Interview with Mortal Kombat: Legacy II’s Kitana, Samantha Jo

Mortal Kombat Legacy 2 - Kitana

The cast from Mortal Kombat: Legacy II features some familiar actors and martial artists. Returning as the lovely and deadly Kitana is Samantha Jo. She’s a young martial artist who has been in some big Hollywood movies like Man of Steel, Sucker Punch, Twilight and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Read on for our interview with Samantha as we talk about her martial arts background, being disciplined by her mom who knows martial arts, MK: Legacy II, and her experiences in Hollywood.

John “Spartan” Nguyen (Nerd Reactor): You’ve done martial arts for a while.

Samantha Jo: For a long while. I guess I’ve been doing martial arts pretty much since I can remember. Since I was like 4 years old or something. That was always kind of a hobby and something that I enjoyed doing just to get the exercise and learn new things. I got much more serious about it as I got older. From martial arts, I guess it was kind of a natural progression to get into stunt work. Then from stunt work, some acting parts presented themselves. I’ve just been going with the flow right now and I’m absolutely loving it.

Nerd Reactor: I’ve noticed that you come from a family of martial artists.

Samantha Jo: Yeah, our mom was actually our jiu jitsu instructor when I was little. So it was really nice getting to learn from her since I know her so well. Then at the same time, when I’d go home and she’s still like this tough mom, that was rough sometimes. “Why are you crying? I’ll give you something to cry about!” Like, “No, mom!”

Nerd Reactor: Whoa, having a mom who knows jiu jitsu sounds scary.

Samantha Jo: Yeah, definitely. I mean my mom never hit us, I’ll get that straight. But instead of punishments like “Go to your room,” she’d have us do a hundred pushups. Or she’s have us hold the pushup position for 30 minutes or something crazy like that. So that was the rough part. I mean we were disciplined, but it made us very strong kids.

Nerd Reactor: Wow. I think I’d just take the beating.

Samantha Jo: Yeah, sometimes I’m like, “Come on Mom! Just spank me and get it over with,” and then that’s it. Nope!

Nerd Reactor: And so all this martial arts training has prepared you for a lot of different projects. Which project is the most memorable for you?

Samantha Jo: Well, I’d say Mortal Kombat was definitely the one where I was able to use more of my skills. And so that was exciting to me because it was like everything I’d learned, I got to put to good use, and it was appreciated. Kevin was this young, cool director, and he loved Mortal Kombat too. So I have to say that even though it’s a web series, it was both memorable and great in all those senses. But then on an emotional level, Sucker Punch was my first big film that I worked on for the entire run with Damon Caro from Warner Bros., and so that emotionally was one of the best times of my life just because I was growing older. I was only 18 when I got that. So everything was new, it was my first time on my own and everyone was just really taking care of me. So emotionally, I think Sucker Punch was the best experience. In terms of actual fighting, excitement and the content of the series, I’d say Mortal Kombat: Legacy definitely.

Nerd Reactor: Have you played Mortal Kombat before?

Samantha Jo: Oh definitely, yeah. I played them as a kid. I would usually either be Kitana or Mileena just because they’re the two girl characters and I was all, “I need to be a girl!” My brothers would be Scorpion and Sub-Zero. So it was a big part of my childhood actually, just being able to play with my brothers. We could fight without walking away with bruises, so that was nice.

Nerd Reactor: Do you remember the combos and fatality moves? Were you more of a button masher?

Samantha Jo: I was definitely a button masher. I wish I could tell you all the technicalities of it, but I was the one who was sweating because I was hitting the buttons so hard and fast on the controller. I probably broke three controllers just out of stress playing.

Nerd Reactor: Especially if you do like a Judo chop on the controller.

Samantha Jo: Yeah, exactly. With my brothers taunting me. It’s a stressful time. Gotta beat them.

Nerd Reactor: What’s the difference between Legacy I and II for your character?

Samantha Jo: You kind of learn the backstory in season one, and in season two, it’s just a continuation of that Kitana/Mileena storyline. It definitely goes more in depth and there’s a little bit more acting scenes, a little bit more action. Pretty much a little bit more of everything. It just kind of ups the ante from season one and it’s no longer each character getting their own one or two episodes or webisodes. It’s kind of like an interweaving storyline and it focuses on the tournament too. There is some personal stuff from the Kitana/Mileena storyline, but the majority of the webisodes are based around the tournament. That’s super exciting because I know the fans definitely wanted to see harsher fatalities and more fighting. They wanted to see the tournament. So I think they will be very excited with season two.

