×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Where You've Seen The Cast Of Thirteen Lives Before

"Thirteen Lives" is the latest film from Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard. The movie attempts to tell the true story of the Thai cave rescue that transfixed the international news cycle in the summer of 2018 (via CNN). A soccer team consisting of 12 young boys and their coach were trapped in the Tham Luang cave system in Chiang Rai, Thailand, leading to heroic rescue efforts from Thai Navy SEALs and international cave diving experts.

The rescue mission was a massive news story that had the public gripped for the entirety of the three weeks that the soccer team spent trapped in the cave. With so much international attention on the incident, it might not come as a surprise to learn that "Thirteen Lives" isn't the only telling of this true story. "The Cave," released just one year after the real events was the first filmic portrayal of the incident, was the first. Then, in 2021, National Geographic released "The Rescue," a documentary about the events from the Oscar-winning directing duo behind "Free Solo." Yet another telling of this true story is still the works titled "Thai Cave Rescue," set to be released in late 2022 as a six-part Netflix mini-series (per Variety).

From the big-name leads who have led blockbuster movies to the accomplished Thai actors you might recognize without knowing their names, this is where you've seen the cast of "Thirteen Lives" before.

Colin Farrell as John Volanthen

One of the biggest names in the cast of "Thirteen Lives" is Irish actor Colin Farrell. He plays the key role of John Volanthen, one of the two British divers (alongside Rick Stanton) who first located the trapped children and later helped to plan and execute the rescue operation. Volanthen has been a part of setting multiple diving world records and has participated in additional rescue efforts outside of the Tham Luang cave rescue (per his website).

Farrell has had dozens of high-profile roles throughout his acting career. His most recent blockbuster appearance before "Thirteen Lives" was as The Penguin in "The Batman," though the prosthetics he wore for the role rendered him virtually unrecognizable. You might be familiar with Colin Farrell from movies like "Minority Report," "Daredevil," "S.W.A.T.," "Alexander," "Seven Psychopaths," "Miami Vice," "The Lobster," "Crazy Heart," "Widows," "In Bruges," the second season of the HBO series "True Detective," the 2017 version of "The Beguiled," the live-action version of "Dumbo," the "Total Recall" remake, and more.

Viggo Mortensen as Rick Stanton

Viggo Mortensen took on the role of the other British diver responsible for locating the trapped children alongside John Volanthan, cave-diving expert Rick Stanton. Stanton said he initially expected his task in the Tham Luang cave incident to be the recovery of the dead bodies of the soccer team members, before being shocked to find them alive and mounting a rescue operation instead of a recovery operation (via CNN). Though he was born and primarily raised in New York City (per Britannica), portraying a British man was an easy task for Mortensen as he's shown a knack for perfecting a wide variety of accents throughout his career and, as he detailed to The Hollywood Reporter, is a polygot capable of speaking several languages fluently.

Mortensen is still likely best known today for his portrayal of Aragorn in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, though he has had many other noteworthy roles throughout his career as well. He has something of a reputation as a chameleon, with a great deal of range and a willingness to change up his appearance from role to role. Mortensen earned Oscar nominations for his roles in "Captain Fantastic," "Green Book," and "Eastern Promises," the last of which he made with director David Cronenberg. Mortensen and Cronenberg have had a prolific collaboration, having also worked together on 2005's "A History of Violence," 2011's "A Dangerous Method," and 2022's "Crimes of the Future."

You might also recognize Viggo Mortensen from his starring roles in "The Road," "Hidalgo," and "Far From Men," or supporting roles in "Carlito's Way," "Crimson Tide," and "G.I. Jane." In 2020, Mortensen made his directorial debut with the film "Falling," which he also wrote and starred in.

Joel Edgerton as Harry Harris

Dr. Richard "Harry" Harris is the Australian amateur cave diver and professional anesthesiologist who proved vital to the rescue efforts when Rick Stanton conceived of the plan to sedate the trapped boys before bringing them on the three-hour dive to safety out of the cave (per Deadline). Filling this role in "Thirteen Lives" is Australian actor Joel Edgerton.

Edgerton has proven himself to be a major talent both in front of the camera and behind it, writing the movies "The Rover" and "The King" with director David Michôd, and directing the movies "The Gift" and "Boy Erased." But Edgerton is even better known as an actor with many impressive leading and supporting roles. The 2011 MMA movie "Warrior" provided Edgerton with a major breakout role, and he followed up that success with roles in big movies like "Zero Dark Thirty," "The Great Gatsby," and "Bright." "Loving," "Midnight Special," "Gringo," "Red Sparrow," and "Black Mass" all feature Edgerton in memorable roles as well.

Recently, Edgerton has appeared in "The Green Knight" and played the role of Ridgeway on the Barry Jenkins mini-series "The Underground Railroad." Ahead of "Thirteen Lives," Edgerton reprised his role as Owen Lars on the Disney+ series "Obi-Wan Kenobi." Edgerton first played the role of Owen earlier on in his career, in "Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones" and in "Episode III – Revenge of the Sith."

