Yayaying Rhatha Phongam’s Hollywood debut wasn’t easy. In ‘Only God Forgives,’ the 30-year-old Thai singer plays a prostitute—and her love interest is Ryan Gosling. She discusses her transition to acting.
On The Daily Beast, you can read my latest article, “Thai Pop Star Yayaying Rhatha Phongam Debuts in ‘Only God Forgives.'”
Before Only God Forgives, Yayaying Rhatha Phongam had never acted. The 30-year-old Thai pop singer has been in the entertainment business since her first studio album at 16. She has a staunch fan base in Thailand with nearly half a million Instagram followers.
In director Nicolas Winding Refn’s violent crime thriller, out in theaters today, she portrays Mai, a stunningly beautiful prostitute who has an unconventional relationship with Ryan Gosling’s soft-spoken character Julian. She gets involved in his shady life in Bangkok, where he runs a boxing ring that also serves as a front for drug smuggling. Mirroring Gosling’s acting style in this film—he speaks very few words and channels raw emotion—Phongam relies on her facial expressions.
“He’s like my mentor and my brother and my first teacher in Hollywood,” Phongamsays about Gosling. She enjoyed watching Gosling’s The Notebook and Blue Valentine before meeting the actor, who she says has a “very good sense of humor.” On the first day of her shoot, she arrived sick and feverishly red. He asked if she was blushing.
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