A slice of Hollywood in Phuket

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Meet Anteo Quintavalle, a Phuket resident and film producer who recently appeared in Mechanic: Resurrection alongside Jason Statham and Jessica Alba.

The Mechanic Resurrection movie was shot in Thailand and we know that you took part in it. Was there much competition to win the role? Why did they choose you? And was there an audition?

They needed a villain with a mean look, but someone who could also pass as a guy who Jessica Alba might fall for. There were several hundred actors from LA who were considered for the role. Jason, the director, Dennis Gansel and the producers, liked my interpretation of the character during the three rounds of auditioning. To be more distinct from Statham’s look, I grew out my hair and bulked up 10kg.

Did you know Jason Statham before? What kind of person is he in real life? And what is Jessica Alba like?

I used to own a designer shoe store in the west end. Strange as it may seem, I’d pass Jason Statham on the nearby Oxford Street where he would be hustling jewelry from a box to passersby. As the story goes, Guy Ritchie one day spotted Jason there as well and offered him his breakthrough role in Lock Stock. I was apprehensive about our shoot, as I have had some really weird experiences with celebrities before, but Jason was very down to earth and courteous with me. Jason is really passionate about his films. Before breaking through as an actor he was a competitive diver and a male model and perhaps given this background he is quite meticulous about the execution of the sequences and also how they are stylized. Jessica Alba was very calming to be around. Through her ‘Honest’ Company, she is worth $500m, but was no diva, she’s very easy going and happy to try her hand at much of the stunt work.

Are there any funny stories from behind the scenes you could share?

There’s one from a fight sequence that unfortunately didn’t make it into the final cut that springs to mind. It ended with my character taking a high fall and landing on a wooden table. For this I had a great stunt double from Australia. He was dressed up just like me, including a blonde wavy wig. When it’s a dangerous piece of action, everyone wants to get it done in as few takes as possible. The stuntman did a perfect fall on the second take, but his wig flew off. He stood up and groaned when he was told to do it again. “What was wrong with that?” Jason Statham picked up the wig, which had landed near him, put it on his own head and said “I don’t know Stu. You tell me.” Everyone had a good laugh as the stuntman patted his bald head and realized what had happened.

I’ll give you one more.

We were fortunate to work on Mechanic with the legendary Vic Armstrong who is the action director of choice for the likes of Spielberg and Scorsese, but when you are working with the best, they also demand the best. There’s a long lens shot in the movie where Frank and Gina are fighting on a yacht. I had practiced a routine for a few days with the stunt team and although all the moves were there, Vic was less than impressed. I was thinking “This could be a long day”. On the second take when Gina’s stunt double rose from my first strike, I was caught by surprise. She was wearing a loose blouse and one of her breasts had popped out. I expected a cut, but I was the only one who noticed and the director urged us on. Unsure what to do, as I grappled her, I tried to shake it back inside the blouse, but not matter what I did, every time she got back to her feet the breast was still staring back at me. At the end of a shambolic take, I braced myself for an ear full from the director. Through the loudspeaker Vic bellowed “No idea what was going on there, but that was perfect!”

I saw a particular segment with you that looked tough. How many takes were shot? And did it hurt?

To be honest, I was in agony before I set foot on set and almost had to drop out of the film from a double achilles injury. Most of the pain comes in the preparation. On that sequence you saw, I actually missed the crash mat and landed on the edge of the boat, but with the adrenaline of the moment I didn’t feel anything, until the next day that is.

How was the premiere in Bangkok? Are you happy with the final result? Do you plan to give up everything else and focus on your acting career?

Thailand Elite organized a premiere at Central Embassy for its members and I was a special guest. The film has an old school Roger Moore Bond feel, with the action set across the world, mine and the Sydney scenes you see in the poster were all shot in Phuket.

There were some scenes that we did not have time to shoot, but with the injuries I was carrying I was pleased to have seen it through.

I’ve appeared in two further features since Mechanic Resurrection and have received offers on future projects, but my focus is now on my own productions. My first film “The Last Executioner”, which is a Thai language biopic, won Best Film at the Thai Film awards last year, I have ‘Escape’ which I mentioned before and a very cool ‘Hunger Games’ style script I would like to shoot in Phuket, which is currently sounding out investors.

 Anteo, сould you say in a few words, what brought you to Phuket?

I grew up in London where I’d been involved in a mix of businesses over the years, though my main pursuit throughout was equity investments. One large holding gave me a seat on the board of directors of the Russian Oil Company, Timan Oil & Gas, which I still hold. We are currently in partnerships with Alexander Lebedev and Mikhail Gutseriev. When I decided to focus fully on equity investing, it meant I was no longer bound to any specific country, provided I had internet access. Phuket fitted the tax and lifestyle profile I was after at the time.

How did you run into the movie industry and do you remember your first role?

After the credit crisis crash in 2008, I remember watching the sunrise before the markets opened and decided that there would be more productive ways to devote my time. With its locations and cost savings, I saw an exciting opportunity in film and acquired the rights to the bestseller autobiography “Escape”, a true story set in Bangkok about the only westerner to have ever escaped from a prison there. While working on the script, a friend suggested that I gain some on set experience and so I submitted to upcoming film projects. My first role was as an extra on the tsunami adaptation “The Impossible” starring Ewan McGregor. I went on from there.