Meet the 'Darna' actress that almost was

Posted at 03/24/14 8:25 PM

Angel Locsin in a promotional image for GMA-7's 'Darna' / Iza Calzado in a promotional image for Star Cinema's 'Starting Over Again'

MANILA - GMA-7's adaptation of Mars Ravelo's "Darna" in 2005 launched Angel Locsin to superstardom, but did you know that a then-fellow Kapuso actress was originally tapped to portray the iconic heroine?

In an interview on "The Bottomline with Boy Abunda" aired last Saturday, Iza Calzado revealed that she was originally set to play the title role in the first "Darna" TV series in almost 30 years. (Lorna Tolentino played Darna in a 1977 TV series.)

Calzado, who has been open about her struggles with obesity as a teen, was asked whether she ever considered undergoing an operation that would "improve" her physique.

"That came a little later -- like my second year in the industry," 31-year-old actress answered. "Tinap po ako para sabi nila gumanap sa isang malaking role na kinakailangang mag-two-piece."

Asked by host Boy Abunda whether the role was Darna, Calzado nodded and said, "Yes."

"They sat me down. So minadali. And I went through operations because I'd lose skin. 'Di naman nabago no'n 'yung ibang imperfections na meron ako. And to be perfectly honest with you, it caused even more imperfections, 'di ba?"

"It's not a solution," she added.

At the time, Calzado was one of the rising stars of GMA-7, having been given her first lead role in a primetime series in 2004.

Despite not clinching the role of Darna, Calzado went on to star in the fantasy series "Encantandia," which at the time was one of the network's highest-rating programs.

Referring to Locsin ultimately donning Darna's two-piece battle gear, Calzado said, "It fits her! To be perfectly honest with you, dapat from day one, siya na lang 'yung inupo!"

Former GMA-7 stars Angel Locsin and Iza Calzado co-host a segment in ABS-CBN's Christmas special held last December. ABS-CBN

Since her 1947 comicbook debut, Darna has been played by over 15 different actresses on TV and in films, with the most recent being Marian Rivera's 2009 portrayal in another GMA-7 series.

In October last year, Star Cinema managing director Malou Santos said Locsin is set to portray the heroine anew in an upcoming movie produced by the ABS-CBN film outfit, five months after the network earned the rights to Darna and 12 other Ravelo characters.

No further details regarding the upcoming film adaptation of "Darna" have been announced since.

'First heartbreak'

While losing the role of Darna was a admittedly a challenging chapter in Calzado's career, she said her aborted starring role in a 2004 movie was her "first heartbreak" as an actress.

"Ang dami kong gano'n," she said. "Meron pa ako 'yung 'Santa Santita.' That was my first heartbreak, 'yung career heartbreak, ha. Because they cast me, Aga Muhlach was supposed to be the partner. Basta it was a big thing!"

Calzado was referring to the acclaimed film by Laurice Guillen, which eventually starred Angelica Panganiban and Jericho Rosales in the lead roles.

"Suddenly, one lunch, she (Guillen) told me that 'I cannot push through with this na ikaw 'yung lead.' It was really such a heartbreak. First time, and then it was another, dahil na naman sa katawan ko," Calzado recalled.

"Hindi pa rin enough. It was so painful," she added.

The "Starting Over Again" actress, who signed an exclusive contract with ABS-CBN in January 2012, now hosts a primetime reality show she has referred to as "very close to my heart."

Aside from the ongoing "The Biggest Loser Pinoy Edition: Doubles," Calzado will be paired with Piolo Pascual in her second primetime series in a lead role, "Hawak Kamay."