Global fans of Thai actor Suppasit "Mew" Jongcheveevat were thrilled when he announced he will be the producer of TV series The Ocean Eyes, which tells the story of a group of marine veterinarians. With an intriguing plot and a massive budget, The Ocean Eyes is a collaborative production between three countries: Thailand, China and the US. As an international star who plays the leading role, Suppasit has a chance to work with Hollywood producers, including Rick McCallum, producer of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and The Star Wars Special Editions; Herbert Primig, producer of the animation Star Wars: The Clone Wars; and Henry Gilroy, co-writer of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
The 31-year-old Suppasit said the plot was inspired by his own experience in an aquarium in Osaka, Japan. He was in Osaka for a school rugby competition and experienced homesickness, but going to an aquarium helped heal him.
"When I was in Osaka, I missed my parents and cried every day. My host took me to restaurants and toy stores, but I did not care about those places, but when they took me to an aquarium, I felt calm. The water world was spectacular. It was a magical moment that made my homesickness fade away. I think The Ocean Eyes can bring that magic moment to everyone," said Suppasit.
In this fantasy TV series, which does not have a scheduled release date yet, The Ocean Eyes or OE is a leading marine life institution where young marine veterinarians, played by Tul Pakorn, Marina Balenciaga, Tonliu Morakot and Suppasit, have to work on an important mission together. Unlike most Thai TV dramas and series, The Ocean Eyes does not focus on romantic or triangular relationships. It is more about the lives of medical professionals who treat aquatic animals. The series also aims to raise public awareness and create better understanding of the underwater world.
To attract viewers and make the script entertaining, Suppasit changed the story several times until writer Henry Gilroy joined, which finally led to his satisfcation with the final version.
In order to play his character, Suppasit consulted Assoc Prof Dr Nantarika Chansue, director of the Veterinary Madical Aquatic Animal Research Center of Chulalongkorn University. She is recgonised for her care of the famous baby dugong Mariam.
"Dr Nantarika and her crew are very nice. She helped us understand behaviours of aquatic animals and how to film them. I was at a workshop to learn how to stitch wounds, so that when I performed, it would look realistic," he said.
Suppasit is interested in marine life because he is an environmentalist. When he has an opportunity, he always speaks up and encourages people to protect the environment. The actor said his concern about the environment developed after he travelled to other countries.
"When I travelled to developed countries, I found they had different systems to protect the environment. I feel these countries are moving forward to preserve their environment. If we can adapt their system, we can preserve our environment too. The environment is everything that surrounds us. Natural resources are limited. If we do not preserve and protect natural resources, they will run out," Suppasit said.
Suppasit believes in the influence of movies and TV on attitudes, so he wants to produce a series that is informative.
"Each character in The Ocean Eyes has their own issue which reflects a person that people can meet in the real world. Viewers will see how decisions each character makes affects their life. Will viewers make similar or different decisions from the characters? Environmental issues are also included in the plot. The Ocean Eyes may not suddenly change viewers' attitudes, but they will gradually absorb content, watch the characters grow and grow with them," he said.
Working with Hollywood was an eye opening experience for Suppasit since their professional competency is impressive.
"Their creative ideas are fantastic. The scriptwriter, Henry, has great ways of writing a script. He does not use a fixed formula which makes each episode different and viewers cannot guess the direction. Herbert is a visionary producer who has broad perspectives. It feels reassuring to have Herbert look for what we lack and what we need to improve. The director, Wayne Rose, needs no introduction from me since he is renowned for his work on Battlestar Galactica, which is an outstanding sci-fi series. I also went through previous works by the cinematographer Drew Thomas and found his cinematography was spectacular. Therefore, I am thrilled to film The Ocean Eyes," said Suppasit.
Suppasit 'Mew' Jongcheveevat.
Before Suppasit became the producer of The Ocean Eyes, he was CEO of Mew Suppasit Studio, which is in charge of his music. When asked what kind of producer he is, Suppasit said he is someone who can adapt to situations.
"A good thing about being an actor is I can understand people's characters and know and how to best work with them," he said.
Suppasit wears several hats, which can cause conflict at work. However, Suppasit said he can separate and play roles to suit his duties.
"When I am an actor, directors can tell me how they want me to perform. After finishing scenes, I will review them as the producer. I have no problem listening to others. I work with a fantastic crew, so I am open-minded to listen to them and trust them," Suppasit said.
Suppasit started in the entertainment business as an actor when he was 18 in ads. In 2019, he became a star as the leading actor in the popular TV drama TharnType: The Series. In addition to acting, Suppasit is renowned for his singing, especially his album 365 on which five songs -- Drowning, Missing You, Let Me Be, More And More and Time Machine -- ranked in the top ten of Billboard's World Digital Song Sales. As the only Thai singer to hold this record, Suppasit said this success belonged to everyone that was involved in making the album, including his music crew, his fans, listeners and himself.
Suppasit has an incredible international fanbase dedicated to supporting him. In 2019, his fan club, Mewlions, sent 200 drones to create images of Suppasit in Shanghai's sky to wish him a Merry Christmas. To congratulate Suppasit for being the producer of The Ocean Eyes, fans sent 40 food trucks to support the religious ceremonial opening of production. Due to their love for Suppasit, many fans said on social media they wanted to learn Thai and were interested in Thai music and TV. The actor/singer is glad to know that he is part of Thailand's soft power.
"I am glad to hear my fans want to learn Thai since our language is beautiful, but it is difficult to learn. It is interesting to know I've made more people aware of Thai language and culture through my music and TV series," he said.
"I have no idea if Thai soft power can spread to the world like South Korea, so I do not want to compare. I hope everyone will support all Thai artists who are representatives and bring uniqueness to the global market. If Thai artists are determined and Thais support them, we can go far in the global market," Suppasit added.
Suppasit's ultimate goal is to be an actor in a Hollywood film and receive an Oscar. In order to pursue this goal, he said he has to keep improving.
"In today's digital age, we can connect and work across different countries. Since everything moves forward, I will never stop improving myself. After having opportunities to work with an international crew, I was able to broaden my horizon. This world is not small, but not that big, so we can still meet and work with people from the other side of the world," Suppasit concluded.