Arts & Leisure

Cherie Gil: ‘Copycat’ line ‘ain’t worth battling anybody’

Posted on August 01, 2015

“IT AIN’T worth battling anybody. Besides, tapos na ’yun (it’s over),” screen-stage actress and singer Cherie Gil said, when sought for comment about a recent controversy over the authorship of a famous line in the 1985 movie Bituing Walang Ningning (Star without Sparkle).

That film, directed by Emmanuel H. Borlaza, has since become a widely admired feature in Philippine cinema and was adapted for television in 2006 and for the stage this year.

Hailed, among other things, for its crisp dialogue and for the performance of its cast -- led by Sharon Cuneta, Christopher de Leon, and Cherie Gil -- Bituing Walang Ningning has since become widely referenced among fans of Filipino movies, particularly for its now-iconic line, as uttered by Ms. Gil, “You’re nothing but a second-rate, trying hard copycat!” Ms. Gil’s character, the villainous star singer Lavinia Arguelles, has also become a memorable role in contemporary pop culture.

A musical adaptation of Bituin last June prompted a letter to Resorts World Manila and Viva Films, the producer of the 1985 film, by Ms. Gil’s lawyer, Lorna P. Kapunan, asserting the actress-singer’s ownership of that famous line.

In an interview with BusinessWorld’s Weekender magazine in February, Ms. Gil said the “copycat” line “wasn’t even in the script.”

She said that scene in which she threw wine at the face of Sharon Cuneta, who played Bituin’s heroine, wasn’t even rehearsed. “I had to do it right the first time because I had to throw wine [at] Sharon Cuneta’s face. We didn’t want to do it again and again.”

But Viva and even Mr. Borlaza asserted otherwise. In an interview with news website Interaksyon and other media last June, Viva’s lawyer, Heather Annang, said Viva “owns the rights to the film and the story written by Nerissa Cabral. The company hired screenwriter Orlando Nadres to write the script, director Emmanuel Borlaza to direct the film and Sharon Cuneta, Cherie Gil and other actors and actresses to perform in the film. All the work done by these people in the film belongs to Viva including that line of Cherie.”

BusinessWorld interviewed Ms. Gil during a photo shoot for the newspaper’s High Life magazine last Wednesday. The award-winning actress arrived in Manila four days ago from the United States and Spain, where she collected her latest trophy at the Madrid International Film Festival as Best Actress for her role in Gabriel Fernandez’s Mana, which also won Best Film in Madrid.

Ms. Gil said she had “never given any statement with regards to that, because I decided I wasn’t going to get involved. I decided to be mum about it.”

“All I can say is I never authorized it. That’s okay. I’m an actor and I’ve always said [that] without that line, I would not probably as well have remained relevant. And if I have to see anyone utter that line on and off the stage or the screen, it’s a feather on my cap. It’s like giving tribute to the Lavinia Arguelles that we all loved, including myself. I’m a fan of Lavinia! So it could not have come from me. I just didn’t want to put anyone in any kind of situation [that was] negative, no parties, so I just decided to keep mum about it. That’s it.”

This reporter cited to the actress some classic lines that are associated with their actors, like Marlon Brando’s “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse,” in The Godfather.

“That’s my point. at the end of the day, there are iconic lines in Hollywood that you don’t even remember who wrote it,” Ms. Gil said. “The authorship is quite irrelevant. And as far as that’s concerned, I know my truth, I’ll take that with me to my grave. There are three sides to the story: your side, my side, and the truth. But it ain’t worth battling anybody. Besides tapos na ’yun.” -- Ricky S. Torre