After making us ugly-cry with Kita Kita and Through Night and Day, actress Alessandra de Rossi is back with a new dramedy film that she also wrote and directed. Titled My Amanda, De Rossi’s directorial debut with co-producer Piolo Pascual explores an unusual relationship that sits on the fine line between friendship and love.
The film centers on De Rossi’s Amanda and her longtime best friend TJ, played by Pascual. Calling themselves Fuffy and Fream, the two share a tight-knit friendship that remains constant no matter how much their individual worlds change over time. As the film’s synopsis describes it, they share a “friendship that’s always seemed like so much more — only it’s not quite love either. So what’s in between friendship and love?”
What is it, indeed? To give us some clues even before the film drops on Netflix this July 15, a virtual press conference was held where Alessandra de Rossi and Piolo Pascual answered some questions from the media. Their answers during the event gave us a better understanding of how the story and their characters were created and brought to life.
Based on true friendships
So what inspired this story and the dynamics between Fuffy and Fream? Alessandra de Rossi shared that she modeled the two characters from herself and her guy friends, specifically one that’s actually named TJ.
“This story is very personal to me because it’s about my friendships, literally,” says Alessandra. “My guy best friend’s name is TJ, and he’s PJ (referring to Piolo). I just used the real name and even how we call each other, Fuffy and Fream.”
She adds that while the story has nothing to do with real life, she used the dynamics of her friendship with the real-life TJ to share a different kind of love story. “It’s a friendship that’s intimate and not superficial, rare and sincere. That’s what I wanted to talk about because all Pinoys are fans of romcoms.”
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“I want people to treasure friendships and appreciate them as they are, and just stop adding malice to everyone. Not everyone is there for sex or relationships,” she added.
Aside from her own friendships, De Rossi also shared that the way Piolo Pascual and director Joyce Bernal would behave around each other also inspired her to create the film. “Come here, kiss me,” Alessandra mimics director Bernal, saying the scenario is so entertaining. “My best friend and I are the same. I think I should make a movie!”
Love without malice
Despite being based on true friendships, the reason why Alessandra De Rossi decided to direct her own script is because no one wanted to touch it without tweaking the story. “Because they found it a little bit unbelievable,” De Rossi said.
But Piolo Pascual thinks otherwise. Asked how he explored Fuffy’s feelings for Fream, he says: “If you really have the purest of intentions, then it is possible. It is possible to not cross the line and just be there for each other and just be there for that person that you value the most because no matter how many relationships I’ve had in this film, she was always there. No matter how loud she was, no matter how annoying she could get, she was always there. She was always there and that’s what I needed.”
“I actually learned from this film,” added Pascual. “If I’m watching it, it’s like, ‘Yes, it is possible. It can be, it can happen,’ and that’s what I learned. As long as there’s love, you can move mountains and you go from there.”
De Rossi as a director
Directing her own film for the first time, Alessandra de Rossi shared she didn’t expect how difficult the filming was.
“I chose to direct this film because I knew with Piolo, I wouldn’t have to direct anything. Just come to the set, just be who you are, and let me just think of my shot, and just hope I get it right. I thought it was going to be that easy.” De Rossi even revealed that she got hospitalized after filming because it drained her physically, serving as the actress, director, and writer of the film all at the same time.
“Now that I remember, it was fun. But when I was there, [my thoughts were] ‘what did I get myself into? How did anyone believe when I said I’m gonna direct it?’ Bakit walang pumigil sa’kin?”
“Because you have the energy,” answers Piolo Pascual. “And I always believed in your talent.”
Meanwhile, from Piolo Pascual’s point of view, it really was easy playing TJ in the film because De Rossi knew her script and her shots.
“I just believed in the script, I just believed in the project and I just went along with her, and I just had fun,” said Pascual. “I didn’t have to think about anything because when she asked me, ‘I just need you to be yourself, just come as you are,’ then I’m good. I don’t have to think about anything– how to act, this and that, how to be this character– because we were just actually being ourselves.”
Pascual also added that what’s hard for De Rossi’s part as the director was that she didn’t want to offend people. “She’s the type of person who doesn’t want to cross the line and offend the actor, but she would come up to me and say, ‘Baka pwedeng ganito…’ We talk about it. What’s nice about Alessandra is that she’s collaborative, and she listens to something if she knows this can probably work. She would give way. It was easy. That’s why she got hospitalized,” teased the actor, cracking up De Rossi.
Preparing for Fuffy
According to Piolo, playing Fuffy is one of the easiest roles he’s ever done, saying that the chemistry between TJ and Amanda felt so natural when they were filming.
“It was easy for me because that’s how we are in real life,” said Pascual. “It wasn’t hard for me to get into the character because we were just literally developing the chemistry. We didn’t realize that there was chemistry because she was doing a lot of things on the side, but once she starts saying, ‘roll,’ and then we get into the character, we realized there’s not much difference in real life.”
Besides being himself while acting, Pascual also met the real-life TJ, observed him, and also recreated his appearance. The actor grew his hair out, and his ear even got a permanent injury after having six piercings for the role.
“I wanted it to look like TJ,” said Pascual. “TJ had tats, he had piercings all over, so it’s like, I have to look like him.”
According to Alessandra, she really imagined the role going to her co-star. “‘Yung pagka-komedyante mo kasi in real life eh, Papa P is funnier than Empoy, sorry [laughs].”
A new take on a love story
Let’s ask the question once again, what is in between friendship and love?
Perhaps it is still love, but it is not what we often imagine. And that’s one more reason why we should watch My Amanda— it promises to tell us a unique love story that redefines what love and friendship mean. As Piolo puts it, TJ’s journey with Amanda made his character feel complete regardless if he was with somebody or is in love with somebody.
“Because of my constant love for her that was always present, it brought us to a place wherein we were both gifted by something better than what we expected. Because of that love that I shared with her, I was able to be given something that made me grow up, something that made me appreciate love and life even more,” the actor explained.
Asked what she wants the viewers to pick up from the film, De Rossi answered: “Love. Don’t be afraid to love. Don’t be afraid to make friends. Don’t be afraid of the journey. You’ll never know what you’ll find and how far you are willing to go for friendship, for a friend.”
Homestream image from Netflix.