MORTAL KOMBAT: BATTLE OF THE REALMS Interview: Ikè Amadi Explains How He Brought Jax To Life (Exclusive)

Mortal Kombat: Battle of the Realms star Ikè Amadi breaks down his role as Jax in the movie, explaining his approach to the character, what it was like to record in the midst of the pandemic, and more...

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Picking up shortly after the explosive finale of Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion's RevengeMortal 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.

Ikè Amadi, who previously voiced Shao Khan in the Mortal Kombat video game franchise, returns as Jax in this movie, throwing the heroic badass into the midst of the action for heaps of epic battles in the tournament. When we caught up with the actor a few days ago, we were able to take a deep dive into the work that went into bringing this evolved version of the character to life. 

Jax was put through the wringer in Scorpion's Revenge, but he's grown comfortable with his new status quo by the time we find him here. Ikè breaks down Jax's journey, his fandom of the games, future hopes for the character, and even the impact COVID-19 has had on his acting career in this interview.

Don't forget, you can also check out what the actor had to tell us about his role in What If...? by clicking here, the possibility of returning to the Spider-Man games as The Prowler here, and his future hopes for Martian Manhunter right here. In the meantime, check out this interview below! 

Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms is available now on 4K/Blu-ray & Digital!
 


Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms is available now on 4K/Blu-ray & Digital!

You’d already lent your voice to Mortal Kombat 11 as Shao Khan, but what did it mean to you when the call came through to join this animated franchise as a character as beloved as Jax?

Well, I obviously love the game. I played it myself. There is something different about doing an animated film. It’s a completely different genre and Jax is one of the longest-standing characters in the Mortal Kombat franchise. I was a little giddy when I got the call! [Laughs]

After getting to explore some of Jax’s origin in Scorpion’s Revenge, what excited you most about returning to the character as he takes part in this movie’s tournament?

I feel like in the first movie, he was basically coming up and had that awful scene [Laughs] where he had to become who he is now. In this film, he gets filled out a little bit and gets some really cool lines that were probably my favourite part about playing him in Battle of the Realms. 

Did you feel your performance changed from movie to movie, especially as it feels like Jax has become really comfortable with his place in this world now?

Yeah. In the first movie, you’re trying to figure out what to do, where to place him, and all those different things. By the time we moved on to the second one, I felt a lot more comfortable in his skin and ‘safe,’ I guess, would be the best word.

Jax gets a lot of badass moments in Battle of the Realms, but having seen the finished product now, do you have any moments that really jumped out at you? 

That’s a good question! I would say...I can’t remember the actual lines off the top of my head, but the banter between Jax and Johnny Cage is probably my favourite. 

Were you a fan of the Mortal Kombat franchise before lending your voice to the games and films?

I think the first Mortal Kombat I played was Mortal Kombat II way, way back in the day. I kind of put it down for a while and returned to it around Mortal Kombat 9 because some friends of mine were into it. I’ve always enjoyed the games and the movies as an extension of that.

When you were playing those games, who was your go-to fighter? 

Oh, Kung Lao. Easily. Always Kung Lao. 

These animated features do such a great job with the action, but if you could choose a dream opponent for Jax in a future movie regardless of their allegiance, who would it be?

That’s a good question! Who would Jax do well against? I don’t know...you know what comes to mind, funnily enough? I think it was Rocky II where Rocky and Creed have that practice scene at the end of the movie. Having a scene like that between Jax and Johnny could be interesting! 
 


Having voiced other characters in this franchise, what was it specifically about Jax that appealed to you as an actor?

I think my favourite thing about Jax is the no-nonsense approach he has to everything. It’s actually not far off from how I am as a person [Laughs] so it appeals to me because it’s probably the most familiar of the Mortal Kombat characters. I like how he doesn’t take crap and how he deals with things in a blunt, straightforward way. I can respect that. 

Jax is such a fan-favourite, iconic part of this franchise, but do you find that the expectations and pressure from fans help your performance in any way or are you just focused on what you need to do as an actor? 

I’m always open to feedback, whether positive or negative. I think it’s always good to hear what the fans have to say. I see it as a benefit and always something to take in and tweak or challenge me in some way or another. I think it’s always good! 

Jax has a huge fight with Shao Khan at one point, and that villain is obviously someone you’ve played in the games; was that quite a surreal experience? 

It’s definitely different. As soon as you move from one skin into another skin and you watch it, it’s weird. I wouldn’t call it surreal, but it’s weird in a good way if that makes sense [Laughs].

Do you feel a sense of ownership over the characters you play, making it hard to see another actor take over a role like Shao Khan, or were you just excited to put your spin on Jax?

I feel like any time anybody gets to play any character, they get to bring their own thing to it. I don’t know, I was seventh in line to play Shao Khan, and I don’t know where in the line I was for Jax, so I actually enjoy going back and looking over other people’s performances really to see what I can feel, to be honest with you. I never feel that sense of ownership; I think it’s something we own together, and I’m always happy to have those influences to draw from so I can fill out a character. 

I’ve talked to other cast members about their experiences in the recording booth with portraying the physicality needed for the fight scenes and they’ve mentioned everything from being drenched in sweat to losing their voices. What was that experience like for you?

It’s probably a little bit of column A and column B! I don’t think I lost my voice playing Jax. He’s more measured than some of the other characters, but it’s definitely a physically exerting experience. It’s fun. That’s what you want in the booth; you want to come out and feel like, ‘I’ve done something.’ 

Did you have any particularly memorable experiences working in the recording booth whether it was by yourself or with any of your fellow cast members?

I think if I remember correctly, I think I only worked by myself on this particular film. I don’t think we got the chance, especially as this was recorded during some of the early COVID protocols. I think everybody was pretty much solo during the entire thing, but that first day when you come in and you want things to go right...that first day always sticks out to me because you really find the character, get comfortable again, and feel like, ‘Okay, this can go smoothly.’ That’s always my favourite time. 

Beyond the obvious, has COVID had a positive or negative impact on what you’ve been able to do as an actor recording your lines?

I think...there are pluses and minuses, but it’s also kind of neutral. On the one hand, everybody loves being in the room with other people, having those experiences, and eye contact...you just can’t get that from anywhere else. At the same time, being at home in a home studio, well, you’re always more comfortable at home. It’s a trade-off. I don’t think it changed anything performance-wise, but it’s a trade-off in terms of the experience of creating it. 

Jax is a character with a lot of potential and someone who could become a leading character, so if this animated franchise were to continue, where would you like to see his story go next? 

Oh, wow, that’s a good question. I had not actually thought about that but, hey, anything that puts Jax front and centre, I’m all about that! 

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