One is an artist performing most nights at TawanDang German Brewery and veteran actor famed for his villainous roles. The other is a garment industry professional who dabbles in singing and was once a dancer.
Together they own the popular GARAGE Burger & Grill restaurant at All Seasons Place, Wireless Road, and between them, they have four grown-up children living in New York City.
Meet Poo and Joy, the dynamic and highly likeable husband and wife team from the Thailand and The Philippines respectively, who met and married while working in the US more than 20 years ago.
Here, Sahajak Boonthanakit and Joy Villanueva reveal what makes them tick as a couple and business partners - and how they handle their individual careers.
By Colin Hastings
I have recently applied for my senior citizen privileges.
You spent most of your early life overseas, right?
Eleven tremendous years in Nairobi, Kenya, and 21 more wonderful years in NYC.
What were you doing in New York when you met Joy?
Managing restaurants and clubs.
Where did you guys marry?
In Queens, by the Justice of the Peace.
Why didn’t you stay in the US?
I wanted to try life in Thailand. I am Thai and wondered why I could not get the connection. So in 1996 we came to Thailand, but still do go back to the US every year because of family.
So you’ve been entertaining audiences at TawanDaeng since it opened.
Yes, I've been there since Day One in 1999. It's been a great journey. This September marks my 20th anniversary as well as TawanDaeng’s.
How many nights a week do you perform there?
Normally six nights excluding Sundays and less if I am filming.
Have you always been a good singer and who influenced you?
You’d have to ask the audience how good I am. But I can tell you, I am a lucky one to get to do what I love. I grew up listening to Elvis, Motown R&B and a lot of Country.
Do you sing in both English and Thai?
I can sing in both but, I am more comfortable singing in English.
What type of music do you normally sing?
A variety of classic Rock & Roll and soft rock. For example, CCR, Eagles, Beatles, Elvis and the like...
How did you get into acting?
I started in Nairobi in the early 70s on stage. Oliver Twist was my first play. A couple of years after returning to Thailand, my son, Lukas, got an HSBC TV commercial and I benefited from that; I got to play his father. Casting calls continued coming in after that.
I have never had formal training, but as in life, every movie is an experience, an adventure, and a lesson.
What kind of roles are you usually given?
After 21 years, I feel I am typecast - Mafia, police, military types, but I am always hoping and ready for a role that will challenge me.
What are the best known movies you’ve appeared in?
NO Escape, Only God Forgives, The Lady, Twilight Over Burma, and Trade of Innocents.
What’s the best and worst thing about acting?
Personally, it's all a HIGH for me. I get to meet new people, make new friends, go to different places/countries, get to play different personas, and get paid to do what I love.
Of all the stars you’ve met, who are your favorites?
Pierce Brosnan, Dermott Mulroney, Dustin Nguyen, and few others.
Not in my crosshairs, but like Momma said, never refuse a good offer. I am just appreciative to be working.
What’s your next movie?
A Thai horror movie and an international film. I cannot elaborate further than that.
As a well-known actor and singer, you must be constantly asked to join a selfie or sign autographs. Does it bother you?
Not at all. I do get asked to take pictures often but, as I am not star-struck kind of a guy, I wish that people would feel the same way and simply approach me in a friendly manner.
Do you ever refuse fans’ requests?
To do what? As far as song requests, I try not to disappoint.
How much time do you spend at The Garage?
As much as possible. It's where my wife and I hang out.
What came first – singing, acting or restaurant owner?
The singing and acting have always been there. The Garage Burger & Grill came to be in 2002.
Which of these do you like doing the most?
Once again, I am blessed doing all that I love. As with my four children, I have no favorites.
Do you ever get time for a vacation?
Time is always there, but rarely coincides with film schedules.
Other than The Garage, what’s your favorite Bangkok restaurant and other hang-out places?
We frequent friends' establishments such as Wine Bibber Sangria or the Friese Greene Club where movie motivated people go. We do love to cook at home. In fact, my family has given me the nickname #halfnakedchef.
What’s next for you?
To continue doing what I do, to spend more time with family and my new granddaughter.