Thai actors join Aragorn and Colin Farrell to film Hollywood’s cave rescue movie

Photo: MGM
Photo: MGM

A crop of Thai actors will “go inter” in Hollywood’s retelling of the mission-impossible cave rescue that stopped the world in 2018.

Dubbed Thirteen Lives and directed by Ron Howard, the biographical survival drama announced today will chronicle the rescue of 12 young footballers and their coach from the Tham Luang cave, where they spent 18 days trapped by flooding.

Howard’s films have ranged from Oscar-winners such as A Beautiful Mind and Apollo 13 to popcorn pleasers such as The Da Vinci Code and Cinderella Man.

Of course, having blockbuster ambitions means lining up megawatt stars.

Looming large in the film will be Aragorn, the hero from 2012’s Total Recall remake, and that weird blue guy in Will Smith’s alien cop buddy film. 

Also known as Viggo Mortensen, Colin Farrell and Joel Edgerton, the cast will be rounded out with some actual Thai performers rather than Mickey Rooney in thick glasses. 

Soap opera heartthrob Sukollawat “Weir” Kanarot will play late navy SEAL hero Saman Kunan, Sahajak Boonthanakit (Only God Forgives) will play Chiang Rai Gov. Narongsak Osatanakorn, Vithaya Pansringarm (The Last Executioner) will play army Gen. Anuphond and Nophand Boonyai will play as Thanet Natisri, a groundwater expert.

Observant readers will note all are real people except for “Anuphond,” which could be a fictional reference to two-time coupmaker Anupong Paochinda, who is minister of the interior.

Best known for his highly praised acting in exam-cheating thriller Bad Genius, Teeradon “James” Supapunpinyo will play football coach Ekkaphon Chanthawong.

Earlier this month, James teased his big role on Instagram with a photo at Suvarnabhumi Airport hinting his journey ahead. “The longest period of time abroad is happening … I never thought today would come. I’m happy, excited, nervous and afraid – a mix of feelings,” James wrote. “I don’t know if I will do well, but I will definitely do my best.”

Audiences will have to wait awhile to find out what that means, as the film is still in pre-production. Shooting is expected to start in Australia this month followed by location shots in Thailand. 

It’s unclear what level of cooperation from the authorities was granted – the government took tight control of the story and the right to tell it

The first cinematic telling of the events, Irish-Thai director Tom Waller’s 2019 film The Cave, added extra production days after it managed to gain limited access to the actual cave system. There’s been no word about a Netflix series by Bad Genius director Nattawut Poonpiriya since it was announced in April 2019.

Thirteen Lives will be released theatrically in the United States via MGM studio United Artists Releasing, and in other countries through Universal Pictures International.


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