Thai model-actress Davika Hoorne has never seen a scary movie in her life.
But the 21-year-old ended up playing a ghost for her first movie lead role. Hoorne was in town with director Banjong Pisanthanakun, 34, and co-stars Pongsatorn Jongwilas, 30, and Kantapat Permpoonpatcharasuk, 27, to promote the new Thai horror-comedy Pee Mak.
She told The New Paper in an interview on Wednesday: "I don't like horror movies. I am too scared to watch them."
Hoorne, who is of Thai-Belgian descent, added in a mix of Thai and English: "I spent about 20 minutes daily putting on the pale ghostly makeup to prepare for my scenes. Even though I had to look ugly, it was fine because I was getting into the role."
Pee Mak, a spin-off of the popular 1999 Thai horror movie Nang Nak, tells the story of soldier Pee Mak (played by Thai model-actor Mario Maurer) who returns to his village from war with his four comrades (Pongsatorn, Kantapat, Nuttapong Chartpong and Attharut Kongrasri) and reunites with his beautiful wife Nak (Hoorne).
When he hears rumours that Nak had died giving birth to her stillborn baby Dang, he starts to wonder whether the woman he's living with is human.
Hoorne recalled her last scene in the movie as the most strenuous. She had to cry and deliver emotional dialogue opposite Maurer while hanging upside down.
She said: "I let my tears flow as I imagined the tragic love story between Nak and Pee Mak. The touching soundtrack helped a lot too. It was very difficult and my eyes hurt so much from all the crying."
Pee Mak has become Thailand's highest-grossing movie, raking in more than US$33 million (S$41 million) since it was released in the country in March. It also collected $1.3 million in Hong Kong in the three weeks since being released there and it opens here on June 13.
Banjong, who co-wrote and co-directed Shutter (2004) as well as horror portmanteau films 4bia (2008) and Phobia 2 (2009) , believes it's the perfect combination of romance, horror and comedy that makes Pee Mak such a huge success.
He said through a translator in Thai: "When I first thought of making a horror-comedy, I didn't expect it to be the next big thing.
"I think Asians enjoy it because there is a touching love story that resonates, and the comical parts make them laugh and feel good."
On choosing the pretty Hoorne to play the female lead, Banjong said: "It is not just about the looks. I auditioned many good-looking women for this role, but she could really portray the role of a pretty yet scary ghost very well."
Even though this is the first time Hoorne was working with Banjong and her male co-actors, there was strong camaraderie among the cast.
She said: "The guys are good at cracking jokes and coming up with spontaneous punchlines to add to the script while we were filming. I had to prevent myself from laughing as I was supposed to look serious playing a female ghost."
Pongsatorn, who also acted in 4bia and Phobia 2, said: "Whenever there was a break in acting, we would tease her and scare her. It was always very lively and entertaining on set."
Asked whether anything scary happened during the production, Kantapat joked: "Oh yes, something scary happened while we were filming. We saw snakes every day, and it scared the wits out of everyone!"
The chatty Pongsatorn chipped in: "I think I am more scared of snakes than of the female ghost. The snakes can bite me and I will die from its poison."
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