in the cinemas,” she said at a press conference for the drama film “Unravel,” an entry to the first summer edition of the Metro Manila Film Festival.
Of course, Kimerald is no more. And the ex-couple is now happy with their respective romantic partners: Gerald with Julia Barretto, and Kim with Xian Lim. “Sorry,” Kylie said, laughing and motioning to Gerald with an apologetic hand gesture. “I’m just being honest!”
But once the camera started rolling, Kylie promptly turned her fangirl mode off. “There was nervousness at first because it was unbelievable to be with Gerald. But of course, I had to be professional. I had to forget and set aside Kylie, the fan, so I could focus and there would be no awkwardness. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to act,” she said.
While they didn’t know each other personally prior to the movie, Gerald knew Kylie is a “very good actress.” “I’m privileged to witness that in person. But more than anything else, she’s so humble and down to earth,” he said.
Produced by Mavx, written by Senedy Que and directed by RC delos Reyes, “Unravel” was shot in Switzerland. There, the two actors got to know each other better—all while enjoying the country’s scenic lakes, mountains and villages.
‘Very open, generous’
“Masaya ka-work si Kylie. You can see how passionate she is and how much she loves her craft. When you do a shoot overseas, you usually just have a small team, so it’s important that everyone is professional. You have to be able to adjust because there are things that are out of your control,” Gerald said.
“But everything came together naturally,” the 34-year-old actor added.
In hindsight, the fact that they didn’t know each other actually helped, Kylie said, because the characters they play are just that. “The story has a getting-to-know-each-other aspect. The characters were strangers to each other, so I used our situation to get inspiration,” related Kylie, who found Gerald a “very open and generous” leading man.
“I can be quiet and shy on the set, so I just observed him. I realized that he’s a quiet worker but I could also see his process,” she added.
As beautiful as the filming location is, the story—which delves into mental health and disorder—is anything but.
Switzerland is one of the few countries where physician-assisted suicide is legal, even for nonresident foreigners. Upon learning about this, Lucy (Kylie), a successful company executive dealing with clinical depression, sets off to get herself enlisted. But then she meets a fellow Filipino named Noah, (Gerald), who has her rethinking her plans.
“I got scared after reading the script, because it’s a dark subject matter… But as an actress, I stepped into the character’s point of view right away,” Kylie said, adding that the script had her feeling anxious for a week.
“The subject of mental health is a good conversation starter. People go through this. If we have more awareness, if more people are open to talking about it, then maybe we can help more people. I hope the movie makes the viewers feel that they’re not alone, that there are other chances in life, that we can give other people a chance to give us hope,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons I accepted the film.”
Facing your problems
It’s a situation that Kylie knows all too well. After giving birth to her second son, Axl, the 30-year-old actress was diagnosed with anxiety and postpartum depression. She encouraged people who find themselves in a similar situation to try and seek help.
“I understand what some people go through. I have learned that when you’re in a dark place, you have to speak up, ask for help—there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s why I said yes to the movie. I want to send this message to the people,” said Kylie, who underwent therapy. “It helped me.”
Back then, Kylie dealt with her problems by running away from them, literally and figuratively. “I used to be like that. But after doing that—trying to escape by going somewhere else—I realized that when I came back, things would still be as I left them. So I had to go deep and heal, so that I will be OK no matter where life takes me,” she said.
Gerald is the opposite. He’s the type of person who prefers to take on problems head on and resolve them as soon as possible.
“If there are problems or obstacles, I always want to get them done and over with. I don’t try to go away and travel abroad. I try to face them. It’s hard and can be painful, but there’s growth to be had after,” Gerald said. “But the beauty of the film is that it shows that every one of us has a different way of dealing with life challenges.”
Whenever Gerald feels down, stressed or unmotivated, he redirects his attention to the things he’s grateful for. “I’m happy that I’m still here and being offered to do projects than can make an impact. I’m grateful for everything. When I’m stressed, I try to figure out why it’s happening: ‘How do I fix this? What did I do wrong?’”
“More than the success, it’s the failures that helped me grow and shaped me into who I am now,” he said.