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Ruby Ruiz on acting with Nicole Kidman, playing crucial role in ‘Expats’

MANILA, Philippines, February 7 ------ Ruby Ruiz recalled her first reaction when she found out that she was going to work closely with the Hollywood superstar Nicole Kidman in the Prime Video series “Expats.” 


Ruby was still working on the 2021 TV5 teleserye Niña Niño when she received a call from director Lulu Wang that she bagged the role of Essie, the Filipina nanny to the family of Nicole’s character Margaret. “Which role did I get? ‘Oh the role that you auditioned for, which is Essie.’ ‘Oh Essie,’ ganun lang. (Lulu Wang) said, ‘Aren’t you excited?’ ‘Oh yes, I am,’ I said. ‘Won’t you ask who’s going to play your boss?’ Who is Margaret? Then she said it’s Nicole Kidman. Napa-ano talaga ako (gasp).” When the Filipino veteran actress and the Oscar-winning Australian actress were introduced for the first time, Ruby recalled that she couldn’t help but ask in front of Nicole, “Is this for real? Tapos sabi niya, ‘Yes! Touch me, touch me!’ Tinouch ko naman, hahaha!” 


In “Expats,” Nicole is the New York landscape architect Margaret who relocates with her three kids overseas after her husband (played by Brian Tee) lands a job in Hong Kong. Her struggle with the expat life takes a turn for the worse when their young son Gus (Connor Gillman) suddenly disappears in a crowded market while under the care of a new babysitter Mercy (Ji Young Yoo). As for Ruby’s Essie, in Episode 1, it is immediately established that she is trusted by Margaret’s family, including in-laws, and well-loved by her kids. Ruby learned about “Expats” through fellow Pinay actress Chanel Latorre, who had two callbacks but got told that they were looking for someone older. She thought of Ruby. At first, the actress wasn’t too keen to audition, explaining that “di naman ako nakukuha sa ganyan, lagi akong shortlisted.” She cited that she auditioned for the “Triangle of Sadness” role that went to Dolly De Leon. “I’m not really interested because I also had a teleserye at that time, so I couldn’t leave the country. But they were really persistent,” she said. She submitted a self-tape. The last round of auditions was done in both English and Tagalog and conducted over Zoom with the director and producers. One month later, she got the part. “It’s really a blessing that they got me for ‘Expats.’” The shoot was supposed to be three months only but lasted for 11 months, bringing her to Maldives for the quarantine, in Hong Kong for the filming and Los Angeles for the shoot continuation. 


Ruby said, “Considering the experience and the amenities that came with the package, sobrang worth it. I would never, ever experience living in, you know, a five-star serviced apartment… Everything was provided for, pati sa set, all your costumes, yung kulang nalang underwear pero kung nag-request pa ako…” “As an artist, there’s no reason for you to come to the set unprepared because there was nothing to complain about, there was no request that wasn’t given,” she said. Recalling some on-set anecdotes, especially with Nicole who also served as producer, Ruby said that the latter was “generous in so many ways” to everyone. She confirmed she received some gifts from the actress. “At ‘di tayo nagpapatalo kasi binigyan ko siya ng pandesal,” she quipped. “Because there was one scene, where the kids didn’t want the dinner buns, then (my line was), you want pandesal or something. Nicole really said, what’s pandesal, they immediately googled it. Someone said, ‘Ask Ruby.’ So, I explained that we have it in the morning for breakfast and also anytime of the day, it’s our version of the dinner bun. ‘Is it sweet?’ She kept asking questions, I felt she wanted to taste it, so we ordered the most delicious pandesal. Of course, ‘di tayo pahuhuli, when they tasted it, they really liked it.” Meanwhile, Ruby is proud to embody a character that is very crucial to the story. “Talagang kinilabutan ako, just reading the script. ‘Expats’ is about the lives of expats, three women, na meron nangyari na tragedy sa storya, which affected all of them,” Ruby said. “Now, where does the role of the Filipino nanny come in… what’s shown is that without expats, there wouldn’t be any domestic helpers. You know the privileges they enjoy, especially in Hong Kong, and just like in Manila, when you’re an expat there, you have a driver, a nanny. The presence of domestic helpers in the lives of expats is crucial. And adding to Essie’s role, her employer Margaret, whose conflict as an expat’s wife is connected to her jealousy… because usually, the children become closer to the nanny… how innate it is for a Filipina nanny or domestic helper to pour all her passion into her service, how she treats her charges as if they were her own.” 




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