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Xian’s creativity pushed by the pandemic
XIAN Lim is better known as an actor, but he has also directed a film, “Tabon”, for Cinemalaya, and a series, “Pasabuy,” for WeTV. He now gets the chance to write and direct his first comedy-drama for Vivamax, “Hello, Universe”, which is about regrets in life and having second chances. What inspired him to write the movie?
“The story came to me habang nasa pandemic tayo,” he says. “Di ba ang lungkot ng panahon with the lockdown and all that, so I want to come up with an uplifting story. Also, ‘Hello, Universe’ is about the frustrations of a former basketball player. I play basketball myself and dream ko before to be a professional player but it didnt happen, so gusto ko lang maikuwento ‘yung experience ko about that.”
In “Hello, Universe”, Janno Gibbs plays Ariel, a man full of regrets and having a midlife crisis. He feels that life has passed him him by and it would have been better if only he succeeded as a basketball player in high school. He is now married to Maui Taylor as Jennifer, his wife, and with Madelaine Red as their daughter Faith, with Anjo Yllana as Rocky, his very supportive best friend.
By stroke of luck, he meets Benjie Paras as Jessie a mysterious driver who gives him the chance to be transported to an alternate universe. There, he has another wife, Sunshine Guimary as Lauren, with Majo Lingat as their daughter Maila. And he is very successful, but only as the mastermind of a nefarious activity. Will he be happy in his new world?
Also in the supporting cast are Gene Padilla as Janno’s rival and arch nemesis in basketball who he envies so much, MJ Cayabyab as the leader in a game-fixing scheme, Joe Vargas as a star basketball player and Lola Ube as Janno’s mother.
“I’m very excited with the cast because you can see their passion and enthusiasm to give their all for the project,” says Xian. “It’s an honor to be working with Janno Gibbs and Anjo Yllana, kasi bata pa lang ako iniidolo ko na sila, so it’ll great as they will be bringing their years of experience into the project. Nakaka-inspire to be around these people.”
Is there somehow any pressure working with these veteran comedians? “Yes, I feel pressure. but I’m just thankful they said yes to the project. First comedy ko ito and I’m open to collaborate with them. I will ask them to tell me what they think kasi with their wealth of experience in comedy, I’m sure they can be a lot of help. I watched clips of their old films and I can say haligi na sila ng comedy sa industriya and us younger generation, we look up to them kasi icons na sila. It really excites me to work with them. So I’ll tell them to let’s just enjoy the shoot and make it as much as fun as possible.”
And what can Janno say about his new director? “I consider him a good friend and I believe in his talent. Very artistic talaga siya. Artista na, director pa at writer, he plays the piano, he sings, he paints, really very talented. We’re excited to work with him. He’s very open minded in asking us for our suggestions.”
How about Anjo Yllana? “First time ko to work with Direk Xian and, sa script reading pa lang, I personally felt comfortable with him agad. Hands on siya and I think he’s a very talented writer and director. Very excited ako to work with him. I can see he loves his work and I saw his comic side.”
How about Sunshine Guimary? “Naku, ang director namin napakaguwapo, napakabagets. He’s my 4th director and he’s not strict. He just wants us to enjoy our work on the set so we’re all lucky to have him.”