During an interview with ComingSoon, Thirteen lives star Viggo Mortensen talked about how difficult it was to film underwater to properly represent the 2018 Tham Luang cave rescue.
When asked about the challenges that come with filming underwater, Mortensen mentioned that there are not only positive aspects to it, but also scary aspects:
“You’re down there. It’s like I’m in my own … I’m free,” Mortensen said. “There was something nice about it, but the flip side is that it’s scary because you’re alone. Although there are safety divers nearby, things can quickly go wrong underwater. So be careful, remember your training, take care of each other and so on.”
Mortensen then detailed the training process, which was composed of a series of steps that gradually escalated in difficulty.
“We imagined it would be difficult to learn the things we had to learn, but we really had no idea how difficult it would be overall,” Mortensen elaborated. “We did it in stages. First we learned in this big pool with nothing. No caves, no narrows, no current. Then we went through a section for about a week and it was difficult and, we thought, quite difficult. And the next time it was harder. The difficulty kept increasing from week to week to week. Longer, sections, narrower sections, stronger current, stalactites, stalagmites… so okay, now you’re transporting a real human. You can’t bump their head, don’t hit their mask, because if it fills with water, they drown immediately.”
However, Mortensen feels the challenge was worth it as he felt honored to portray the real rescuers in Thirteen lives.
“I think at the beginning we wouldn’t have been able to do it. It was well planned. We were well trained but you have to soak it in and do it. It was a great experience and really a feeling of achievement and an honor to represent these people who really got things done.”
“A rescue mission is assembled in Thailand, where a group of young boys and their soccer coach are trapped in a system of underground caves that are flooding,” reads the official synopsis for Thirteen lives. The film is currently out in select theaters and will begin streaming on Prime Video on August 5.