Actor and director Bin “Top” Banluerit, 49, is also a long-time volunteer with Ruamkatanyu. Most recently, he disarmed a woman who was holding a knife to her child’s throat, and the video went viral. Here, he speaks of heroism and why he’s still single.

My parents named me and my twin brother after a brand of detergent. Our names are “Top” and “Tide” on our birth certificates. At first, they planned to use Chettha and Anucha (older and younger brother in Thai-Sanskrit), but they changed their minds because we got really sick when we were little.

I never dreamed of being an actor, even though my brother and I were big fans of Thai movies. We always went to the cinema near our home. We’d pretend to be two heroes fighting bad guys and saving the world.

We came to Bangkok to continue our education. Then my brother, Tide, got a job at a famous modeling agency. He asked me to join him, but I didn’t get as much work as he did. My hair was too short for modeling because of my army reserve officer training.

My big chance came when a famous director, Kom Akkhadet, decided that I should train to do action movies for a year. My first movie, Khamakabpra, was released in 1983. And I got a leading role in Tabtimtone in 1984. I’ve been acting regularly since then.

I started directing movies because I found that I often had a different perspective from my directors about scenes. My first movie was Tamnan Grasue in 2002, then Chang Puen Gaew (2003), The Groan: Guan Guan Phee (2004) and Panya Renu (2011).

I spent nearly B20 million out of my own pocket to shoot and promote Panya Renu because none of the studios were interested in the project. I begged Sia Jiang of Sahamongkol Film to help me get this movie in the theaters. I was convinced that it was a great film.

It was very warmly received by audiences. Word of mouth spread, and ticket sales kept
getting higher and higher. It’s now the most successful Isaan movie of the year.

None of my movies feature superstars. They’re all fresh faces. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want famous actors; I just want to have the right actor for the right role. Many of the actors who started out with me are now famous, like the Panya Renu actors who have gone on to tour the country. I’ve just finished the sequel that will roll out early next year. I am also on the pre-production of my new movie that will shoot in India.

I became a rescue volunteer because I really admired them. These volunteer groups used to give away stuff to my family and poor people in my neighborhood. I made up my mind that I would join them one day.

My time came in 1987 when a theater collapsed and people were stuck inside. I rushed to the scene after I heard the news. They needed help operating some of the machines and saving people. Ruamkatanyu gave me an official jacket and I’ve been a volunteer since then. Now, I serve as president of the RuamKatanyu Special Events committee.

I swear, I don’t want to be a hero. Recently, I intervened in a situation where a mother was threatening her baby at knifepoint in front of CentralWorld. But all I want is to help people. I’ve been saving people for decades without the media paying any attention.

I see huge positive changes in the public’s attitude towards volunteer groups. It used to be that many people didn’t want to associate with us because we worked with dead bodies. People believed it was bad luck. But now, people are starting to acknowledge that we help society.

I would rather be a volunteer than a husband. All of my ex-girlfriends begged me to stop doing this job. I wouldn’t then and I never will because my heart wants to go out and help people. I still haven’t found the right girl who can love me for who I am.

I gave up on politics after I found how dirty it was—and still is. I ran to be an MP in 1995 and the head of a sub-district showed me 10,000 fake ID cards. What kind of fair
election could come of that?

Pheu Thai recently approached me to become a member. I turned the offer down. I need to be neutral if I’m going to work for social

I wish I could do a TV show about helping extremely poor people in our country. I wouldn’t want to ask the audience for money. I would just want them to help me find people in need.

Being a good person isn’t just a matter of duty. If none of us try to be a good person, then there won’t be any good people in the world.


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