Sam Jo Mortal Kombat: Legacy Season 2 Interview

At times it can be rare to see a strong female character within a game, but one that has always been present is Princess Kitana from Mortal Kombat. While Kitana has at times fallen victim to being a damsel in distress, the Edenian princess has nonetheless maintained her vibe of being a fierce warrior throughout the many video game and theatrical installments of the Mortal Kombat franchise.

While a bevy of new faces have joined the cast of Mortal Kombat: Legacy II to portray notable characters, a few familiar faces from the first season have returned; one of which is Samantha Jo.  Having brought Princess Kitana to life in the debut season of MK: Legacy, Samantha reprises the role once more in a more fleshed out performance that still has plenty of physicality thanks to her martial arts background.

Samantha catches up with Shogun Gamer about what she’s been up to since season one of Legacy first aired and what it was like to return to the world of Mortal Kombat once again.

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Ian Fisher: It has been quite some time since we last chatted since the first season of Mortal Kombat: Legacy aired.  So since that time what have you been up to?

Samantha Jo: Wow, I think quite a bit has happened in those two years! Firstly, I got married! Woot woot! But I was sooooo grateful and excited to be able to work on Man of Steel, directed by Zack Snyder. Btw… he’s just such a fun, amazing person… but in that, I played the small role of a Kryptonian villain named “Car-Vex”, as well as stunt doubling “Faora” (played by the amazing German actress, Antje Traue).

Then I did a couple episodes here and there on different shows before starting on 300: Rise Of An Empire where I stunt double Eva Green as “Artemisia”. I started on Mortal Kombat: Legacy Season 2 pretty much right after that! We’ll get more into that later, but since then, I’ve really been focusing on the acting side of my resume and trying to hone my skills at the Aaron Speiser Acting Studio. My life has just been surprising me with all of these amazing opportunities. I can’t complain 🙂

 

Ian: One of your recent big projects was appearing in epic blockbuster “Man of Steel” as a loyal Kryptonian warrior for Zod.  Can you talk a bit about how you got that role and what it was like to work alongside actors such as Michael Shannon and perform in such an epic and highly stylized setting?

Samantha: I would firstly like to say “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” to Stunt Coordinator/Second Unit Director- Damon Caro, and Director- Zack Snyder for giving me that opportunity. Who doesn’t love Superman? Though I’m not 100% sure how the decision was made, I’m positive that somewhere along the lines, Damon Caro trusted that I could hold up on the action side of the role, knew I’d taken acting classes, and so kindly voiced me as an option for the role.

It really was one of the most rewarding sets I’ve worked on. Watching and reading and playing with Superman memorabilia was no comparison to watching Henry Cavill don the red cape while it literally waived in the wind! I think the whole crew felt the same way. It was pretty surreal working with sooo many talented and academy award winning/ nominated actors! Being Kryptonian I was on set a lot with Michael Shannon as you mentioned. It’s almost as if the air in the room stops and all you can hear is your own breathe when he’s doing his thing. All of the energy in the room changes as soon as you hear “Action”.

 

Ian: At this point a lot of gamers and fans of martial arts may know you the most for your portrayal of Princess Kitana as seen in “Mortal Kombat: Legacy”. But late last year you added another video game icon to your resume by playing Chun-Li from the Street Fighter for the Ultimate Fan Fight web series.  While the Ultimate Fan Fight series may not have been a traditional short by featuring a narrative, what was it like to shoot that episode and portray yet another iconic character in the world of video games?

Samantha: To be honest, it felt like I was cheating on the Mortal Kombat franchise… hahaha. My heart, no doubt, lies with Mortal Kombat and Kitana, so although I had a blast filming our fight scene, I don’t think I could really do a proper acting scene as “Chun Li”. I don’t think you can do both. It has to be one or the other when it comes to Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat and I’m Mortal Kombat! In terms of the makers of the Fan Fights, they are long time friends and previous teammates of mine (Team 2X). I always have a ball working with them, and this time was no different.

Ian: Since you’ve already portrayed two leading ladies from major fighting games, is there another video game character you would like to portray in some capacity (live-action film/short, video game) if given the opportunity?

Samantha: Hmmm, video game characters. Well, I’ve made it known in other interviews that I’m obsessed with Goro hahaha. Why not!? I want to be Goro!! I’ve done motion and performance capture… I’m qualified right? Minus my height and gender…. But seriously I don’t really know when it comes to video game characters. Kitana really would have been my first choice… how lucky is that?

 

Ian: Right now you can once again be seen playing Princess Kitana in the second season of “Mortal Kombat: Legacy”.  Can you talk a bit about the process that went on as far as getting geared up for the second season? Did you know fairly early on you were going to come back given some of the other cast changes that went on, or did you not know right until shooting almost began?

Samantha: I actually didn’t know until pretty late! Talk about making you sweat lol. I knew about… 3 weeks before we started shooting. Kevin did, however, mention that he thought casting had reached out to me a lot sooner, so I think I may have slipped through the cracks in terms of making the calls. Petty much as soon as I knew, I was learning our choreo and going to fittings. It all happened very quickly.

