Last I heard, "Pe" Arak Amornsupasiri had been chosen for the leading man role that had starred Ananda Everingham the first time around. Pe was then replaced after the rocker-actor had made a disparaging remark about the physical attractiveness of Lao women.
Seeing how was to act opposite Laotian beauty queen Khamly Philavong, reprising her role from the first film as a charming tour guide, that would have made things awkward.
Well, it turns out Ray MacDonald took over the role.
Directed by Sakchai Deenan, the Thai director who co-helmed the first movie with Laotian filmmaker Anousone Sirisackda, it's called Sabaidee 2: From Pakse With Love (สะบายดี 2 ไม่มีคำตอบจากปากเซ , Sabaidee 2: Mai Me Kamtob Jak Pakse).
Ray plays a struggling filmmaker named Por who agrees to take a job shooting a wedding video in Pakse, a major city along the Mekong River in scenic southern Laos. There, he meets the comely tour guide played by Khamly.
It's actually a prequel, according to The Nation's Parinyaporn Pajee. She attended the movie's August 22-23 premiere in Pakse, which is one of only three cities in Laos that has a multiplex.
Here's more about Ray's character:
"I can understand how my character feels. I was out of work for a while and people treated me differently. "I'm amazed at Por's resilience. He has a tough life but he has never given up on making his beloved movie. And he doesn't blame anyone for his troubles," says Ray, who is tackling comedy for the first time.
"I usually play complex characters, so complex that even my mother and brother often ask me why I can't choose a project that they'll have less trouble understanding. So this film is for my family," he says.
"We always see Ray in a serious role, but I think his real personality is cheerful and relaxed. In this role, he is more than that. He's like a mixture of Stephen Chow and Jim Carrey," says Sakchai.
Read on for Sakchai's plans to work more in Laos and help build up that country's industry.
Sabaidee 2: From Pakse With Love is in Thai cinemas on Thursday.
The trailer is at YouTube on the Sabaidee 2 channel. It's embedded below.
(Poster via NangDee.com)