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International Star You Should Know: Vithaya Pansringarm

Vithaya Pansringarm is a latecomer to showbiz, but he’s turning out to be Thailand’s most exportable character actor.

Claim to Fame

Starred opposite Ryan Gosling as the ultimate bad cop in Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Only God Forgives.” Confirmed his acting chops in “The Last Executioner,” for which he won the acting prize at June’s Shanghai Film Festival.

Late Starter

The 55-year-old Pansringarm studied and worked for more than a decade in the U.S., helping with his wife’s New York dance studio and teaching martial arts before moving back to Bangkok in 1987. He says he owes his film career to cinematographer Wade Muller (“Elephant White”), who met him at a party and cast him in a short, before giving him his first feature role in 2010, as the king in Millennium Films’ “Prince” series. The following year, Pansringarm was in French actioner “Largo Winch: The Burma Conspiracy,” and appeared as the priest in “Hangover II.”

Martial Law

“Maybe I have a Western style of acting, but it comes with an Eastern mix,” Pansringarm says. “I’ve done martial arts for 30 years,” he says, adding that he’s a fifth-degree black belt in Kendo. “I can stand still, and inside be full of energy. The ‘less is more’ concept that works on a bigscreen comes naturally to me.”

Asia-Centric

Pansringarm says he is content to be considered an A-list actor in Asia, and that he would like to do more work in China, Japan and Hong Kong. Given the volume of Hollywood titles shooting these days in Southeast Asia, the work seems likely to continue coming.

Testimonial

“(Pansringarm) is no bullshit,” says Tom Waller, who directed him in 2011’s “Mindfulness and Murder” and this year’s “The Last Executioner.” “He is easygoing, on time, and not at all like the big Thai stars.”

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