EXCLUSIVE: Jessy Mendiola And Jericho Rosales On "The Girl In The Orange Dress"
“Here’s some trivia about the orange dress,” begins Jessy Mendiola, with a playful look in her eyes. It’s a Sunday morning and here she is, in her makeup chair, about to be whisked away for a quick photo shoot that everyone says should keep to schedule and “must finish by 2 o’clock,” because she and her leading man have a mall show afterwards. The hair has been set, the outfits chosen and edited. She continues, “I wore three different orange dresses in the movie. I don’t know kung mapapansin ng mga tao 'yun. They’re all similar, but at one point, nag-iba-iba siya because of the fit or flow. [Direk] wanted the perfect orange dress.”
The film itself, The Girl in the Orange Dress (a co-production of Quantum Films, Star Cinema and MJM Productions and official entry to the Metro Manila Film Festival 2018), is touted as Jessy’s big break, her first lead role in a movie. “I’m excited and nervous,” she tells Metro.Style. “It’s the first time I’ll be doing a romantic comedy. To me, it’s very fresh, new. It’s far from the dramatic roles I usually take. It’s very challenging because with a romantic comedy, you always have to get the [comedic] timing right.”
In the movie, Jessy plays a character who’s always anxious, if not careful about all her life choices. The leading lady confides that, in a way, she shares the same traits and finds the character quite relatable. “The character is a very anxious girl and I’m an anxious girl in real life. I get nervous about the simplest things. When I first read the script, I wanted to do it right away. I loved the story. Another thing I like about the character is that, like me, she follows her heart.” This was what resonated most with the actress, making her take the role in a heartbeat.
On Jessy: Black fringe dress by Miss Selfridge; gray suede cropped top by Topshop & gray wide-legged pants by Mango; and checkered blazer & black pants both by Mango
Written and directed by Jay Abello (also of Red, Flotsam, and Pinay Beauty), The Girl in the Orange Dress follows the story of a superstar (Rye, played by Jericho Rosales) and a mystery girl (Anna, played by Jessy Mendiola) who, after a night of partying, ended up in the room of the famous personality. She leaves immediately, but not without getting spotted by the paparazzi who managed to take shots of her in her orange dress as she was stepping out of the hotel. While the unlikely pair captures the curious public’s imagination and a media frenzy erupts, Rye and Anna develop a close relationship.
Like the characters in the movie, Jessy shares that she and her co-actor were able to bond and get to know each other better. The film is their first project together. She added how, during their very first shooting day, they had a scene that required them to be in nothing but their undies. “It was just so awkward!” The actress laughs as she says this, and adds that she’s thankful she was paired with Jericho, who's very professional. “To describe Jericho as a person and as an actor, he’s very patient, he’s very generous. Helpful. He’s also very meticulous. But he’s a fun person to work with,” she shares. She then talks about how he often infuses some levity on set by joking around. Jessy adds, “He does this T-Rex walk, which I find really funny. He does it to make me and others laugh when we’re already tired from shooting.”
In the middle of our conversation, Jericho Rosales arrives; he is nursing a cold and it shows a little. His voice is also a tad raspier than usual, but he does his best to stay chipper. He walks past Jessy and asks, “Ano'ng T-Rex 'yan? T-Rex na naman?!” Jessy smiles, “Tungkol du'n 'yung tanong eh!”
Jericho gives her a gentle pat on the shoulder, smiles at us, and then wastes no time getting ready. He’s done in a jiffy, and is ready to take questions, including one about mimicking dinosaurs. “Jessy loves it, the dinosaur walk. Sometimes I have my sugar spike when I drink coffee. I really like playing around, being a happy dude on set. I love doing a lot of crazy stuff, like nanggugulat ako ng tao. I try to make people laugh. Pero nahihiya na ako minsan. Pero it was really fun working with Jessy. She was so accepting of my kakulitan and moods. Sometimes I’m serious, there are times when I’m not so serious.”
He also commends his co-star for her work ethic, adding that for someone who hasn’t done a rom-com before, Jessy did an excellent job. “I appreciate how she dives deep into a role. This is her first rom-com. She took things very seriously," Jericho tells Metro.Style. "Sometimes we’d talk about our scenes, so we can refine what we’re doing. She gets into the character and she’s very dedicated to the project. We did a lot of workshops and rehearsals. She never complained about anything.”
Jericho watches as Jessy is guided to the studio setup for the first layout. The cameras flash and Jessy expertly gives one flawless pose after another. Wardrobe stylists then bring Jericho the looks he’ll be sporting for the shoot. “It all looks great,” he nods. Jericho reaches for a bottle of water and takes a sip. “I’m not a hundred percent today, unfortunately, as you can see.” But the truth is, one won’t be able to tell that right away until the actor speaks. “One of the challenging part of doing this movie was the schedule. Laging puyat," Jericho shares. "I’m doing Halik, so I really worked hard in protecting my sleep, my ‘me time.’”
This is a small inconvenience for the actor as he believes in the project immensely. He says, “It’s inspired by Notting Hill, which is 'The Matrix' of romantic comedies. It’s the gold standard for rom-coms, so I think The Girl in the Orange Dress is a good, exciting re-imagining of the story." Exploring complex themes and reworking a beloved classic are tricky tasks and for Jericho, director Jay Abella was more than capable for the job. “I like Jay when he writes and directs. He’s one of the few directors I really click with. I worked with him before on Red, an indie action film. Nagulat nga ako sa kanya, bigla siya nag-rom-com. He’s a very intellectual person. The way he directs is very intelligent. We discuss our lines and work on the scenes. With Jay, he is always prepared. He always knows what he wants to do technically because he’s a cinematographer and he knows lights and stuff. So the storytelling is complete.”
It is nearly time for Jericho to join his leading lady for the photo shoot; we’re being signaled to wrap up the interview. It’s important to stay on schedule, and be done by 2 o’clock. It was a Sunday, after all. When asked about why the movie is so special, the actor says he has always picked projects he believed in. For The Girl in the Orange Dress, it was the story that piqued his interest. “Aside from the love story, I like how the story tackles the theme of fame," Jericho explains. "It’s a peek into the life of a celebrity. It’s so easy to think artistas are exceptional or crazy or walang feelings or bato or everyone owns the artistas. It’s a good theme to explore. It’s nice to show people that artistas are not who people think they are, but in a funny, lighthearted way.”
After a few more exchanges, Asia’s Prince of Dramas joins his leading lady, one of the brightest female stars in local showbiz today. As they both pose for the shoot, they look relaxed and comfortable with each other, exchanging jokes in between shots. And if their chemistry off-cam is any indication of what viewers can expect to see in their rom-com flick, then rest assured it's going to be one fun time in the cinema.
Produced by Grace Libero-Cruz
Photography by Dookie Ducay
Sittings Editors: Geolette Esguerra and Judy Arias
Makeup by Kusie Ho
Hairstyling by Berlie Angeles
Grooming by Jeffrey Bungcasan
Styling by Patty Yap, assisted by Justine Riguer (Jessy) and David Milan (Jericho)