The 10 Biggest Actors in Thailand

Cinema | © Pxhere
Leslie Finlay

Thailand’s obsession with everything romance, drama, and action has created a generation of talented actors that are truly jacks-of-all-trades. From dedicated activists to life-long martial artists, international playboys to engineers, check out the stars that hail as Thailand’s leading men.

Tony Jaa

Born Phanom Yeerum, Tony Jaa is one of Thailand’s most decorated and colouful sensations. His illustrious background includes accolades like being a Thai martial artist, action choreographer, stuntman, director, actor, and Buddhist monk. Hailing from rural Thailand, Jaa closely studied the films of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li when they were shown at local temple fairs. At age 15, he became the protégé to stuntman and action film director Panna Rittikrai, training relentlessly for years before landing his breakout role in Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior. He continued to be a staple in Thai action movies until his story came full circle and caught the eye of Jackie Chan, who cast Jaa in Rush Hour 3. More recently, he’s starred opposite Vin Diesel in Furious 7 and xXx: Return of Xander Cage, along with the 2017 hit Triple Threat with Scott Adkins.

Prin Suparat

Known internationally as Mark, this Chiang Mai local is known for his extended reign as the prince of lakorns, or Thai “soap operas.” His breakout role was in Ngao Ruk Luang Jai, and is due to star in the hotly anticipated Kom Faek 2018 this year. Of late, he’s generated headlines regionally for becoming romantically linked with his on-screen lakorn sweetheart, Kimberly Ann Voltemas. Mark also holds a black belt in judo.

Mario Maurer

This hotly sought-after actor, who just recently finished his master’s degree in political communication, first broke into the entertainment industry at age 16, when an agent approached him in Siam Square to pursue a modeling contract. After a robust portfolio of commercials, music videos, and photo shoots, the part-Thai, part Chinese/German model landed the leading role in Love of Siam. After a few more notable roles in Thailand, including the massive hit Pee Mak, his fame extended to The Philippines, co-starring in Suddenly It’s Magic.

Nadech Kugimiya

Known as the “King of Presenters,” Nadech, also known as Barry, is one of the most decorated actors in Thailand. He rose to fame following a series of advertisement deals that led to roles on some of Thailand’s most popular lakorns, starring opposite some of the country’s most beloved leading ladies. Of Thai and Austrian descent, he was raised by his aunt and adoptive Japanese uncle, and is a devout conservationist. He recently produced a short film for the completion of his bachelor’s degree to raise awareness for the issue of deforestation.

Jesdaporn Pholdee

An engineer by trade, Jesdaporn, known as Tik, got his start in entertainment as a presenter in TV commercials while studying at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce. A director noted his talent, and soon after, approached him to play a role in the movie Dang Bireley’s and Young Gangsters — a film critics credit with re-energizing the Thai film world. Since then, he has worked as a model, actor, and brand ambassador for a variety of products, as well as a host and producer of The Navigator, an ecotourism program that earned Tik an Honorary Degree of Environmental Science and Natural Resources from Rajamangala University of Technology.

Theeradej Wongpuapan

The son of Weeraprawat Wongpuapan, an actor, and Kanchana Wongpuapan, a screenwriter, Theeradej was destined for stardom. The actor and activist, who also goes by Kane, was first discovered by a producer at a friend’s wedding and quickly gained steam acting in a variety of lakorns and movies, like Go Six and Bangkok Traffic (Love) Story. He was consistently voted “Most Popular Thai Male Star” by an official national Thai poll, and in 2012, was inducted into Thailand’s Most Popular Star Hall of Fame. Today, he continues to act in popular lakorns and serves as a Thai ambassador to UNICEF, campaigning against domestic violence and for the development of social stability in Thailand.

Chantavit Dhanasevi

Going by the nickname Ter, this rising star had humble beginnings, working in faculty stage plays during his time at Chulalongkorn University. Post-graduation, Ter began dabbling in screenwriting, assistant directing, and as an acting coach before landing his breakthrough role in the popular romantic comedy Hello Stranger. His performance earned him the Star Hunter Award, awarded by the Shanghai International Film Festival to rising stars in the Asian film industry. He’s continued acting in films and TV series, but has since added screenwriting to his repertoire, penning and then also starring in — blockbusters like Pee Mak and One Day.

Chakrit Yamnam

Gaining fame locally for years as a lakorn and sitcom actor, the notorious playboy emerged on the international radar, starring opposite Steven Seagal in Belly of the Beast and then with Nicolas Cage in the 2008 remake of crime thriller Bangkok Dangerous. Chakrit, locally known as Krit, returned to Thai screens not long after as the host of Iron Chef Thailand and reprised his lakorn roots on shows like Duen Pradab Dao and the upcoming Koo See Pee Meu Bprab.

Ananda Everingham

This Laos-born sensation was part of an international love story before he was even conceived. His father, a famed photojournalist from Australia, was kicked out of Laos in the late ‘70s after the communist government’s takeover. His return to bring his Lao girlfriend back to Thailand — by scuba diving beneath the Mekong River — was loosely retold in an NBC movie starring Michael Landon in 1983. According to Ananda, his father forbid him to watch the film, as he felt the story was a one-dimensional romance and didn’t truly speak to the issues happening in Laos at the time, so he only saw it by secretly obtaining a copy in his teens. For years, Ananda was a regular face in movies and TV series before landing his breakthrough role in the horror movie Shutter, and went on to star in the international hit Good Morning, Luang Prabang, the first movie to be filmed in his mother country of Laos for 33 years.

Pachara Chirathivat

Affectionately known as “Peach,” this young star has enjoyed a rapid rise to fame, thanks to his role in the popular Hormones TV series. He’s since launched a career in the music industry under the indie label Smallroom, and starred in Thai films The Billionaire and SuckSeed. He moved back over to his TV roots as a mentor on the first season of reality modeling show The Face Men Thailand in 2017.

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