DonBelle says “Can’t Buy Me Love” is not your typical rom-com
The series also consistently won in its timeslot in terms of the ratings game since its TV premiere on October 16, 2023.
For a first teleserye, the project posed more challenges for DonBelle as they tackled roles that are far from who they are in real life.
In an intimate interview with FreebieMNL and select entertainment media for the “Can’t Buy Me Love” Netflix media junket, Donny and Belle share what should viewers expect from their team-up for the series.
Belle says, “I think the question is ano ang tatak Caroline and Bingo na kilig? I think that’s what makes it even different this time and since sobrang different ng dynamics.
“This one, my character is very stoic, she’s such an alpha, she’s so far from Belle, who Belle is. She’s so far from other characters I portrayed so I think that’s what makes an impact sa kilig.”
Donny, on the other hand, describes the kilig as “lowkey.”
He expounds, “[It] makes it mas malakas, parang hindi mo akalain na ganun na pala yung scene, yung impact kasi sobrang iba yung backgrounds namin and to have two characters meet from very very different worlds.
“For us, it’s also we’re going through it, like, for the first time, too. Yung atake namin, iba rin. Usually kasi, more or less, when we script read, we kind of have an idea paano i-atake ito pero maraming eksena dito na nag-uusap talaga kami anong gagawin natin.
“’Tapos sila Direk din, ibahin natin yung kilig, everytime we do something that they think they’ve seen, let’s try something else. So, I think that’s one thing we can look forward to and how different the kilig factor would be.”
Preparing for their roles
Donny and Belle both say that they are portraying characters that are far from who they are in real life and not even close to the characters they played in their past projects.
Hence, they have to really prepare thoroughly for their new roles.
Donny says he had to go through an immersion with Direk Mae Cruz-Alviar in Binondo and Divisoria to observe different ways to portray his new character.
He narrates, “We went through an immersion with Direk and the whole team, the whole crew. Pumunta kami sa Binondo talaga, Divisoria; we really went around incognito, naka-mask kami, and we really immersed in the environment and we just people watched.
“So, we literally just sat down, ‘Donny, tignan mo, ganyan ka magbubuhat,’ or, ‘Donny, ganyan ka magbebenta,’ kasi parang ganyan yung binebenta ko sa Binondo, lahat ginagawa ni Bingo.
“So, it’s more of like just imagining myself in that environment and people who I will be close to, close group of friends, sa family there. That was a whole new experience for me because I don’t think I’ve experienced that, just walking around Binondo.”
Aside from the immersion, there are also things that Donny had to learn in terms of his dialogues.
“Also, we did have a couple of meetings with Direk, one-on-one and with Belle as well, and even on the set, whenever I read the script, I have to ask people kung tama ba yung pronunciation, kung nabubulol ba ako sa words na ito kasi yung iba, never ko narinig yung words na yun, e.
“But it’s super fun. I’ve been enjoying the experience a lot and I think everyday we’re still preparing honestly, more and more we’re getting used to who Bingo is, who Caroline is.”
While Donny had to learn the language his character would use, Belle had to undergo Mandarin classes to effectively portray a Chinese character.
Belle shares, “I had to take classes for the language and of course, with the help of Direk. I had this one-on-one meeting with Direk, just really talking about Caroline, building Caroline’s character.
“I think everytime we step into another character, talagang bini-build namin, when Caroline was seven years old, ano yung biggest memory niya? Ano yung biggest trauma niya? To that extent.
“We really talk about it hand-in-hand with Direk and alongside with [Donny], too, on the set we talk about how would Bingo react to this, how would Caroline react to this? If Belle would react like this, what would Caroline say?
“So, that stuff really help you, up to now, in the middle of our shoot I still discover more about my character, inaaral ko pa rin siya and I’m so happy to be able to portray Caroline because I’m learning from her so much.”
Donny and Belle also say that “Can’t Buy Me Love” isn’t just the typical rom-com that everyone expects it to be.
Donny explains, “I think a misconception that a lot of people have even prior to the trailer is it’s really just a rom-com pero hindi, e. Sobrang dami kasing genre sa show na ito. Parang lahat pinagsama na.
“So, I guess, if you look at it from that perspective na rich girl-poor boy, then marami nang project na ganun. But this one kasi, there are so many different factors like here and there that you’d feel like am I watching a series that for example, ABS is making right now na ganito yung story niya?
“Kasi, wow iba yun, ha. Wala namang ganun dati. Siyempre, it will revolve also around a Chinese family and there’s a lot of Filipino-Chinese history as well and then on my end at Binondo, showcasing that as well.
“I think just get ready for many many different genres and scenes that you won’t expect that will make it not your ordinary teleserye.”
Belle adds, “Caroline and Bingo will fall in love differently since there are a lot of different factors that will affect their relationship and a lot of mystery will happen, plot twists. So, abangan niyo na lang yan kasi ayoko mag-spoil!”
During the media conference of “Can’t Buy Me Love,” creative manager Jay Fernando also discussed what makes “Can’t Buy Me Love” different from other rom-com teleseryes.
He explains, “Well, two things. Una I guess is the intensity because of ang dami na rin naman nating palabas na napanood, iba na rin yung demand ng audience for intensity. Intensity in terms of emotions, intensity in terms of mga plots, ano yung mga nangyayari.
“So, something I mean like of recent years, ngayon lang natin narinig yung bingeing, so, ‘Is this show binge-able? It’s also part of the vocabulary of creating a teleserye.
“The other one is also because we’ve seen a lot of romance comedies, romance dramas, this particular show has a certain dose of reality kasi that is something that the generation now is asking—authenticity, reality. Is this something realistic?
“Kunyari, when we were talking about mayaman-mahirap, we’ve never really asked, ‘Talaga ba?’ I mean, kapag may mayaman at mahirap ba talaga sa totoong buhay, they would fall in love this way?
“So, yung question of that reality and the sense of that authenticity, that is something new for this particular show.”
As for Direk Mae Cruz, she knows that viewers want something more than seeing the kilig between characters.
She says, “To add to that, the love stories ngayon demand more than just kilig. The audience kasi, they’re very much aware especially the youth.
“Maraming pinagdaanan ang youth ngayon, so, to tell a love story, you have to be grounded, you have to go beyond kilig, you have to talk about what’s going on in the world, what’s real for them.
“So, hindi lang siya basta ano, there’s more to the story than just the romance and as you’ve seen in the trailer, it’s a roller coaster ride and not only it is a roller coaster ride na parang may suspense and all, but what the characters are dealing with.”
Banner Art Paulo Correa