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Controversial Cannes Competition film 'Only God Forgives' will have New York release, on 17 July

                Interview with the 2 THAI STARS of the Film, which was shot entirely in Bangkok.


Thai Actor Vithaya Pansringarm and Thai Actress Yaya Ying, at the Cannes Festival ,where 'Only God Forgives' was in Competition

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                                      The Thai actor, who plays  'God' , in  the film



                                                           VITHAYA PANSRINGARM


                                    “ 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 New York on 17 July , and in Bangkok (where the film was shot), on 18 July.


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.

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 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.

But 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, in Bangkok :


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 ?

Well, I hope the 'Thai' Directors notice me now, cos I’d love to do Thai movies, ofcourse! There are not many people like me, who make a start, so late in life. I’m a new face in an old body! And if nothing happens , that’s fine with me too, as I have a lot going on outside the film-field. Infact ,after ‘OGF, I don’t really care if I don’t do any more films---!”



                                 The Thai Actress, who plays Ryan Gosling's girl

                                           YAYA YING RHATHAPHONGAM


                   “ 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’, a controversial film based on a  famous book, 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 created a stir, 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,in Bangkok:


 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.

The masturbating scene:  During the shooting, Nick kept asking Ryan if he was okay. Ryan said he was perfectly okay and could watch it all night!

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?



                 At the Press-Conference in Bangkok, to announce the film's release in the city, on 18 July












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I'm an Indian film-writer, based in Bangkok, and write for publications in India & Thailand. I also coordinate and curate film programs in the two countries, at cultural centres/clubs, film festivals.



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