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Mortal Kombat Star Lewis Tan Weighs In On Who Should Play Johnny Cage And Teases A Risque Scene In Fistful Of Vengeance - Exclusive Interview

It's a great time to be a "Mortal Kombat" fan. Just last week, the latest entry of the seemingly immortal video game franchise, "Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate," took home the coveted Fighting Game of the Year award at the 24th annual D.I.C.E. Awards, proving that the 11th entry is still going strong even two years after its base release. And on Friday, the long-dormant "Mortal Kombat" film franchise made a triumphant return to theaters nearly 24 years after 1997's abysmal "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation." It scored a "flawless victory" at the box office and dethroned "Godzilla vs. Kong" from the #1 spot by raking in a satisfactory $23.3 million — that's the second-best theatrical opening since the pandemic began and a pretty damn good haul for a hyperviolent, R-rated video game adaptation. If that wasn't already impressive, it also became the most-viewed weekend premiere on HBO Max, luring in a whopping 3.8 million viewers.

One person who is reveling in the "Mortal Kombat" spotlight is leading man Lewis Tan, who plays newcomer Cole Young — a down-and-out MMA fighter who sports a birthmark that's actually an invitation to represent Earthrealm in the titular fighting tournament. When Tan's role was initially announced, it was shrouded in mystery. Fanboys went berserk trying to figure out who he was playing, speculating that he could be anyone from the notably absent Johnny Cage to even Kuai Liang, better known as the younger brother of Bi-Han and the second iteration of Sub-Zero in the game's mythology.

If you've already seen the film, you're probably already aware that while Cole may be of the same lineage as one of Mortal Kombat's most iconic combatants, he's indeed an all-new character to the franchise. As for whether or not fans are embracing Cole, it's probably too early to gauge. As for Tan, he just wants fans to give Cole Young a chance. Assuming the franchise continues to soar at the box office, a sequel is inevitable, and speculation is already buzzing on social media. While Tan remains hopeful about more sequels, he's also got other things to look forward to, as his career has been on a steady upward trajectory ever since "Mortal Kombat" was announced.

After all, it's his very first top-billed role in a major theatrical franchise. Prior to "Mortal Kombat," you might have seen him kicking ass on the small screen as Lu Xin Lee on Netflix's "Wu Assassins." He also played the scene-stealing one-off villain Zhou Cheng on "Iron Fist" and the stealthy Gaius Chau on "Into The Badlands." His other notable projects included a criminally underused, blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance as Shatterstar in "Deadpool 2" (more on that later). Next up, he will star in "The Quantum Spy," based on the novel of the same name by David Ignatius. It's a project he's co-producing and a dream role that he describes as "an Asian American James Bond," which coincidentally comes just weeks after Playboy suggested that Tan take up the James Bond mantle in a recent style feature.

On his big opening day, Tan took the time to talk to Looper for a lengthy and exclusive interview about "Mortal Kombat" and his upcoming "The Quantum Spy" project. In this candid conversation, he also weighs in on who he thinks should play Johnny Cage in the "Mortal Kombat" sequel and even name drops a few other characters and martial artist actors he'd like to see enter the fray. He also shares a juicy tidbit about a steamy career-first that took place on the set of "Fistful of Vengeance," the movie-format follow-up to "Wu Assassins." Read on for the sizzling details.

Mortal Kombat sequels are in the contract

So, it's opening day. Do you plan to go see this movie in the theater incognito so you can watch it with a crowd and absorb the fan reaction?

I'm doing that tonight. I'm a cinema lover. I want to get to feel the energy. I just landed back from Thailand, two nights ago. And it's just like, being in the city, seeing the billboards all over Los Angeles. Now I need to go to the theater, and I need to feel that energy from the audience. That's the most satisfying thing out of anything. So, I'm greatly looking forward to tonight.

How are you handling like the fan commentary and feedback on social media? I'm pretty sure your phone's blowing up.

My phone's almost dead. It's only like 11:00 AM. I think it's fun and exciting in a way that ... It's tricky, man. I worked for Marvel twice already, Netflix, and had some big shows before in the past. And I've been around a lot of people that have given me good advice about this type of thing. You take everything with a grain of salt. You get really good reviews and people saying it's the best thing they've ever seen in their life. And you get people going, "What is this? It's boring." And it's like, look, man, everybody has an opinion. And you don't connect your emotion with either one, the positive or the negative. That's the key. I think for me, I judge my work based on how I felt when I was there, how much effort I put into it, what I know that I brought to set, and everything else is out of my hands. I can't control every other aspect except for myself. And at the same time, I've been doing this since I was young, and I'm going to continue to do this. So I don't let any sort of positive feedback or negative feedback affect my work. I just continue doing the work.

Obviously, there's major franchise potential here. This could go on for dozens of movies, like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If it does take off, do you see yourself committing to the role like Robert Downey Jr. did with Iron Man? Or Hugh Jackman, who played Wolverine for 17 years? If they want you to play Cole Young for the next decade, are you in this for the long haul?

