Interview with Mortal Kombat: Legacy II’s Ian Anthony Dale

ian anthony dale scorpion mortal kombat legacy ii

With Mortal Kombat: Legacy II about to premiere, we were able to talk to Ian Anthony Dale, who plays the iconic spear-throwing warrior, Scorpion, in the series. As a huge fan of his career, I had the opportunity to interview him. He was so kind and awesome in sharing the details on the Mortal Kombat series, playing Scorpion, the possibility of Sleeping Dogs 2, and his parts in other roles.

NR (Laura): I’ve been a huge fan of yours since Dollhouse and The Event. I’ve been following your career and roles since then. When I was told I had the opportunity to interview you, I took it right away.  Let’s start… What can you tell us about Mortal Kombat: Legacy II?

Ian Anthony Dale:  I can tell you a few things. Season one really dealt with telling the origin stories. Season two is going to dive headfirst into the Mortal Kombat tournament. We’ll get to see some really great rivalries develop. One of the most exciting things I cannot wait for people to see are the fight scenes and the fatalities. The fatalities are just awesome. In terms of my character [Scorpion], we learn something new about the relationship between Scorpion and Sub-Zero. We challenge the assumptions that they have always been sworn enemies – we have new layers in their story and rivalries. I think the fans are going to appreciate it.

Season one ended with the murder of Scorpion’s wife and child. Season two, we get to see the ramifications of that event. We explore what happens when everything Scorpion knows and loves is taken from him and replaced with rage. I like to say season one was about humanizing Scorpion and season two will be about demonizing him.  We see a darker side of Scorpion in season two. Overall, I think the quality of the product is better – the story is just richer and the finished product is something I’m really proud of.  I think the fans are really going to get a kick out of it.

NR: In the trailer we see Hanzo [Scorpion] and Bi Han [Sub-Zero] interact together as children and we also see Hanzo’s father. Will we see Hanzo’s history with his father?

IAD: We don’t touch upon that too much. The story involving Bi-Han and Hanzo really pertains to those two. But we get a glimpse of what life was between two of them as little kids.

NR: In season one, Scorpion’s family is killed by who he thought was Sub-Zero, but it was actually Quan Chi who killed the family. I also saw in the trailer, Scorpion was now fighting for the Netherrealm. Does Scorpion become the villain in all of this?

IAD: If you remember at the end of season one, Quan Chi essentially tricks him into believing that Sub-Zero was responsible for the death of his wife and child. Because of that trickery, we are now seeing Scorpion fighting for the Netherrealm in season two. It’s debatable or not that he’s now the villain. It all depends on where your allegiances lie. Is he justified in pursing revenge with Sub-Zero based on the information that he’s been given? Or just by virtue of the misinformation of what he’s doing wrong? It’s really up to the viewers to decide. I will say that because we explore his much darker side. It’s safe to assume he has become the villain. Everybody has come to know and love him from playing the games.

Mortal Kombat Legacy 2 - Scorpion

NR: Is that what drew you to the role of Scorpion – the changes the character goes through?

IAD: You know, what drew me to Scorpion – I’ve always been a fan of Scorpion. I didn’t play the game a lot growing up, but the franchise [Mortal Kombat] has been so culturally pervasive through the years. Even if I didn’t play the game that much, I was still very aware of it and very aware of the combatants.  Like many other fans out there, I just had an affinity to Scorpion. Whether it be, how cool he looked or his saying “Get over here” or his spear, he just had that essence of cool and badassery. It’s what I was drawn to. So, I really didn’t have a choice when it came down to casting Mortal Kombat: Rebirth and subsequently, Legacy I and II. Kevin [Tancharoen] just approached me very early on and asked me if I was interested in playing Scorpion and I jumped at the opportunity. What an awesome thing it would be to get to play such an iconic role. It’s really been a lot of fun and I feel really lucky to have been able to play Scorpion, now, three times and now hopefully, I could play him more and more –eventually, hopefully in a feature, if we could be so lucky.

NR: I know you didn’t play Mortal Kombat much growing up (because you were heavily involved in sports); did you ever have a chance to play it much after you landed the role?

IAD: To be honest with you, no, I haven’t. I’ve done the research and just really terribly tried to play briefly when I was originally researching for the role. I cannot remember which game it was at the time, but around the time I was doing Rebirth, I thought, I know who Scorpion is, but let me get to know him a little better. My hands just go kind of crazy when they get onto a controller. I have no control over that. It’s all involuntary. I just hope my player does something good on screen [when playing]. That’s one thing I would like to do but I know I’d probably get destroyed by everyone I play with – if I were to take on some of my fellow costars. Definitely if I were to take on Kevin, he would have his way with me, I’m sure.

