Interview with Johnson Phan

Johnson Phan is currently appearing the “Mortal Kombat: Legacy” playing the character Shang Tsung. Johnson is appearing in the TV series “True Justice” with Steven Seagal, and also in Syfy’s “Sanctuary”. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Johnson about his role in the series, what he hardest stunt was and what we have planned upcoming.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us how you got involved with “Mortal Kombat: Legacy”?
Johnson Phan: The timing of everything was perfect. With what was going on in my life at the time and “MK: Legacy” coming to Vancouver. I seriously felt it was a combination of the universe and my energy aligning with one another and of course.  Also it was the fact that I did my homework as an actor and was able to fully commit myself and connect to the material during the audition process. Then a few days before they started shooting “MK” the opportunity landed into my lap and I was prepared to handle it.

MG: How was it playing such an iconic character such as Shang Tsung?
JP: Mike, it was a surreal feeling Dude! I grew up playing the video game all day at the arcades and watching the movies so basically, I almost pissed my pants when Maria, my agent, called me about booking the gig. How fuckin’ awesome is it to be playing Shang Tsung?…one of the most bad ass villains out there! Come on it doesn’t get any cooler than that.  Once I calmed down… fear and nervousness kicked in. Shang Tsung being such an iconic character and I wanted to make sure that I was able to be honest with what I was doing in the reality of the “MK: Legacy” world. I know how many people love this franchise, so I of course “at the end of the day” want to entertain everyone and deliver the goods. Thanks to Kevin for all his support was able to connect and stay grounded to what I was doing

MG: How was it working with Kevin Tancharoen?
JP: Kevin Tancharoen, is one cool cat! It was an incredible experience working with him and I’m not just saying that so I could be in his next project [laughs]. He was super easy to talk to and work with. He was also very specific and detailed with what he wanted. It was great to work with someone who was so hands on with every aspect of the project from the set decoration stuff, to one of the actors hair styles, to another actors gloves, to the movement and mannerisms of an actor’s delivery. Kevin did all of his homework and has lots of passion for what he is doing, so the positive energy on set was very infectious. He is a very personable dude with a hella creative mind so watch out for him world!

MG: You are no stranger to web series format, tell us about “Chasing Mood”?
JP: “Chasing Mood” is basically a web series that kinda feels like “Seinfeld” mashed together with “Entourage”. You have a bunch of interesting characters that share the trials and tribulations of life together, sometimes supporting each other and for the most part just creating awkward moments. The show was created by the very talented Mr Leslie Birch and Mr Curtis Lum. “Chasing Mood” is one of the funniest experiences that I’ve had on set. The director and writer Leslie Birch gave us actors the flexibility to do lots of improv and play around with the written material. The creation of the show is what got me interested on being part of the team. You’ve got a talented group of people looking to create their own opportunities in the film industry by investing their own money and taking control of their careers. How awesome is that? How can I not jump on board and support this? When you love and have passion for something… Don’t let others control when you are able to do it, take the steps necessary to make things happen for you and control your own career and destiny.

MG: You’ve worked stunts on some big films, “Watchmen” & “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief”, what has been your hardest stunt to perform?
JP: Hmmmm, When I think about this question…there is one specific project that comes to mind, that I’m hesitant to you talk about [laughs]. One of the main reasons being that, as a “Stunt Performer” you never really talk about your injuries or wine about things and with this experience I’m going to share with you today, it will sound like a little bit of both the people who are close to me will understand and know my intentions. Just sharing an experience here! Not complaining or no wining here, so here we go… STORY TIME! It all took place on Season 5 of the TV show “Psych” and I was hired as a stunt actor, so I basically was one of the main villains of the episode the Episode “Romeo and Juliet and Juliet”. As a stunt actor you are required to ACT and do your own STUNTS, think of it kinda like an action actor (Jackie Chan). My character Teno Tan had two fight scenes, both incorporating lots of action and martial arts fighting normally this wouldn’t be difficult for me… so here’s why it was my ”hardest stunt”. A month before this “Psych” show, I injured my lower back training. When I got the gig not only was I not fully recovered, but my muscles were stiff and joints were tight and because of the injury and condition I was in, it made filming for me very difficult the action sequences demanded a lot from me. One of the fights was with another stunt performer, and it was an all-out hand to hand with flying kicks in the fight scene. The second fight scene was the final fight with the lead of the show himself Mr James Roday. I had to chase him around a martial arts dojo and fight him with a sword and of course doing a fight scene with the lead of a show you have to be so much more careful, so the pressure was on like a mother fucker! Here’s where things get interesting…because of my lower back injury, my body was very weak and had to adjust and compensate and because of all of the strain and compensation, it threw my whole body off balance which led me to tare my left quad and dislocate my right shoulder during rehearsal. So now I’m broken all over the place and we haven’t even started filming yet. It was a five day shoot and I was gimped and there was no way I was going to quit or be recast. The role itself was a great opportunity for me and I couldn’t let it slip. So I did a lot of praying and eventually got through it all and delivered the goods. I thank the universe that I was working with such a talented stunt team and was able to finish filming. These guys all helped support me, and not only made me look good but made my performance possible because of all the adjustments. Thanks you Dan Shea, Jeff Ong and Brian Ho you guys ROCK! That was my Hardest Stunt!

MG: What other projects do you currently how in the works?
JP: I got a TV show called “True Justice” with Steven Seagal, where I play “Chai” the Yakuza gangster and most recently the TV show “Sanctuary”.

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