Taking us by surprise earlier this Summer was the announcement that Mortal Kombat: Legacy would be receiving a second season. An entirely separate entity from the live-action MK movie that was announced late last year, which is also set to be directed by Legacy helmer Kevin Tancharoen, fans were generally pleased that the series would be able to build upon what it promised viewers with: taking us to the actual Mortal Kombat tournament.
With a short and rather cheeky video announcing the 2nd season and which characters would be appearing in it, details on the continuation of MK: Legacy have been hard to come by. Aside from the return of key creative figures such as Director Kevin Tanchareon and Action Choreographer Larnell Stovall, it was a mystery as to who else would be returning to the project and what new faces would be rounding out the cast. Official cast announcements haven’t been made for season 2 of Mortal Kombat: Legacy, yet some rather distressing reveals have been made as to which actors won’t be returning.
Production on MK: Legacy’s second season has just gone underway, but two actors have confirmed that they won’t be returning to the project despite their characters playing prominent roles in the new season. In what may now become an unfortunate tradition for the Mortal Kombat franchise, actor Matt Mullins has confirmed that he won’t be reprising his role as Johnny Cage. Portraying Cage both in Kevin Tanchareon’s original pitch/off-shot feature MK: Rebirth, and the 1st season of Legacy, Mullins has sadly been recast by a yet to be named actor.
“They requested footage from films that I worked on this last year which I gave them, and then they wanted me to actually read again for the second season. So I read and I auditioned for the same part as I did in season 1. Then they basically decided to go in another direction,” said Matt Mullis in an interview with Shogun Gamer. The change in direction for Johnny, and perhaps other characters in MK: Legacy is a simple one as the studio is apparently seeking more “name” talent to round out the cast and the more key characters.
Its unknown who will be joining the cast of MK: Legacy season 2 as it could prove to be a far cry from the mixture of established character actors (Ryan Robbins) and those with a martial arts background (Sam Tjhia) as was the case with season 1. When asked if any of his colleagues would be returning for season 2 Matt had this to say, “I’m not positive about who’s coming back. They really kept everybody in the dark about the whole thing so it’s hard to say who’s coming back.”
Also not returning for Legacy’s sophomore season is actor Tahmoh Penikett, the man who brought the first likable version of Kurtis Stryker to life. While Stryker’s appearance in season 1 of Legacy was minimal compared to other characters, he was nonetheless set to return in the second season, presumably once again accompanying Jax (Michael Jai White) and Sonya Blade (Jeri Ryan) in another mission that would no doubt involve Kano (Darren Shahlavi).
Unfortunately Tahmoh confirmed via Twitter that there were early talks about him reprising his role as Stryker yet things didn’t work out in the end. Obviously it’s murky as to how things didn’t work out, but we can rule out the possibility of lowball salary offers being made to the cast as Matt also said, “We were just very happy to be part of the project, or at least I was. The money was a union project so you get scale for your work, but I just loved being part of the process.”
I’m sure that the second season of MK: Legacy will deliver as it may have a bigger budget and a team that is more confident in what they can accomplish, but at the same time it’s disappointing to potentially see an entirely new cast put in place.
Warner Bros. have yet to announce when the second season of MK: Legacy will air and due to the fact that the series isn’t set to coincide with a new MK game release it could be possible that production on the series will be longer than the breakneck pace that the first season went through, thus it could be some time before we finally see or receive any announcements on the project.
You can read my full interview with Matt Mullins below which covers things such as potential fan backlash and how the forthcoming MK movie may or may not have factored into the cast decisions.
Interview With Matt Mullins
Ian Fisher: Earlier this week you made a post on your Facebook page thanking the fans and wishing the crew the best of luck on the second season of Mortal Kombat: Legacy. Obviously this got people talking as to whether you would be part of season 2 considering Johnny Cage is set to return. So can you fill us in on what happened on your end?
Matt Mullins: After we finished the first season no one was sure where the production was going to go. We weren’t sure if it was going to be a film or another season of the web-series or not. It was about mid-to-end July when they started talking about a second season of the web series and then all the other actors were trying to figure out what the script was about and what was going on.
Then ultimately it came out that they were going to do a second season and they weren’t sure which characters were going to come back. Then I found out that Johnny Cage was going to end up in the second season, basically the same way everybody else did through the Comic Con video on YouTube. It was a process of trying to get back involved since they didn’t know if they wanted to bring me back as Johnny Cage since I think there’s always an attempt in this business to try and reach out for actors and stars that have more of a cache name value. Even though I’ve done a decent amount of work, my name is not necessarily the biggest at the moment; it’s rising but it’s not the biggest at this moment.
So then they requested footage from films that I worked on this last year which I gave them, and then they wanted me to actually read again for the second season. So I read and I auditioned for the same part as I did in season 1. Then they basically decided to go in another direction.
