mario’s odyssey

AugustMan (Malaysia) - - Mario Maurer - WORDS & IN­TER­VIEW BY SYED ZULFADHLI PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY STE­FAN KHOO STYLING BY CHIA WEI CHOONG GROOM­ING BY EMIL­IANO RIC­CARDI AS­SISTED BY STE­FANO SCHIAFFONATI & SARA ZANONI / DJANGO MAN­AGE­MENT

HOW FAR CAN SERENDIP­ITY TAKE A PER­SON?

All the way to Dolce&Gab­bana’s run­way and even fur­ther, it seems. For proof of this, just look at Mario Mau­rer. The 28-year-old model and ac­tor may not im­me­di­ately ring a bell, but that’s more a re­flec­tion of how lit­tle Sin­ga­pore’s and Thai­land’s en­ter­tain­ment scenes over­lap and less a knock on the man’s pop­u­lar­ity within the re­gion, and on the wider in­ter­na­tional stage.

One Lucky Turn Af­ter An­other

Speak to Mau­rer about his work in both mod­el­ling and act­ing, and it be­comes ap­par­ent how his ca­reer has been kick­started and pushed along by a se­ries of seem­ingly ran­dom lucky breaks. Born to a Ger­man fa­ther and a Thai-Chi­nese mother, his first chance to shine came when his panAsian looks caught the eye of a model scout in Siam Square. He was 16. While most kids that age would be pre­oc­cu­pied with more mun­dane con­cerns, Mau­rer chose in­stead to run with the chance he’d been given, and give mod­el­ling a shot.

From mod­el­ling, Mau­rer ven­tured into act­ing de­spite lack­ing any train­ing or ex­pe­ri­ence of any sort. And why not, since roles were open for au­di­tions? This also proved to be for­tu­itous: he cat­a­pulted to fame in 2007 when he starred along­side Witwisit Hi­ranya­wongkul in the con­tro­ver­sial box of­fice hit, Love of Siam. The film’s pro­mo­tional ma­te­ri­als gave no hint about the gay ro­mance plot that was in­te­gral to the story, and shocked au­di­ences who were ex­pect­ing some­thing more vanilla. Ul­ti­mately, the film turned out to be a crit­i­cal and com­mer­cial suc­cess, while the con­tro­versy sur­round­ing it gave Mau­rer a boost in vis­i­bil­ity.

From there, Mau­rer went on to star in sev­eral other Thai box of­fice hits like 2010’s ro­man­tic com­edy First Love and 2013’s hor­ror com­edy Pee Mak. He also bagged sev­eral awards along the way, in­clud­ing Best Ac­tor at the 10th Cine­manila In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val and The Most Ex­cel­lent Ac­tor at the Sixth Siam Dara Star Awards.

The In­sta­gram Model For Suc­cess

Like al­most ev­ery other celebrity th­ese days, Mau­rer main­tains a so­cial me­dia pres­ence. If num­bers are any­thing to go by, he’s had quite a suc­cess­ful run, to put it mildly ‒ his of­fi­cial In­sta­gram ac­count @mar­i­o_mm38 has 6.2 mil­lion fol­low­ers at the time of writ­ing. To be frank, Mau­rer’s In­sta­gram feed isn’t par­tic­u­larly well cu­rated or thought out, what with its smat­ter­ing of his com­mer­cial works and peeks into his life. You can­not deny, how­ever, that his good boy per­sona and del­i­cate fea­tures do shine through th­ese in­fre­quent posts ‒ traits that have un­doubt­edly helped him to earn his le­gion of fans.

For any artiste, pop­u­lar­ity is a de­sir­able thing in and of it­self. In Mau­rer’s case, how­ever, it was a call­ing card that opened up other doors ‒ in the same hap­pily ac­ci­den­tal way that his other moves have panned out so far.

Which brings us back to Dolce&Gab­bana. Al­though Domenico Dolce and Ste­fano Gab­bana have traded mod­els in for young in­flu­encers and celebri­ties to walk their shows, Mau­rer’s in­volve­ment was also a re­sult of luck, as our chat with him re­vealed. He ended up mak­ing his de­but at the Ital­ian lux­ury la­bel’s spring/sum­mer 2018 show at Mi­lan Fash­ion Week, where he walked along­side other su­per in­flu­encers like Pres­ley Ger­ber and Lucky Blue Smith. This wasn’t a once-off, nat­u­rally. Mau­rer has since be­come a reg­u­lar run­way fix­ture for the brand, with three con­sec­u­tive sea­sons al­ready un­der his belt.

Hard Work, Hid­den

De­spite hav­ing a life that reads like a fairy­tale, with things pan­ning out for him ev­ery step of the way, one can­not help but no­tice the tal­ent and hard work that’s been sup­port­ing Mau­rer’s ca­reer. One does not sim­ply win awards in act­ing by luck, for one. If any­thing, Dolce&Gab­bana’s de­ci­sion to con­tinue work­ing with him is also a clear sign that the man has what it takes, and is more than just a pretty face.

Per­haps the clear­est sign is how Mau­rer con­tin­ued to pur­sue his stud­ies; he re­cently earned his mas­ter’s de­gree in po­lit­i­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tions from Krirk Uni­ver­sity, arm­ing him­self with much more than his ear­lier de­gree in com­mu­ni­ca­tion arts.