Tom Bateman as Chris Jewell

Tom Bateman plays the role of Chris Jewell, one of the British cave divers who dropped everything and headed to Thailand to participate in the rescue mission (per EuroTek). Bateman hasn't yet racked up the number of major credits as the film's three leads — his acting career only began in 2011 — but he has had quite a few high-profile roles you might have already seen.

Bateman started out as a theater actor, with his first movie credit being a filmed production of the Shakespeare play "Much Ado About Nothing" released by the Digital Theater company. In addition to playing supporting roles in the movies "Snatched" and "Cold Pursuit," Bateman's most prominent big-screen role to date has been as Bouc in Kenneth Branagh's Agatha Christie movies, "Murder on the Orient Express" and "Death on the Nile." Branagh and Bateman previously worked together in live theater.

Many of Tom Bateman's most prominent acting roles have been in the world of television. The shows "The Tunnel" and "Da Vinci's Demons" and the mini-series "Jekyll and Hyde," "Behind Her Eyes," and "Vanity Fair" have all provided Bateman with substantial recurring roles.

Lewis Fitz-Gerald as Vern Unsworth

Another important figure in the real-life rescue operation was a cave diver named Vern Unsworth. Given that he was already based locally in Thailand, Unsworth was one of the first cave diving experts on the scene, and he was instrumental in gathering the international talent that eventually executed the rescue mission (per The Independent). Unsworth's name gained even more attention after he found himself in a bizarre feud with Elon Musk during the rescue efforts, for which Musk later apologized (also per The Independent).

Bringing Vern Unsworth to life on the screen is Lewis Fitz-Gerald. This Australian actor got his start working on soap operas like "The Sullivans" and "Skyways." Over time, he began breaking into more and more movies produced in Australia, like "Breaker Morant" and "A Cry in the Dark" starring Meryl Streep, before making his way into international productions. These days, Fitz-Gerald continues to work frequently in television while also appearing in feature films from time to time, usually in small roles. You might recognize Fitz-Gerald from "Pitch Black," the Netflix original mini-series "Pine Gap," the Syfy series "Hunters," or the movie "Truth" starring Robert Redford and Cate Blanchett.

Paul Gleeson as Jason Mallinson

The real Jason Mallinson is a British cave diving expert and world record holder who was on the team of divers who rescued the children and their coach from the Tham Luang cave. In the film, Mallinson is played by Paul Gleeson, who's been acting since the 1980s, often in supporting roles. Gleeson has racked up dozens of credits over the years, mostly working on television series and mini-series, but also appearing in the occasional film.

The biggest feature film that Gleeson was a part of before "Thirteen Lives" was undoubtedly the 1998 war film "The Thin Red Line" from director Terrence Malick. On the small screen, there have been many shows on which you might have seen Gleeson, including "A Country Practice," "Spirited," "Rake," "The Starter Wife," or the soap operas "Home and Away" and "All Saints," the latter of which had him playing several different characters over the span of six years.

Vithaya Pansringarm as General Anupong

Given that the real events of the Tham Luang cave rescue took place in Thailand, "Thirteen Lives" of course features many Thai characters and actors alongside the English-speaking leads. The first of these Thai actors who you might recognize is Vithaya Pansringarm, who takes on the role of General Anupong Paochinda. The real general is a former military leader and the current Interior Minister of Thailand since 2014 after taking power through a coup (via Thai PBS World).

Pansringarm might not have very much name recognition as an actor in the U.S., but he has been involved in quite a few high-profile international productions that were shot in Thailand. Some of Pansringarm's most recognizable roles can be found in "A Prayer Before Dawn," "The Hangover Part II," Nicolas Winding Refn's "Only God Forgives," a bit part in "The Mechanic: Resurrection," and a small, unnamed role in the blockbuster "The Meg." He was also in the Chinese film "Operation Mekong," which was a massive hit in its home country and a major box office success.

Sahajak Boonthanakit as Governor Narongsak

Thai actor Sahajak Boonthanakit takes the role of the real Governor of Lampang, Thailand at the time, Narongsak Osottanakorn. When the story of the rescue was first brought to the big screen in 2019's "The Cave," Governor Narongsak was vocal in his disapproval of the film, criticizing it for containing false information and getting details wrong (per The Nation Thailand).

Sahajak Boonthanakit began acting in 1999 with a supporting role in "Brokedown Palace," an English-language thriller set in Thailand. Since then, Boonthanakit has continued acting regularly in both local and international productions shot in and around Thailand. You might recognize him from roles in "The Lady" starring Michelle Yeoh and David Thewlis, "Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li," or the Owen Wilson-led action thriller "No Escape."

Boonthanakit has been prolific in action movies, like "The Marine 2," "Hard Target 2," "Never Back Down: No Surrender," "The Skin Trade," "The Asian Connection," and "The Man With the Iron Fists 2." Alongside his "Thirteen Lives" co-star Vithaya Pansringarm, Boonthanakit was also in Nicolas Winding Refn's "Only God Forgives." Other noteworthy appearances include the Netflix original movie "Fistful of Vengeance," the Chinese gangster film "Chasing the Dragon," and "Bad Genius," which was a Thai film that broke through to a larger international audience than usual.

