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‘Pag nagmahal ka, itodo mo na’: How Paolo Contis acts from the heart in ‘A Faraway Land’

By Hannah Mallorca Published Sep 03, 2021 4:13 pm

Transforming into a lovestruck investigative reporter was a challenge that Paolo Contis took to heart. The comedian showed off his acting chops in A Faraway Land, proving his ability to portray emotions of love and grief. 

A Faraway Land tells the story of Nico Mendoza (Paolo Contis), an investigative reporter who’s producing a documentary about overseas Filipinos in Faroe Islands. He meets Filipina expatriate Mahjoy Garoalio (Yen Santos) and they soon develop a romantic relationship. Amid their lovestruck bliss, they must soon face the reality that Mahjoy is married.

Because Nico is described as a hopeless romantic, Contis confessed that he placed himself in the shoes of his character to bring him to life. The actor also shared that he was given a “free hand to say what he wanted” in the film. 

“I normally put a back story to every character that I do. I put stories, iniimbento ko lang kung paano si Nico bilang tao. More or less, alam ko kung paano lumakad and tumawa si Nico,” he told the media during a virtual roundtable about the film. 

Contis also revealed that he did his “best to act from the heart” to portray Nico’s character effectively. “I do my best to act from the heart. I do my best to put myself into the character… I really feel my character’s emotions, that’s why people feel what I feel,” he shared.

Paolo Contis as investigative reporter Nico Mendoza in A Faraway Land

Along with that, Contis admitted that he sees similarities between him and his character, especially when it comes to expressing his thoughts. 

“Hindi naman ako masyadong nalalayo kay Nico. More or less, I often say what I want, I often do what I have to do when it comes to work, when it comes to love,” he added.

On the other hand, what makes Contis different from his character is his ability to be vulnerable to his emotions. “Emosyonal siyang tao. Ako, hindi masyadong emosyonal na tao. I normally keep things to myself. I normally keep things hidden. Pag may dinadala ako, I’m just really, really quiet.”

Paolo Contis and Yen Santos

The actor also noted that perhaps Nico taught him to be “more vulnerable and be more open to emotions when it comes to everything.” 

“Natutunan ko kay Nico, pag nagmahal ka, itodo mo na,” Contis said, describing his character. “You don’t know kung kailan ka mawawala sa mundo. You don’t know when you’re going to get a second opportunity in life.”

He also added: “Hindi mo alam kung kailan ka tatamaan ng love. At pag tinamaan ka, it’s your decision whether to do the right decision or the wrong decision, or kung talagang makikinig ka sa puso mo. Iyon ang natutunan ko kay Nico. Lahat ng bagay, hindi lang sa love, dapat itodo mo.”

‘The chemistry was very easy’

When asked about his working relationship with Santos, Contis said that it was “very easy” to build chemistry with his onscreen partner despite not having time for any workshops. 

“Yen was very professional. The chemistry was very easy because, during the first day pa lang, we were able to talk about what we want to happen in the movie. Yen was very open to suggestions. I was also very open to suggestions. (Director Veronica Velasco) was very open to what we wanted to do together in the scenes,” he shared. 

Contis also praised Santos’ professionalism, sharing there was a time that the actress had to remind him about his lines during filming.

One of the final scenes in A Faraway Land shows Nico and Mahjoy tearfully parting ways in an airport. Nico, before walking away from Mahjoy, says he will cut ties with her to move on. 

When asked about that particular scene, Contis said his character “did the right thing.” 

Banner and thumbnail photos courtesy of Netflix