Ian: It kind of seems odd, at least to me, that it was requested of you to send in those clips and read for the role considering that Kevin Tancharoen is once again directing and Larnell Stovall is coming back to do the action scenes. So besides those two people, does the production team consist of most of the same people as season 1 or are they just going in a slightly different direction with season 2?
Matt: The production team and everybody involved is still very much the same. I think there’s a little more involvement from the people who are financing the project overall. I know that both Kevin and Larnell requested and wanted me to come back, but sometimes this business is unfortunately about decisions that are based in making money so they have to do what’s best for the overall production. Even if you have certain pieces and people fighting for you it doesn’t always happen that way unfortunately.
Ian: As you said it seems like the production team or the studio rather is seeking more “name” talent for the second season in terms of appealing to a broader audience. Another interesting update about season 2 is that actor Tahmoh Penikett, who played Stryker in season 1, also revealed that he isn’t returning since discussions went on but sadly didn’t work out. So do you think the production team is really striving for high-profile talent or could it be a case of perhaps lowballing the salaries?
Matt: We were all just very happy to be part of the project, or at least I was. The money was a union project so you get scale for your work, but I just loved being part of the process. It was a great honor to play Johnny Cage since he’s just such a cool character. Even in the pre-vis that we shot, Mortal Kombat: Rebirth, I didn’t take any money for that since its Mortal Kombat! It’s just something you want to do and be a part of.
I felt that I had a certain range of skills and abilities that would contribute to the overall production value of the project and I think that’s the same for everybody. The overall production or the studio or whoever had the final decision were just making the best decision to sell their product.
Ian: With the potential of a major cast shake-up for the second season of MK: Legacy do you think that could kind of affect the show in a negative way by annoying the loyal fans that are out there who enjoyed the performances of yourself and your cast members?
Matt: I’m curious to see what all the fans really feel about the changes in the cast and story and what happens next. I feel that when you put a product out there you make a contract with your audience in that if people watch they’ll receive this quality of product. Then all of a sudden you change that, for reasons I’m not entirely sure, I can see a lot of fans not appreciating that type of respect. The fans gave the respect to watch a Mortal Kombat film/project again and now for everything to change once again I don’t know how people are going to respond or react to that.
Ian: It seems like some of the cast changes in season 2 were made at behest of the studio to increase potential marketability and all that. But do you also think the cast changes were done to potentially tie-into the new MK movie since that was something which has been announced already and is supposedly in the early stages of production?
Matt: For the web-series it cost significantly less than what the film is going to cost. So even though I feel that there’s a lot of pressure to make sure the web-series is good, I think it’ll be all bets are off when the film comes out. The studio’s involvement will probably be tenfold in how they go through what’s shot, who is cast, the story, the effects. Everything will be so harnessed by the studio that it’s unknown how that will turn out.
Ian: It sucks that you won’t be part of season 2 but do you know of any of your colleagues with a similar background to yours (actor/martial artist) that will be appearing in season 2 in some capacity?
Matt: I’m not positive about who’s coming back. They really kept everybody in the dark about the whole thing so it’s hard to say who’s coming back. I’m sure pictures and news will come in about who will be returning, but from the people I’ve talked to there has not been a lot of information.
Ian: All together what are your general feelings on the matter? Obviously it’s a shame that you won’t reprise your role as Johnny Cage, but are you looking at this as a positive in terms of being able to pursue other projects or are you just bummed out about things all together?
Matt: Of course I’m bummed out since I felt the role of Johnny Cage was something I felt I brought something unique to because the ability to make the action look good is important to Mortal Kombat, especially for a then web-based series. There’s a very quick turnaround time for someone to pull off the type of action that needs to be done and of course I felt that I brought something to the acting side as well.
Ironically my episode pretty much mirrored this entire situation that I went through. Almost identically which is pretty strange since I thought Shang Tsung was going to walk in my door after I got the news. Maybe if the film does come around things will change and I can get in that. But the production schedule is pretty short on the series so it would’ve been a nice thing to do and knock off. I was actually out of the country for six months this year working on different projects so it would’ve been nice to end the year this way, but overall this was a very good year to me.
Ian: Following that up are there any projects coming out soon that people can check you out in?
Matt: There’s a couple of smaller web based projects that I did. I just worked with Jon Chu’s company and they’re putting together these small action shorts as well called “Fight”. They got three or four action directors to conceptualize and put together these short films so I starred in one of those. The big project I worked on in China is called “The King of Vajara” and it’s a Chinese based production but it’s unbelievable. Some of the action we did over there was some of the craziest stuff I’ve ever done. It’s about the Japanese occupation of China during WWII so it’s a pretty sweet and fun period piece and it’s coming out in March.
Article originally posted on November 29, 2012