Love team—a Philippine media term referring to an actor and actress paired up and packaged as a romantic on-screen couple, beloved by legions of fans. Two of the country’s leading young actors, Kathryn Bernardo and Alden Richards, however, came from their own partnerships to forge a new one for the movie, Hello, Love, Goodbye, which has proven a box office mega-hit and more. Besides being the highest-grossing Filipino film of all time, it’s been extolled as not just a love story, but a life story, revealing the struggles, sacrifices and little moments of happiness faced by Overseas Filipino Works, in this case in Hong Kong.
In an intimate one-on-two interview, we speak to the movie leads, Alden Richards, who plays Ethan, a bartender with a suave disposition but a past scarred by sacrifices for love; and Kathryn Bernardo, who plays Joy, a nurse-trained domestic helper and hardened optimist, willing to put love on hold to pursue her career goals and a better life for her family.
This newfound love team has proven to be a stellar one, wouldn’t you agree?
Alden Richards: Us Filipinos, we’re very inclined to the love story—and love teams. And we catered to it. But I’d like to be known more as an actor that can be more than a love team, individually. Interestingly, though this is a love team project, Hello, Love, Goodbye, has proven to be an opportunity for us to grow as individuals, as we came from different pairings to form this new merger for this beautiful project.
Is there a dream role you’ve yet to play?
Kathryn Bernardo: I’ve done action for TV series’ but I’d like to do play a serious action role in a movie. There’s much more time to prepare and embody our characters for movie productions, and in turn allows us to make everything that much more beautiful. I look up to the likes of Angelina Jolie and Natalie Portman, and would love to do projects like Mr & Mrs Smith or V for Vendetta. I’d also like to do some horror, just things that are completely different from my girly persona in real life.
Why would you say this movie is important for both Filipinos and non-Filipinos to watch?
Kathryn: This isn’t your usual rom-com film—we zoom into the world of the Overseas Filipino Worker, and tackle social issues on all levels, financial challenges, and their emotional and physical struggles and sacrifices all in the name of family and career. This movie heightens the general awareness of these modern workers today. Plus, it’s directed by Cathy Garcia-Molina, the best director in the country.
What was the hardest scene in the movie?
Alden: Our director, Cathy Garcia-Molina, doesn’t rank scenes because she wants places equal importance on every single one, which pushes us actors to give our all no matter the scene. Outside of the actual acting, it was shooting out of our comfort zone in Hong Kong, where we all had to multi-task and help out as crew sometimes as well, and work around the foreign environments and situations around us. Safe to say our hardships have paid off.
How about your favourite scene in the movie?
Alden: In the bar’s stock room, aka “stuck” room where we were caught extremely face-to-face within the inventory-filled aisles.
Kathryn: More than a scene, I loved the stages in which you can tell Joy’s falling in love. First, stoic and quiet, but little by little Ethan makes her smile, like a happy evolution of emotions.
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When I visited @michael5inco’s atelier in Dubai, he actually had me try on several dresses to check the best cut, color, and silhouette for me. I fell in love with everything tbh, but in the end we were torn between red or pink (you already know what I chose 😸). I originally requested to incorporate T’nalak prints to make the look very Filipino, and he did so without compromising the signature Michael Cinco aesthetic by mimicking the patterns using Swarovski crystals. 💯 Thank you so much Michael and team for accommodating me despite your very busy schedule and for making our vision a reality! This Filipiniana is everything I wanted and more. I am forever your fan and I could only wish for more collaborations in the future. 💖 Special thanks to @valtaguba as well for helping us out with the fittings and minor alterations! 😘
What brings you joy?
Kathryn: Aside from my craft—my family. They’re very supportive. My fans, too, are super supportive, especially with this project which was a little hard for me at first, and everyone including our fans had to adjust, but they accepted it and supported it wholeheartedly. Before 2019 begun, I promised myself it was to be a year of growth and self-love, and I’m happy how everything has turned out, and how I’ve had incredible support throughout.
