A still of Mario Maurer in "Pee Mak", 2013.
The 'Golden Age' in Thai's film industry started in 1930s but suffered a blow in the '80s and 90's due to competition from Hollywood films. By late 1990s, however, the industry returns once again with the emergence of new directors and fresh talents.
Tony Jaa is arguably one of the most famous Thai actor who emerged from that era, having started acting since 1994, though only gaining worldwide recognition in 2003 through his breakout film, "Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior".
Now the growth in Thailand's film industry means more and more budding actors are entering the scene. Tony Jaa, Jesadaporn Pholdee and Theeradej Wongpuapan are just some of the established names that these younger newcomers can look up to.
Here we cherry-picked five young actors under 30 with popularities that are growing by the day. Given time, they will be able to gain more experience and mature into their roles, matching their seniors' expertise. They are easy on the eyes but it does not mean they are unwilling to sacrifice their looks for their roles – just take Mario and his Mak character as example.
Without further ado, we present to you our Top 5 pick of the hottest young actors hailing from Thailand:
A fast-rising Thai star, Jirayu, affectionately nicknamed Kao, started acting at the tender age of six. Born on 29 October 1995 in Rayong, Thailand, the 19-year-old has been acting in TV series since the year 2001, and in 2005, his portrayal of Santi in "Fa Krachang Dao" gained him wider recognition. He was soon cast in his first film, "Jan Bin (UFO)" and later as young Boonthing in 2007's "King Naresuan". To date he has acted in a dozen films, including "The Love of Siam", "Suckseed" – in which he also performed a song, and "Phobia 2", which he won several awards for his performance as Pey. Jirayu currently stars on the big screen in "Chang Khan Story", playing the part of an 18-year-old who is unable to forget his first love and is working hard on fighting his way into her heart.
Nadech flashing his megawatt smile. [Photo source: gopixpic.com]
A Thai-Austrian adopted by Yoshio and Sudarat Kugimiya, Nadech often introduces himself as Thai-Japanese to honour his adoptive father's Japanese ancestry. However, despite growing up in a Thai-Japanese household, Nadech speaks little to no Japanese as his father only speaks to him in Thai. The 22-year-old, born 17 December 1991 in Khonkaen, Thailand, started out as a model at age 17. His acting career began to take off when he was cast for several TV dramas including "Ngaorak Luangjai" and "Akkanee's Heart". In 2013, he starred in "Sunset at Chaophraya" as Kobori, a Japanese Military Officer who is in the troop that invaded Siam. It is adapted from the novel "Khu Kam" by Thommayanti, which tells the story of star-crossed romance between Kobori and a Thai woman, set in World War II-era Thailand. The movie was one of the top five box office Thai film hits in 2013.
Phupoom Phongpanu, or Ken Poommi to some, is a model-actor born on October 20, 1991 in Thailand. He might not be as big an actor as the others on this list, but he is a successful one nonetheless. The 23-year-old started out with supporting roles such as the ones in 2010's "The Intruder" ("Kheaw Aa-Kaard") as well as "Hor Taew Taek 2". However, it was his performance in 2011's "Fabulous 30" that earned him his SeeSan BunTerng Awards 2012: Rising Male Star Of The Year award. He starred in the movie opposite one of Thailand's hottest female actresses, Aum Patcharapa Chaichue. He plays Aum's character's boyfriend who is seven years younger than the 30-year-old beauty. He has since appeared in more TV dramas and commercials.
Guess which is Mario and which is the wax figure? [Photo source: thairath.co.th]
Acting in "Pee Mak" has got to be the wisest decision ever made by Thai-Chinese-German actor Mario Maurer, as the film went on to become Thailand's highest grossing film of all time. However, the 25-year-old's credibility as an actor has always been recognised, ever since he first showcased his acting chops in 2007's critically-acclaimed "The Love of Siam". Even though his sexual orientation was often questioned due to the part he played in his debut film, it was still a monumental role for the young man. Born on 4 December 1988 in Bangkok, Maurer started out as model at age 16 but after the success of his breakout role, he started working more as an actor, landing roles in various Thai movies such as "Rathree Reborn", "The Outrage" and 2010's sleeper hit "First Love". He has been nominated as well as won several Best Actor Awards, including for his recent role as Mak in last year's "Pee Mak".
Sorry, ladies, this hottie's taken. Born Nichkhun Buck Horvejkul, to a Thai father and Thai-Chinese mother, on 24 June 1988 in Rancho Cucamonga, California, this 26-year-old is more popularly known simply as Nichkun. Being a multilingual speaker, Nickhun has no problem landing roles in not only Thai but also Japanese and Chinese films and dramas, such as "Seven Something" and "Ouran High School Host Club". He would have appeared in Korean movie "Shining Diploma" too but it was cancelled due to his busy schedule. Nichkhun is arguably the most recognised young Thai singer-cum-actor around the world, largely because of his current position as one of the six members in famous K-Pop group, 2PM. Oh, and he is currently in a relationship with Korean-American singer Tiffany Hwang, a lead vocalist of Korea's most influential girl group, Girls' Generation.
[Main photo source: khmer440.com]
Cinema Online, 24 November 2014