One of the most prolific Japanese Hollywood actors is bringing one of the most iconic fighting game characters to life, as Mortal Kombat movie star Hiroyuki Sanada had an interview with Entertainment Weekly talking about playing the spear wielding undead ninja fighter of the series, Scorpion.
A motion poster depicting the actor in the full flaming ninja attire below.
— Mortal Kombat Movie (@MKMovie) February 17, 2021
Speaking about the role, the 60 year old actor admitted that he was he felt intimidated playing the role of the specter from hell formerly known as Hanzo Hisashi.
“This was my first time playing a famous game character,” the actor says. “Everyone knows his weapons and style. So, I felt a lot of pressure.”
Beginning acting at a young age, Sanada trained in martial arts actor Sonny Chiba’s Japan Action Club. Through his mentor, he established friendships with other legendary Hollywood stars like Michelle Yeoh and Jacky Chan — whom he would go on to star alongside in future films. Some of his most famous films to date are The Twilight Samurai, the original Ringu, and alongside Tom Cruise in the 2003 film The Last Samurai. Sanada would also appear in Marvel Movies — first as Shingen Yashida in The Wolverine and as the Japanese gangster Akihiko in Avengers: Endgame.
In bringing his character to life in the opening sequence where Hanzo faces off against the future Sub-Zero Bi-Han, Sanada strove to make the fight feel authentic.
“I discussed the fighting style with the choreographer and the stunt team and just jumped into rehearsal,” he says. “I tried to create an original style. Since Hanzo Hasashi is a character of Japanese descent, I tried to make authentic movements.”
Of course, the one thing everyone wanted to hear was Scorpion’s signature phrases while performing his spear move, and Sanada gleefully recounted how his colleagues reacted.
“He has two famous words, a punchline or something, that I really enjoyed,” Sanada says. Those would be “Come here!” the phrase Scorpion often shouts across the Mortal Kombat games as his piercing whip launches and hooks onto an opponent. Sometimes he substitutes “Get over here!”
“When I performed that signature move with the words in the rehearsal on set for the first time, I had a great reaction from the cast and crew,” Sanada recalls. “They said, ‘Yeah! I’ve waited for this moment.’ Then I realized how popular this move is.”
We’ll be seeing that action first hand when the MK Movie trailer debuts later. In the meantime, check out the Sub-Zero poster if you haven’t yet here.
The Mortal Kombat Movie will debut in selected theaters and HBO Max on April 18.