Untold stories of Tham Luang cave rescue revealed in Netflix series
In 2018, 12 boys from the same football team decided to spend an afternoon with their coach exploring the Tham Luang caves in northern Thailand. When heavy rain flooded the caves, what was supposed to be a fun excursion turned into a massive international rescue operation that transfixed the world.
This extraordinary story will soon unfold in “Thai Cave Rescue”, through the untold perspectives of the boys at the centre of the mission.
Netflix has partnered with filmmakers from Thailand and across the world for this new series, which will premiere worldwide on September 22.
Filmed entirely in Thailand, the show features exclusive insights from the young members of the Wild Boars football team, revealing their ordeal at the limit of human endurance, as well as the experiences of their families and the vast international team that came together to save them.
Created by Michael Russell Gunn (“Billions”, “Designated Survivor”) and Dana Ledoux Miller (“Designated Survivor”, “Narcos”), the six-episode limited series is directed by Baz Poonpiriya (“One for the Road”, “Bad Genius”) and Kevin Tancharoen (“The Brothers Sun”, “The Book of Boba Fett”, “Warrior”), who deliver a dramatised retelling of the astonishing rescue that gripped the world in 2018.
“Thai Cave Rescue” features a Thai cast led by Papangkorn “Beam” Lerkchaleampote as Coach Eak, Thaneth "Ek" Warakulnukroh as Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osottanakorn, and Urassaya "Yaya" Sperbund and Manatsanun "Donut" Phanlerdwongsakul as Kelly and Pim — fictional representatives of the real-world hydraulic engineers and park rangers that made the incredible rescue possible. Supakorn "Tok" Kitsuwan also joins the cast as former Navy SEAL diver Saman “Ja Sam” Gunan, while Bloom Varin plays Army doctor Colonel Bhak Loharjun.
Director Baz Poonpiriya said, “Thai Cave Rescue is the first opportunity for audiences worldwide to see the Tham Luang story in a new and more emotional light – centring the perspectives of the 12 Wild Boars, Coach Eak, and heroes like Saman “Ja Sam” Gunan, whose lives beyond the operation remain largely outside the public spotlight. I am very proud to have this opportunity to tell the stories behind the faces and names we have come to know well over the course of this world-famous rescue operation.”
Fellow director Kevin Tancharoen said, "As a Thai-American, I feel so incredibly fortunate to help tell this story through the lens and soul of the Thai people. I wanted to bring my experience of telling big superhero stories to the real world. One where real-life superheroes worked together for a common cause regardless of where they were from, and the only superpowers are the perseverance of the human spirit and what we can accomplish when we work together."
Writer Michael Russell Gunn said “Thai Cave Rescue” was ultimately a story about family.
“From the boys’ own parents and guardians to thousands of local and international rescuers joining the mission, this was the entire world coming together as one big family. We intended for the show to cover not just the rescue operation but also what the Wild Boars went through inside the cave, and we believe our focus on achieving authenticity – from characters and languages to locations and emotions – will shine through and make an impact on viewers worldwide through Netflix.”
Co-writer Dana Ledoux Miller said they began working on the show at the beginning of COVID-19 lockdowns in the United States.
“It became an unlikely source of comfort to tell a story that is such a poignant reminder that even though we are so often defined by our differences – in language, belief, or socio-economic status – hope and resilience of the human spirit are universal. When it comes down to it, we are all at the mercy of nature,” said Miller.
Further underlining the focus on authenticity is the casting of the 12 Wild Boars, who are played by local boys Pratya "Tiger" Patong, Songpol "Pangpon" Kantawong, Chakkapat "Junior" Sisat, Thanawut "Bank" Chetuku, Teeraphat "Gun"' Somkaew, Thanaphong "Pluem" Kanthawong, Thanapat "Utha" Phungpumkaew, Aphisit "Fluke" Yookham, Watcharaphol "Kim" Puangsawan, Thapanot "Nam-Ning" Huttapasu, Apisit "Chit" Saengchan, and Rattaphoom "Fluke" Nakeesathid. Filming took place at the homes of the real boys and Tham Luang itself.
As with the real mission, “Thai Cave Rescue” has assembled a cast of international actors to portray key contributors in this rescue, including Nicholas Bell as Vern Unsworth, Nicholas Farnell as John Volanthen, Christopher Stollery as Rick Stanton, Rodger Corser as Dr Richard “Harry” Harris, and Damon Herriman as Dr Craig Challen.