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Almost Famous
Meeting the star of "Last Life in the Universe'
By Lekha Shankar
WE 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 Boonyasak.  

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 interview:

img1.jpgTell 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  any day.

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 film?

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 say, ‘Cut!’.

What did you like least about the film?  

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 film?

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.


copyright by Bangkok Etcetera Co., Ltd. 2003