Iza Calzado and Ian Veneracion’s Easy, Effortless Chemistry Takes Centerstage in New Romcom
The stars of WeTV’s newest romantic comedy talk about their characters, working with Sunshine Dizon, and telling more mature love stories
“Are you kidding me? I would love that,” said Iza Calzado in a previous interview from December 2019, her eyes sparkling at the suggestion of her starring in a romantic comedy. “I hope somebody would take a chance on me and do that.”
And thank God someone did. While working on the script for B&B: The Story of the Battle of Brandy and Brody, writer Noreen Capili specifically had the Metro cover girl in mind to romantic lead in the series, opposite veteran leading man Ian Veneracion.
The two actors have been in the entertainment industry a long time, even working together in a handful of projects together (Bliss, A Love to Last, and Ilawod to name a few), but B&B marks the first time they will act opposite each other in something as lighthearted and as playful as a rom-com.
Iza plays Brandy Zulueta, the manager at a bed-and-breakfast. She’s in her late 30s, and she’s jaded when it comes to love. “[Brandy’s] been in a couple of relationships,” Iza explains. “She’s always niloloko. She has trust issues with men na parang… not a man-hater per se, pero jaded. At this point in her life, tanggap na niya na, Maybe I really won’t have anybody. I actually don’t want to date anybody.”
Brandy is married to her bed-and-breakfast, Iza adds, the business having become her life and her passion. More than that, it’s become her family. She lives her life as she always had, until Brody Nuyda, played by Ian Veneracion, enters the picture.
“Successful siya sa business pero hindi siya successful sa relationships,” Ian says of his character. “'Yung last relationship niya, medyo traumatic for him.” Brody, who’s in his 40s, has commitment issues, preferring—and used to—friends-with-benefits situations over real relationships. When he checks into Brandy’s bed-and-breakfast, that’s where the story begins.
“May spark,” Ian adds, smiling. “May something.”
B&B is a different kind of rom-com from the ones Filipino audiences are used to seeing in our stories.
Often in Filipino romantic comedies, it’s teens and young adults who get the spotlight, supported and surrounded by peripheral characters—usually a parent or such, or a bunch of their friends—who offer advice and shape the protagonists’ destinies.
Sometimes, the parents get an arc of their own, as seen in movies like Crazy Beautiful You (Gabby Concepcion and Lorna Tolentino’s characters run parallel Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla’s), or the opposite, like in Unexpectedly Yours (Sharon Cuneta and Robin Padilla star, while Julia Barretto and Joshua Garcia support). But the latter seldom happens in local film, and even more rarely on local TV.
With B&B, Iza and Ian are committed to showing love during a different stage of life—the stage of life that goes past high school classrooms and college universities, past the confusion and frenzy that characterize our first few years as adults. After all, love doesn’t end when we turn 30.
“Usually ‘yung nakikita nating love stories dito sa Philippines, younger people,” says Ian. “Pero si Iza and I, we feel like, if it’s a mature love story, [mas] maraming layers. It’s more complex.”
“Mas masakit,” Iza injects.
“That’s why we love telling these stories, because hindi siya masyadong madalas mapanood dito sa atin,” Ian adds.
Iza and Ian exude an easy, effortless chemistry, both on camera and off, something that makes their time together on set more worthwhile. As quarantine protocols require them to be in a bubble (a lock-in period of taping stretching two to three weeks), they both note how, despite its cons, the situation has helped them nurture their chemistry with each other—something especially crucial in this project, as they aim to make viewers gush and feel kilig.
“Ang saya-saya. Mas totoo,” Ian says. “Mas totoo siya, mas sincere ang lumalabas tuloy pag nag-t-take na kayo because of the layers na nagagawa niyo behind the camera.”
Thanks to expert instruction from co-director Sunshine Dizon (alongside series writer Noreen Capili and series creator and director Mark A. Reyes V), the shoot, which approximately took six days, has been a breeze all throughout. The actors have nothing but praise for Sunshine, whose first time it is to work with Ian. “Ang dali-dali niyang magcommunicate because veteran actress na siya,” he says. “Pag meron siyang maisip sa scene, kayang-kaya niyang i-communicate sa actors niya. I really appreciate her insights.”
Iza, on the other hand, has known Sunshine since their time in That’s Entertainment back in the early 90s. She is incredibly proud of her friend, noting Sunshine’s attention to detail and capability to get what she wants across. “She’s an actor’s director. Every actor wants to work with an actor’s director, especially when you’re new, kasi natututo ka talaga sa kanila,” she says. “I feel like she’s in her element.”
And in B&B, Iza and Ian are, too.
B&B: The Story of the Battle of Brody and Brandy, premieres today on WeTV and iflix. It co-stars Ketchup Eusebio, Lovely Abella, Ian Ignacio, and Emmanuelle Vera.
Lead photos from @missizacalzado and WeTV