MANILA -- Anne Curtis is probably not the first actress that comes to mind to play a hardened cop tasked to arrest a drug lord hidden away in a slum area in Manila.
Yet according to director Erik Matti, they might have not finished shooting "BuyBust" if they did not cast Curtis, who has never done an action flick in her 21 years in showbiz, in the lead.
The role demanded stamina, Matti pointed out, and Curtis, who is known as one of the fittest local celebrities and has ran marathons abroad, proved to be a casting masterstroke.
But by Curtis's own admission, in spite of her daily exercise routine and months of martial arts lessons, nothing prepared her for the full-on physicality of filming her newest movie.
Speaking at a media conference on Tuesday before she and the cast head to New York for their world premiere, she said this is undoubtedly the "most difficult" project she had ever done in her career.
She described the process of working on "BuyBust" as "physically, mentally, and emotionally" grueling, such that one time she threw up due to exhaustion while on set.
She recalled that they were trying to do an ambitious one-take scene that involved her repeatedly climbing and jumping off roofs. The first time they tried it, Curtis vomited afterwards.
It took them a total of 57 takes, shot in a span of three days, to get right, she added.
In another scene, she said she was accidentally punched in the face by one of the actors playing the bad guys. That was the first time she had ever felt what it was like to get one's teeth almost knocked loose.
She also had stories about the numerous bruises and cuts she received, some of which had to be covered up when she married her long-time partner, Erwan Heussaff back in November.
Asked about the reason she took on such a demanding role, she said she wanted to prove that a woman can topbill an action film here in the Philippines, inspired by Hollywood stars such as Jennifer Lawrence and Angelina Jolie.
"Kaya din naman naming mga babae na gumawa ng aksyon na pelikula," she said. "So sana this opens doors for a lot of actresses out there."
"BuyBust" will make its world premiere at the New York Asian Film Festival on July 15, as the festival's closer. It will then be shown at Fantasia International Film Festival in Canada on July 18, and in South Korea's Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival.
It will premiere in the Philippines on August 1.