Joel Edgerton, Viggo Mortensen and ‘James’ Supapunpinyo on the challenges of ‘Thirteen Lives’

How did you approach exploring your characters?

Joel Edgerton: Unfortunately I didn’t have [Richard Harris] with us on set, but we had access. It was such a well-reported event, especially… not so much in the first news but in the deeper details and running the rescue for us guys playing divers, having access to interviews and books written by divers and really getting[ting] inside their head. Also, some of us were lucky enough to interact with our real people and this incredible team of divers who supported us in real physical exploration and physical preparation for what we were supposed to do.

Tiradon “James” Supapunpinho: I haven’t met a real coach… but I’ve researched him [involved] watch[ing] he’s on the news [on] Youtube and all [let me] watch him as he speaks. [How] did he act when he was with the boys? I started copying it. Another thing is the accent with which I have to speak … not a Thai accent, but some kind of dialect that has to be changed.

[My character, the] coach, he’s been a monk for eight years, so he knows how to meditate the Buddhist way. I went to the temple and had to learn how to meditate in the Thai Buddhist way. [Finally]I had to reduce my weight. I had to be in quarantine. For 14 days, I remember that I ate about 700 calories a day and I had to burn and I had to do an exercise bike and do exercises [targeting] my jawline to do [the bones] visible.

Viggo Mortensen: Now you look much better.

James: Yeah.

Mortensen: Then you looked good, as you should look, but now you look much healthier.

James: Thank you. Now healthier.

Mortensen: Rick Stanton, the guy I play, was our diving technical advisor. He was there for our rehearsals and coached all of us, as was Jason Mallinson, one of the other divers who accomplished this feat… I was preparing, but before we got to Australia, I talked a lot with him via Zoom, trying to hear the way he talks and his rhythms, physically and verbally and all that.

Gradually, he shared many images, videos, and information about the rescue so I could imagine what it might have been like. Once we got to Australia and were together, we spent a lot of time in the water with these guys and it helped us copy their diving style, which is very characteristic of cave diving.

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