MORTAL KOMBAT: BATTLE OF THE REALMS Interview: Fred Tatasciore On The Epic Brutality Of Shao Kahn (Exclusive)
Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms star Fred Tatasciore talks to us about finding the inner brutality of Shao Kahn, and the sheer amount of joy he took in getting to deliver those epic Fatalities.
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.
To bring the ultimate bad guy into this animated world, Warner Bros. turned to the ultimate voice actor: Fred Tatasciore. The legendary talent makes short work of his foes in this movie, and we couldn't wait to take a deep dive into how the Spider-Man and What If...? star brought the hulking villain to life.
As well as addressing his roles in those projects, Fred talks to us about delivering Fatalities as Shao Kahn, finding the right voice for this iconic character, and what about the role most excited him.
Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms is available now on 4K/Blu-ray & Digital!
Shao Kahn is very much the ultimate big bad in this movie…
[Adopts Shao Kahn’s voice] ‘You know it, baby. You know it to be true!’
...[Laughs] but what about the character do you find most interesting to explore as an actor?
Well, he’s such an iconic character, number one. That was a big thing for me. I was stunned and couldn’t believe I’d got the part, so that was a really big deal. I think one of the things is his knowledge and ability as a warrior and leader. Even his knowledge of magic and all of these things. He is literally the toughest guy in the room. He doesn't have to show force very often; he has a tremendous ego which is wonderful for a villain because he just flaunts it in many ways. He gets really nasty too. I understand why because he’s got an agenda. You never play a villain, so to speak, but he’s frustrated because he needs to have all the realms. When it comes to playing him, I love the combo of his ego and his absolute power, and a little bit of sly humour. There’s something about him that’s almost Megatron-like [Laughs]. I found it a lot of fun to get into because Shao Kahn gives you a lot to play with.
Shao Kahn is a character with a very impressive, distinct voice, but what are some of the biggest challenges of finding that and maintaining it in the recording booth?
[Adopts Shao Kahn’s voice] ‘Well, if I may answer you in the voice…’ I wanted something a little otherworldly. I almost went in the Hellraiser direction because I wanted it so that I couldn’t associate him with anything else. The key, for him, because every voice is different, it wasn’t so hard to sustain as you just had to stay in the character. You need to keep his rhythm and swagger, and no matter what is happening, he can be losing and it would never be a loss in his mind. It’s just maintaining...I wanted a certain level of would-be royalty to lose the term loosely, but a grandiose to him was important. Maintaining him is just staying in that pocket and knowing where it is. Fortunately, we have references of takes the director likes, so I would ask to hear back the one they really liked because it helps a lot to have those around too. What I mean by that is the previously recorded lines of the voice and attitude because he really is attitude. It had to have that delicious quality and he sees everyone as inferior, so keeping those mindsets down...with his bloodlust! He really just wants a good fight. He’s such a showman so that’s a big part of it, but in terms of maintaining the voice, it helps to have directors there being able to keep me on track.
Talking of bloodlust, you get to deliver a lot of Fatalities throughout the course of this tournament, but which of those were you most blown away or shocked by when you saw the finished product?
I will tell you. There are two answers to this. One, I love the closeups...and then there’s the opening. I don’t want to spoil stuff for people who haven’t seen the movie yet, but I will say that the opening really lets you know that we’re not messing around. We’re not pulling punches and people are getting dismembered [Laughs]. There are a couple of scenes where I rip a significant person in half; that was shocking. Licking the blood...when I first heard that I actually taste the blood and say ‘Fatality,’ I was like, ‘Wow. We’re going there. We’re going deep.’ It’s so barbaric. On a general note, I love the nods to the games, but the close-up and X-Ray physiological shots of how your brain is being disconnected from your spinal cord almost like a forensics film was shocking and interesting. It’s almost jarring at first, and then I actually thought it was great as it was another way of looking at this stuff [Laughs]. ‘Here a fight, but here’s what happens when a fist goes through a man’s skull’ [Laughs]. I think the audience will be shocked and awed by that.
I’ve got to ask while I’ve got you: I’m a huge Spider-Man fan and loved your version of Rhino in those games, so what do you think the odds are we could see you back in the future?
[Adopts Rhino’s voice] ‘Well, first of all, I have to tell you: thank you so much for that. I very happy!’ I don’t know. I would hope...we left him in sort of dire straits without spoiling the game for anybody, but I hope he comes back. I’ve played Rhino in a bunch of different forms. He’s an interesting character because he can run the gamut from bad guy to maybe he could almost be a good guy because he was one when he lost his wife or he can be just really nasty. That’s where we went with the game. He’s a very, very nasty, tough guy. Funny, sure, but he’s despicable, really [Laughs] So, [adopts Rhino’s voice] ‘He’s working for the wrong team, always.’ I don’t know anything, obviously, but I would jump at the chance to hop in that suit again. I really would. It was a great experience working with everybody and I loved how it all turned out and was really happy with what they did. I have hope! [Adopts Rhino’s voice] ‘I would think because sometimes these characters are very hard to kill. They don’t get killed very often!’
Talking of Marvel, we’ve seen you as Drax in What If…? And I can imagine that must have been an awesome experience, even after there was a lot of chatter online after the fact about Dave Bautista not being asked to return.
Yeah, not to speak out to school, but quite frankly, I had no idea what happened. It sounds like there must have been a snafu somewhere. I don’t know. I’m basically just...I do a voice match for him [Laughs]. I wasn’t sure how it went down. Drax tends to be one of my favourite characters. He makes me laugh so much. Just that whole [adopts Drax’s voice], ‘Haha, you must feel pretty stupid then!’ I love how on the nose he is. David Sobolov plays him so beautifully in the animated series. I would record with him and laugh every time. I loved what Dave Bautista did too. I just loved it, but was honoured and don’t want to make any waves with anybody. We just audition and I certainly didn’t know what it was for. We’re just thrown stuff and try to do it. I had so much fun working on that show. It was such a joy to do. I do him and Volstagg, Thor’s friend. It was fun. I mean, they have a lot of the original folks, so I don’t know what happened, but I was just really happy to do it and had so much fun [Laughs]. Spending time with Drax is always fun. He’s one of my favourites.
The Injustice trailer dropped just a couple of hours ago, so doing that project hot off the heels of playing Solomon Grundy in Batman: The Long Halloween must have been awesome?
It’s like a dream come true! You have to understand, as a fanboy, a comic book guy, an animator, and a person who loves this lore, it’s shocking playing these things. Solomon Grundy in The Long Halloween is more of a grunt type of performance. He basically recites the lines from the very famous nursery rhyme [adopts Grundy’s voice] ‘Born on a Monday…’ and what I like about that movie is Batman and him kind of have a mutual relationship and way they work together. I always like it when Grundy can also side with good. He’s an unfortunate character and one of those who maybe should have been good at some time, but he’s just messed up [Laughs]. I really like how they did that and, of course, Captain Atom is very gung-ho fighting with Batman and very much working for the Pentagon. He’s all very by the book [Laughs]. It’s very fun.
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