NR: Since you’re close to your colleagues and costars, like Kevin and Brian [Tee], do we get to see you and Brian’s Liu Kang fight each other? Do we see you kick Liu Kang’s butt?

IAD: Brian’s storyline is separate from my storyline. I was so excited to work with some of my closest friends and I think if this series continues – as season three or a feature happens, I think it’s quite possible to see a showdown between Liu Kang and Scorpion. But, we will see. All I can say is that Brian does a tremendous job of playing Liu Kang. I can’t wait for people to see his portrayal. He really brings it to life in a way that is going to surprise and please a lot of people.

NR: Speaking of fights, you played sports and are super active, did you find any difficulty with the stunts and the martial arts during filming?

IAD: You know, when it comes to fighting – specifically fighting for film, you’re faced with a whole different set of challenges than any other sport that you might play or any other athletics you might be involved in.  When you punch for the camera [versus training for marital arts or boxing, it’s the quickest point from  A to B], you’re usually trying to swing out as wide as possible so on-camera so it looks like your arm is covering as much ground before it makes impact on the person you’re hitting. So when you’re training for fight scenes, you have to exercise your muscles in a much different way – swinging your arms out wide when you’re practicing your punches. You end up using these muscles that you didn’t even know you had.

I remembered after the first rehearsal for Mortal Kombat: Legacy season two, my arms and shoulders felt like they had daggers in them. I was exercising these muscles I didn’t know I had. So yeah, it’s definitely hard work. You’re using so many muscles that you don’t usually use. But with all the rehearsal time and all the sweat and challenges totally paid off.  The more practice you put in, the more confident you feel to be able to execute the choreography on the day of the shoot and usually that results in great footage. I got to say, we had a tremendous stunt team with our chorographer Larnell Stovall, our stunt coordinator Garrett Warren and our incredible the stunt cast. They put in so much time and effort and hard work and it really shows in the end product. I think the fans are really going to get a kick out of how great the fights look.

NR: Did you have a stunt or scene that was very difficult – that you had to do many takes?

IAD: Very similar to season one, in season two, my stunt double was played by Kim Do, who is a tremendous stunt actor – he doubled Rain in Ninja Assassin as well as many other really martial arts-heavy roles. When it came time to do the tricking, the flipping twisting and all those crazy things, I happily let him take over for those moments.

I do have a background in Kung Fu, but I know my limitations and I know if Kim could make it look better, then I gladly have him do it. At the end of the day, the fans want to see the best martial arts possible and Kim certainly is leaps and bounds above me, in terms of his ability.

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NR: Your costume looks amazing. The wardrobe department did a great job. How comfortable was the costume? And how difficult was it acting with the mask on?

IAD: They did [do a great job]. In season one, we had a lot of trouble with the mask because we actually used a real iron samurai mask that was very heavy and very awkward. During the fight scenes, it would constantly fall off, so they made some adjustments for season two and actually, tied the mask to the neoprene head gear we were also wearing – the costume – and there weren’t any issues with the mask coming off in season two.

It was a little cumbersome to wear the contacts. They were not the most pleasant thing to have on. What was difficult was that you were only seeing through a tiny pinhole, so your peripheral vision is completely taken away. So when you’re asked to execute some difficult choreography without peripheral vision was a bit of a challenge. But, no matter how cumbersome it might have been or challenging it may have been wearing contacts, I’m more than happy to wear that costume. It looks so terrific. You really are able to embody the character fully when the costume is so detailed. I’d walk around set and people would look at me with a mixture of shock, fear and confusion. I didn’t look too friendly walking around, especially with those contacts. That’s for sure. If you can’t tell when someone is thinking when they are looking at you with white eyes and tiny dots, it seems a little discomforting. I’m sure it was for other people. But it looked awesome. Our costume designer did a fantastic job with next to no money. Kudos to her.

NR: Was it difficult for you to scream through the mask especially the iconic shout, “Get over here!”?

IAD:  No. It wasn’t difficult to scream through the mask. I had the tiniest bit of room between my lips and where the mask fell on my face. I like that it’s slightly muffled because that is what it would be in real life if I were to scream in real life with a mask on. I feel really lucky that I’m the guy who gets to scream that out. That’s such an iconic line. Nobody is going to do it better than Ed Boon. I hope I make it sound at least relatively close.

NR: How many people have asked you to say the line [Get Over Here!]?

IAD: You know, not too many actually. Not too many. You know what would happen – in season one, by having the dialogue be entirely in Japanese, when I said “Get over here” in Japanese, it didn’t have the impact it does in English. Maybe people didn’t associate me with that line. Perhaps after season two, I’ll have more people asking me that.

