Tony Jaa, the internationally well-known Thai martial arts star, has confirmed he is alive and well, dismissing widespread rumours that he died during the shooting of a Hollywood movie in the United States on Saturday.
Tony, whose real name is Tachakorn Yeerum, told reporters in a telephone interview that he was well aware of the rumours of his death that had been spread on social-network platforms.
To prove he is alive and well, he posted a newly recorded video on his Facebook page under the headline: "A little message for my friends in Thailand". In the video clip, he denies rumours that he is dead, saying he is alive and kicking, and plans to make more films.
He is best known for his roles in “The Protector” and “Ong-Bak”, which brought him international fame.
News of Tony’s “death” had spread in both Thailand and other countries.
One Thai website, https://tawatnews.com/TAWAT/87452/, reported Monday that the legendary action star was dead and that his body would be returned to his hometown in Surin province.
The website claimed that the actor had died during the final shoot of “Fast and Furious 9” after getting the director’s go-ahead to leap about 10 metres from one rooftop to another at 11pm on Saturday.
He was reported to have fallen to his death while attempting the stunt.
The website even showed what was claimed to be the scene of the accident, including police yellow tape.
Another website, Mediamass, reported that rumours of the actor’s alleged demise had gained traction on Saturday after an “R.I.P. Tony Jaa” Facebook page attracted nearly one million ‘likes’.
Those who read the ‘About’ page were given a believable account of the Thai actor’s passing:
“At about 11am ET on Saturday (May 25, 2019), our beloved actor Tony Jaa passed away. Tony Jaa was born on February 5, 1976 in Isaan. He will be missed but not forgotten. Please show your sympathy and condolences by commenting on and liking this page.”
Hundreds of fans immediately started writing their messages of condolence on the Facebook page, expressing their sadness that the talented 43-year-old actor was dead.
And as usual, the Twittersphere was in a frenzy over the death hoax.
Whereas some trusting fans believed the post, others were immediately skeptical of the report, perhaps learning their lesson from the huge amount of fake death reports emerging about celebrities in recent months, according to Mediamass.
Some pointed out that the news had not been carried on any major Thai network, indicating that it was a fake report, as the death of an actor of Tony Jaa’s stature would be major news across all networks.
A poll conducted for the Celebrity Post showed that 89 per cent of respondents thought the false Tony Jaa death rumours were “funny”.
On Sunday, the actor’s representatives officially confirmed that Tony Jaa was not dead.
“He joins the long list of celebrities who have been victimised by this [type of] hoax. He’s still alive and well; stop believing what you see on the Internet,” they said.
Some fans have expressed anger at the fake report, saying it was reckless, distressing and hurtful to fans of the much loved actor.
Others said it showed his extreme popularity across the globe.