Inspired by the worldwide video game sensation now celebrating its 30th anniversary, Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind finds vicious, power-mad Kano determined to take over Earthrealm, one soul at a time. Assisted by a trio of cold Black Dragon mercenaries, he embarks on a brutal assault from town to defenceless town. The choice is simple: Kneel or be annihilated.
But when the cocky and talented but undisciplined Kenshi doesn’t take a knee, Kano and his clan destroy the young warrior, taking his eyesight and his confidence. Under the tutelage of reluctant, retired Kuai Liang, the only one powerful enough to challenge the malevolent Kano, Kenshi finds renewed hope and a clear path to redemption. But will it be enough to stop Kano from decimating all of Earthrealm?
We recently had the opportunity to talk with some of Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind's cast, and we're kicking things off by sharing our conversation with Kira actress, Courtenay Taylor (Regular Show, OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes).
As this fan-favourite badass villain, the actress got to make her Mortal Kombat Universe debut, and it's clear she had one hell of a time. Below, Taylor talks us through her approach to this character, what she believes motivates Kira to side with Kano, and where she'd like to take the character should she get the chance to play her again.
We're sure you'll have as much fun reading this interview as Taylor did playing the villain, so check it out in full below!
You’ve been part of a lot of big franchises, but what did it mean to you when you got the call to join this Mortal Kombat world?
[Laughs] It was so cool because I’ve obviously known the franchise forever. Who doesn’t know Mortal Kombat? Even though I haven’t grown up playing the games - I’m not much of a gamer - this is a franchise that permeates all media. I was really excited and when I saw the way that she looked…she looks amazing. To be a complete and utter, thorough, irredeemable baddie in the Mortal Kombat franchise is like bucket list!
Did you get to see any designs for Kira before you started shooting and, if so, was that helpful in terms of how you approached the character?
I saw her when I showed up. I was pleasantly surprised because I have an affinity for girls with tattoos and mohawks [Laughs] having had a mohawk in high school. I guess I saw her having darker hair, but she looks a little more punk rock fantastical in the film. I loved her eye makeup and stuff and was pleasantly surprised.
In terms of finding the voice, what was that process like for you?
[Laughs] I wish I could tell you that it took me a long time because it would probably make me seem like a better person! No, she was so much fun. I was just salivating to get started because she’s just rotten. I leaned into that scratchy, nastier register that I apparently can do pretty easily and they liked it and were really positive about it. I think they were familiar with some of the other characters I’ve done, so they were confident I could handle Kira.
One of the joys of this film is that it does put a spotlight on some of Mortal Kombat’s lesser-known characters, but were you familiar with Kira before getting to play her in Snow Blind?
I had looked at a couple of pictures online, but just of all the characters. I wasn’t very familiar and didn’t audition for this character. I came in and we talked about, and I felt like she was someone I could conjure up pretty easily. I threw some options out there and we went with the one that you hear.
We learn pretty early on that she’s very ruthless; is it more fun for you as an actor to play someone like this who is just herself and doesn’t care what people think?
I mean, normally, I would say that the characters I tackle…I’ve played what I guess you’d call bad characters, but normally, there’s some idea that, you know, as an actor, you always want to have a reason for them being this way. For me, Kira is just someone who enjoys the physicalness of her life. She’s obviously not treated well and they’re hungry. The reasoning behind why she gets joy out of it makes sense. There are always people who are treated badly and manage to rise above, but I don’t think that’s her. She has taken on some of the worst characteristics because people do that. You either rise above or join the ranks and she has 100% joined the ranks. I believe, as an actor, I can say, ‘Well, it’s because she wasn’t treated well,’ but I can also be honest and say, ‘I’m just going to enjoy who she is, what she looks like, what she sounds like, and how physical she is.’ She loves to fight.
And is it true that playing a villain is more fun?
Yeah! I don’t know if it’s more fun. I really enjoy playing characters who walk the line between good and bad, but they’re always a tip from going either way. What really fascinates me about the human psyche is that you can be a really good person who behaves really badly. You can also be a bad person and find redemption, and I love that. It is refreshing to just be like, ‘You know what, I’m going to pull the gloves off and have fun beating the snot out of people.’ [Laughs] It’s like candy. It tastes really good and it might not be the most nutritious thing, but man, it’s fun to eat.
You get to see a lot of action in the film, but what do those days in the recording booth look like for you?
I actually found her to be pretty easy because I boxed and kickboxed when I was younger and that was really helpful for me when I was getting started as game acting was about having that physical memory in my body. For me, the challenge is more…we watched footage and then matched to what was going on. Punching and kicking is great and easy, but Kira does stuff I’ve never done in my life, obviously [Laughs]. To find the timing of a double somersault while you’re pulling out two knives and sweeping someone’s leg and stabbing them in the face, it’s a lot of choreography in your mind. For me, the challenge is more actually staying on mic and not getting too enthusiastic as opposed to keeping up with it.
When you finally got to sit down and watch this movie, were you shocked by the crazy level of violence on screen, particularly from your character?
I had seen some of the footage as I’d watched the first couple of minutes. I’d forgotten it, though, and was like, ‘Whoa!’ It’s very violent. It’s campy to a degree, so I hope that people don’t take it seriously. My sweet British mother is here visiting and [Laughs] I waited until she went to bed before watching it.
Kira has a very interesting place in Black Dragon; what’s your take on why she is such a valuable part of that and her loyalty to Kano?
It’s that thing of you either become a sycophant or rebel, and she knows what side her bread is buttered. It behoves her for survival to stay loyal to Kano. There are many lessons about loyalty in this film and there are several paths you can take, but the safe one is to be on the side of the guy in charge. I think that’s a bigger lesson for what’s going on today. Do you become a sycophant or do you try and rise above? Some people will take one path and some people will take another. I know it’s difficult when you’re dealt a bad hand to make those choices. Also, I just got to kill people [Laughs].
This Mortal Kombat Universe is massive, so should the chance come up to play Kira again, is there anything, in particular, you’d like to do with her next?
I would love to see a redemption for her and I would love to play her again and delve deeper. A long time ago when I moved to Los Angeles, I was friendly with one of the women who plays Sonya Blade, Sandra Hess, in one of the live-action projects. It would be super fun [Laughs] to have that come full circle. I think she looks great. I’m always interested in finding redemption for characters who walk that line and she is pretty far over, so I would love to see that pendulum swing back or to get some more backstory. I’m always curious what makes bad people ‘bad’ and why they act the way they do. Mortal Kombat is so massive, I think there’s tonnes of room for new content, and when that emblem lights up in the film…I was like, ‘Whoo!’ I’d be happy to experience that again and be part of that.
Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind will be released on Digital platforms on October 9 and hits Blu-ray on October 11.