NR: Speaking of speaking Japanese, you’ve been learning Japanese on and off for the role. How difficult was that to get the accent?

IAD: It was really difficult. I can’t lie, it was one of the most challenging things I had to do as an actor. The language was so unfamiliar to me. Not only was it a different language, it wasn’t contemporary Japanese we were speaking; it was a very old form of Japanese that is not even used today. Everything I’ve been learning through my private lessons, didn’t apply to this dialogue. Essentially, I had to learn all my lines phonetically. Just through a process of repetition and practicing, I had to feel confident to say the lines when we shot it. I know a lot of people – especially people who know the language well and could speak it well– took issue on how authentic I sound. I had a very limited amount of time to perfect it and I tried my best. I enjoyed the process. I love having challenges like that. I was actually hoping we would record season two in Japanese, sort of redeem myself. In terms of storytelling, it made more sense to switch it to English. I have to wait for another role for another time to speak Japanese again.

NR: I know you’ve been talking about the fatalities being a “holy shit” moment for you. Can you tell us what has been your favorite fatality that you could mention?

IAD: I can tell you that it involves Kitana, Mileena (played by Samantha Jo and Michelle Lee) and Johnny Cage (Casper Van Dien) – that’s all I can tell you.

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NR: And that has been your favorite?

IAD: Yeah, I gotta say it’s probably my favorite. I’ve only seen the entire season once and I just remember whenever a fatality happened; my jaw would hit the floor. There was an eruption from the crowd – everybody collected a wow [every time a fatality happened]. If my memory serves me correctly, theirs was the best. All of them are awesome. I can’t stress it enough how excited I am for people to see it. Regular fans and hardcore fans are really going to dig it.

NR: What has been your favorite fighting move you got to do?

IAD: Spear throws, because it’s such a signature move to Scorpion. It’s something I did in season one and I get to do it again in season two. Without the spear throw, connecting to something and pull, you really can’t really say “Get over here.” One leads to the other. That is my favorite move.

NR: What was your favorite scene all together that you were involved in?

IAD: I honestly thing some of the best scenes that I wasn’t even in. The story is so good this season and the performances are so strong. Brian’s performance as Liu Kang, Casper’s performance as Johnny Cage, Eric Steinberg’s performance as Bi Han/Sub-Zero and Mark Dacascos’ performance as Kung Lao – everybody is so good and so strong, it’s really hard to pick a favorite. I would have to say, in terms of my scene, probably my fight scene with Eric Steinberg – Scorpion vs Sub-Zero. This great rivalry come to a head and ends in the most spectacular way. I can’t wait for people to see it.

NR: Other than Scorpion, who is your favorite character in the series?

IAD: My favorite character has to be Liu Kang. I remember when I read the script for season two and Kevin and I were having preliminary conversations about who would be perfect for the different characters to be cast. There this part inside of me thinking, ‘I would really like to play Liu Kang’. Obviously I can’t because I’m Scorpion – and I absolutely love Scorpion, but in season two, Liu Kang’s character is so well developed and brought to life so beautifully by Brian’s performance. So, it’s an extremely rich character – he’s a badass yet he’s conflicted and vulnerable. He’s dealing with losing the ones he loved, not that dissimilar to Hanzo’s storyline in season one. He’s a great character. Brian does a great job with it. People are going to get a big kick out of it.

Mortal Kombat Legacy 2 - Liu KangNR: What goes through your mind when you’re Scorpion fighting in a scene?

IAD: Making sure my choreography is correct. For me, in order to give what the fans want, it’s so important for the hits to look real and they look hard and powerful. The moves look fluid and the choreography looks as good as it possibly can. The focus, in the moment, while you’re filming a fight scene – trust your muscle memory from having to rehearse a lot, be relaxed and execute. It’s really hard to think of much else than that because, ultimately, you want to perform to the best of your ability. The only way to do that is to rehearse a lot and relax. Obviously for certain moments, when the pace of the filming slows down and you have a moment where there’s a spear throw and you pull on the rope, you can start to become more motivated and more character thoughts. I really just try to embody Scorpion. I really just try to keep in mind the things that motivate this character to do what he does in this situation and be completely present. In season two, Scorpion’s motivation is revenge and he’ll stop at nothing to get revenge for the loss of his wife and child. That’s the motivating factor. I try to stay locked into what that character is thinking at the moment, “I’m going to kill this guy.”

NR: Scorpion seems like the anti-hero. In Tekken, you were the villain. You were a hero in The Event and in Hawaii Five-O. Which do you prefer – the villain or the hero?

IAD: I always said that I’m happy to play either. I really think both the hero and the villain are some of the best characters to play. They usually are the most conflicted and the most interesting of roles. The only thing that separates a hero and a villain is the moral compass; otherwise, they are very much similar types of characters. I really don’t discriminate between hero or villain. I’m really drawn to characters that are interesting. I enjoy both.