Po­lit­i­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tions? Se­ri­ously? Is this the book­end to a 13-year-long tale of serendip­ity? Is our man bow­ing out while he’s at the top? We spoke to him to find out. Con­grat­u­la­tions on your mas­ter’s de­gree in po­lit­i­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tions. What made you pick this course of study?

When I chose it, I wanted to read some­thing that was un­re­lated to my ca­reer. Fun­nily enough, pol­i­tics turned out to be ev­ery­where ‒ it’s not some­thing you can es­cape even if you’re not di­rectly in­volved, es­pe­cially in Thai­land where I’m based.

You’ve men­tioned be­fore that your dream ca­reer isn’t in act­ing. What is it then?

I’ve al­ways wanted to run my own busi­ness in the cos­met­ics in­dus­try be­cause I be­lieve that ev­ery­one needs and ben­e­fits from groom­ing. For now, I want to con­tinue pur­su­ing act­ing as a ca­reer. We’ll just have to see if the op­por­tu­nity to do busi­ness in cos­met­ics ever comes knock­ing on my door. You’ve starred in many pop­u­lar roles and won awards for sev­eral of them. Surely this isn’t by chance? How do you pick what roles to play?

For me, it’s very im­por­tant to be chal­lenged by any role that I take up, so that’s a pri­mary con­sid­er­a­tion when I’m read­ing the script and con­sid­er­ing the char­ac­ters in­volved. This is es­pe­cially true if the role isn’t sim­i­lar to any­thing I’ve done in the past, be­cause there are even more fac­tors and an­gles for me to con­sider.

Did you face many chal­lenges when start­ing out?

I ac­tu­ally had a lot of trou­ble open­ing up ini­tially. It may be hard to be­lieve, but I’ve al­ways been a shy guy, so ex­press­ing and emot­ing what my char­ac­ter was feel­ing was pretty tough in the be­gin­ning. Let’s just say I had to put in a lot of ex­tra prac­tice in that ini­tial pe­riod. Thank­fully, things do re­ally get bet­ter with prac­tice.

Walk­ing for Dolce & Gab­bana is ob­vi­ously a high­light

“FOR ME, IT’S VERY IM­POR­TANT TO BE CHAL­LENGED BY ANY ROLE THAT I TAKE UP, SO THAT’S A PRI­MARY

CON­SID­ER­A­TION WHEN I’M READ­ING THE SCRIPT AND

CON­SID­ER­ING THE CHAR­AC­TERS

IN­VOLVED”

in your mod­el­ling ca­reer. How did the stars align to get you there?

It was all by chance. I was work­ing with a magazine that, some­how, man­aged to link us up. I guess Dolce & Gab­bana saw some­thing in me. On my end, what I loved about that first ex­pe­ri­ence was how the Dolce & Gab­bana team gave me, a new­comer, such a warm wel­come. On top of that, the de­sign­ers them­selves were very sweet not just to me, but also the en­tire team ‒ they feel like fam­ily now, and it’s made the en­tire ex­pe­ri­ence such a pleas­ant one.

You have a huge In­sta­gram fol­low­ing. In­ter­na­tional stars such as Ge­orge Clooney and Brad Pitt, how­ever, seem to have man­aged without it. How has so­cial me­dia helped your ca­reer, and do you think you can sur­vive without it?

So­cial me­dia has been cru­cial in help­ing me to con­nect with my fans, who are one of the main rea­sons be­hind my suc­cess. I re­ally can’t imag­ine what my ca­reer will be like without this link to them via so­cial me­dia. Now that you’ve found do­mes­tic and re­gional suc­cess in act­ing, and made it on the in­ter­na­tional run­way, is Hol­ly­wood next?

I’m not ac­tively work­ing to­wards Hol­ly­wood. If the op­por­tu­nity comes, how­ever, why not? I wouldn’t turn it away, that’s for sure.

If you had to pick be­tween be­ing an ac­tor, a model or an in­flu­encer...

I’ll choose to be an ac­tor, def­i­nitely. What I love about it is how I can reach my fans so in­ti­mately through the roles that I play. There’s a con­nec­tion be­tween the char­ac­ter and the au­di­ence when they are laugh­ing or cry­ing to­gether, and this is the part that gives me a lot of sat­is­fac­tion. Mod­el­ling is a close sec­ond for me. If I didn’t love it so much, I wouldn’t be walk­ing down Dolce & Gab­bana’s run­way.

Would things have been dif­fer­ent if you weren’t scouted at age 16?

That’s hard to say, isn’t it? As much as I would have loved to start my own busi­ness, like I men­tioned be­fore, I think I might have also ex­per­i­mented with skate­board­ing, or helped my mum with her busi­ness.

Do you fear that your star may stop shin­ing one day? Of course. Noth­ing lasts for­ever, so I’ll try my best to keep my act­ing ca­reer for as long as I can. If it stops work­ing out here one day, I’ll look into pur­su­ing my next ca­reer: run­ning a busi­ness. There’s no need to over­plan this.

What’s your vi­sion for your fu­ture?

For now, it’s still act­ing. I’m re­peat­ing my­self many times here, but I also want to run my own busi­ness next time. One other thing that I think about some­times is giv­ing back to my coun­try via so­cial work, es­pe­cially to help chil­dren who are less for­tu­nate.

Why chil­dren?

There are many chil­dren in my coun­try who don’t have ac­cess to proper ed­u­ca­tion. I think it’d be great to sup­port them, be­gin­ning with qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion, be­cause they are, af­ter all, our fu­ture. AM

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