Controversial Cannes Film-release in city,on 18 July
' Only God Forgives’ Stars 2 Thai Artistes
VITHAYA PANSRINGARM, plays 'God' in the film
“ Bangkok will never be the same again,after this film-! "
Nicolas Refn’s second film in competition at Cannes, ‘Only God Forgives’ , which created mega waves at the Festival , is to be released in the city on 18 July .
It will be released the day before,in New York.
The New York premiere will be attended by all its main cast, including Ryan Gosling,who missed the Cannes Festival.
Also attending,will be the Thai actor,who plays the awesome 'God' in the film, Vithaya Pansringarm, and the Thai actress who plays Gosling's girl in the movie,Yaya Ying.
Consequently, both will not be here for the Bangkok-release, athough they addressed a press-conference last week,at the Siam Paragon.
Vithaya Pansringarm is not very well-known in Thai cinema, as he has hardly done any Thai movies. But he has acted in various international films that were shot in Thailand- 'Sunny and the Elephant, Largo Winch 2, Hangman 2, Trade of Innocents.'
The movie that got him noticed internationally was Mindfulness of Murder, in 2011, which went to many festivals around the world.
Infact, the director of the film, Bangkok-based Tom Waller has now cast him for his next movie ‘ The Last Executioner’ ,to be released next year, where the actor plays the role of the late Chavoret Jaruboon,Thailand's well-known last prison-executioner, who was a former rock musician.
“ Vithaya is one of those rare Thai actors who can completely inhabit a role!” exclaimed Waller,who informed that he had cast the actor in two other films that he was producing '
'Ninja 2' and 'Patong Girl.'
The modest Thai actor gave credit to Danish director Nicolas Refn, for his rivetting performance in 'Only God Forgives.'
" His intensity was so strong, that I was in a trance-like state throughout the film!” exclaimed the affable actor,who said he was looking forwd to attending the New York premiere ,as this was the city where he spent his youth in.
Vithaya did an Honours degree in Graphics Design at the New York Institute of Technology, worked with the marketing company Amway for many years , married ballet-dancer Kay , and then returned to Bangkok, where the couple started a dance- school which is now the fulcrum of their life. He’s also a martial artist who holds a fifth degree Black Belt in Japanese Kendo (fencing) ,which doubtless helped him in his awesome role.
Vithaya auditioned for ‘Only God Forgives’ more than two years back.
He informed that Refn had planned to make this film, before ‘Drive’, as he had fallen in love with Bangkok, when he attended the Bangkok International Film Festival with his film ‘Pusher’.
However, the finances for ‘OGF’ poured in, only after the meteoric success of ‘Drive’. Once he got selected for the role, the Thai actor informed that it was non-stop shooting for two months, which involved everything from ‘working out’ to losing weight, learning Muay Thai boxing, deeply getting ‘into’ the intense role, endlessly doing ‘take’ after ‘take’ for the super-perfectionist director.
“ Bangkok will never be the same again, after this film ” exclaimed the modest, affable actor,adding " As for me, I don’t really care if I don’t do any more films!”
Excerpts from an Interview :
How was the Cannes experience?
What can I say? Standing on top of the grand stairway at the Lumiere Theatre, for our Premiere, and watching the the seething crowds below,was like watching a million diamonds glinting in the dark- unforgettable!
How did you prepare for your role ?
I first ‘worked out’ for 2 months and lost a lot of weight. Then I trained hard with Ryan Gosling, expecially in Muay Thai boxing. I guess it helped that I’ve been doing Japanese martial arts for 27 years! What was tough about this role was that more than the physical part, the ‘internalisation’ of the role was important. I did not say too many words, but had to feel the role from within.
How was Nicolas Refn as a director?
Very demanding, because he knew exactly what he wanted. He shoots chronologically, which meant he shot and edited at the same time. It also meant that the script kept changing, which actually wase good ,as it helped the actor to change and improve. He kept telling me ‘Remember you are God’, and that was like placing gold leaves on a Buddha-statue!
Did he have a strong interaction with the cast?
Yes, he used to have long discussions with us every might. He had done a huge amount of research on Thailand, but even so, wanted to know so much more about religion and rituals, all of which play a strong role in the film. I was given a ‘sword’ as my weapon, in keeping with the Asian cultural scenario of the story.