NR: Will they be releasing an episode of Mortal Kombat: Legacy II each week?

IAD: No, this season, we will make all 10 episodes available on September 26th, so people could watch them back to back if they choose and as many times as they like. They won’t need to wait.

NR: When would you hear about a possible season three or a possible feature film?

IAD: I don’t know. Everybody is in the same boat in terms of finding that information out. I think if we have any type of success we had like season one, there is a good chance, at the very least, get a season three of Legacy. As for the movie, you have a better chance at asking the people at Warner Bros that question.

NR: Did you get to keep any of the props from filming?

IAD: I did not. I actually would love to have one of those masks. Maybe I have to badger Kevin about getting my hands on one of those. That’s a good idea. Thanks for the advice.

NR: When we see him, we’ll remind him you’d like a mask.

IAD: Throw in a spear while you’re at it.

NR: Okay… “Ian wants a spear and mask”. Next question: Character Battle!!! Your Tekken character Kazuya Mishima versus Scorpion?

IAD: Definitely Scorpion.

NR: One of our writers loves playing Sleeping Dogs, where you voiced one of the characters [Ricky Wong]. Is there a chance for a Sleeping Dogs 2?

IAD: You know, that’s a good question… I think Sleeping Dogs have done quite well. Anytime, as evidence by all the different iterations of Call of Duty, we could speculate if Sleeping Dogs did well, then there would be a Sleeping Dogs 2. If that is the case, I would love to be a part of that too. Voice acting for video games poses a completely different set of challenges to live acting on film. You often don’t have any other actors there to play off of and usually, you know very little about the character in the story before you go into the voice booth. You’re force to be really spontaneous. I really enjoyed that process. It was a lot of fun. It was really cool. Cool video game and cool character. Who wouldn’t want to be involved in something like that? If there was a sequel, I’d happily be involved again.


NR: Do you prefer voice over work over live action?

IAD: No, I definitely prefer live action. Live action gives you the opportunity to dive into a character and invest and really create a character. In voice acting, you’re really limited. I enjoy both, but I would prefer [if given the choice between the two] on camera.

NR: Have you had a chance to play Sleeping Dogs?

IAD: I have not. [jokingly] Being the big gamer I am.

NR: Have you gotten to see yourself in the game?

IAD: I’ve seen a couple of the trailers. I’ve heard my voice saying a couple of lines. It’s a trip. It’s really interesting to see how it all comes together. The computer graphics have become so good. It’s really amazing. There are certain types of images that really look so real. The future of the gaming world is very bright and I can’t imagine what they are going to come up with next. They continue to evolve and impress. I haven’t played Sleeping Dogs yet. I suppose at some point I’m going to have to cave [and get a console]. I might have to take up a new hobby.

NR: Are you currently in Hawaii [filming Hawaii Five-O – as recurring character, Adam Noshimuri]?

IAD: Right now, no. I already shot three episodes for [Hawaii Five-O] season four and that actually starts airing the day after Mortal Kombat Legacy II premieres. It’s been a really great storyline. I feel really lucky to have the opportunity to play this character. It’s been one of my favorite characters in play in my career so far.

hawaii five oNR: I follow your Twitter [@iananthonydale] and noticed you tweeted about American Horror Story: Coven. What can you tell us about that?

IAD: I can’t unfortunately. I’m not sure if I was supposed to mention I was going to be in it. I decided to go on a limb and face the repercussions as they come. All I can say is, I’ll be in the season three premiere on October 9th. I can’t give any information on the storyline or my character. All I can say is that it was one of the most enjoyable, bizarre, interesting experiences I had as an actor. It was cool. It was really cool.

NR: Thank you so much. It was lovely talking to you. Do you have anything you would like to say to the fans?

IAD: The fact that Mortal Kombat: Legacy seasons one and two are online – it lend itself to constant engagement, interaction and sharing. It allowed the fans to be part of the evolution and the success to the series. We owe so much of the success of this show to the fans. I would like to thank every fan out there for watching and supporting us. We hope you enjoy season two and watch it a bunch of times and enjoy it. That’s really it. We really love our fans. We make this series for the fans. We hope they enjoy it as much as season one.

Mortal Kombat: Legacy II comes out September 26th on Machinima’s YouTube channel.

Also check out our other interviews with the MK Legacy II cast and crew.

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Laura Sirikul
Laura Sirikul 1849 posts

Trekkie. Jedi. Whovian. Sherlockian. Hobbit. Sanrio. Comics. I am Spartacus. Warrior Princess. Superhero. Nerd. Follow me @lsirikul