If you haven’t inhaled Season 2 of Mortal Kombat: Legacy (review) yet – SHAME! For those of you that have (okay, if you still haven’t, you can look, too), we have a special treat…
I was given the chance to talk to creator/director Kevin Tancharoen as well as some select cast members, and what they had to say was both enlightening and inspiring.
DC: How did Mortal Kombat: Legacy go from short film to series?
Kevin Tancharoen (pictured above; director): It was kinda crazy how it just happened organically because a lot of people timed it out perfectly, but my short film (Mortal Kombat: Rebirth) went out two days before the launch trailer for MK VIIII was to be released at E3, so all of a sudden, MK was the thing to talk about in general and I couldn’t believe the timing worked out so perfectly; if it had been any other time, I’m not sure it would’ve happened the same way. But since the game was about to come out in four or so months, they (Warner Bros) brought me in and said, “Hey, the game is coming out; we should make ten more of these and we’ll release them digitally. We’ll roll ‘em out in support of the game and vice versa,” and that’s exactly how it worked out.
DC: Why do people love MK?
Ian Anthony Dale (Scorpion): MK is one of those franchises that’s culturally pervasive throughout the years, even for people who don’t play the game regularly (or at all). They still know about MK, they still know who the most popular characters are, and that’s truly a testament to what a great franchise (MK creator) Ed Boon created. He created something that’s aesthetically cool, and maybe that’s one of the reasons that people are still drawn to it 25 or so years later; it’s something that’s just cool to its core and people wanna be involved in that. What’s great is that the game continues to evolve and come so far since its inception and continues to be relevant…I think we’re gonna see MK in vg form and hopefully the web series and feature films for many years to come.
DC: What was the reaction from family when you booked the role?
Samantha Jo (Kitana): My brothers were stoked because they used to play MK all the time – they were showing (Season 1) to all their friends and are very proud of me!
Casper Van Dien (Johnny Cage) – My son went with me every day to set, and every day he’d put in the MK theme song as we went off to work! I’ve played MK, and yes, I was Johnny Cage, and now I AM Johnny Cage!
DC: How did you become involved?
IAD: I had originally worked with Kevin’s sister, Maurissa (writer), on an episode of Dollhouse she’d written, and at the same time Kevin was putting together this short (MK: Rebirth) – he needed a Scorpion and she just happened to think I may be perfect for the role. She put the two of us together for a meeting, and at that meeting he showed me a script, concept art and research. I was really enthralled by the modern take Kevin had created for this short – this great imagining. It’s such a storied franchise and I was allured by his enthusiasm and his attention to detail – there was really no downside to coming on board and seeing what happens…and I’m so happy that I did and I get to be a part of what has become an incredible journey.
Brian Tee (Liu Kang): Ian (who recommended Tee for the role) and I are like brothers; I think the world of him. Incredible friend, incredible actor, incredible brother… and he singlehandedly brought me in to the world of MK and I kind of fell into the Liu Kang role purely by circumstances of Ian. Ian brought me in – he’s talked about MK for a while since the short and I watched the first season and me being an MK fan myself, I thought it was amazing and really cool what Kevin’s doing – kind of revamping and revolutionizing the whole MK series into what it is now. And then Season 2 came along and the role of Liu Kang – to be honest, when they said, “Liu Kang,” I said, “Hmm, I’m not the guy to play him because I had this idea of Liu Kang from playing the games and watching the movie and series…I’m just not that guy; I’m much more harder moving and even my physicality just doesn’t say ‘Liu Kang’.”
But Ian convinced me – he said, “You read the script…you ARE Liu Kang.” So I read it and yeah, I connected with it right away and the way that Kevin wanted to approach Liu Kang and really take it to a whole other level – his storyline and how LK CAN go dark (with help from the writers) just made me fall in love with it.
DC: How did you come to pick up new cast members (including Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa and Mark Dacascos)?
KT: Because Season 1 did so well, casting was a lot easier – you could just make the call – “Everyone knows that no one was gonna make any money off this thing but come and play a cool character for a couple days for something called ‘Mortal Kombat’,” and I think every one was very into that.
Because of Season 1, I was able to get Cary Tagawa to come back; he saw what we were doing with MK and LOVED it because I think he was still frustrated with how the sequel for the ’95 film didn’t work out. He liked what we were doing and said, “You guys are doing it RIGHT; you’re doing it the way it’s supposed to be done. Count me in for Shang Tsung.”
He came in and shot for a couple of days – KILLED his scenes – the man is phenomenal.
I knew Mark (Kung Lao) from his film Only the Strong – I played it over and over again when I was younger – and getting Mark was a really fun thing for me and I got to surround myself with people I’d admired ever since I was a kid.
DC: How has the fan reaction been at San Diego Comic-Con and online?
IAD: ANYone who comes up to me and asks for a picture, I am happy to oblige; it’s a small act that can mean a LOT. Without the fans, I don’t have much of a career and I am really aware of that. I am really happy to be part of MK: Legacy and because it’s dependent on the fans, we make it FOR the fans. It’s a series where being online lends itself to constant engagement and it allows the fans to be part of the evolution and success of the series. I love SDCC and I love the fans; hopefully we’ll get to go every year!
KT: It’s been a CRAZY experience in just being there from the original short film that was meant to be a one-off, ten-minute film that was put together mainly for me to have some sort of calling card to do genre movies to becoming one of the most successful YouTube series that warranted a second season AND for WB to say, “Yeah, let’s develop the movie.” I love how it worked out!!
And sadly, that’s where my time had to come to an end.
Having watched the whole of Season 2 TWICE now and giving it a near perfect score, my only hope is that the film (which ALL cast and Kevin seemed to keep saying, so keep your fingers crossed) becomes a reality. But knowing it HAS to be awesome and knowing the love, time and research Tancharoen puts into any MK project – I will patiently wait for him to bring it to the big screen – because I know it’ll be RIGHT and it’ll be made of balls out, rocket sauce awesome.
I can totally wait.
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