With a feature film set for release this month, and a new album in the works, this multi-talented actor, musician, and hotelier takes time out to discuss his varies artistic pursuits
Although he comes from the well-known ‘Sukosol’ hoteliering family, Krissada Sukosol Clapp, otherwise known as ‘Noi’, remains shy, soft-spoken, and modest. He has also broken many existing social barriers during his multi-talented career, both as movie star and rock musician. But what remains most interesting is how deeply this artiste reads and researches on all his artistic “passions”.
The “actor” Noi has appeared in more than 15 films, and his latest release is entitled Khun Pan, due to hit theatres in July. He stars alongside Thai superstar Ananda Everingham, who plays the real-life role of an infamous policeman who shot down many gangsters in Southern Thailand during the turn of the century. But the “musician” Noi has also recently compiled an album of 12 songs, after a decade-long break. This actor-musician is also a successful hotelier, and the owner of the luxurious, art-studded Siam Hotel, although this exclusive interview was conducted at the family’s equally captivating Sukosol Hotel, on Sri Ayuthya Road.
Are you excited about the release Khun Pan this month?
I’m very excited, as I get to ride horses and shoot cops, which satifies the “little boy” in every actor’s dream! But I’m also nervous, because this is the first “total baddie” role I’m playing. I wear a wig, sport tattoos, and am very loud, which is the opposite of who I am. But I enjoyed acting with Ananda, who plays the cop hunting me down. I admire his calm and relaxed air on the set, which is very different from mine.
You’ve done quite a variety of film roles, haven’t you?
Yes, I’ve always been interested in other people’s lives and experiences, and that’s why I’ve tried a variety of roles. I acted in the famous Thai comedy film-series Long Pi Teng, the indie movie Adventures of Iron Pussy, the reality-show thriller 13 Beloved (where I won a National Award), the musical Luk Thung Signature, and the gangster movie Antapan, which incidentally is by the same director as Khun Pan, Kongkiat Khomsiri.
Do you have any role-model actors?
Many, but I believe that Daniel Day Lewis is the greatest actor on the planet! He makes a film just once every couple of years, and blows me away each time.
Tell us about your rock-star career. I’ve heard a lot about your “wild moves” on stage!
In a way, it’s another “role” I play. I’m easily frightened by crowds, and it’s just torture when I’m on stage. That’s why my body becomes an instrument and serves as a security blanket, where I lose myself. I began to study the great ‘movers’ of our time—Baryshnikov, Fred Astaire, even Muhammad Ali and Bruce Lee. My rock-music career began when I returned after my studies in the US, and my brother Sukie started the Bakery Music indie music label, after which our rock band Pru became very successful. We did plenty of shows, from small nightclubs to big arenas. But our second album tanked, and we broke up soon after.
So, why this new music album now?
I think that writing is what I do best, much more than singing and dancing. And I’m lucky to have a fan base. In fact, this is totally for them. I’ve whittled down 30 numbers to just 12 songs, and hope they are uplifting, as they are about people who hurt and who struggle.
Isn’t it ironical that you should write about “people who struggle” when you yourself come from such a privileged family?
I agree that I’m lucky to come from a privileged family, but at the same time, let me tell you that’s it’s gone against me. I’ve had to work extra hard to get credit for whatever I’ve done. I’ve always wanted to connect with the ordinary man on the street, and this happened only through my music and movies. All my life I’ve never liked clothes, cars, and gadgets. When I go to Chiang Mai, I stay at a 500 baht a-day guest house.
Tell us about the fabulous art works and antiques in The Siam, your luxury riverfront hotel?
I have an absolute weakness and passion for antiques, and loved designing the hotel with them. They are, again, a part of my deep interest in other peoples and cultures. Just as one gets lost in a film or a song, I want my guests to get lost in the artworks of our hotel.
Absolutely. It’s the foundation of everything I do now. After all, anthropology is about the study of peoples, from thousands of years back to the present day. I also minored in theatre arts and studied at the Stella Adler Conservatory of Acting. I waited on tables at night, and went to auditions during the day. But I never made it, and was a failure. That’s why I deserve my success in Thailand!
How successful are you as a family-man?
My wife Melanie, and two kids Finnegan and Rosalie, are my roots and foundation. But I try to be tough with my kids and instill in them the discipline that my father taught me.
Many people who know about your life and career still don’t know much about your father?
People tell me that I’m a lot like my dad. His name is Terry Clapp, and he’s a solid middle class American guy. He met my mother, Kamala Sukosol, when they were both in a music band at college. They were together for 20 years. My Dad now lives in Hua Hin, and we keep closely in touch with him.
Are you still a dreamer?
Very much. I’m very fortunate that I’ve been able to fulfil my various dreams and passions. And although I spend time with my family, I also enjoy being on my own, dreaming, thinking… my favorite den is my library.
How special is Bangkok, to you?
Bangkok is like a great lead singer who doesn’t look great, but damn it, has a great soul! There’s an undercurrent of energy and a duality in everything. Be it a billionaire or a backpacker, there’s something here for everyone.