ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke to him Thirteen Lives Director Ron Howard and Producer Raymond Phathanavirangoon on accurately portraying the true events on which the film is based. The film is now available to stream via Prime Video.
“Thirteen Lives tells the incredible true story of the tremendous global effort to rescue a Thai soccer team trapped in Tham Luang Cave during an unexpected rainstorm.” “Faced with insurmountable odds, a team of the world’s most skilled and experienced divers – uniquely able to navigate the maze of flooded, narrow cave tunnels – joins forces with Thai armed forces and more than 10,000 volunteers in a harrowing rescue of the twelve Boys and their trying coach. With incredibly high stakes and audiences from around the world, the group embarks on their most challenging dive yet, showcasing the limitlessness of the human spirit.”
Tyler Treese: Ron, some filmmakers would have just focused on the kids and the divers, but instead you give this amazing overall look. We see the rescue work of the volunteers and the involvement of the government. Can you comment on this decision? Because I thought it really paid off.
Ron Howard: Early on after reading the Bill Nicholson script, I thought, “What a great story, what great movie moments.” I then did my own research just to make sure things really happened, and this really, really happened, but I’ve started to learn more and more, and I literally wrote on my screenplay cover, the very first draft I read, I said, “Anatomy of a miracle. I was starting to feel that, although we certainly wanted to do the various events, and that’s the epicenter of the action and the suspense and the real life and death, but I recognize so many other types of heroism and bravery that are on display and I thought it shouldn’t be overlooked. You can’t be in this cave if there’s no food. You cannot be in this cave if there is not the water pumping system operating, if there is the medical group.
I found it important to say, “It looks like this, folks.” If you want to achieve greatness. It’s not just one thing. It’s not just someone riding to the rescue, it’s a group of people getting into this mindset that maybe this is a long way off, but we’re going to take the time that we have now, the resources that we have now that we’re going to look nowhere else. We will only look at ourselves and give what we can and try to make it happen. And I really hope that’s a takeaway for people who see the film.
Beautifully said, and Raymond, this is just such an amazing story. Like we’re on the set of thousands of people coming together to save these guys’ lives. How fulfilling is it to know that you are truly helping to honor the heroic deeds of these people who have truly sacrificed much?
Raymond Phathanavirangoon: I mean, you know, I’m just a little cog in the works, but my real duty is to really honor what Ron actually said to me, which is… when we started, he said, “Look, we’ve got it.” been through this pandemic, the world is kind of broken in deceit, social, political. And there’s this real-life story that actually gives so much hope, because it shows that when people come together without all those barriers, we can achieve something really great. And isn’t that such an important message that we have to the world today? Where there’s a lot of division.” And I thought that was so right, because yes, of course it’s a story that took place in Thailand with Thai children and required the whole nation to come together. But bigger than that and one country, it’s really about humanity at large. I think that’s a message that we really need right now.
Ron Howard: I noticed that Thai culture has a lot of intrigue, freshness and entertainment value. Because we see it in movies, but generally it’s kind of action stuff, it might be crime based and it’s cool. But it’s mainly Bangkok. And as I began to understand this story, there was this very different aspect of Thai culture that is very unique and very powerful and had a major impact on this story, including the spirituality of this northern region of Thailand that played a role in it, and even the European divers who came in without knowing anything about it, many of them told me that they felt something there, that there was somehow something about the spiritual energy of the place that was palpable.