MORTAL KOMBAT: BATTLE OF THE REALMS Interview: Jordan Rodrigues Discusses Powering Up Liu Kang (Exclusive)

MORTAL KOMBAT: BATTLE OF THE REALMS Interview: Jordan Rodrigues Discusses Powering Up Liu Kang (Exclusive)

Jordan Rodrigues (L.A.'s Finest) talks to us about returning as Liu Kang for a leading role in Mortal Kombat: Battle of the Realms, the big changes made to the hero, his dynamic with Raiden, and much more.

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.

The movie puts the spotlight on Liu Kang, and Jordan Rodrigues reprises the role in this sequel. As the hero finds himself working closely alongside Raiden and Kung Lao to protect Earthrealm, Battle of the Realms better explores Liu Kang's relationships with those around him and his place in this world.

In this interview, the actor talks us through what it was like to step into the recording booth and get physical as this character. Jordan also weighs in on the path Liu Kang chooses to go down, what he enjoyed most about his arc later in the movie, and whether he's given any thought to a sequel. 

It's clear Jordan had a lot of fun bringing Liu Kang to life in these movies, and you'll want to continue checking back here all this week for more from this movie's incredible ensemble cast! 

Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Realms arrives August 31 on 4K/Blu-ray & Digital!
 

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How does it feel to be back for this sequel after playing Liu Kang for the first time in Mortal Kombat: Scorpion’s Revenge?

It’s been an absolute pleasure to come back and work with the team again. I had so much more of a blast this time because I wasn’t as nervous around them and I really got to go out for all this one. 

Coming back to this role for a second time, did you feel that you learned anything working on that first movie that helped you really tap into this character as he takes on a much bigger role here?

Scorpion’s Revenge was my first ever voiceover acting job, so I was kind of a rookie to that whole world. The director, Ethan Spaulding, producer Rick Morales, and the writer Jeremy Adams, all really held my hand through the process and made me feel very comfortable. After watching the first movie, I had such a better idea as to how they work and what my role as a voice actor is. Coming back to the second film, I definitely felt a lot more comfortable and more confident to try new things and just get into it all. 

This movie devotes a lot of time to exploring Liu Kang’s dynamic with Raiden, but what about that most excited you as you read the script? 

Something you don’t get in the game is exploring what the relationships are. The relationship between Raiden and Liu Kang is a beautiful one. You really get to see more of their dynamic in a big way here and how Raiden is such a father figure to him. Because of that, you instantly become a lot more invested in what they’re trying to accomplish throughout the sequel and it’s very satisfying. It’s also very human in terms of the behaviour that they show in it and the sacrifices they have to make and the love and the patience you have to have with each other. It was really cool to read that. 

You get to be part of some badass fight scenes in this movie, but what was the most enjoyable and challenging aspects of getting in that recording booth to bring those action sequences to life?

All my childhood fantasies of really being a cartoon were coming to life [Laughs]. I grew up on Dragonball Z, so stepping into the booth and recording those lines was a lot of fun. It was very different because I wasn’t acting alongside anybody and was just doing the lines, but where I had the most fun was the second session where we were basically just doing all the grunts and fight scenes. By the end of it, I was just drenched in sweat. It really does get physical in there with me just punching and kicking the air! I got a lot of aggression out there! 

No spoilers, but we see Liu Kang really come into his own as the movie progresses, but when he gets that upgrade, how much did that change how you approached your performance? 

For sure. I talked to Rick, Jeremy, and Ethan about where they wanted me to go with this and I think I had a natural instinct to go into a zen space. They were very encouraging towards that, so it definitely changed my performance when he levels up into that new dimension! 
 

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When Kung Lao steps into the arena to face Shao Kahn, what do you think was going through his head, and how much thought, as an actor, do you give to that beyond what’s in the script?

When I’m reading a script, I usually take my own personal experiences into it. When Liu Kang steps into that arena, this is really his moment. It’s the moment he’s been waiting for his entire life. They call him the chosen one and this really is why he was chosen. It was for this moment. You get to see him go full out on his opposition [Laughs].

It feels a lot like the stage is set for a grand finale after this movie, but having spent so much time with Liu Kang, where do you hope to see his story go next?

To be honest, I haven’t thought much about it! I’m still processing and letting this epic second movie sink in. If there was a chance to reprise the role of Liu Kang in a third movie, sign me up. I’d be the first one to say ‘yes.’ 

Liu Kang is such a big part of the games, but what did you enjoy most about getting to bring him centre stage as the lead of this movie? 

I think after Liu Kang took a backseat in the first film, for him to be, as you said, centre stage in the second film, it was very satisfying for me to get to play that. Also, I think it’s going to be very satisfying for the audience to see what he’s really capable of and to really see the heart he has. I think a lot of people can relate to his character and I think it’s going to be great for the die-hard fans to watch. 

Is it hard to watch a movie like this one and not be disappointed you don’t get one of those awesome Fatalities or are you just glad to make it to the credits? 

[Laughs] I wasn’t disappointed. When people see the film, they’ll understand why I’m very happy with how things turn out for the character in this second film. Of course, I’d love a Fatality like everyone else, but I feel like I had a greater purpose in the film, so I’m happy with that. 

When you approached this role, were you familiar with the games and a fan, or did you find yourself having to do a lot of research so you could really tap into who Liu Kang is as a character? 

I didn’t grow up playing the game too much. It was more in my later years that I played Mortal Kombat X a lot with my roommates. I think the research I got to do was just not feeling bad about playing the game all day long [Laughs] and getting a sense of what his powers are and what he can do. The research I did on him...this character has been around for generations and I just didn’t want to do a bad job for those die-hard fans. Honestly, I just took a lot of my own personal experiences and tried to emulate them through him. 

ALSO READ: Producer Rick Morales Teases The Bloody Sequel
ALSO READ: Writer Jeremy Adams On How He Expands The Mythology
ALSO READ: Matt Yang King On Bringing Kung Lao To Animation
 

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