CEBUANO pride makes its way into the first Ireland-Philippines co-production as actress-musician Chai Fonacier takes on a lead role in Lorcan Finnegan’s upcoming film “Nocebo,” alongside Hollywood actors Eva Green and Mark Strong.
The film follows Green as a fashion designer suffering from a mysterious illness, one that her husband (Strong) and even doctors can’t seem to determine. That is until help comes in the form of a Filipina carer (Fonacier), who uses occult methods to unveil a dark and horrifying truth.
The psychological thriller, which is set between Manila and Ireland, will explore consumerism, human exploitation, and the often controversial industry of fast fashion. “Nocebo”—which means “to harm” in Latin—means negative thinking yields negative effects, the opposite of the placebo effect.
“I like how Lorcan is clear with his vision and in driving this ship we’re in, so it makes it easier for me to do my part of the whole project,” says Chai of Finnegan, the Irish director of the 2019 sci-fi horror flick “Vivarium.”
“Nocebo” is currently in production in Ireland, Fonacier having flown out just last month to begin filming.
The young actress is most known for comedic roles, but for “Nocebo,” she dips her toes into uncharted territory for what she considers “the darkest character I’ve ever done by far.”
On her preparations for the role: “This film involves local occult culture, so part of the preparation involved consultations with someone who is an expert on these things. There was quite a significant amount of discussion regarding the story and my character between Finnegan, writer Garret Shanley and myself some weeks before I flew out to Ireland,” she shared.
When asked about what she would want to do next after “Nocebo,” she said: “I haven’t really thought about that. I always take it one project at a time. But if anything, I would like to tackle stories that show a great deal of respect for the culture that I come from, or roles that will require a lot from me as an actor, regardless if it’s just one scene in a film or if I’m in it most of the time.”
Chai Fonacier is most known for her role in the critically acclaimed and award-winning Cebuano indie comedy “Patay na si Hesus,” which was an entry to the 2017 Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino, and earned her a Luna Award for Best Supporting Actress; as well as the “Born Beautiful” film and mini-series, and the film “Miss Bulalacao.”