Aleks Paunovic is currently appearing the “Mortal Kombat: Legacy” playing the character Shao Kahn. Aleks is also appearing in this fall’s “This Means War” and “In the Name of the King 2”. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Aleks about his roles in both projects and also what he has planned next.
Mike Gencarelli: Tell us how you became involved with “Mortal Kombat: Legacy”?
Aleks Paunovic: I was fortunate enough because I went out for a casting and I had a really good relationship with the casting director. Probably about a month after I got a call that I got the role.
MG: Where you familiar with character of Shao Kahn before this project?
AP: I was and I was apprehensive about doing that role. I didn’t quite understand how I would fit in the mold. It was so great the route that Kevin took “Rebirth” and with “Legacy” opened where this project can go with his fresh vision. I was scared at first if the fans of “Mortal Kombat” would jump on board with me being Shao Kahn. Once I understood the vision Kevin had I was very comfortable and confident playing him.
MG: What do you like most about the character?
AP: Kevin was one a shoe string budget and we were just trying to understand it. For me, just knowing the immense popularity of that role and basically the baddest bad guy. In this we find in Kevin’s vision how bad Shao Kahn can be and how involved the character can do. That to me was excited knowing that from the ground floor you can get some really good character development.
MG: You have worked with fellow “MK: Legacy” co-star, Tahmoh Penikett, a few times now with “Battlestar Gallactica” and “Riverworld”, tell us about that?
AP: I am pretty sure it was a coincidence but Tahmoh and I have been best friends for years, off screen. We were just in Toronto to watch the biggest UFC in history. We grapple around and hang out often. Our biggest connection as friends is the fight games. He is a phenomenal fighter. So we train a lot together. He is one of my best friends.
MG: You have worked on a bunch of projects with SyFy, do you enjoy working in that genre?
AP: Oh man, I love the sci-fi genre! It is an interesting world to be apart of because the fans are so dedicating and loving and they just want you to succeed. When you get involved with the fan view of a project, I think that is the best thing as an actor to connect with fans. They want these films to be good and they want to help your growth. It has been awesome. I love that genre.
MG: What would you consider your most challenging project to date?
AP: Well there are two projects and they happened back to back. The first was a film called “Personal Effects” directed by David Hollander. Ashton Kutcher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Kathy Bates were in it. I played a mental challenged man, who ends up killer Ashton Kutcher’s sister. In the film, I had to develop this different character. I felt that the character I was playing was not suppose to work out, so I stopped. I didn’t even do a push up for a few months and ate as much as I could. So I wanted to look really out of shape. Besides that though the role was very dark and for me that was the hardest but it was also very rewarding. It was great getting to work with those actors and I was really proud of my role. After that I did a project called “Fireball” and I had to switch it up and loose the weight and put on as much muscle as I could. I was playing a steroid freak football player, who likes to set things on fire. So both of those projects back to back were tough. I find though that the most challenging projects I do are also the most rewarding.
MG: Tell us about your involvement with “In the Name of the King 2”?
AP: I got cast as the right hand man to the King played by Dolph Lundgren. I played a guy named Allard and I go on this mission with the King. It was really cool experience.
MG: You appear with fellow “MK: Legacy” co-star Kevan Ohtsji in “This Means War” directed McG, tell us about working on this?
AP: That was so great. McG is quite a character with such immense energy. Tom Hardy, I am a huge fan of him. I had a quick little cameo with him. I want to get more involved with doing comedy. I am 6’5 and 250lbs, so I get a lot of jobs kicking the crap out of people but I really love comedy.