While it’s always a delight to watch, acting is much more than just play-pretend. Oftentimes, actors must go through extreme efforts to get into character. Acting depicts life, just like art.
And oftentimes, acting can also change your life – for better or for worse.
This is especially true for Tor Thanapob, who always puts his all into developing a character for a role. “Every time I finish a project, I always change,” he noted.
So that leaves us wondering: what are the roles that most inspired him and changed his life for the better?
Side by Side: Project S – The Series (2017)
“For me, one of those characters is definitely “P’ Gym.” What I saw beyond the success of Side by Side was that it was a project that was created to represent something bigger. I wasn’t doing it for myself, and there was so much power to that. I don’t know how I managed to reach the level of turning into P’ Gym,” Tor noted. “All I knew was that every time I played him, it was as if I was also bringing along with me the hundreds of lives at the autistic home where I was for months doing research [for the role].”
“I made a promise to them. Every time I got into character as P’ Gym, I knew that I was never going in there alone – I came because of those kids. That was when I realised that this is what ‘giving’ truly means.”
Side by Side (2017) tells the story about a boy with big dreams. That boy was P’ Gym; an autistic, exceptional badminton player who dreams of making it big as a competitive, and respected badminton player. As Gym begins to play badminton competitively with his cousin, Dong (played by Wongravee “Sky” Nateetorn), he starts facing numerous obstacles, discrimination, and mockery along the way.
Besides featuring the themes around autism and the stereotypes around it, the series was also about the love and warmth of family. The role of P’ Gym subsequently led Tor to win a Nataraj Award for Best Actor in 2017 – another award to add in the books. Tor also mentioned that it took him over 6 months to study for the role, where he would be on the ground to work with, interact, and study autistic children to really learn about their traits, behaviours, and characteristics.
“Like I said, prior to this I would just be doing things for myself because I wanted to,” Tor went on to explain. “But this project changed my whole perspective, and forever changed the way I worked.”
The Giver (2022)
When asked about what characters inspired him the most, without a beat, Tor answered, “Tailah.”
Tailah (English name The Giver) is Tor’s latest project and TV series that aired between May to June on ONE11 Channel, which also became a big hit amongst viewers, further boosting the actor’s popularity. The series centres around the lives of two siblings Tailah and Fahrung, whose lives were turned upside down after their parents were killed in a hit-and-run by the heir of a powerful, but corrupt business magnate – Hiran. As Tailah tries to find the truth and bring justice to what happened with his parents, he falls in love, and becomes a better person along the way.
“Tailah’s development as a character evolved along with how my life has evolved. The Giver was a project that was created during the 6-month-lockdown in the pandemic,” Tor explained. “It was built around the word ‘hopelessness’ – we’d see the news, see the desperate nurses, see what was happening around the streets. There was just hopelessness written all over.”
“But we brought that word and turned it upside down into its opposite – hope,” the actor continued. “Tailah was created based on hope. It was a reality that I wanted to see happen.”
After the filming wrapped up, hope was indeed accomplished, albeit a bit more realistically. “After going through the project, it made me realise that everyone should have hope,” he reflected. “While at the same time, we also must be grounded with that hope – to look around, see, and accept what can and cannot happen. I saw reality as something else when I was developing this project, but after filming wrapped, my view on reality also changed.”
“I feel like Tailah was the first character that was created based on a question, he was a character that also serves as a symbol for something more,” Tor said. “His character is larger than life – there were many scenes, decisions, and actions that were heroic, but rather surreal and unrealistic. But at the same time, they were also the things I wish to see happen in real life, those heroic actions and justice that I never get to see in reality. Tailah looks like a character that could exist in the real world, but who could it be? Who could possibly embody such an upstanding character?”
The Giver was a project Tor fought really hard to make come into fruition, as no one around him believed that it was going to work.
“Even when there were objections around me saying that it wasn’t going to work, I knew what I was doing and why I was doing it,” Tor added. “It didn’t matter to me what people thought, I believed in it because I was there with it from the very beginning. I knew I was going to do my best to make it work.”
“It was also a project that gave me more than just an acting opportunity, but also the chance to work with a team who equally believed in the message it represents, who trusted one another, and who wanted to make it a reality.”