×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Real-Life Heroes Head Cast of Thai Rescue Film ‘The Cave’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Several of the real-life heroes whose actions in rescuing a soccer team from a flooded cave in Thailand made world headlines a year ago this month will play themselves in upcoming movie “The Cave.”

They include rescue diver Jim Warny from Belgium, dive instructors Erik Brown from Canada and Mikko Paasi from Finland, and Chinese cave-diving instructor Tan Xiaolong. American journalist Todd Ruiz, who covered the events in the Tham Luang caves for the Khao Sod English-language newspaper, reprises his role as a reporter.

The film, in Thai, Chinese and English, is directed by Thai-Irish director Tom Waller. He wrote the story with writers Don Linder and Katrina Grose, who previously collaborated with him on “The Last Executioner.”

Thai teen heartthrob Ekawat Niratworapanya (“Grace,” “Last Summer”) heads the acting cast. He plays the football coach who led 12 schoolboys into the caves near Chiang Mai. When the Wild Boars team became trapped by suddenly rising floodwaters, the coach was responsible for keeping the boys alive and calm during the protracted ordeal. American newcomer James Edward Holley plays a U.S. Air Force major who was also involved.

Thai folk artist Jumpa Saenprom plays Mae Bua Chaicheun, a local farmer who dropped everything and headed to the mountainside to help.

Popular on Variety

The film also features several hundred extras, a mix of actors and those who were present at the event itself.

“I wanted the film to be an honest portrayal of the events that took place at Tham Luang cave, and decided to go for a more authentic approach, taking the story from the point of view of some of the unsung heroes who took part in the rescue,” Waller told Variety. “Like the rescue itself, I wanted the cast to be made up of both local and international characters, speaking in their own tongue.”

The Cave” is produced by Waller’s De Warrenne company, with France’s Wild Bunch heading international rights sales. It is expected to be released in Thai cinemas later this year.

Multiple other projects were announced shortly after the largely successful rescue – one Thai army diver lost his life – but it is not clear how many of them will go ahead. Ivanhoe Pictures, the U.S. studio behind “Crazy Rich Asians” and which has Asian production executives permanently based in Bangkok, is currently developing a series with global streaming giant Netflix.

Photographs provided by De Warrenne Pictures Co. Ltd. Copyright © 2019 Fredrik DIVALL. All Rights Reserved.

More Film

  • The Aeronauts Movie

    'The Aeronauts' Production Team Helps Hot-Air Balloon Saga Soar

    For cinematographer George Steel, the key to “The Aeronauts,” director Tom Hooper’s $80 million film starring Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne as balloonist-scientists who soar to 35,000 feet to break records in 1862, was to take the viewer along for the ride. When Variety visited the cast and crew on set in London, Steel was crouched [...]

  • Biggest Scandals Feuds and Apologies of

    Biggest Scandals, Feuds and Apologies of 2019

    Variety looks back on some of the biggest scandals, feuds and apologies of 2019: College Admissions Scandal Wealthy parents including Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were charged with bribing school officials to get their unqualified kids into prestigious universities. Shane Gillis Executives at “SNL” hired, then fired, Gillis in September, before the new season started, [...]

  • The Unknown Saint

    'The Unknown Saint' Director Alaa Eddine Aljem on Pushing Arab Boundaries With Comedy

    Young Moroccan writer-director Alaa Eddine Aljem chose to tackle a sensitive subject in his first feature, absurdist comedy “The Unknown Saint,” which is basically about “the relationship between faith and money,” he says. He spoke to Variety about using sophisticated humor to push boundaries in the Arab world and reflected on the journey of his debut, which after [...]

  • The Irishman

    'The Irishman' Nabs 17.1 Million U.S. Viewers on Netflix in First Five Days, per Nielsen

    Martin Scorsese’s mafia saga “The Irishman” was watched by 17.1 million unique Netflix viewers in the U.S. in the first five days of its streaming release, according to Nielsen estimates. By comparison, Sandra Bullock-starrer “Bird Box” scored nearly 26 million U.S. viewers in its first seven days of availability (Dec. 21-27, 2018) on Netflix, according [...]

  • De-aging Robert De Niro For Scorsese's

    'The Irishman': A Closer Look at the De-Aging of De Niro in Scorsese's Mob Epic

    Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” hits Netflix today and it stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci. De Niro plays Frank Sheeran, a truck driver who meets Russell Bufalino (Pesci). Spanning several decades, the film follows Sheeran as he gets involved in the greatest unsolved mob mystery – the disappearance of union boss Jimmy [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content