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How Ron Howard portrayed authentic Thai culture with ‘Thirteen Lives’

With the release date inching closer, Prime Video’s upcoming offering ‘Thirteen Lives’ is making the right noise. It is based on the events of the 2018 Tham Luang cave rescue mission. The film follows the journey of 12 young football players and their coach who suffered for 18 days in the caves before being rescued safely. Director Ron Howard recently spilled the beans about shooting in drastic conditions, the challenges he faced and how he ensured Thai culture inclusion in the film.

Revealing how he brought a real feel to it Ron said, “There was not much rehearsal done. Those are all sets and not real caves, but even I was surprised looking at the tank. I’ve directed a lot of underwater projects so it is natural to make it look a little more dangerous and fanatic, but they’re super-safe and controlled.”

“Well, this was controlled, but it was tight. The actors developed the competency to be able to do it and do it safely, all the actors did their own diving. We never rehearse, we just start shooting. So when they were navigating their way through a tight space it was very likely that they give viewers the feeling of having to find your way through to try to save these kids,” he added.

While the film is based on the incredible resume mission of the Thai football team, director Ron Howard left no stones unturned to give a glimpse of authentic Thai culture. “That means a lot to me and I also thought that it was one of the more dramatic and kind of freshest and coolest elements of all this that we could bring to the screen. But I knew I couldn’t do it on my own, I’m not Thai and I don’t speak that language. But, I have worked in situations where I’ve learned to trust collaborators and in this case, I knew I was going to have a great cast of actors, but I also knew I needed to go further, and I was able to have a couple of guys join the producing team, one of them is Raymond,” he expressed.

Raymond Phathanavirangoon, a co-producer, who helped Ron get the Thai culture right for Thirteen Lives praised the director’s sheer dedication and clarity. He said, “One of the first things that Ron was really particular about was that he wanted to make a film so authentic that it becomes difficult to differentiate if it was made by a Thai person or a foreigner, He wanted me to be really honest about all the different elements and emotions that were portrayed, accuracy was important for him.”

“I was in Thailand when this unfortunate event took place, but even I wasn’t aware of the little details that he brought to the screen. I think what makes the story special is not just about the divers and rescue mission, but there are so many other elements of people coming in through the sheer spirit of volunteerism and really trying to make something like this miraculous happen,” Raymond continued.

With the screenplay written by William Nicholson, the film features an ensemble cast of Viggo Mortensen, Colin Farrell, Joel Edgerton, Tom Bateman, Sukollawat Kanarot, Thiraphat Sajakul, Sahajak Boonthanakit, Vithaya Pansringarm, Nophand Boonyai, Paul Gleeson, Lewis Fitz-Gerald, U Gambira, and Teeradon Supapunpinyo. Recount the mysteries of this 2018 unfortunate Thailand event on Prime Video from 5th August.


Harnaaz Kaur Sandhu

Nikki Tamboli

Avika Gor

Kiara Advani

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