Brian Tee worked on projects like “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” and TV like “Grimm” and has a busy year a head of him. He is playing the role of Liu Kang “Mortal Kombat: Legacy 2” and Noburo Mori in “The Wolverine”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Brian about his roles and what we can expect.
Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about how you ended up taking on the role of Liu Kang “Mortal Kombat: Legacy 2”?
Brian Tee: I heard about “Mortal Kombat: Legacy 2,” while I was shooting “The Wolverine” in Australia. I knew of the Series through one of my best bro’s Ian Anthony Dale. He plays Scorpion in the “Mortal Kombat: Rebirth” Trailer and in Season 1 & 2… he’s a brilliant actor and crushes it as the Scorpion. He’s perfect for the role. So I called him and asked about his experience on the shoot and working with Kevin Tancharoen. He had such high praise and I was already a huge fan of Kev’s work, so I had to be a part of it. BUT, I have to admit, at first I was like “hell no, I won’t play Liu Kang!” to be honest, as a kid popping quarters in the MK video game, I hated playing Liu. He just seemed to me to be a caricature of the stereotypical kung-fu guy. So when the role was brought up, I was the first person to think I wasn’t right for the role… I love playing characters with depth and complexities that at first glance, Liu never had… UNTIL, I read the script and talked to Kevin about it. The script blew me away and completely transformed Liu into something I’d love to sink my teeth into. And as we spoke, Kevin and I were on the same page, with what we wanted and didn’t want Kang to be. So with Kev’s genius vision we created this now anti-Hero character and took Liu to a completely new image and darker place, with the grounded visceral justice that this version of Liu Kang deserves.
MG: How did you prepare to play such an epic and important character?
BT: Pleasantly surprised, this character really pushed me as an actor in so many ways, both emotionally and physically. Because you’re right, Liu Kang is an already iconic figure, so it’s harder for fans to relate to him. And that was my focus… I worked on connecting to the being, not the figure. I really wanted to delve deep within the soul of the man, not the image of character… Not to get too “actor-e,” I wanted to bring a grounded reality and create the person, not the persona… so that fan’s can connect to him as I did. Physically, I knew there were huge shoes to fill playing this epic character. I know I had to step up my game in order to successfully pull off what I wanted to withLiu, in the series. I was pretty adamant that I wanted to try to do the majority of the stunts the character demanded… but that respect is earned, not given. So I knew I had to prove myself. You don’t just go up to the greatest stunt coordinator in the game, Garrett Warren, and say “yeah, I can do that”… you have to work for it. So with the help of Garrett, the amazing stunt choreography Larnell Stovall created, my stunt double Kim Do training me personally, and along with some of the best stunt guys in the business… I had the good fortune to work my way into the fights, and be worthy enough to do the majority of them… which inevitably helped me embody Liu even more. I’m really proud of the Liu we created… and hope the fans enjoy him as much as I do!
MG: What can we expect from your episode in the web series?
BT: I am actually in quite a few episodes throughout the series, but I’m really looking forward to episode 1. It’s the first of this season and sets the series off… so there is a lot riding on it. I know there are a lot of expectations from the fans out there considering how awesome Season 1 was. But I got gotta tell ya, I can’t wait for the fans to see whats in store this season. Episode 1 establishes Liu Kang like you have never seen him. I think it will go beyond the expectations they might be used to with Kang… because we completely turn this character upside down. And not to mention, the fight scene is just jaw dropping! This episode moves you in ways fan’s won’t soon forget and I hope will keep them wanting to come back for more!… because that’s just the beginning!
MG: What is your favorite move or fatality for the character?
BT: My favorite Liu Kang fatality has to be the “double flip kick into the uppercut”… I’m old school.
MG: You’ve done films like “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” and TV like “Grimm”; how does a web-series compare?
BT: This Web-Series was pretty much shot like a feature film, so in comparison there is no difference. Though it was a much smaller budget compared to other mediums, what Kevin, the cast and crew did with the limitations, is unbelievable. It looks and feels like a major studio feature separated into episodes for the web.
MG: Do you think we will be seeing more of you as Liu Kang, perhaps in the upcoming feature film?
BT: I hope so. Though nothing is set in stone, I think if the fan’s come out to watch the Series, they’ll be the judge.
MG: Tell us about your role Noburo Mori in “The Wolverine”?
BT: Noburo Mori is the character I play in “The Wolverine.” He is a politician that I feel, rides the line between good and evil, and will do whatever it take for political gain… But I guess that’s most politicians. 😉 Without giving too much away, he is arranged to be married to Logan’s love interest, so you can imagine it won’t end pretty. But also… this installment of “The Wolverine” is epic! Fan’s are really going to enjoy James Mangold’s mastery in bringing a side of “The Wolverine” fans have never seen. Along with the unbelievable action at the biggest scale, James has brought new layers and a depth fans will appreciate and relate to. Logan is vulnerable both physically and emotionally, its a war against his own nature and he must finally embrace who he is. It’s actually not to dissimilar to our take on LiuKang… both have demons inside of them that they have to overcome in order to find their true self.
MG: What else do you have in the cards for 2013 and beyond?
BT: Well, I just finished a new TV pilot called “Anatomy of Violence,” starring Skeet Ulrich, Amber Tamblyn and David Harewood, directed by Mark Pellington. Its from the creators of “Homeland,”… which I love, so it was great to work with the creatives and to be a part of this amazing cast and show. I’m also wrapping this incredible art house indie, called “The Beautiful Ones,” starring my good buddy Ross McCall and directed by Jesse V. Johnson. Ross is awesome in it and Jesse’s vision is remarkable. I’m also up for this dark suspense thriller with some legendary actors… fingers crossed. And of course, I’m looking forward to reprising the role of Liu Kang in the feature… but we’ll have to wait and see. In the mean, I’m pumped for the “Mortal Kombat: Legacy 2” Web-Series to come out and see the response of the fans!… maybe they’ll decide.
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