- Almost Famous
- Meeting the star
of "Last Life in the Universe'
By Lekha Shankar
WANTED a fresh, new face symbolizing our fresh outlook, new ideas, and
independent spirit. We found it all in the beautiful, bubbly, actress
Sinittra ‘Noon’ Boonyasak, younger sister of the more famous Laila
Tall, slender, with short black hair and
white alabaster skin, the confident ‘Noon’ has all the makings of an
international star if reviews of her first feature film, which is now
creating waves in the international film circles, are any indication.
We’re talking about “Last Life in the
Universe,” a new movie featuring a famous Japanese actor, an Australian
photographer (cinematographer?) and produced with international funds.
Directed by the dynamic Pen-Ek
Ratanaruang, “Last Life...” have just won an award at the recent Venice
Film Festival, and is now the official Thai entry to the Oscars. In
the movie, 24 year-old Sinittra plays Noi, a chain-smoking youngster
whose life takes a turn when her younger sister Nid (played by
real-life sister Laila) dies in an accident.
That’s when she encounters Genji, a
Japanese academic in Bangkok who cannot speak English and cannot cope with
life. A strange bond develops between the two and in spite of cultural,
lingual, and social differences, their short, “last life” together seems
the beginning of a new one.
In a lively conversation,
the effervescent actress (one of the few who looks super without any
make-up) gives full credit to her director for the film’s critical success
and states firmly that the film has not changed her frank, independent
spirit at all.
Here are some excerpts from our exclusive
us about your acting background.
I took an Acting-Directing Course at
Prasanmit University two years back. The course taught me a lot about
theatre, good cinema, natural acting although I did a lot
of “over-acting” in the 20-odd soap opera roles I did for TV. I was also
a TV host for a while. I was enrolled in a Thai cooking course when
director Pen-Ek approached me for the role in ‘Last Life...’
Were you excited about getting
the role in ‘Last Life…’?
Not really because I was planning on
quitting films. In fact, I had not heard of director Pen-Ek before. I saw
his film “Monrak Transistor” on cable TV only after I did ‘Last Life…’; I
accepted the role because I liked the script a lot.
What did you like about the script?
It was a story about real life, like the
sister’s sudden death in the film. Anything can happen to “real” people
Were you “over-awed” acting with the
famous Japanese actor Asano Tadanobu?
No. I knew he was famous but I really
didn’t care because I knew I was quitting films. We hardly spoke
throughout the one-month film-shooting because he does not speak English.
The only words he said were, “Thank You”, when I gave him a Buddha amulet
after hearing he had sleeping problem one day.
What did you enjoy most about the
I realized I could act naturally; that I
can be myself. Pen-ek told us to keep on “acting” even if we made
mistakes with the script or messed up the props, and not to stop till he
What did you like least about the
Driving that old Volkswagen ‘Mr.
Turtle’! I’m used to “auto” gears and that was all mechanical. The
hardest scene was when I had to drive the car to find a Japanese
restaurant. The whole street was closed for the shot and I had to get it
right. But I had to do it 20 times!
Was it easy for you to do the scene
where you had to strip to your underwear?
Yes, because it looked like a bikini and
not any daring underwear. Only two crew members were in the room,
including the director, when the scene was shot. Besides, my contract
states that no pictures of the scene would be published anywhere.
How different are you from your
sister Laila who’s also in ‘Last Life...”?
She’s more famous. She’s soft and
polite, while I’m strong and independent — and I’m not as popular!
Are you excited by the success of the
Of course. But full credit should go to
our director. I was only a part of it.
What are your plans?
To continue with my cooking class and
possibly start an import-export business. I’ll take up another film,
only if the role is really good.