Nerd Reactor: I’ve noticed that some actors who were a part of Legacy 1 weren’t part of the second season. How do you feel about yourself getting to be back in the second season?

Samantha Jo: I feel very honored that Kevin called me for it. Yeah, I mean I can’t say much for the other actors. I’m sure a good portion of them were just scheduling conflicts because even when I got the call, it was pretty last minute. They had me go in and audition just to make sure that the acting stuff was to their liking. They called me and I went for an audition the next morning, and we were filming maybe a week or two after that. So it was very rushed, and I can see how other actors may not have been in the country or available at that time. But I’m definitely honored because this was for me, the character felt closest to home for me, and I guess just because it’s like sibling rivalry. I had my brothers growing up and yeah, we didn’t always get along. I don’t know, I guess it just felt close to home and then with the whole martial arts aspect it was kind of like a dream job for me. I’m like “Wow, if there is anything I want to play, it would be this.” So I’m just so honored that Kevin thought of me.

Nerd Reactor: Is the length for Legacy II similar to Legacy I?

Samantha Jo: Even if they were the same length, all the webisodes are being released at once. So all the fans can just keep clicking and keep watching the next one. They don’t have to wait a week. They don’t get like a five minute video and you have to wait a week. So I think that will make all the difference. In a way it’s kind of like watching a feature film on YouTube– on Machinima.

Nerd Reactor: I was wondering if the choreography is bigger and better for season two?

Samantha Jo: Definitely. Like I said before, everything has just kind of upped the ante, so the choreography – and this you can see in the most recent trailers, so I can say this now– you do get to see the fans. It’s not just a sparring match between the sisters now. I get to use my specialty weapons, and all the other characters do their specialty moves and the fans get to see more of what they really wanted: the signature weapons, fatalities, lots of fatalities. So everything is just more gory and I hope it won’t be censored this time. I’m not positive. I don’t think so, but the fight choreography is really fantastic. I’m excited for everyone to see it.

Nerd Reactor: Is there a big difference between working on a big budget Hollywood movie or working on a web series?

Samantha Jo: You know what? Normally there is but this time ’round it wasn’t. All the other characters and myself, we were discussing how it felt like it was a feature film. It was crazy how we were running around for publicity and just the tone on set. Sometimes a web series feel very rushed because you only have a certain budget and a certain amount of time, and you really need to get all your footage and it’s rush, rush, rush. You’re not given more money, it’s rush, rush, rush and you need to get it done.

But on a feature, sometimes you have a full day to do a scene, and you can take your time and everybody is mellow and easy going because they don’t feel like they have to run everywhere. But the vibe on set was very mellow and relaxed, like a feature, and I didn’t feel like we were being rushed through everything. I got two days to do our fight scene, which actually, sometimes even in feature films, I don’t get two days. So that was really awesome. It didn’t feel like a web series at all. I think for the most part it usually does, but Mortal Kombat is just breaking the mold there too.

Nerd Reactor: Sweet. You’ve done stunt work for different actresses and different movies. I was wondering if anybody did any stunt work for you, or was it all your own stunts?

Samantha Jo: I wish I did say that somebody else was taking the fall and doing the bleeding, but no, that was me. That was all me for that one. It was exciting to get to do that. I mean, I do it for a living so I guess if it wasn’t me doing it this time, it would be a little strange. Sometimes I’m like, “That would be nice,” but then I remember that sometimes it doesn’t feel awesome when you’re falling, I guess that would be a way to put it. If it doesn’t bother me so much. I don’t mind doing it. I really don’t. I fall in every day life just tripping on things because I’m kind of clumsy.

Nerd Reactor: After Mortal Kombat Legacy II do you have any other projects?

Samantha Jo: I don’t know if I can talk about them quite yet, so I’ll think I’ll just say that we’re having our premiere soon and all the webisodes will be released on the 26th. So I don’t know if I can talk about anything else quite yet. Sorry.

Nerd Reactor: Do you have any advice for people wanting to get into stunt work?

Samantha Jo: In my case, I think I was extremely fortunate in that everyone has YouTube demo reels on there. It just fell into the right hands. I was extremely fortunate with that and Damon Caro, the stunt coordinator for Sucker Punch. He just took such good care of me on my first show. He got me SAG and a work visa. I’m from Canada, so that was a huge hurdle in my case. I think in my case I was definitely lucky. But for all other stunt people, I would say just keep training and make yourself the best you can be, and eventually it will be recognized.

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