Joel Edgerton, Viggo Mortensen & James Supapunpinyo Interview: Thirteen Lives

Thirteen Lives has just ended a short theatrical window before its streaming premiere today on Prime Video, meaning audiences will now be able to witness the incredible true story of the Tham Luang cave rescue from home. Even the stars dramatizing these events in Ron Howard's (Apollo 13) rendition can recall where they were in 2018 when they watched a Thai community come together to save twelve boys from a flooded cave with the help of British divers.

Hollywood actors Viggo Mortensen and Joel Edgerton play two of those divers, while Thai star James Teeradon Supapunpinyo (who can be seen in the Netflix series Girl From Nowhere) plays the boys' coach, who is trapped in the cave with them and never gives up hope. Much like in the incredible real-life event, Thai cast and creatives worked alongside Western ones to bring this gripping tale to life for viewers everywhere.


Related: Thai Cave Rescue Gets Detailed & Gripping Retelling In Thirteen Lives

Screen Rant spoke to Edgerton, Mortensen and Supapunpinyo  about the moments they remember with most clarity from the actual rescue, and how they transferred those to their work on Thirteen Lives.

Screen Rant: I loved this movie. I remember this happening, but the selflessness and hopefulness this movie gave me felt so good. I want to hear from you guys, what do you remember about this event and what stuck out to you the most?

Viggo Mortensen: I remember that they got these kids out. I remember these kids were stuck in there, and it looked like there was no way. And then they were out, and they all lived, which seemed like a miracle. Which it was, but I had no idea how they did it.

Most people don’t know exactly how they did it, and that’s a lot of what the movie’s about. Not just in the cave; what the divers did, but what all the Thai people did on the mountain. Just hundreds, thousands of people. It was a collective, like you say, it gives you hope for humanity, like we can do good things. That collective, selfless effort. That was the amazing thing about the story, and that’s what we really explored and tried to get right.

James Teeradon Supapunpinyo: As a Thai person, I [don’t] know every detail also. The first time that I read the script was like, “Oh, my God. Some details are not even public. It’s not even probably in the news and everything.” It’s my first time exploring that event again. It’s amazing.

Joel Edgerton: I know this sounds silly, but I remember exactly being glued to the television for a good month. As Viggo was saying, I knew that there was a bunch of children lost, and that I think brought everybody collectively around the world. It put everybody’s heart into hoping that the outcome would be good, and it did look good.

That it took 10 days to find them was the next big world plot point. Then this question of the impossibility of getting them out and the debate around that. Then, they were suddenly out.

Again, like everybody else involved here, I didn’t know the mechanics of how they got out. Even though I’ve been through the process of making the film, and I’ve seen the film, every day I think about it. The miracle that rescue was and the collective effort that it was continues to blow my mind.

Watching the movie really makes you understand how they did it. I’m an avid diver, and I’m like, “Why can’t they just go in there and get them?” It just didn’t make sense to me, and then you’re watching the movie, and you’re like, “Oh my gosh, this was so life or death for everybody that went into that cave.”

Joel Edgerton: The tragedy of Saman, in his effort to bring wetsuits in to the boys? Him perishing in that cave really underlined the fact for everyone there and the rest of the world watching that it wasn't a simple task of just teaching a bunch of young boys to dive their own way out of there, knowing some of them couldn't even swim. If a Navy Seal of such a high level of skill could sadly perish in that cave, then it really just made me think, "This might be impossible to get them out."

Viggo Mortensen: You're a diver. Just seeing it the way it's filmed, it feels real. It feels like you're in there. I have to say, it opens in theaters - I know it's a short run. The clock is ticking. You have a week to see it. If you have a theater that's playing it, I recommend you see it that way, because it really is one of those movies that unquestionably is an entirely different experience seeing it on a big screen. I hope you can go see it.

Thirteen Lives Synopsis

Colin Farrell, Paul Gleeson, and Thira Chutikul in Thirteen Lives
Colin Farrell, Paul Gleeson, and Thira Chutikul in Thirteen Lives

A rescue mission is assembled in Thailand where a group of young boys and their soccer coach are trapped in a system of underground caves that are flooding.

Check out our other interview with Thirteen Lives' Ron Howard & Raymond Phathanavirangoon as well as stars Weir Sukollawat Kanaros & Pattrakorn Tungsupakul and Colin Farrell, Tom Bateman & Sahajak Poo Boonthankit.