Ron Howard has snagged a plum internationally recognized ensemble for his Thai cave film “Thirteen Lives”, which begins shooting in Australia and Thailand this month.
Per Deadline, Viggo Mortensen, Colin Farrell and Joel Edgerton are the headline acts with Weir Sukollawat (”Malila”), Thiraphat Sajakul (”The Serpent”), Sahajak Boonthanakit (”The Serpent”), Vithaya Pansringarm (”The Prey”), Teeradon “James” Supapunpinyo (”Bad Genius”), Nophand Boonyai (”Only God Forgives”), Tom Bateman (”Death on the Nile”), Paul Gleeson (”The Thin Red Line”), and Lewis Fitz-Gerald (”Pitch Black”) also locked for roles.
The film, which MGM is mounting with BRON Creative, Imagine Entertainment, Storyteller Productions, and Magnolia Mae, tells of the heroic rescuers who took part in a dangerous rescue op that cost one man – Navy SEAL Saman Gunan -his life.
Mortensen portrays Richard Stanton, who specializes in rescues through the Cave Rescue Organization and the British Cave Rescue Council. In 2019 he was honored with George Medal, the second-highest civilian award for bravery. Previously he had been made an MBE for his cave diving rescue accomplishments.
Farrell portrays John Volanthen, a veteran cave diver who specializes in cave exploration and underwater rescue. He is part of the South and Mid Wales Cave Rescue, and the British Cave Rescue Council. He was honored with George Medal, the second-highest civilian award for bravery.
Edgerton portrays Dr. Richard Harris, an anesthetist and cave diver with over 30 years of experience, who was awarded the “Outstanding Achievement” award at the Australian technical diving conference Oztek, to mark his exceptional contributions to cave diving exploration. In 2017 he was awarded the “Australasian Technical Diver of the Year” at Oztek. He received the Australian of the Year award in 2019, after the rescue.
The supporting cast includes Sukollawat as former Thai Navy SEAL Saman Kunan; Sajakul plays Anand, a Thai Navy SEAL instrumental in the rescue effort; Boonthanakit plays the Chiang Rai province acting governor Narongsak Osatanakorn; Pansringarm plays General Anuphond; Supapunpinyo portrays the boy’s coach “Ek” Ekkaphon Chanthawong, and Boonyai will portray Thanet Natisri, a groundwater expert contacted by the Thai military, who together helped make the seemingly impossible rescue happen.
The cast also includes Tom Bateman as Chris Jewell, a Diving Officer for the British Cave Rescue Council as well as a member of the Cave Diving Group who has led many overseas cave diving expeditions including leading a team which set the Western Hemisphere cave depth record in 2013. He was awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal.
Paul Gleeson portrays Jason Mallinson, a member of the Cave Rescue Organisation, and British Cave Rescue Council – core International Dive Team. Mallinson is also a member of the Cave Diving Group – the oldest amateur technical and cave diving organization in the world. He was awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal.
Lewis Fitz-Gerald will appear as Vernon Unsworth, a British rescue worker and diver who was a key member of the rescue team.
On shooting the film in Australia, Howard said in 2020 : “Over the years, I’ve both enjoyed and creatively benefitted from collaborations with Australian artists and technicians in front of and behind the camera, from Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe and Chris Hemsworth to John Seale, Donald McAlpine and Andrew Rowlands and many others.
“From ‘Thirteen Lives’ to the animated project I am directing with Animal Logic [‘‘The Shrinking of Treehorn’] in Australia, I am excited about the opportunity to film and work in Australia and dramatically expand on that list of collaborators whose sensibilities and work ethic I have long admired and respected.”