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Ellen Adarna admits past drug use helped her portray lead role in ‘Ang Tag-Araw ni Twinkle’

Ellen Adarna stars as a recovering drug addict in 'Ang Tag-araw ni Twinkle'.

Right after the press preview of her launching film “Ang Tag-Araw ni Twinkle” last Thursday, Ellen Adarna was asked about the preparations she made in portraying the title role of a recovering drug addict.

“Wala. Experience,” was her very candid answer.

Admitting that there was a time when she did experiment with drugs, the 25-year-old actress – who had a reputation as a wild child and party girl in Cebu before she joined showbiz — was quick to clarify that she never became an addict.

“I’ll be lying if I’ll say that I didn’t experiment, but that’s about it. I was never addicted to drugs. Hindi ako na-rehab, wala akong withdrawal symptoms. I never reached that point,” she elaborated.

But drugs are not the only thing she has in common with her character, Twinkle.

“Rebelde din ako kagaya niya. Pasaway na anak. I ran away from home when I was 13. I stayed at my best friend’s house for three days then ran away again for three months. All in all, I ran away from home a total of three times,” she admitted.

In this coming-of-age film, Twinkle is an 18-year-old daughter of a retired Army general (Cris Villanueva) who became rebellious and got hooked on drugs, specifically cocaine. Just when her parents (Rina Reyes plays her mom) decide to get her rehabilitated, her biological father — a former NPA rebel now dying of cancer — shows up.

In this scene from 'Ang Tag-araw ni Twinkle', Ellen Adarna wins a cocaine-snorting contest with Annicka Dolonius as Dominic Roco (bottom right) captures the moment in his camcorder.

How Twinkle is able to bond with her real father while repairing her relationship with her adoptive parents is what “Ang Tag-Araw ni Twinkle” is all about.

“Ellen is Twinkle!” exclaimed director Gil Portes who was more than happy to have Ellen back on board for the project after briefly considering another Kapuso star, Kris Bernal, for the title role.

“Ellen was really my first choice after I first worked with her in ‘Bayang Magiliw,’ which was also shown this year,” Direk Gil recalled. “But then GMA wanted me to use their stars so they can later acquire the TV rights. Kris Bernal expressed interest in the role as she wanted to broaden her horizons as an actress and was tired of doing the pa-sweet roles that we see her do on TV.”

Kris actually impressed both Portes and screenwriter Enrique Ramos but just when everything was all set, Kris withdrew shortly before shooting began.

Apparently, she was also all set to do the teleserye “Prinsesa Ng Masa”, which was also co-produced by cosmetics giant, Avon Philippines. Since Avon was not comfortable with Kris playing a less-than-wholesome character and a cocaine addict at that, she regrettably had to beg off from doing the indie production.

That’s when Direk Gil though of giving the role back to his first choice all along. When asked how she felt when another actress was considered for the character of Twinkle, Ellen said she just “moved on” and focused on her career prospects. Still, she was very happy to work again with Direk Gil even after the former once yelled at her during the shoot of “Bayang Magiliw”.

“Ganyan lang naman si Direk sa trabaho. After nasabi na niya yung gusto niyang sabihin, okay na siya ulit with his actors. I enjoyed working with him on this project,” she conceded.

The personal turmoil that Ellen herself was going through during filming also added depth to her portrayal of Twinkle. During the press conference that followed the screening, she revealed that she had just broken up with non-showbiz boyfriend Filo Cucueco who was her partner in “Survivor Philippines Celebrity Doubles Showdown” two years ago.

“We lived together for three years. Then three weeks ago, he broke up with me over the phone and told me, ‘I spoke to your friend, I’m sending your stuff back together’,” she revealed.

Ellen said she was not at all surprised by how their relationship ended as she said it was more of a formality given that they were hardly speaking to each other in the last few weeks that they were still together.

“He’s really a nice guy. He did not have a problem with my sexy image. But I guess we just drifted apart. Maybe there was lack of communication, maybe it was our distance but there was no third party involved. I knew the breakup was coming. It did not come as a shock when he finally called me about it.”

After seeing “Ang Tag-Araw ni Twinkle” for the first time at the media screening, Ellen hopes the film will be a big boost to her career. Despite being a staple in the top 10 of FHM Philippines’ 100 Sexiest Women for the last three years, Ellen still feels that there is more to her than several endorsement deals and her regular mainstay gig at “Bubble Gang”.

“Right now, it’s mostly endorsements. I don’t have a new teleserye yet and no upcoming movie after this. So I do hope people will notice me some more,” she concluded.

“Ang Tag-Araw ni Twinkle” will have a premiere night on September 6 at SM Megamall. It will be screened in SM Cinemas nationwide during the film festival’s entire duration from September 11 to 17.