Paradorn: From Center Court to the Big Screen
by Robert Davis|
In recent months there have been a few sightings of Thailand’s Paradorn Srichaphan, the first Asian-born Top 10 player. There has been the odd doubles exhibition, the opening of his Italian restaurant and the commercials for his herbal drink promising enhanced performance. Now Paradorn fans have something else to cheer about - his upcoming role as an action superstar.
Starring in his first movie, Bang Rajan II, Paradorn is lean, mean and more cut-up than ever. Sporting a mohawk haircut and a serious six pack, he plays Nai Mun, the silent but deadly good guy who protects his family and village from the invading Burmese army.
“I saw him the other day, and he looks great,” reports former Davis Cup teammate Danai Udomchoke. “He is really super-fit and a natural for this type of movie.”
“When the director called and told me which movie that he was interested in me acting in, I was shocked,” Paradorn told ATPWorldTour.com. “The first one (Bang Rajan) was a huge hit in Thailand and one of my favourite movies. He told me that I would have to be in great shape, but I had already been working in the gym a lot before he called, so it was no problem.”
Paradorn’s character is content to live a peaceful Zen-like life in the village with his pregnant wife and family until danger crosses the line. Now Paradorn swings into action, and just like he used to do on the tennis court, he lets loose with his ‘grip it and rip it’ style. Only this time it is with a bone carving long-blade slinging buckets of blood and not a tennis racquet smacking winners all over the court.
Displaying none of the good-natured, fun-loving persona that earned him the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award in 2002 and 2003 and a legion of fans worldwide, Paradorn’s trademark ‘cat who just ate the canary grin’ has been replaced with a tightlipped tough-guy snarl.
“My character has strong family values: My wife is pregnant and I have to prepare the village for the oncoming war,” explains Paradorn. “Getting ready for a scene is a lot like preparing for a match. You have to be in control and really focused, especially in the combat scenes where we used swords and knives and the choreography is really important or somebody gets hurt. But the hardest part is remembering the dialogue, because you cannot just read it, you have to feel it and express the emotions with gestures.
“My fellow actors and the producers say that I did really well. But I will wait on the reviews and if they are positive, I would definitely consider more acting in the future.”
“Paradorn has always loved playing tennis in front of people,” says Sanchai Ratiwatana. “It is only natural that he becomes an actor. I cannot wait to see the movie. For sure Paradorn will be great.”
Bang Rajan II hits the Thai cinemas on 25 March.