December 2001
The Talented Mr Panichkul
by Dionne Kho, Teen Magazine


The Talented Mr. Panichkul
He may be known as Utt, the MTV VJ, but we may soon know him better as Greg, the actor

By Dionne Kho

Hands up all of you who watch Bankok Jam just to catch a glimpse of Greg "Utt" Panichkul - even through you have no idea what he's jabbering about when he switches to Thai? Ah, then join your fellow compatriots in the Philippines, where the magnetism of the unofficial "king" of VJs himself can be witnessed on the top-rated Bankok Jam.

Having been guilty of watching some episodes of the programme myself in the past, I was prepared for Gregs sunny charm and cheeky disposition, as he talked in-between audition for some very mysterious roles (we couldn't pry anthing from him) for TCS 5

Most people remember you from local movie Chicken Rice War, where you played yourself. But few outside of Thailand realise that youve actually acted in award-winning dramas like Songkram Dok Ruk (War of The Roses), Khun Chal (The Prince) and movie The Naughty Cupid. So youre really a veteran actor as well as a veteran VJ.

(Mournfully) Im better in my acting than in my language. But with "the Prince and War of the Hoses, they wore all serious roles. I think that through these roles, people have become more confident in my acting because it has a lot of different emotions going in, coming out, I feel that through emotions, you can translate acting a lot better.

Tell me, what kind of roles are you looking for in Singapore?

Well thats hard to say... Its kind of funny cos I grow up in the States and I speak English but here I am, an actor in Thailand. speaking Thai, The only time I spoke English acting was in Chickon Rice War, So its kinda challenging in that Ive never done anything in Enqlish.

I wanna branch out. Thats part of the reason I am here, I know that its 50/50. I dont know if I can deliver according to what the director wants. So Im just taking it one stride at a time. If it works out, cool. If it doesnt, well, then I'll try and try and try again.

You said in an earlier interview that you can't be a VJ forever. Is branching into acting part of your exit strategy?

No, Even before I joined MTV. I was hosting. Its just that before MTV. I hadnt given much thought to acting - I... erm, acting didnt really motivate me, Its just there, its worK.

What made me feel motivated was after I got roles in The Prince and War of the Roses. It made me feel like I was able to deliver something more to society. I mean. I have fans who know me as Utt, the crazy and hyper VJ. but its also nice to have something else outside of VJing. And its nice to be able to actually get into the role and pull it off.

Its been three years now. You joined MTV when you were 25, and now youre 28. How does it feel, three years down the road in such a high-energy job? Are you sick and tired or still raring to go?

Well, the energys still good. I really dont know where its going to head to. I don't have so many plans. Its like whatevers going to happen is going to happen. Kinda like just taking it one step at a time. I think that as long as my energys still there, then Im okay. But once my energys not there, then I'd need to question myself.

You must be mobbed practically everywhere you go, especially in Thailand! I cant believe that no one has run up so far and thrown her panties at you or something

We met sonic fujis just now at the hotel. But they were these auntics and uncles who gave me boxes of dried pork! Its nice to have some older fans now that Im in acting and dramas as well. I get a lot of free food. Id walk down the streets full of vendors and go, Auntie. can I have some of this and shell go, Take! take! (Laughs very happily at the thought of free food).

It strikes me that it takes a certain kind of personality to be a VJ; you have to really enjoy it, or else you dont last long.

It's true, what you say. But also at the same time, I stay true to who I am; I was the biggest geek on earth in school. I'm always being friends with people that others don't wanna be friends with. And yet I'm working in a business where you would think that it's where the popular crowd should be in.

I kinda go back to "I'm not a full-out party animal"; I don't feel like I'm "cool". It's cool to be you, it's cool to be diverse. Just be who you are and don't be who you're not. And be real; I kinda try to be that especially when I'm doing interviews (killer grin).
Wow I' going on. Hey I' really getting into this, you know.

Wow, so am I. It feels as if youre putting on a whole layer of significances on a job that most people would write off as shallow.

There are so many different definitions to what Im doing, and most people don't even know what its like.

Like with acting. I feel like I am giving back, reflecting society. When I do something else, they (his VJ fans) are probably going to follow me. Yet, at the same time, Im gaining a new bunch of fans, like the aunties. That feels warm.

There was this lady I met. She was so proud of me. I was able to touch her and her son and it felt so good to her that I was a role model for her son. At the same time, I dont want to be a role model. Things I do, I do because I choose to do it. I don't choose to do it to be a role model for the public. If I do not smoke, then I do not smoke for me first. And then, in turn, if that affects other people, thats good. But if I do smoke, then I do smoke. Im not trying to be who Im not.

Thats why I told the lady that I dont want her to see me as a role model, because if one day I co something bad and her son follows. Then shes going to feel betrayed and I dont want that, But if I do something and it affects her son in a good way, I'm proud. Do you know what I mean?

I think we all do.

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