Alden: To me, joy is being able to do things you love, and even more so when you can inspire people doing so. I’ve been in this industry for nine yers, and I’ve done my fair share of projects but it’s always been about self-growth and being able to inspire through my work. I feel it’s our higher calling as actors to provide inspiration, to be able to relieve the stress or shift the perspectives of our viewers, through storytelling. This movie has exceeded our expectations of being a love story between two strangers. People who have watched it call it a life story, relating to the lives of one or more of the cast of characters. To be able to connect with people that way, and for them to find their own story or inspiration in what I do brings me immense joy.
Much like your roles in this movie, you started supporting your families at quite a young age. What would you say is the biggest gift you’ve given your families so far?
Kathryn: I think, and I hope, pride. They’ve been my number one supporters from the very beginning, and my parents and siblings made sacrifices for me to pursue this—and it’s all paid off. I hope I’ve made them proud through my work.
Alden: Honestly, me, and this life. I’ve been living for my family for almost my entire life—the needs of my family always come first. I work hard and set aside my personal happiness to do what it takes to give them a better life. To see them living a comfortable life is the greatest gift to them, and to myself. It’s nothing compared to the life we had before…nothing.
In the movie, Ethan sacrifices dreams for love, and Joy sacrifices love for dreams. Do you agree?
Kathryn (aka Joy): Willing to sacrifice love for my dreams like Joy? In real life, I’m more of Ethan, who sacrificed dreams for love.
Alden (aka Ethan): And I’m more of Joy.
Kathryn: Love is my priority. I don’t want to regret anything in the future by pursuing my dreams but losing the love of my life. It depends on the situation but it’s so hard to choose between love and dreams. I’m very happy because I have—and can do—both. Not everyone can say that, and I know I am blessed. Personally, as Kathryn, if I was in Joy’s shoes, I’d stay. I would find a way to make my dreams come true with Ethan.
How do you stay sane in all this showbiz chaos?
Alden: Having the right circle is key, made up of people who have stuck with you through thick and thin, not the new ones who arrived when you’ve already arrived, if you know what I mean. It’s a person’s prerogative to change or not. The past makes you who you are are, and you shouldn’t forget where you came from.
Kathryn: Yes, it’s who you surround yourself with. Like my family, at home I’m not Kathryn Bernardo the actress, I’m Kathryn the sister and daughter, and my mom can get mad at me anytime—there is no special treatment. Family is important to keep you grounded, and friends. I have non-show business friends, and it’s nice to just hang out without all that showbiz-ness around you, you know? We all need to realise that all this is temporary, and can disappear even quicker than how we gained it. So it’s important to take care of what you have an what made you, especially the people around you.
What are the three things not many people know about you?
Kathryn: He’s OCD—everything needs to be aligned and placed or retuned to the right place. The little things bother him. Secondly, he’s an early bird. Thirdly…let me think about it.
Alden: She’s can be very conscious, and prim and proper. Like there’s a rooftop scene and we were sweaty from an entire day of filming and had to hug. She found that pretty challenging and kept exclaiming that she’s sweating. Second thing is that she can eat anything without gain weight. Thirdly, and most personal of all, is that she’s very concerned about people. She always makes sure everyone is doing good, working well and being fed. She’s like the glue, she takes care of everyone.
Kathryn: Ok the third point is that he’s very generous, especially when it comes to food. This becomes really funny when some other cast members joke about asking for money, and Alden cannot say no so he gives it to them. Haha!
Alden: If they ask for my body, I can’t say no too…joke!
How would you describe your style?
Kathryn: It depends on my mood. Sometimes I’m feeling extra girly, sometimes I’m into menswear and often find myself shopping in the men’s section. But in general I’m a huge fan of ‘90s fashion, like leather jackets and mom jeans, which I incorporate into my daily wardrobe. I’m a classic girl as well, and invest in quality, timeless pieces like a sharp black blazer, white sneakers and a good pair of jeans. I like things that are comfy and classic.
Alden: This is it (gesturing towards his outfit)—Plains basic T-shirt, well-cut jeans and sneakers. Basics like these never go out of style.
What about your guilty pleasures?
Kathryn: Shoes and bags. But I have a limit to my guilty pleasures—like I have a budget on trips, so sometimes I have to choose either one. Then there’s online shopping, which is a completely different story altogether.
Alden: Traveling and timepieces.
Kathryn: And cars!
Alden: Not anymore…
Kathryn: With the money to buy one car I can buy many, many bags.
Us, collectively: True.