It goes without saying that Donny Pangilinan and Belle Mariano are typically lauded for their natural chemistry both on-screen and IRL. Only hardcore DonBelle fans would know, however, that the tandem didn’t actually feel *that* natural at first. Even the two Gen Z stars themselves openly acknowledge that they initially found their pairing a bit awkward.
“Huwag na natin balikan ‘yung James & Pat & Dave, sobrang awkward natin noon, diba?” Donny recounted in ABS-CBN Star Cinema’s Donny and Belle: Their Moment documentary on YouTube. In case you need a quick refresher, James & Pat & Dave was the first-ever movie that Donny and Belle worked on together!
“When Belle arrived, I remember nandoon kami sa Zambales. Biglaan nalang pumasok [si Belle] tapos ‘yun ‘yung first eksena natin na medyo awkward,” he admitted with a chuckle. “Ganoon talaga I think ‘pag first time na magka-work.”
“Kasi noong nag screen test or audition [kami], wala naman kaming alam din sa style ng isa. Ako, medyo closed doors pa ako eh as an actor, parang ayoko munang buksan ‘yung mga ‘di kailangan buksan,” he explained, referring to the time he had to audition for He’s Into Her with Belle as his scene partner.
“I was scared, not really vulnerable with [Belle or] Direk yet. If you can see our body language, [it] was very awkward,” he confessed. Belle also shared similar thoughts: “I remember when we did our auditions, kailangan ko siyang kuwelyuhan, tapos hindi ko magawa kasi nga awkward pa.”
Despite their uneasy start, Donny and Belle inevitably grew closer to each other as time went by. In fact, they’ve already gone through so much together that they can now trust each other wholeheartedly even when experimenting with unfamiliar things.
“I think the main thing is that we’re just here to support each other, really at the end of the day. We want to push each other to his or her limits, and to even step outside that comfort zone,” Donny shared. “I think a big factor as well is trust. You trust your partner,” Belle agreed.
“So when you trust each other and the support is there, I think that’s where the chemistry grows,” Donny added. “Just the fact that we still chose to just focus on the show, doing our best, the evolving comes with [experiences]. That evolvement and the maturity came with all those problems and experiences we faced.”
Belle then concluded, “I think it’s a big factor that you go through stuff in order for you to grow. You have to fall para makatayo ka.” Awww, we’re so proud of how far you’ve come, DonBelle!
You can watch their full documentary here: