Although his comfort zone is drama, Ken Chan has also shown his knack for acting in a romantic-comedy. His portrayals of the shy-around-girls-bad boy Yuan and hopeless romantic-environmental vlogger Grant in Meant to Be and One of the Baes, respectively, speak for it.

In case you’re out of the loop, Ken has ventured out again in this feel-good genre as the geeky boss Richard, yes, to Bianca Umali’s bubbly assistant Irene, on GMA Telebabad’s Mano Po Legacy: Her Big Boss. Ken is pulling out all the stops to make this new character relatable, charming and swoon-worthy.

“First and foremost, I really like romantic-comedy movies,” said Ken in a recent virtual press conference, “Parehas kami ni direk Easy, yun ang napag-kukwentuhan namin, yung mga favorite rom-coms namin like Serendipity, Pretty Woman.” His conversations with the series director Easy Ferrer, who was also the unit one director of Mano Po Legacy: The Family Fortune, did help Ken to be in the right mindset, especially his last assignment was the heavy drama, Ang Dalawang Ikaw, and saw him portraying a character with Dissociative Identity Disorder or multiple personality disorder.

“I watched again rom-com movies and series,” shared he of creating Richard. “With my role, I also watched specific series, for example (Korea’s What’s Wrong with) Secretary Kim, The Big Bang Theory because my role ay may pagkakahawig kay Sheldon, dahil first time kong gumanap na isang tao na may OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), (na) introvert, perfectionist. So, I had to watch these kinds of series and these kinds of characters to help me shape my character.”

Those are the quirks of Ken’s Richard that might get the full attention — and eventually win the heart of Bianca’s Irene, who has a long-standing romance with Kelvin Miranda’s Nestor, dubbed as the perfect boyfriend.

Aside from the love triangle and possibly the upper-and-middle class family conflict theme that will pervade the series, Mano Po Legacy: Her Big Boss is very visual, said Ken, which can be seen from the characters’ wardrobe and styling.

“Mula sa pananamit, hanggang sa mga hitsura, hanggang sa makeup, talagang very specific ang buong production (From the fashion, to the looks, to the makeup, the production people had specific ideas and requirements in mind for each character),” shared he and added that these details will show the characters’ true self and persona.

“Yun (din) ang nakatulong sa amin para magkaroon ng mas magandang chemistry (that also helped us, actors, to establish good chemistry). Nakatulong din sa amin ang pag-bo-bonding, pagkain, kwentuhan, kantahan. So, nag-e-enjoy lang kami sa bawat company (The bonding, foodtrip, conversations, the singing helped us as well. We just enjoy each other’s company).”

The Mano Po Legacy: Her Big Boss is Ken’s first time not sharing the screen with perennial love team mate Rita Daniela.

“Nakakapanibago siya, (pero) sobrang laking tulong ni Bianca talaga sa akin at sobrang happy ako na si Bianca (ang ka-partner ko dito), after three years na nag-stay sa isang love team (It’s something new. Bianca is a big help and I’m happy that she’s my partner here),” said he.

“Bianca would give me pieces of advice because she was also in a love team before (with Miguel Tanfelix). After that, she has done different teleserye and has worked with different (onscreen) partners.”

Ken added that Bianca told him that having a new team-up is also healthier for his career. “Nakakaparehas at nakakatrabaho mo yung iba’t-ibang actress sa paligid mo. Hindi nalilimitahan yung trabaho mo, hindi nalilimitahan yung storya na binibigay sa’yo (It allows you to work with other actresses. There is no limit to your work, there is no limit to the stories given to you),” said he.

Since he has done acting in a bubble before, Ken said he has never had any adjustments for Her Big Boss.

“So, when this (project) was given to us, we already knew what to do (in this new normal way of working),” said he, “ano yung mga dapat isaalang-alang, kung ano yung mga dapat dalhin na gamit, ano yung dapat gawin para sa safety protocols (we are aware of what things to bring and the safety protocols to follow).” Ken added there was a sense of family on the set, which made their work easy and breezy.

“He would guide everyone in every scene,” said Ken of direk Easy. “For example, playing Richard, at certain points, (requires me) to show my comedy side in (the way I deliver my) lines. Mahirap talagang gumawa ng isang comedy, para sa akin, mahirap talagang mag-comedy, yung bawat hulog ng mga linya, but with the help of direk, sobrang nakukuha namin. ‘Pag sinabi niya sa amin na bawas at magdagdag ka dito, it’s such a big help on our part, especially that we came from (and are used to do a) series that’s drama and a tearjerker.”

As for direk Easy, he considers rom-com his “turf and home base,” adding that Mano Po Legacy: Her Big Boss was planned way ahead.

“Mas alam ko kung papaano siya maninipulahin at naka-work ko na lahat nung cast, so OK ako dun (I know the ins and outs of the genre and I have worked with the entire cast before),” said he. “This is my first time na mag-teleserye na ako talaga yung head, first time na ang Mano Po ay rom-com, (it is) usually a family saga, and first time na makikita sina Bianca and Ken in lighter (roles).” His excitement for taking on these firsts overshadowed any feeling of pressure to equal the success of Mano Po Legacy: The Family Fortune.

Easy shared that The Family Fortune and Her Big Boss belong to the same universe, in which characters know each other and have crossed paths in certain circumstances. “There are some characters from book one (Mano Po Legacy: The Family Fortune), who will make a cameo (in Her Big Boss). It’s the same universe and so, it’s also exciting.”

Given the TV adaptation’s unique narrative feature, Ken’s Richard will also cross over to future installments of Mano Po Legacy.

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