Filipino superstar Anne Curtis is on a mission to break down the misogyny around married actresses — one provocative film at a time. “Why should an actress be reduced to playing ‘subdued’ roles?” asked a defiant Curtis when she visited the Gulf News headquarters on September 7.
In her new film ‘Just A Stranger’, out in the UAE now, this award-winning actress rattled her fans when she took on a role of an adulteress who falls in love with a much-younger man, played by Marco Gumabao.
The movie’s poster — a steamy shot of Curtis with her shirtless hero — released last month and triggered a massive outrage that propelled her celebrity chef husband Erwan Heussaff to jump to his wife’s defence claiming he has the utmost admiration for her as an actress and that he didn’t feel uncomfortable watching his wife play a role.
He’s her biggest cheerleader who has admired her work from day one, revealed Curtis.
“I am happy that I have a supportive husband like Erwaan... It’s about time that people accept that women as actresses can portray any role that they want to and not be subdued to just playing a character that’s a married woman or a mom,” said Curtis in an exclusive interview with Gulf News tabloid!.
Curtis, 34, took the example of Hollywood, which was seemingly more progressive on that front, and implored everyone not to judge her film by just its promo material.
She remembers asking her doting husband before signing on this project, directed by Jason Paul Laxamana.
“It was the first time that I ever had him read any of my scripts... It was a daring kind of film and I wanted to know what he thinks about it. He loved my part and the fil ... And that is why he is so passionate about answering all those who were questioning us... He was so empowered to answer them, because he was part of the process. He wasn’t offended by it [promo material] and so why should anybody else be offended?” said Curtis.
The actress, whose credits include blockbusters such as ‘Secret Affair’ (2012), ‘No Other Woman’ (2011) and ‘Baler’ (2008), describes her new film as a heartbreakingly beautiful love story.
“It’s not a racy film... The moment many saw the movie, they changed their initial opinion. They understood that you cannot judge a movie by its promo material... It was worth all that risk,” said Curtis, who cut a picture of happiness and grace during her recent newsroom visit.
Dressed in a top with exaggerated, structured shoulders — inspired by her native dress Filipiniana — and black bell-bottoms, Curtis gave a big shout out to all those who supported her journey.
“In the Middle East, my fans have been very supportive, especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. I am so grateful to all those Filipinos,” said Curtis.
But don’t take life lessons from her new film, joked Curtis. It’s a cautionary tale.
“Don’t give into temptation... Don’t hang out with younger men,” said Curtis with a laugh.
The self-confessed aspiring singer, who doesn’t let the critics diminish her enthusiasm for music, even regaled us with a song snippet.
“I love singing and I am not the best singer in the world. But the best thing about Filipinos is that they have accepted me the way they are. Hopefully I will have a concert here in Dubai soon,” said Curtis.
Until her music gig materialises, here’s a relationship quiz that we played with this actress. This well-rounded individual, who won hardened journalists over with her wit and charm, came out with flying colours... Excerpts from our quiz with Curtis ...
What’s your idea of an ideal date night?
Watching a series on Netflix and chilling. I have such a hectic schedule on most days. So I love the luxury of staying in and just enjoying a quiet time. That’s an ideal date night for me.
What are you bingeing on?
‘Money Heist’, it’s an amazing Spanish series and has subtitles.
If you were not married, would you ever date a fan?
Yes, I feel like it would be a very ‘Notting Hill’ moment in my life. I would definitely go for it if it’s a person that I could fall in love with.
What’s the cheesiest pick up line used on you?
Honestly, I don’t remember since I have been with my husband for so long.
What is the biggest deal breaker for you in a relationship: infidelity, lies about financial and money matters or a gaslighting or patronising spouse?
Cheating. The lesson that you learn from my film ‘Just A Stranger’ is that when you do something like this, you will have to pay a price for it. There’s no happy ending.
What’s your biggest pet peeve in a relationship?
A nagger who constantly wants to know where you are, who you are with, what you are wearing. I simply can’t do that.
How did you get over your first heartbreak?
I just cried it out. I cried, cried and cried till I got over it. I allowed myself to feel sad and I hung out with my friends a lot. I didn’t rush the process of moving on and just got through it on a daily basis.
What’s the best and worst part of being in a relationship?
The best part is knowing that you have a friend for life and the worst part, there’s no worst part.
So you are still in your honeymooning phase …
Yes, I still am in that phase. [Laughs.]
Are you more tolerant towards partners who cheat after acting in ‘Just A Stranger’?
No. But after acting in this film, I realised after this film that if you are unhappy in a relationship, you will be tempted to cheat. The only advise I would give is that end any such relationship before you end up hurting other people.
Who has been your celebrity crush?
Zac Effron and Korean star Park Bo-Gum.
How do you know if a someone is into you?
You just know.
How did you know that your husband was into you?
The way he was looking at me …
What are the sure shot signs that you are in love?
When I have a high-pitched laugh around that person and then you know I am in love.
Do you believe in soul mate?
I would like to believe in the idea of soul mates and I want to believe that there’s that special someone. But it doesn’t have to be the person that you choose to fall in love with. It could be your best friend, your mom, your dad or your sister. I want to believe in soul mates.
What do you cook for your celebrity chef husband?
Instant noodles and fried egg.
What’s the biggest turn on and turn off in a man?
My biggest turn on is when you can have a decent conversation with a person and when there are no awkward silences. My biggest turn-off is bad breath.
What are your top romantic songs on your playlist right now?
‘Do you realise’ by The Flaming Lips and ‘Just Like Heaven’ by The Cure.
Are looks important in a relationship?
They are not important.
“I get into the zone before any film. As soon as I get a script, I mull over my character and wonder about who she is and how she would react to certain situations, I wonder what was her background, what was her reasoning behind doing what she was going to do etc. I build a character in my own mind and I even sing the songs that she would listen to,” said Anne Curtis on her method behind cracking roles.