When the cast of Princess Hours made their first visit to Malaysia recently, fans were practically rolling out the red carpet for their favourite Thai stars.
It may have been more than a decade since the smash hit Korean drama Princess Hours, also known as Goong, gained popularity across Asia, but when the Thai version aired in Thailand from April, Goong fever was ignited all over again.
As part of their “royal visit”, Princess Hours’ main cast members Tao (Sattaphong Phiangphor), Pattie (Ungsumalynn Sirapatsakmetha), Phan (Stephane Saisean Pagniez) and Bebe (Thanchanok Ritnaka) conducted a press conference, private screening party as well as a fan meet.
Set in a fictitious country known as the Kingdom of Bhutin, where monarchy still exists, Princess Hours revolves around the tumultuous relationship of Crown Prince Indra (Tao) and his commoner bride Princess Khaning (Pattie), as well as their respective love interests Minnie (Bebe) and Prince Nakhun (Phan).
Crown Prince Indra, who has just been recalled from his studies in Britain, wants to marry his childhood sweetheart Minnie, but has been instructed to help his family retain the throne by fulfilling his grandfather’s wish for him to take a commoner as his consort.
The biggest challenge for him, Tao said, was having to act like royalty and behave in an aristocratic manner.
“I am not a prince so it was really hard for me. I need to walk straight with proper posture, and speak and move slowly,” shared the 27-year-old popular leading man.
Pictured sporting a bright blue kinesiotape on his thumb due to a football injury, Tao continued: “If there is an opportunity to choose a character to play, I would go for a sporty one where I can show some of my skills. I’ve never played such characters anyway, and I love sports.”
Then, he described an amusing incident which happened while they were shooting a scene where Prince Indra had to stop Khaning from speaking.
“I was supposed to stop her by putting my index finger on her lips. But, I ended up poking my finger into her upper lip, instead.
“At that time, I wanted to laugh but I couldn’t, because it was a romantic-comedy scene so I had to carry on,” he recalled.
Pattie, who turned 26 recently, plays the bubbly Khaning who dreams of meeting her own prince. As a headstrong girl who is passionate about art, Khaning starts off on the wrong foot with Prince Indra, but soon finds herself to be betrothed to him due to an agreement between their respective grandfathers.
Playing an amusing young lady who has to learn to behave like a Crown Princess, Pattie said her favourite scenes are the one where she plays a commoner.
“It was the part that I enjoyed the most, especially in the scene where we were playing cards. Because, I could be myself. The family was full of love and warmth. It was very different from the (scenes in the) castle where I had to be so serious and act in a proper manner,” said Pattie.
Newcomer Phan, 24, plays Prince Nakhun who falls for his quirky schoolmate Khaning and later finds out that she is engaged to his cousin Prince Indra.
Prince Nakhun’s aggressive mother is the former crown princess, who emerges after spending many years in exile and pushes him to reclaim his birthright and fight for the throne as well as Khaning’s love.
Phan, who is of French-Thai descent, said that portraying Prince Nakhun’s character had left a deep impression on him as he enjoyed getting into a character that was so different from himself.
“I recall a scene where I plunged into depression because Princess Khaning rejected my love, and I became stressed out because my character had to satisfy his mother’s goal to win back the throne and the title of Crown Prince.
“It was very tough, a method acting that I had never tried before, but I like it since I can experience something new. It took months for me to recover from the scene,” said Phan.
There’s a slight change in the Thai version of the series compared to the original K-drama.
In the Korean version, the second female lead Min Hyo-rin (played by Song Ji-hyo) is a ballet dancer. In the Thai version, Minnie is an Olympic archer, a sporty sort of girl.
As one of the top fitness influencers in Thailand, actress Bebe shared that she really enjoyed playing a character who is sporty, and was determined to look like a professional athlete so she put in hours of training to learn the new sport.
“It was the first time I tried archery, so I practised for almost 10 hours. I had to learn how to grip the bow and shoot the arrow like a professional.
“It’s quite tough because the bow was very heavy. But I enjoyed it,” said the 29-year-old fitness enthusiast, who has her own collection of activewear.
In the drama, Minnie declines Prince Indra’s marriage proposal as she yearns for Olympic glory. But in real life, Bebe says (the character might) reconsider if the prince told her the true reason for his hurried proposal.
“Minnie is still young and wishes to focus on achieving her Olympic dream. But, if he told her the truth, that he has to get married in order to retain the throne, she would definitely accept his proposal, as she truly loves him.”
All 20 episodes of Princess Hours, with English subtitles, are available on dimsum. Download the dimsum app from Apple App Store or Google Play Store, or stream directly at dimsum.my. All new subscribers are entitled to a free 30-day trial. A subscription fee of RM15 a month offers access of up to five concurrent users or devices with one account. The streaming service supports Chromecast and AirPlay for subscribers to binge-watch shows on TV. For more information, go to dimsum’s official Facebook (http://ift.tt/2fzPlvG) and Instagram (@dimsum.my).