Ever since the news about it broke out a few weeks ago, ABS-CBN’s very own “boy love” or BL series “Hello Stranger” has been the talk of the town as it became a trending topic on social media, especially when it premiered last June 24.
And a few hours before its third episode airs on Wednesday, July 8, its headliners Tony Labrusca (who plays basketball varsity star player Xavier) and JC Alcantara (who plays nerdy student Mico) graced the Kapamilya Chat via ZOOM for an insightful yet fun conversation about their lives during quarantine, their latest project, and anything in between, as well as for a slew of games Entertainment.abs-cbn.com specially prepared for them.
Life during quarantine
Starting off with a “kumustahan”, JC recalled how stricken with problem he was at the beginning of the lockdown after he figured in a vehicular accident, but he was able to eventually overcome it. Working on the series, according to him, also helped him cope by diverting his focus and keeping him busy. The same goes for Tony who’s very much thankful of being cast in the iWant original film “Love Lockdown” and in “Hello Stranger” as these helped him maintain his sanity in the past four months.
However, aside from their latest project, both of them kept themselves by also doing other stuff. JC learned how to play the ukulele, played Mobile Legends, and kept in touch with his fans and family online, while Tony played a lot of video games, created TikTok videos, interacted with his fans, and tried his hand on playing the piano as well.
On doing “Hello Stranger”
When asked about their reactions upon receiving the offer of doing this BL series, JC confessed that two other similar projects were initially offered to him but decided to turn them down.
“May tatlong project na ganito na inalok sa’kin. ‘Yong dalawa ‘di ko tinanggap kasi natatakot ako. Alam naman natin dito sa Pilipinas na ‘di pa open ‘yong ganito,” he said and imparted how the simple phone call from his lesbian aunt became his turning point to consider doing the series.
“Sabi ko, bakit ‘di ko sila agad naisip na may mga friend nga pala akong bisexual, lesbian, gay. [So naisip ko na] tanggapin ko na lang ‘to para maging boses nila – na sana someday tanggapin na sila, sana someday mahalin na sila. Kasi ‘yon ang kailangan nila e, respeto mula sa atin. Kaya masaya ako na may platform tayo sa Pilipinas na BL series. Kaya para rin sa inyo ‘to,” JC related.
Tony, who’s also doing a BL series for the first time, shared how hesitant he was to accept it when it was pitched to him.
“Medyo hesitant ako. So no’ng kinontact ako ng Black Sheep, sabi nila meron silang role na gustong ibigay sa akin. They really wanted me to take this role, kaso wala pang script so do’n ako kinabahan. Ang gusto lang nila, umoo na sana ako. So I was really nervous na parang, ‘pwede ba ‘yon? Baka naman umoo ako, nag-promise ako na nag-yes na ako sa kanila tapos pagdating ng script, ‘di ko pala siya gusto, he recalled.
Then he continued, “Ang gusto ko naman sa Black Sheep, I felt so honored kasi persistent sila. So, siguro two weeks passed by, tinanong ako uli. Mga three weeks, sinabi nila na si Inang Olivia Lamasan, go rin siya sa role para sa akin. So kinausap ko ‘yong manager ko, si Kuya Mar. I told them pati ‘yong mga bosses ko, gusto nila na tanggapin ko ‘yong role. I think dapat gawin ko na lang kasi that’s what they’re for. I should trust them. At the same time, I was really happy na it was Direk Petersen [Vargas]. Kinausap ko siya bago [ko] tinanggap ‘yong role and they promised that it would be a collaborative effort, a team effort. May kutob ako na that was a right decision to say ‘yes’.”
With the positive feedbacks and warm reception from the audiences all over the world, the two young actors, who disclosed working for the first time together, have nothing but gratitude to those who supported it right from its pilot episode. And there’s definitely a lot more to watch out for in the coming weeks as they teased having more exciting and explosive scenes to anticipate.
When it comes to the challenges they encountered while filming “Hello Strangerr” at their respective abodes, they shared that it’s mostly on the technical sides since both of them were accustomed on simply arriving on the set and just do their job as actors. But they’re able to resolve those troubles with the help of the Black Sheep production team and their companions at home.
“Mahirap, pero masaya siya kasi it’s a team effort, lahat kami nakakapag-bonding. Masaya kami, na nagpro-produce kami ng content para sa mga tao ngayon na nagpapasaya sa kanila, so it makes everything worth it. Sinabi ko nga kay Direk Petersen na masaya ako sa Hello Stranger kasi nag-spark talaga siya ng joy para sa akin during this time. Super grateful,” Tony said.
The two actors also enthusiastically talked about working with their fellow cast members Gillian Vicencio, Vivoree Esclito, Patrick Quiroz from Rise Artists Studios and Star Magic, and theatre actor Miguel Almendras, as well as with Direk Petersen who they both admire so much.
New episodes of “Hello Stranger” can be streamed live every Wednesday at 8:30pm on OKS.ABS-CBN.com, the official Facebook and YouTube accounts of Black Sheep. It is the production unit’s inaugural digital series and is directed by acclaimed young director Petersen Vargas.