 

Ian: Having been part of the original MK: Legacy season, what were some of the big things that you wanted to address with the second outing?  As a performer were you keen to evolve your performance as Kitana or were you were focused on really nailing the combat and being able to show more in that respect?

Samantha: Both. For sure. The scene work with Mileena and our complicated family dynamic was just as important to me as our fight choreography. One thing I really wanted to explore deeper was Kitana’s conflict with where her loyalty lies. I really wanted her to confront the feelings and suspicions that arose in Season 1 and deal with them.

It’s important to me that she never comes off as indecisive or weak. Neither of those qualities would make for a good princess or leader. Another aspect that I really wanted to incorporate, which we did, was Kitana’s fans! I know the people/fans want to see Kitana USE her weapon/fans, not just hold them. I think they will be appeased! I was so excited to be able to put my fan training to use!

 

Ian: When we originally chatted you had mentioned that the general production pace of MK: Legacy S1 was somewhat frantic since time was short and that often led to fight scenes being cut or trimmed at the last minute.  Now was the pacing of Season 2 somewhat similar, or was it more relaxed since there wasn’t as immediate a deadline to finish everything?

Samantha: It was a MUCH more relaxed pace for the second season. Many of the other cast members agreed that it almost felt as if we were shooting a feature film considering the amount of time we were given to make sure our performances were to our and Kevin’s liking. On the first season, we weren’t just shooting quickly, but we were talking quickly and running everywhere so that we could catch up. It felt like we were always behind.

To give you a direct comparison… in my Season 1 fight with Mileena… we were supposed to have one day to shoot the fight in daylight. It ended up being only 1.5 hours in the darkness because we were behind haha. Luckily, everyone was such a pro about it and worked really hard to finish on time. But, in the second season… I had 2 full days for my fight! You sometimes don’t get that long on feature films!

 

Ian: A lot of major changes have occurred in Season 2 of Mortal Kombat: Legacy ranging from some new faces in the cast, to a more graphic (yet franchise true) depiction of combat.  Though one of the big changes that pertains to your appearance is the addition of Michelle Lee in the role of Mileena.  What was it like working with Michelle and being able to perform with her?

Samantha: Of course it was an absolute pleasure working with Michelle again. I had worked with her before on the Resident Evil: 6  video game, so I was familiar with her work. Anytime I get to fight a girl and it isn’t all hair pulling and scratching, I’m stoked! She is just a gorgeous, talented young woman who brought it! All I’ll say about the changes in the graphic depiction of my and Michelle’s “Kombat” is… FATALITY!

 

Ian: With Kitana being expanded upon in the second season, are there any other elements of the character you would like to see explored if a third season happens? Would you want to delve more into the relationship Kitana has with Shao Kahn or perhaps delve into the pairing that’s often present in the video games with Liu Kang?

Samantha: I think I would definitely like to see what would happen if a love interest were to develop. Whether it is with Liu Kang or another character, everyone needs love! Much of Kitana’s backstory told in the Legacy series so far has a lot of pain and confusion. It would be nice to explore some good feelings along side going even deeper into her relationship with Shao Khan. It would be spectacular if Kitana could confront Shao Khan about her childhood and what really happened when she was a baby. Of course, this is IF we are fortunate enough to continue with the Mortal Kombat franchise!

 

Ian: It may be tough to nail things down, but what was one of the key highlights for you while filming the second season of MK: Legacy? Was it cool to work alongside more actors this time out such as Casper Van Dien, or was there another element that really stood out for you?

Samantha: One of the highlights for me was the fact that I was able to work with Cary Tagawa! He’s the original, so any fan of Mortal Kombat can relate to how excited I was about that! Yes, of course Casper was key. How could he not be, he’s Casper! I had no idea what to expect showing up on set and meeting him for the first time. In hindsight, I wish I had been more prepared! I would have thought of witty comebacks to his jokes and worn waterproof mascara so that the tears I cried while laughing wouldn’t have ruined my makeup!! The whole experience with season 2 in general is now a highlight of my life. Kitana was so inspirational and iconic to me as a young girl. I feel privileged to be a part of this.

 

Ian: Beyond Mortal Kombat: Legacy II, do you have any upcoming projects folks can expect to see you in, whether it’s a key starring role or that of a stunt performer?

Samantha: Well the only one far along enough in development is 300:Rise of An Empire. Please go check it out when it comes out! I stunt double the lovely Eva Green. Everything else is still hush hush, but I’m sure by the next time we chat I’ll have plenty more to tell you about! Thank you so much for supporting!

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I want to extend a huge thanks to Samantha for once again chatting with me about her career and her portrayal of Princess Kitana.  You can stay up to date with the latest updates concerning Samantha via her Twitter account.

 

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Originally posted on September 25, 2013

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