Veteran Thai actor and National Artist Sorapong Chatree passed away on March 10 from lung cancer. He was 72 years old.
His death is a major loss to the entertainment industry. Sorapong Chatree, or Kreepong Tiamswate (formerly Pittaya Tiamswate), became prominent in the late 70s to mid 80s, starring in more than 500 movies and over 100 television series in a career spanning 50 years. Following the successful path of his predecessors like Mitr Chaibancha, Sombat Metanee and Chaiya Suriyan, Sorapong was known for an unassuming screen presence, playing varied leading roles in all kinds of genres from drama and comedy to crime thriller and action films. He brought his affable trademark smile to every performance, receiving the nickname "Everlasting Hero".
Born in 1950, Sorapong grew up tending cattle in a small district in Ayutthaya. After finishing prathom 4, he was ordained as a novice monk at Wat Daodueng in Thon Buri. At 18, he moved to Bangkok and earned a job working as an apprentice on a movie set. He then moved up to playing an extra in feature films and met with his future mentor director Chatrichalerm "Than Mui" Yukol who later cast the young actor as a scientist fighting a monster in his feature film debut Out of the Darkness (1971). During his five-decade-long career, Sorapong received numerous awards such as the Phra Surasawadee best leading actor award for If You Still Have Love (1981), Gunman (1983), and male supporting actor for Ong-Bak 2 (2008). Sorapong also was chosen as a national artist in 2008.
You can pay homage to Sorapong by watching some of his classic titles available on YouTube.
Out of the Darkness (1971)
Sorapong got his first leading role here. The film was also the first movie directed by MC Chatrichalerm Yukol. The actor plays a scientist who fights an alien monster.
Khao Chue Karn (1973)
Adapted from the novel by Suwannee Sukhontha, the film, by MC Chatrichalerm Yukol, stars Sorapong as an idealistic young doctor working in a remote village. He has a run-in with local barons, and is eventually murdered.
Theptida Rongram (1974)
Sorapong stars opposite Wiyada Umarin in the film directed by MC Chatrichalerm Yukol. He plays a pimp/thug who runs a brothel into which young northern girls are sold.
Cheewit Badsop (1976)
Directed by Permpol Chei-aroon, the movie channels Sam Peckinpah, especially Straw Dogs, by casting Sorapong as a husband who seeks revenge after his wife is raped.
Plae Kao (1977)
In this classic by Cherd Songsri, Sorapong plays Ai Kwan, a farmer who's tangled up in a tragic, Romeo-and-Juliet love story with E Rium, played by Nantana Ngaokrachang.