Teeradon Supapunpinyo as Coach Ek

When the 12 children found themselves trapped in the Tham Luang cave, there was one adult with them: their 25-year-old soccer coach Ekkapol Chantawong, known commonly as Coach Ek (via Bangkok Post). Playing this vital role in the film is young Thai actor Teeradon Supapunpinyo.

Supapunpinyo only began acting in 2015, so he hasn't racked up quite as many credits as most of his costars, but he has quickly been making a name for himself. He landed a major breakout role as one of the stars of "Bad Genius," one of Thailand's most critically acclaimed films. "Bad Genius" swept a record number of categories at the Thailand National Film Association Awards, and was one of the country's biggest box office successes (per BK).

Outside of acting, Supapunpinyo has led a successful career in the music industry. He was a member of the Thai boy band 9x9, in which he used the stage name JamyJamess (via KProfiles). After the disillusion of 9x9, Supapunpinyo joined a spinoff boy band known as Trinity, which was initially comprised of four of the nine members of 9x9. Trinity is still together, though Supapunpinyo left the group in 2021.

Josh Helman as Major Hodges

Australian actor Josh Helman takes on the role of Charles Hodges, a Major with the U.S. Air Force who spearheaded the United States' involvement in the Thai cave rescue operation (via The Citadel). This is far from the first time Helman has portrayed a member of the U.S. military on screen. In fact, two of Helman's most recognizable roles are as Chuckler on the HBO World War II mini-series "The Pacific" and as William Stryker in the "X-Men" movies "Days of Future Past" and "Apocalypse."

You might also be familiar with Josh Helman from his roles in films like "Animal Kingdom," which found him acting alongside his "Thirteen Lives" co-star Joel Edgerton for the first time, or "Mad Max: Fury Road," in which he played Slit, the most prominent War Boy aside from Nux. Fans of the television shows "Flesh and Bone," "Deputy," or "Wayward Pines" might also recognize Josh Helman, as all three provided him with major recurring roles.

Zahra Newman as Olivia Taft

Actress Zahra Newman plays the role of Captain Olivia Taft in "Thirteen Lives," though this is one instance of the movie character diverging a bit more from the real person she was based on. In both the film and reality, she's a member of the U.S. Air Force who serves as a public liaison and spokesperson, relaying important information about the rescue efforts to the news media. In reality, her name is Olivia Tait, which the film changes to Taft. The real Olivia Tait was born in South Korea to Korean-American parents (per Bangkok Post), while the actress portraying her, Zahra Newman, is of Jamaican-Australian descent (via El Cinema).

Zahra Newman has fewer acting credits than many of her costars. She debuted in 2010 and has accrued just 15 credits, including "Thirteen Lives." Ahead of this latest movie, she was best known for the prison-centric television series "Wentworth." Australian television viewers might also recognize her from the shows "Sisters," "Spreadsheet," "Diary of an Uber Driver," or the long-running soap opera "Neighbours."

Nophand Boonyai as Thanet Natisri

Thanet Natisri was an unassuming restaurant owner who wound up getting involved in the rescue operations, having worked in the past for the Thai government on an unrelated groundwater storage project (via Carbondale Times). Natisri was the expert in charge of managing and draining the water levels within the Tham Luang cave, buying time for the other rescue efforts to be carried out. In "Thirteen Lives," this water expert and restauranteur is played by Nophand Boonyai.

Boonyai is a Thai actor who relocated to England at a young age, where he then spent the majority of his formative years (per MyDramaList). He returned to Thailand to forge a career in the film industry, and he landed his first role in the straight-to-video American action movie "Sniper 3," which was set in Vietnam but filmed in Thailand. Boonyai has been involved in a number of English-language productions shot in Thailand over the years, including a couple of movies with some of his "Thirteen Lives" costars. "No Escape," "Only God Forgives," and the Matthew McConaughey movie "Gold" are the highest-profile projects Boonyai has been a part of.

In addition to acting, Boonyai is also a writer. He wrote the novel "The Cult of Monte Cristo," which was published in 2018. He also co-wrote and played a supporting role in the 2022 Thai film "SLR."

Teerawat Mulvilai as Somboon

Though the world had its eyes on the Tham Luang cave rescue efforts, nobody was more anxious and invested than the parents of the dozen trapped children. One of these parents was Somboon Sompiangjai (per CBC), who is played in "Thirteen Lives" by Thai actor Teerawat Mulvilai.

Mulvilai hasn't been in too many movies throughout his acting career — just 12 feature films in the span of about 20 years — but the majority of them have been large films with plenty of international appeal from beloved filmmakers shooting in Thailand.

He has worked with a many acclaimed directors from all over the world, including German auteur Werner Herzog, French filmmaker Jean-Jacques Annaud, Belgian horror maestro Fabrice du Welz, Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn, Kiwi Martin Campbell, and France's Luc Besson. You might recognize Mulvilai from his large and small roles in "Rescue Dawn," "Only God Forgives," "Vinyan," "The Lady," "Beyond Borders," "Around the World in 80 Days," and "Two Brothers." Outside of the film industry, Mulvilai is also an accomplished dancer and theater director in Thailand (per Coconuts TV).