Julia Barretto sheds sweet image for sultry role in

·3 min read

“Hindi dapat mahal (ang) magmahal. (Loving shouldn’t be costly).”

This, in essence, is what actress Julia Barretto, lead star of Viva Films’ “Expensive Candy” and the film’s writer/director Jason Paul “JP” Laxamana want viewers to take with them after watching the movie.

Set to open in cinemas nationwide on Sept. 14, “Expensive Candy” is the story of a sex worker named Candy (Julia), who inspires Toto, a poor teacher (portrayed by Carlo Aquino) to work harder for his dreams.

In a recent digital media conference, JP said he conceptualized “Expensive Candy” as early as 2015 but he had to set it aside because no one wanted to produce it.

When Julia, whom JP worked with for the first time in the 2019 film, “Between Maybes,” signed with Viva Artists Agency in September 2020, JP was told Julia was looking for a project that would require her to level up as an actress.

JP remembered the storyline he had and presented the idea to Julia.

“Whatever he asks of me, I can never say no to Direk JP,” said Julia, describing Candy as her most daring role to date.

Julia shared that one Sunday lunch with her family, she told them about a film that was pitched to her. A few months after, she was given the script which she asked her mother, Marjorie Barretto to read.

It didn’t take long for Marjorie to give her the go-signal because “she loves ‘Between Maybes.’”

Many might have been taken aback by Julia’s racy role but the 25-year-old actress urges viewers to go beyond the sexy scenes shown in the trailer.

“The story is really nice. When I read the script, I immediately knew I wanted to do it and I feel like I’m already at a point in my life where it’s okay to get out of my comfort zone so I was really excited to do this project,” she said.

JP, whose writing and directing credits include “100 Tula Para Kay Stella,” “The Day After Valentine’s” and “Just A Stranger,” has nothing but praise for his two lead stars, Julia and Carlo.

“Since ‘Between Maybes,’ I already admired her professionalism and seriousness toward her craft. I also admire her for being very courageous because not all drama princesses or mainstream actresses take on these particular roles,” JP said of Julia.

As for Carlo, JP’s personal choice for the role of Toto, the writer-director said he had long admired the actor for his choices when it comes to acting projects, which go beyond the mainstream.

“I come from the Cinemalaya crowd so I admire Carlo for participating in such films as ‘Diablo’ and ‘Porno,’” he said.

“It’s absolute paradise for a filmmaker like me to have a project with two artists that are very serious about their craft,” JP added.

Carlo says one of his biggest challenges while doing the film was to look at Julia in a different light since he had known the actress since she was a child.

“There has to be some malice, some desire,” the 37-year-old actor recalled JP’s reminder to him.

Both actors cite a long confrontation scene between their characters as the hardest to do.

Julia shared that she underwent dance workshops with the dance group, G-Force and took inspiration from Demi Moore’s character in the film, “Striptease.” She also underwent immersion in Angeles City, JP’s hometown and the film’s setting and befriended a woman who became a reference for Candy.

JP said he reminded both Julia and Carlo that although the film has a risqué theme or milieu, it is, at its core, a romance movie.

“(In the film), Candy becomes more and more expensive. We will follow Toto’s journey and see up until when he could afford Candy,” he added.