Ron Howard's Thirteen Lives Takes Viewers Behind the Scenes of Thai Cave Rescue

Ron Howard directs Viggo Mortensen, Colin Farrell and Joel Edgerton in Thirteen Lives, based on the inspiring true story of the 2018 Thai cave rescue.

By Cydney Contreras Jun 28, 2022 4:58 PMTags
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Ron Howard is recreating the harrowing 2018 Thai cave rescue.

In the first trailer for Prime Video's Thirteen Lives, Colin Farrell, Viggo Mortensen and Joel Edgerton play the expert cave divers who rescued 12 soccer players and their coach from the flooded Tham Luang cave system in Thailand.

As the men plan out their dive, Colin's character John Volanthen warns, "It looks easy but when it's flooded, it's impossible." 

And their mission to save all 13 people is made all the more difficult by non-stop rain and high water levels, which prevent the boys from swimming out of the cave. The only way the divers can remove the boys safely was by sedating them and swimming through the cave with their bodies, one by one. As one of the men says, "It's insane. It's unethical. It's illegal."

But ultimately, it was their only choice. While one diver from the Thai Navy SEALs died during the rescue and another died from a blood infection more than a year later, all 13 of the boys were saved 18 days after they first entered the cave.

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Viggo and Colin prepared for their roles by working with real-life divers John and Richard Stanton, who were involved in the rescue operation. "[Viggo and Colin] learned the cave diving techniques," the director previously told The Hollywood Reporter, "and the personalities of the men that they were playing."

For safety reasons, the group was unable to film the cave scenes in Tham Luang, but they recreated the system to the best of their ability. Howard said of the reconstruction, "It was definitely a feat."

But for Colin, Viggo and Joel, the faux caves were almost too real for comfort. "There were several moments for all of us where you went, Oh, wow what have I gotten myself into?" Viggo, who plays Richard, said during a June 28 press conference, according to ET Canada. "There's a lot of places that were so narrow you just had to wiggle through. Even though it's a movie, you're in this place and no one can get to you quickly."

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Joel, who plays Dr. Harry Harris, added, "I found it overwhelming and it really hit me how vital it is for everyone to be putting their safety first and to understand how rational and calm the attitude or psyche of regular cave divers would have to be that sets us apart from us regular folk."

Thirteen Lives premieres Aug. 5 on Prime Video.

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