Exclusive: Geisler opens up on healing, hope, and hit movie ‘Doll House’

It is challenging to create a singularly exceptional story that stands out against the shelves of Philippine cinema, especially since family-centered themes are common in Filipino movies.

However, despite utilizing a family-centered narrative, Netflix’s “Doll House” has managed to shine bright by weaving various themes that tugged on everyone’s heartstrings. It added a humane element to the realities of drug addiction without romanticizing its complex nature and emphasized the importance of second chances.

The bittersweet story follows a drug-addicted musician who returns to the town where his daughter lives to mend their relationship. He later deceives the family into hiring him as a babysitter, and when his true identity is revealed, he is left with no choice but to leave his daughter alone.

In an exclusive interview with the “SunStar Besties,” Clariza Sevilla and Jewil Tabiolo, the lead actor of “Doll House,” Baron Geisler, shared more details about his journey towards healing and recovery and how his personal journey paralleled the journey of his character, Rustin.

Here are a few highlights from the interview:

When asked what the hardest scene was for him to film, Geisler light-heartedly answered: “It was easy. I didn’t find it difficult because the story hit close to home. No acting was needed.”

Geisler also opened up about what he has been up to during his residence in Cebu: “I released a book called ‘Surrender with my Hands Wide Open.’ It’s my journey from childhood… It’s about hope, second chances just like ‘Doll House.’”

Geisler was genuine and honest in sharing stories from his past. He remained unabashed as he allowed listeners a closer look into his experience recovering from substance abuse.

Geisler enjoyed bonding with his colleagues, especially the actress who plays Yumi, Geisler’s daughter in the film. In his opinion, it was wonderful to work with someone so young and so dedicated to her performance: “Yumi—Althea Ruedas—she’s an awesome talent. For me, she’s a prodigy. Her giggles alone are very infectious. She was our ray of sunshine at Rotterdam.”

The film doesn’t limit itself through depictions of relapses and withdrawals from substances. Instead, it finds a sort of unique charm as it presents a different perspective through the eyes of a young, innocent child.

Yumi, Geisler’s daughter in the film, viewed Rustin as a person; untainted by his reputation as a recovering alcoholic. According to Geisler: “She looks at her father’s good traits, not the bad. So we should be like that.”

This jarring balance between a grown-up man’s misery and a young girl’s guilelessness makes “Doll House” a perfectly balanced movie that suits the tastes of the Filipino audience.

Geisler has a history of being typecast in villainous roles. He is known for portraying tough guys and troublemakers on television. However, his role as a soft, father figure who yearns for healing and reconnection has won the hearts of Filipino viewers in “Doll House.”

Geisler has always wanted to play a different role, and while he was watching Paolo Contis’ film on Netflix titled “A Faraway Land,” he promised his tear-stricken wife that he would be in a similar movie soon. He called Paolo Contis to compliment him about his role and shared his hopes to one day star in a film similar to Paolo’s.

“Then you know, not even two months had passed before MAVX called me—probably because I called Paolo Contis, the film’s lead actor.” After MAVX Productions called and offered him the role, he said: “This is a dream come true.”

Geisler remains grateful to everyone who helped him throughout his entire journey, especially his wife, who has been his support system since day one. He also emphasized the importance of seeking help when things get hard.

When he was asked about whether he was challenged by his role as Rustin, especially since he would have to relive his past and portray emotionally charged scenes, Geisler remained steadfast as he admitted he was also doing this for people in recovery.

“The reason why I connect with people in recovery is so that I never forget. Because the scariest thing here is when you’re on top of the world, when you think you’re okay—that’s a slippery slope that can bring you to a relapse. And it hurts so bad when you relapse because of the guilt and shame.”

“Doll House” could have been just another Monday-afternoon Filipino family drama that ends with someone getting married or having a burial, but instead it supports the idea that recovery takes time and is never a straightforward process.

The weekend after its debut, “Doll House” dominated Netflix rankings and quickly gained the top spot among the top 10 movies viewed in the country. It remains the number one movie in the Philippines as of writing.