Lord Of The Rings star Viggo Mortensen has shared the terrifying moment that his oxygen tank cut out, while filming a diving scene for upcoming Hollywood biopic film Thirteen Lives.
Directed by Ron Howard, Thirteen Lives is the true story of the rescue mission to save twelve boys and their coach from a local Thai football team, after they became trapped in a cave following an unexpected rainstorm in 2018.
The true life story, which was reported on news channels across the world, is now told in a new film starring Viggo Mortensen, Colin Farrell, Joel Edgerton and Tom Bateman as the heroic divers who became a sole lifeline for the young football players and their coach.
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The stars worked with the real life divers Rick Stanton and Jason Mallinson on set, who were part of the rescue mission in 2018, and who taught the actors not only how to swim like them, but also provided advice and techniques on how to be safe under water as they filmed their diving scenes.
Speaking to Daily Star and other press, Viggo, who plays diver Rick Stanton in the film, said: "There were a lot of places that were so narrow that you had to just wiggle through.
"Sometimes you had to take your tank off, while you were underwater, without disconnecting from the air, then go through this wiggle area [and] put the tank on. Do this all calmly."
He added: "We had two tanks. If something went wrong with one, just be calm. Don't freak out, because you can drown in a few seconds.
"Once you freak out and you swallow a little water, you're done. Even though it's a movie and you're in this place, nobody can get to you fast enough."
Viggo also credited Rick's advice for saving his life, after his oxygen cut out suddenly while filming, saying: "One thing Rick kept talking about was, 'Remember to just breathe calmly. Control your breathing'.
"You don't want to use up all your air. The more nervous you are and you're breathing shallow, you're using up all your air.
After his oxygen tank cut out, he kept Rick's advice in mind, adding: "I rolled on one of my tanks as I was trying to squeeze through this pinch point and it just shut off.
"I was like, F**k, no air.
"I remembered what Rick said and I was like, ok I have the other tank, so just tried to get it over here and reach it and switch. Do it calmly.
"It seemed like it took forever [to swap to the other tank]. It probably didn't take that long, but I got it done, and then I managed to get through this tight spot.
"But I really had a moment there where I started to breathe fast. Your equipment sometimes, it will get snagged."
Speaking about being underwater, he added: "It's very dark. You can easily get very frightened in a hurry. Like I said, breathing, breathing. That was the key."
Speaking about working with his fellow stars and the real life divers, Viggo recalled the close bond that the team had while making Thirteen Lives and the lengths the divers and production team took to keep the cast and crew safe on set.
He said: "We were really worked together above water as much as under water.
"Underwater, I would say was maybe even more important because even though you're shooting a movie and it's somewhat controlled situation, whenever you're underwater and you're in caves, it's dangerous.
"I think all the actors, we listened very carefully to what they were telling us and watched what they did very carefully."
He added: "Everybody worked hard, everybody pulled together. It reflected the real rescue and it was a very selfless team-oriented effort shooting the movie as well."
Speaking about working with the cast on set, diver Rick Stanton also said: "The diving scenes are incredible.
"You put them in the equipment, and this is a testament to their acting abilities, but we directed how we did.
"Their diving, you couldn't distinguish it from ours, and that's a testament to their ability to take direction because of the actors they are."
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