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 pan-Asian 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 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.
Asians represent at Dolce & Gabbana’s Spring/Summer 2019 show for Milan Men’s Fashion Week – #WangJunkai from China, #MarioMaurer from Thailand, #NamJooHyuk from S.Korea and #RyoRyusei from Japan.#王俊凯 #karrywang pic.twitter.com/rAJW9M0l8H
— c-drama tweets (@dramapotatoe) June 17, 2018
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.
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.
Words + Interview by Syed Zulfadhli
Photography by Stefan Khoo
Styling by Chia Wei Choong
Grooming by Emiliano Riccardi
Assistance by Stefano Schiaffonati + Sara Zanoni / Django Management