MORTAL KOMBAT: BATTLE OF THE REALMS Interview: Bayardo De Murguia Breaks Down His Take On Sub-Zero (Exclusive)
Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms star Bayardo De Murguia talks about playing Sub-Zero (Kuai Liang) in the movie, his experiences in the recording booth, and where he'd like to take him next...
Picking up shortly after the explosive finale of Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion's Revenge, Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms follows a team of heroes who are besieged by the enemy forces of Shao Kahn. Raiden and his group of warriors are forced into a deal to compete in a final Mortal Kombat that will determine the fate of the realms; Scorpion, meanwhile, must find the ancient Kamidogu before it's used to resurrect the One Being to avert the destruction of all things.
Sub-Zero was obviously a big part of 2020's Scorpion's Revenge, but that version of the character - Bi-Han - was voiced by Steve Blum. In the sequel, Bayardo De Murguia (Tiny Pretty Things) takes on the role of Kuai Liang and sets out on a mission to avenge his family's death at the hands of Scorpion.
That's what he believes happened, anyway, and in this interview, De Murguia talks in detail about how he brought Sub-Zero to life in Battle of the Realms. As well as sharing some insight into his recording sessions, the actor addresses the expectations that come with taking on a role as iconic as this one and the unique challenges such an action-heavy voiceover role ended up presenting.
Bayardo also teases what could come next for his Sub-Zero, and it definitely sounds this is a role he hopes to come back to after his experiences working on the highly anticipated sequel.
Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms arrives August 31 on 4K/Blu-ray & Digital!
What did it mean to you to be given the opportunity to play a character as iconic as Sub-Zero?
This was such a joy for me and an honour, to be honest. I’ve always been a gamer and a big fan of Mortal Kombat. To be able to portray Sub-Zero, especially in the storyline you see in the movie, which is so cool, as I was recording everything, half of me was there being professional and wanting to do the character justice. The other half was just a little kid, so happy, and so excited to be there [Laughs]
You mentioned being a gamer, so I’m guessing you were well-versed in the mythology of Mortal Kombat before being cast; was this a role that required a lot of research on your part, though?
It was a little bit of half-and-half. I was pretty well-versed in what goes on in Mortal Kombat 1, 2, 3, and 4, but at the same time, this was a brand new adventure with Warner Bros. Animation going into this world. I also researched what it meant to me as an actor portraying the storyline given to me and making that as authentic as possible.
Sub-Zero has such a rich legacy on screen whether it’s in the movies or games, but was there any one iteration of this character who helped you really tap into what makes him who he is or were you keen to bring your own take to this role?
You know, I’ve been a fan of all the actors who have portrayed Sub-Zero before, especially Steve Blum. You kind of pick and choose and listen, while keeping it honest, but I also wanted to bring my own stuff to it.
Having seen what Steve Blum did as Sub-Zero in Scorpion’s Revenge, did that inspire your performance at all or were you conscious that you are playing a new version who, as I said, you could make your own?
Yeah, I was such a fan of Scorpion’s Revenge, the first Mortal Kombat Legends. I did watch it a few times, so to be able to get the opportunity to work with the same production team was awesome. However, my version of Sub-Zero is different. He’s the younger brother. Something happens to his family and he wants to take vengeance and see what he can do about that. It was a matter of me viewing him like my brother [Laughs]. I viewed him as my older brother, took what I could from there, and then used that to create my Sub-Zero.
So much of this movie follows Sub-Zero as he pursues Scorpion, but was tapping into the character’s sense of urgency something that affected your work in the recording booth?
We focused on telling the story of this young Kuai Liang and how he becomes Sub-Zero. He starts off as very raw and real, and is basically driven by vengeance. As he goes through this journey, you figure out that he is an honest person and has a sense of morality to him; at the same time, he’s also initially driven by vengeance and it’s about keeping that organic and raw, and hoping it comes out in the recording and the movie as you watch.
How much fun is it to record dialogue for the sort of action scenes we see here, even though you’re not doing them in a traditional way as you would with an on-camera role? Does it present any sort of unique challenges?
Well, it is definitely so much fun to do. You have to be very technical knowing what actions come before and after, and having the sounds there to create a whole sequence of actions in addition to whatever you might be saying. For me, it’s so much fun to do. I think of myself as a little kid playing with action figures and creating a sequence of events [Laughs]. Then, I take what I did as a kid and do it as an adult male in the voice booth. It is one of my favourite things to do.
I’m guessing [casting director] Wes Gleason was someone who was really helpful with that process as well?
Yeah, the production team was great. I had the wonderful opportunity to also record with Scorpion, Patrick Seitz. There were a couple of times we were recording in sync together; normally when you’re in the booth, you’re by yourself, so that was a really cool opportunity to work with someone else and feed off each other. The energy that he brought to Scorpion was such a blast.
I can imagine, especially as I know it’s a rarity for actors on a project like this to actually get to work together. Can you talk a little more about what that was like for you and how it played into your performance?
It was a great session. It isn’t something you normally do, so it was really cool to meet Patrick. It was around the time the trailer came out for the first movie, but his voice is so iconic that I was very familiar with his work already. Once we started getting into it and going over the script, you just feel someone’s energy and it resonates with you. All I was trying to do was bring it and bring out the best work I could possibly do. It was really cool to feel someone else’s energy, especially because you see a lot of Scorpion and Sub-Zero throughout the movie. It was just so cool to do.
What excited you most about exploring the dynamic between Scorpion and Sub-Zero?
Just, for me being a fan of the world of Mortal Kombat, it was going back and forth between, ‘Are they friends? Are they rivals? Do they hate each other?’ They are from rival clans, so that was a lot of fun to do and feeling Patrick’s energy and seeing what he brought. Our movie is so epic and so much is going on in addition to just our relationship, it was really cool to bring the stakes and show the gravitas of what is going on in our world.
For you as an actor, I can imagine it must have been really gratifying to go on this journey with these characters, especially as we see them against each other and teaming up?
Yeah, definitely. Definitely!
Should another movie follow this one, as the stage is set for these characters to return, where would you like to see Sub-Zero’s story go?
You know what, I hope [it happens]. I think the world of Mortal Kombat has so much amazing things in it. I’ve always been a fan of Warner Bros. Animation and the DC Animated Universe, and the whole production team, so I hope there are more opportunities to show them. Every character in this movie...I love them. I’m attracted to it, I want to know more, and that’s especially the case with Sub-Zero. He’s my favourite. He’s got to be. [Laughs]
It would be awesome to see him compete in a tournament seeing as he’s busy doing other things in this movie…
Oh, that would be awesome.
With a character like Sub-Zero, how much do fan expectations play on your mind, especially when we’re talking about such an icon in this Mortal Kombat realm? Is it just a case of relying on the script and having confidence in your performance?
Yeah, I think it’s a matter of...because I am a fan, I have my own certain level of what I expect from myself. I especially want to stay true to these awesome variations of actors who have brought Sub-Zero to life before, but as an actor, it does come to a point where you have to believe in yourself and know that your work is good and then go from there. I do think about it because I’m a big fan, but I also have enough belief in myself to be like, ‘Alright, I’ve gotta do you guys justice, do the fans justice, do myself justice as a fan, and then do my best to portray this character.’
You mentioned the DC Animated Universe, but looking at that world, are there any characters, in particular, you’d like to take a shot at playing?
Ohh...I mean, everyone always wants to be Batman [Laughs]. You know what, for the future because I’m Mexican-American, I’d take a swing at Kyle Rayner who is one of the Green Lanterns. He’s also Mexican-American, so I would say him. You haven’t seen much of him and I’d like to give it a shot one day!
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