Though he made his TV debut back in the 90s, Chakrit Yamnam is, at only 35, the very active host of Iron Chef and has countless series and movie projects, including his latest flick about gambling, Si Riang Sian Tot (Four Kings, in theaters this Jan 30). Here, he opens up to BK about battling his insecurities, his attempted suicide and blowing B100,000 in one night.

I felt like a waste in my family. My family members are all geniuses, good at business and school. My sister finished law school at 24, my dad is a great businessman and my mom is a great financier. Me? I’m just a boy who loves art.
 
Proving myself to my family is harder than in the entertainment industry. They were all against the idea of me working in showbiz as they saw no future in it. They tried to convince me to work with them. They’ve since stopped bothering me.
 
Growing up without a dad was a kind of bonus for me. My parents broke up before I was born. My mom raised me alone. But when I went to live with my dad for a short period, everything was so hyper-macho.
 
My dad tried to convince me to study economics, which I didn’t like. So, it’s better that we just meet sometimes, not live together.
 
I love acting because it’s all inside me. You just need to know how to bring it out.
 
I’ve never defined myself as a leading actor. I’m just a guy who works as an actor. My work can be broad. I think that’s the reason I’ve worked in this industry for so long.
 
Being enthusiastic makes your life endless fun. I love to push boundaries, even if I’m portraying a simple character. I like to play a role in many kinds of ways. Directors always say, “Enough already, you got it at the first take!”
 
Being a workaholic can mess with your private life. I used to work on five projects at the same time and my life off-camera was a complete mess. I never slept more than two hours a night for months. I would just jump in the car, sleep and wake up again at another set. My head was full of different scripts and I barely talked to my family.
 
Gambling will always be a part of human nature. So many people are willing to risk it all just for fun, but many don’t have much choice in life, either. They just want some luck. 
 
I once lost B100,000 in one night of gambling. I normally hate that kind of thing, but I wanted to have some fun when I was in Macau about a year ago. My friend and I bought a bunch of chips to see what our luck would bring. We lost them all. That’s it for me.
 
I used to shut myself off from the media. Tabloid news is the same all over the world. It doesn’t make anyone’s life better knowing everything about me. It was exhausting enough fighting with my family about working in the industry. I just didn’t give a shit about all the gossip.
 
Going through a very public breakup with my actress fiancé [Akumsiri “Jakajun” Suwannasuk] was a total nightmare. People saw me as the bad guy because I never spoke out. Eventually, I realized people wouldn’t understand me if I didn’t open up. 
 
Nearly taking my own life is the thing that I regret most. I felt like such a failure. The press tarnished me and my family, including my mom. She’s the one I cared about the most. I took a shotgun and pointed it at my head, but the bullet missed when I pulled the trigger.
 
Hurting my mom’s feelings caused me to wake up to myself. After hearing the gun go off, she ran to me and shook me telling me that I’m her whole world. I awoke from that nightmare and realized that she needed me and I couldn’t bear the thought of losing her, either.
 
My passion for cooking opened another big window in my life. I never studied at a cooking school. I just love cooking. It’s a Zen thing, a peaceful place for me in this crazy world. I plan to open a restaurant this year [Siam Wisdoms with Iron Chef Chumpol Chaengprai].
 
Cooking shows are the most difficult programs to shoot. When I host Iron Chef we shoot from 10am and finish at 1am, and you can’t lose focus because it’s such a tense program. As the host, I have to make sure everyone keeps their focus, too.
 
Marriage changed my perspective on life. I used to live and spend money for myself; now I have someone to save for and spoil.
 
Value your time with the ones you love. No matter how little it is. Though I work late every night, I try to make the most of my time with people, even if it’s only 5-10 minutes.
 
Don’t go overboard making priorities. Respect all the work you do. It will prove who you really are.
 
Everyone is born with some gift. You just need to find it.