Matt Mullins is playing Johnny Cage in the new web series “Mortal Kombat: Legacy”. Besides acting, Matt has also won 5 martial arts world titles. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Matt about his role and found out what his most challenging role to date.
Mike Gencarelli: Tell us how you become involved with “Mortal Kombat: Legacy”?
Matt Mullins: I actually met Kevin (Tancharoen) probably six or seven years ago. He comes from a dance background and I hada mar tial arts performance team. We were collaborating on a couple different dance/martial arts projects back in our early 20’s. We lost touch for a while and then reconnected when he was getting ready to do “Mortal Kombat: Rebirth”. He asked me if I would potentially want to play Johnny Cage. I told him “Of course I want to play JOHNNY CAGE [laughs]! I have always been a fan of Kevin’s work and what he has done. I thought he had a great vision for the projects he has worked on. So the “Rebirth” short ended up going viral online and then they decided to do “Mortal Kombat: Legacy”. When the project was first starting they weren’t sure what characters they were going to do but fortunately enough they choose Johnny Cage as one of the characters. So luckily for me, I was able to reprise my role. Originally there was some issues bringing me up to Canada to work and they were looking at a few other candidates for the role. Fortunately I ended up being cast and got to play Johnny Cage. It was pretty stressful but I got a call the day before they were suppose to shoot. I flew up the next morning and started working.
MG: What do you like most about the character Johnny Cage?
MM: What I like most is that he is funny and larger than life. Even in the game he is very cocky and arrogant in a lot of ways. With the “Legacy” series, they finally gave Johnny Cage a little bit of heart. They give a reason for people to want to cheer for Johnny to come back and be the action hero that he always wanted to be [laughs]. I think that is why I dig the character in the video game, the martial arts he performs in the game is all karate based. My marital arts training is primarily karate. It was a lot of fun.
MG: What was the length of time to shoot your episode?
MM: It was three days. We covered the fights really fast. We didn’t have any super big set or location changes. We shot them around and in the stages in Vancouver.
MG: Did you have a lot of time to rehearse before your episode?
MM: No actually, I learned it as we were going. The fights were already choreographed Larnell (Stovall) and he had them already put together. When I got there everyone learned their timing and we got it done.
MG: How was it working on a web series, compared to TV and movies?
MM: The process was exactly the same. The days were the same and the performances were the same. It was identical to any feature or TV show I have worked on. Everyone was really talented, the cast was outstanding. We shot quickly but TV now a days is shot quickly.
MG: With 5 martial arts world titles, what made you want to get into the world of martial arts?
MM: It was a combination of a lot of different things. I was obsessed with video games like “Ninja Turtles” and movies like “The Karate Kid”. Just action in general is something I always wanted to do. Once I started martial arts there was nothing else I wanted to do. It was cool, plus being from Chicago that was where Midway Games was. A lot of the local martial artists were the inspiration for the original “Mortal Kombat” characters from that area and they would compete at local tournaments. Daniel Pasina, the original Johnny Cage in the video game, actually judged my yellow belt National tournament when I was twelve years old.
MG: What has been your most challenging role to date?
MM: One of favorite roles I did was one called “Adventures of Johnny Tao”, that was a like a kids/action/zombie/killer film. I got to play dual character in that, kind of the “Rain Man”, the slightly slow best friend that gets turned into the evil overlord bad guy. It was really fun because I really enjoyed playing both characters. Those where probably the longest sequences I have done working with Marcus Young and J.J. Perry. Actually Larnell Stovall from “Mortal Kombat: Legacy” coordinated that as well so it was great working with him. Their combined creativity for the action sequences were very intricate and we rehearsed the fights for over a month before shooting. Overall, I would have to call that my most challenging role.
MG: Tell us about your work with “Tron: Evolution” video game?
MM: I did all the between game cinematics for the main character. Then I did the majority of the movements for each one of the additional characters, every bad guy, good guy, boss…everybody. It was a lot of fun. All the guys that made the game were really great guys. They had a great vision for what they wanted the game to be but I think unfortunately people do not always put out games like the new “Mortal Kombat”. They worked forever on “MK”. There was so much red tape with “Tron” that they had to deal with for example, like what they could do with the story and not doing anything the movie was going to do. The production company was looking to pump out the game before the movie game out. I worked with them for over a month on it and it was fun as hell though.