Viggo Mortensen, Colin Farrell and Joel Edgerton have signed on to star in Ron Howard‘s fact-based drama, Thirteen Lives. The film will tell the story of the 2018 incident, where 12 boys and their soccer coach became trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand for 18 days, prompting an international rescue mission.
Mortensen will play Richard Stanton, a cave rescue specialist who was later honoured with the George Medal, the second-highest civilian award for bravery. Farrell will play cave diver John Volanthen, an underwater rescue specialist who was also honoured with the medal. Edgerton will play Dr. Richard Harris, an anesthetist and cave diver who was named Australian of the Year following the rescue.
Other members of the growing cast include Weir Sukollawat as former Thai Navy SEAL Saman Kunan, who sadly ran out of air while saving the children, The Serpent actors Thiraphat Sajakul and Sahajak Boonthanakit, Tom Bateman (Death On The Nile), and Nophand Boonyai (Only God Forgives).
William Nicholson (Gladiator) has written the script. Howard is producing the film alongside his Imagine Entertainment partners Brian Grazer and Karen Lunder.
Unsurprisingly, considering it’s a famous true story, Howard’s film is not the only project based on the rescue mission in the works. At one point there were at least three others.
Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu is helming a Netflix miniseries that will focus on the lives of the children, while Free Solo filmmakers Jimmy Chin and Chai Vasarhelyi were developing a similar movie at Universal. Famed documentarian Kevin MacDonald was also prepping a NatGeo documentary about the saga.
However, Chin and Vasarhelyi’s film fell through when Universal secured the rights to Howard’s film. But they were in luck, as MacDonald exited the NatGeo doc over “timing” issues, so the Free Solo directors were brought in to replace him. So while there are now only three Thai rescue projects in the works rather than four, there will still be competition to be the “definitive” version.
Howard’s version is almost certain to be the most “Hollywood” of all the projects. That’s kind of his M.O. He’s usually a director reliant on great scripts to make great films, so all eyes will be on what Nicholson can do on the page. Production is slated to begin later this month in Australia and Thailand.
Mortensen just starred in his directorial debut Falling, where he plays a middle-aged gay man whose conservative and homophobic father starts to exhibit symptoms of dementia.
Edgerton will next be seen in David Lowery‘s The Green Knight and Australian crime thriller The Unknown Man. Farrell has sci-film Voyagers arriving next month, while he’ll also eventually be seen in Matt Reeves‘ The Batman.