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Paolo Contis on drama, working during the pandemic, and a promise to LJ Reyes

Paolo “The Leading Man” Contis builds on the success of the release of his film Through Night and Day in GMA’s latest offering The Promise.

Through Night and Day was at one point the most viewed movie on Netflix Philippines. Alessandra de Rossi might be the lead actress there, but one more person caught everyone’s attention: her leading man, Paolo Contis.

Yes, Paolo Contis was the leading man in a romance film. Not a rom-com but a full-blown tearjerker. And it appears GMA has taken notice as he is set to lead a stellar cast of talents in GMA’s latest offering The Promise.

“I think malaking part na successful ang Through Night and Day kaya ako nakuha sa The Promise,” says Paolo during a virtual press conference for GMA’s newest drama offering. He even quipped about being surprised when he got the script for The Promise. Akala ko noong una, mali yung script (na pinadala).”

Paolo, who is now being dubbed “The Leading Man” by showbiz reporters, downplayed the success of his flick with Alessandra and said it was all in the day’s work. “I try my best to deliver in any role I’m given, regardless of the role.”

He’s also happy that his work is getting noticed, even thanking GMA for considering him whenever they have a new show.

He may be a comedian but it takes only one thing to get a Paolo Contis onboard for a soap opera.  “Kwento ang tinitignan ko. Kwento—at bank account.” Though in all seriousness, Paolo said the story is what gets him onboard.

He’s not picky when it comes to the roles he plays. He’s confident in his craft and he knows himself quite well. “May mga role na alam kong hindi pa ako komportable.

And the story of The Promise is a good one according to Paolo, director Zig Dulay, and the rest of the cast—which includes the likes of Yasmine Kurdi, Benjamin Alves, and Andrea Torres.

“The story revolves around the love of my character for his wife (Yasmine). Makikita agad iyon sa pilot,” says Paolo. “The struggle comes when the girlfriend (Andrea) of my character’s cousin and brother figure (Ben), comes into our lives kasi sumasapi si Yasmine kay Andrea.”

He talked about how his character’s life goes downhill after the death of his wife. “Naging patapon ang buhay ko. We’re good people, but we’re willing to do bad things for the people we love.”

At its core, The Promise looks to impart a message of moving on, says Paolo. “We love most of the people that we meet throughout our lives, but it’s on us to move on kapag nawala na sila.” He adds that the decision to be good or bad will always be with us—not on the people around us.

Shoot adjustments

Paolo and the cast definitely noticed a lot of adjustments being made during the shoot. Gone were the days of the cast only receiving the script the day before the shoot, as Direk Zig made a point to have the cast read through the entire script—all five episodes—before being locked in.

Paolo also said it was one of the most professional sets he has ever been on. He described the taping as efficient, something which Direk Zig agreed to. “We made it a point to allot a day just for creating a shot list during pre-production.”

He also described the set as “happy and fun”. “Smooth ang taping. Masaya din, hindi mo mamamalayan na konti lang ang tao,” referring to the reduced number of people on the set whenever cameras started rolling.

One take-away that Paolo has which he wants the industry to embrace: online script reading. He said it allowed them to fully understand their characters before even getting to the location—so much so that scripts weren’t necessary during their 4-day shoot, which he says would have been done in 3 prior to the pandemic. 

“Pagdating ko doon, wala akong kailangang gawin (to get in character). Nahimay na yung kwento… Basta sabihin ni Direk yung eksena, alam na namin yung gagawin.”

Realizations during lockdown

Paolo had a few realizations during the 6-month lockdown, especially when GMA wasn’t calling up anyone from their TV production team for shows. “Lahat ng feeling kong kailangan natin, hindi pala. Maiiba ang priorities mo.”

He says he has learned to appreciate the simple things in life—like spending more time with LJ Moreno and kids Aki and Summer. “More than anything, it’s your family and your health. Dati, gusto ko araw-araw trabaho. Ngayon, biglang hindi na. Hindi na pala importante yung madaming pantalon.”

 He also said fellow artistas should not be worried about receiving hate from netizens—especially those who think that big-network celebrities should not get into vlogging. “When the pandemic happened, no one knew what was happening. We all went into survival mode, and vlogging was one way to make a living.”

“Yung mga natatawa, matawa kayo. Pero sa akin, kailangan at choice namin iyon. I think nasa magandang lugar naman yung gusto naming mangyari—hindi namin gustong magkasapawan.”

A promise to LJ

Many people might still be wondering how Paolo Contis and LJ Reyes managed to stay together—especially with people’s perceptions of the former. Paolo “revealed” the secret to his happy relationship with the Starstruck Avenger.

Mahirap ligawan si LJ (kasi) kalahati yata ng barkada niya naging syota ko. (But) I promised her I was going to change. I promised her na seryoso ako… and here we are five years later.”

He claims it’s still a work in progress, but “it’s easy to change if it’s for the right person.”

“Mahirap, pero ang panghahawakan mo na lang doon ay yung buhay na meron ka because of that promise. Ang tanga mo na kung ibe-break mo pa yun.” 

The Promise is a 5-episode mini soap opera that stars Paolo Contis alongside Yasmine Kurdi, Andrea Torres, and Benjamin Alves. Catch it this Monday, October 5 after Encantadia on GMA 7.

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