Mario Maurer on his first action film, the superpower he wants to have
Top Thai heartthrob Mario Maurer is fondly remembered by Filipino fans and film buffs for his portrayals in romantic comedies and dramas like “The Love of Siam,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” the horror-romance “Pee Mak” and Star Cinema’s 2012 rom-com “Suddenly It’s Magic,” opposite Erich Gonzales.
But in a recent roundtable chat with Mario and costars Ananda Everingham and Phakin Khamwilaisak, aka Tono, for director Konkiat Komesiri’s action-fantasy film “Khun Pan 3: Judgment Day,” which premieres at 10 p.m. on HBO and HBO Go today, the gorgeous 34-year-old actor-model said that “it’s been fun” diversifying and taking on roles that are very different from the ones he’s often tasked to bring to life.
“‘Khun Pan 3’ is actually my first full-on action movie and it was very difficult to do because we had to learn to shoot and execute a lot of fight scenes. It was quite difficult to keep jumping around. In one scene, I had to let Khun Pan catch me as I jumped in a car—stuff like that. And I got injured every day … So it was as challenging as it was fun.”
Set in 1950, the third and final installment of the “Khun Pan” film franchise follows sorcerer cop Khun Pantharak Rajadej (Ananda Everingham) as he goes after the gangs of two sorcerer bandits, Mahesuan (Mario) and Dam (Tono).
“My character’s name, Mahesuan, comes from the amulet he’s wearing,” said Mario when asked to talk about his character. “He robs banks and likes to dress up and change his outfit all the time. Bandit Dam is like a big brother to him, but the only thing Mahesuan really wants to do is to take care of the people in his community.”
Meanwhile, Tono, who plays bandit Dam, is a versatile actor, singer (he placed third in the 2010 edition of the singing competition “The Star”) and professional football player.
“My character Dam doesn’t believe that government authorities really intend to serve the people in his hometown,” Tono shared. “So he takes matters into his own hands and steps up to take care of his own community [by robbing the rich and distributing the loot to the poor]. So this lawlessness is the root of his conflict with Khun Pan.”
Asked about his impressive fight scene with Ananda during a robbery on a speeding train, Tono recalled, “Ananda and I are like brothers in real life. For that particular scene, however, I had to kick him in the chest and try to beat him up for real.
“Luckily, we weren’t playing ourselves at the time … we were channeling Khun Pan and Dam. I think that’s the reason why the scene ended up looking very impressive and convincing. So I wish that the audience would also get that vibe when they watch the movie.”
Seated beside Tono and Mario, Ananda interjected as he described the degree of difficulty required to capture the aforementioned scene.
He said, “It was a very cool shot! But another fascinating thing about that train scene is the cool technical one-shot sequence where Tono and I were fighting inside that carriage. He had to push me out of the window, and because we wanted to keep it one-shot, we didn’t use any technical cuts where we would hide the camera behind something.
“But we actually had another camera crew outside the train. So, as Tono was pushing my character out of the window, the camera that was inside was then thrust to another team outside the train, and was then swung around, then back in through another window. There was another team waiting inside the train to take the camera off of the team outside.
“We wanted the film to be as visceral as possible, so we tried to make all the effects as on-set as we could—and it wasn’t easy to achieve.”
One of the interview’s most light-hearted moments came when we directed our final question to the trio: In all three films, Khun Pan and the bandits are often aided by an amulet, magic or sorcery. If you could have any superpower they want, what power would you choose?
“I want to be invisible,” Tono quipped.
With a twinkle in his eyes, Ananda said, “Well, part of Khun Pan’s powers is that he can be invisible, right? So for me, every time my wife gets angry at me, I wish I had that power I could use (laughs)!”
Then, Tono chimed in to “modify” his initial answer. “I first said I wanted invisibility or the ability to just disappear,” he explained. “But actually, what I want even more is the ability to teleport to many places. Then, I can go anywhere or I can go to you without having to buy a plane ticket (laughs).”
But Mario’s choice of superpower was even better and “more productive.”
The heartthrob deadpanned, “Oh, I just want to have magic hands … So that if I touch a leaf, it becomes money! Then, I can just walk around and take every leaf I see and make lots of money (laughs)!”
Cutting in, Ananda said, “OK, I changed my mind. I want Mario’s superpower, too (laughs)!”
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