MANILA, Philippines – Jodi Sta. Maria may be playing a betrayed wife on The Broken Marriage Vow, but her character is no victim.
The Broken Marriage Vow is the Filipino remake of hit British series Doctor Foster, and is airing in the Philippines over a year after the widely-popular Korean adaptation The World of the Married was broadcast to Filipinos.
In the show, Jodi plays Dr. Jill Ilustre, an accomplished doctor and professor who discovers that her husband David (Zanjoe Marudo) is cheating on her with a younger woman, Lexy Lucero (Sue Ramirez).
As Jodi shared in a Rappler Talk interview, while her character has experienced a traumatic betrayal, she made a point not to portray her character as a victim, following directives from BBC, which produced Doctor Foster.
“May mga directives na binigay si BBC na hindi mo na talaga pwedeng gawin in terms of the character…Parang at the end of the day, they [Doctor Gemma Foster and Jill Ilustre] really have to make their character’s dignity intact, kasi yun naman talaga yung gusto nila mangyari,” she said.
(BBC gave us directives, stuff you really can’t do in terms of the character. At the end of the day, they really have to keep their character’s dignity intact, because that’s what they really want to happen.)
She also had to make sure that her character was independent – something that makes her stand out, especially against a Filipino cultural backdrop, where it’s normal (even a status symbol) for middle-class women to have help with the home.
“Kasi diba sa Filipino culture, talagang sanay tayo that we have a yaya, we have a driver, or sometimes may ibang families na kasama nila yung in-laws nila na nakatira sa house, ganyan, so Dr. Jill wasn’t given that, the same way na hindi rin binigyan si Dr. Ji (The World of the Married) and si Dr. Gemma (Doctor Foster) ng mga helplines na yun. So parang from start to finish, ginawa niya everything on her own na wala talaga siyang katulong,” she said.
(In Filipino culture, we’re used to having a nanny, a driver, or some families live with their in-laws. Dr. Jill wasn’t given that, the same way that Dr. Ji and Dr. Gemma weren’t given those helplines. So from start to finish, she did everything on her own, with no help.)
“Kailangan talaga empowered yung character na parang kahit ito yung ginawa niyo sa akin, wait lang, may gagawin ako. It will not end this way,” she added.
(The character really needs to be empowered, that even if this is what you did to me, wait, I’m going to do something too.)
Jodi recalled how her manager told her she was being offered the role, calling her over the phone after she came home from out of town. At the time, she hadn’t seen Doctor Foster yet, but had seen a bit of The World of the Married when she did a character study for a previous show.
After landing the role, she then watched Doctor Foster, “not to copy what the actor did, but to see how I can put another flavor or bring about another layer to the character and make it more Filipino.”
As expected, it was a big challenge for Jodi to take on the role, knowing that the story has already been adapted a number of times all over the world. She shared that she worked intensively with the show’s directors Connie Macatuno and Andoy Ranay to craft a backstory for Jill and make her different from previous versions od the character.
“Talagang ginawan namin ng backbone or ng background yung character, saan siya nanggagaling, papaano naging justifiable yung actions na ginawa niya. I think that is something na hindi din pa nakikita in previous adaptations,” Jodi said.
(We really made a backbone or background for the character, where she came from, how her actions are justifiable, I think that is something that we haven’t seen in previous adaptations.)
She added that while her character is the protagonist, she isn’t perfect – “she is so flawed” – and this is something she made sure to portray.
If the trailer of the show is anything to go by, Jodi’s character is driven not by sadness but by rage, and many of her scenes show her seething and consumed by anger. Bringing all of that to life for Jodi involved learning new acting techniques, even doing sessions with her acting coach, award-winning actress Angeli Bayani.
Some scenes, Jodi admits, are difficult to break away from.
“There are times na it’s more difficult na bumitaw sa isang eksena (to let go of a scene) but there are times naman na parang mabilis ka naman nakakaalis (that you can easily get out of it), when you just have to remind yourself na this is not real, though the emotions that you felt were so real, but that’s not your reality,” Jodi shared.
When it comes to decompressing after particularly intense scenes, Jodi doesn’t do anything fancy: “I just breathe.”
“Breathe, and just be conscious and be aware, na once na narinig mo na yung ‘cut’ kailangan ko na bumitaw (that once you hear ‘cut’ you need to let go),” she said.
Doing highly emotional scenes was one thing, but shooting a thousand sequences over a period of almost two months while locked in on set in Baguio was yet another challenge.
Early call times meant she had to wake up at 6 in the morning, so she could have a little “me” time before getting her hair and make-up done. After 12 hours straight of working, she’d return to the hotel where they stay, study the script, and sleep for another round of the same busy routine.
On their days off, Jodi would hold “community service” – as an acupuncture detoxification specialist, she would offer to do sessions with whoever wanted to.
They completed taping on December 23, and she was able to return home to Manila right in time for Christmas Eve.
She shared that she was stunned after hearing “cut” when they shot their final scene.
“We were just so amazed, so happy that it’s finally over,” she shared, adding that there was also a bit of “sepanx” at having to suddenly say goodbye to everyone she had been with daily for the last 45 days.
As the show nears its premiere on January 24, Jodi is looking forward to what audiences will take away from the well-loved show’s Filipino adaptation.
“What I’m just excited for the Filipino audience is how they would react to this Filipino adaptation na ating-atin (that’s really ours),” she said.
The Broken Marriage Vow is airing at 8 pm on the Kapamilya Channel, Kapamilya Online Live, Jeepney TV, A2Z Channel 11, TV5, and TFC. Those who want to watch the premiere 48 hours ahead of the premiere can also subscribe to iWantTFC for early access. – Rappler.com
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