Did he wear a sarong while shooting the film?
(Laughs). Yes he did, but to him, it’s as basic as me wearing an amulet !
How was Ryan Gosling?
Very hard -working. We trained at a famous gym on the outskirts of the city, for several hours,every day. The interesting thing about our characters in the film, is that he’s drawn to me, and I try to control him. It’s almost like being in a hypnotic, religious ‘trance’.
Did you meet his girl friend Eva?
Yes, Eva also came down to be with him, and we all hung out together. She’s very nice, as also Nicolas’ wife and two wonderful kids.
Did you interact with Kristen Scott Thomas?
Well, we both tango together throughout the film, but face each other, only at the climactic end.It's like two planets coming together, like the two forces of good and evil striking each other. She worked real hard for her role, from the physical exertions to her voice modulation, which were amazing to watch .
What’s next for you ?
YAYA YING RHATHAPHONGAM , plays Ryan Gosling's girl, in the film
“ I want to be the first Thai actress to act in Hollywood ! ”
Also attending the New York premiere of 'Only God Forgives', is Thai actress, Yaya Ying Rhathaphongam, who plays Ryan Gosling's girl in the film. Ying is a pop singer who has released three albums, and her acting career kick-started, only with
‘Only God Forgives ’!
Like Vithaya, Yaya stated that she had auditioned for the film one year earlier than the movie’s actual shooting began. In the interim period, she released her first Thai film ‘Jan Dara’, directed by the master-director ML Dhewakul, where her nude scene with Thai super-star Mario Mauer, created a stir.
In ‘Only God Forgives’, Yaya plays Ryan Gosling’s girl friend, a small role, but she has a few riveting scenes, including a masturbation scene with the actor, and a 'confrontation' scene with his 'mother', Kristen Scott Thomas.
At the Cannes Festival ,the Thai actress attracted a lot of attention, with her striking sartorial style. Not many could pronounce her name, but Ying made sure her presence was felt. Unlike Vithaya Pansringarm who wants to act in local movies, Ying wants to go international, and make her mark in Hollywood.
Excerpts from an interview::
The Cannes Festival : I never in my wildest dreams, thought I’d be there ! You know what’s scariest about it? That everyone understands cinema so well.
The famed Red Carpet : I’ve done photo-shoots, and walked on ramps, but this walk was something else. Everything is larger than life, at Cannes. I was shaking with nerves. But I kept it all within, and breathed in and out deeply- that has always helped.
Her great clothes : They were Thai styles and Thai designers, and I’m so proud that I got a lot of compliments. I wore a pant-suit by Vatanika, for the morning photo-shoot, and a Thai silk gown by Joe Surface, for the evening- premiere. At the Bangkok press-conference,I wore a leather gown designed again by Vatanika.
Her leg-pose : Did I stick my leg out, like Angelina Jolie,in Cannes? My God, just being compared with her, is awesome!
Her regret : I never got to meet Stephen Spielberg, my idol, even though he was head of the main jury.
The Bangkok film-shooting : We shot from 6 pm -6am – it was totally a Bangkok-by-night movie. But the rich colous Nick has used to shoot them, are amazing.
Director Nicolas Refn : Nick’s so intense and doesn’t give up- I did 30 ‘takes’ for every scene! The only Thai words we heard from him, were “ Dee mak, Au dee’ ( “Well done, do again-!”)
His faith in ghosts : Well, he was trying to understand everything about Thailand, its religion, karma,good and bad etc. For us Thais, ghosts are no big deal.
His ‘Post it’ room : His room was full of ‘stick on’ papers, since he shoots his films, chronologically. I called it the ‘Post It’ room!
Actor Ryan Gosling : He’s funny, he’s a good dancer and even tap-danced to humour us. He loves candy of any kind,especially jelly. We ate out once, at an Indian restaurant.
His girlfriend Eva : She came twice to the sets. She’s small, petite,and looks lovely.
On nudity in films: I have no problem, if the script demands it. To me, the script is all-important.
International plans for the future: I’ve got a London agent, who’s sending me various roles to audition for . I want to be the first Thai actress to act in Hollywood! It’s not easy, as all ‘Asian’ roles go to 'Chinese' or 'Hongkong girls. But I went to Cannes, with my first film - that's a good beginning, isnt it?
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