Well, when you sign a movie of this caliber, you always have sequels and trilogies in the contract. So those contracts were signed. Yeah, if it was with the right people with the right script, I would continue doing it for as long as people enjoy it. But at the same time, there's a lot of other stuff that I want to do. The thought of doing something for 17 years or whatever, which by the way, Hugh's the best to ever do it with Wolverine, it scares me. So yeah, I'm not jumping at the bit to do this for 17 years, but I would do it for as long as it feels like it was justified.

Iko Uwais would make a great addition to the MK cast

There are so many talented martial artists in this movie. If the sequel happens and other characters come into the fray, do you have a wish list of other martial artist actors that you would want to see in the sequel?

I haven't sat down and made that list, although there are a lot of people that I know who could make that list. Obviously, I would love to see Iko Uwais play a character. I think his martial arts ability is just out-of-this-world, and he's a great dude. There's my sword coach, Caitlin Dechelle, who's another actress who does her own stunts. She's seven-time world champion. She taught me everything I know about the katana. She'd be insane to have. Maybe I'll make that list and release it, but I've been so busy. I'll get text messages from my friends, that will be like, "Hey, what about this character for this person?" I'll be like, "That's an interesting idea." There's a lot of stuff that we can do with the MK universe. And I think if we stick to trying to deliver the most authentic action possible, then that's going to be something that's really unique for the franchise.

How about martial art styles? Which of those would you like to see in the movie?

Well, it'd be cool to have some different weapons stuff in there. It'd be cool to have a little bit of everything. Marvel does what Marvel does really well. And I think that what we can do differently and also do it really well is to deliver and showcase authentic martial art styles across the board. For instance, Capoeira, or something really interesting like Silat, or like something really interesting like authentic Judo and Jujitsu. Stuff like that would be really cool, and then mix it in with all sorts of different weapons, and then mix that in with all sorts of different wire work. 

Action can be shot and choreographed in different ways that complement the styles. So it'd be cool to incorporate all sorts of those things, nice long shots, so you can see everything, but then also it'd be cool to do really intense wire work, Hong Kong wire work style, like "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," stuff like that. But find a nice balance, where it feels more authentic and feels gritty. Yeah, that's how I would see it and I would do it. I mean, there's a lot of work that goes into doing that and actually pulling it off. I think they rehearsed for almost five months for "The Raid" and "The Raid" is still one of the best movies of all time, but you don't get five months to rehearse for this type of film. So, you have to hire people that already can just jump in and start. I think that that's very important as well. And also, they have to be able to deliver a great performance emotionally, too.

Ryan Reynolds would be an "interesting choice" for Johnny Cage

In the final scene of the movie, you guys tease Johnny Cage. The fans have been very vocal about him not being in this first movie. You see Ryan Reynolds' name get dropped as a dream actor to play that part. Do you agree with that? Who would you want to play Johnny Cage if you had a choice in the sequel?

Yeah. Obviously, I love Ryan. We worked together on "Deadpool 2," and Ryan is a gentleman, and his comedic timing is incredible. I think that Ryan would be an interesting choice. I like the idea of using someone who also knows how to fight. I think Scott Adkins is an interesting choice too, because Scott Adkins is a great martial artist and maybe hasn't been given the biggest platform to play that type of role yet. And I think that he could pull it off, and he's very experienced. You could even go and make Johnny Cage a little older and go Jean-Claude Van Damme style or something. There are so many different ways that you could do it. And obviously, not everyone's going to be happy about it. There are probably some people like, "What?" But look, Ryan Reynolds is a great option. But it also has to be someone that can balance with all the other characters. That's something that I wanted to do with playing Cole. Technically, he's the lead character in this movie, but I don't want to try to outperform all these other iconic characters. 

You want to give everybody their respect, and everybody there needs to have their special time. And so, for me, I just wanted to deliver something authentic and grounded and make sure that my emotional and physical arc was all tied together. And at the right time, when he needs to be a hero, then he'll have his moment to be a hero. But that's the thing with Johnny Cage. He's such a big character. It almost would be better to do a spin-off series of Johnny Cage and have him build his way up, and then put him in the film. You know what I mean? I think that, that's what they were thinking when they were talking about why he wasn't in the movie. And even this movie, it was hard to balance all those characters. It's hard. It's a lot of characters to do in a short amount of time. So I'm excited to see the sequel with Johnny Cage. I think that's going to be unreal.

There are some beloved characters who meet a grim end in this movie. But this video game franchise is set in a fantasy world where there's sorcery and magic and in the most recent game, there's even time travel. Do you think we've seen the end of some of the characters who seemingly perished onscreen?

I hope not, because there's a couple of people that I'd love to bring back. Like I said, it's hard to do everyone justice in this time span. But also like you said, "Mortal Kombat," there's time travel in that. No one really dies in the video game story. They come back in different ways. They come back as evil, or they come back using time travel and stuff. I think that without trying to make the story too convoluted and messy, that we can easily bring back characters, especially some of the characters in this movie that just really are standout characters. And I personally want to see more of them.

Cole Young and the Hanzo Hasashi bloodline

Who are the top video game characters on the roster that you'd love to see in the sequel?

Nightwolf, Smoke, and maybe Rain and Kitana, obviously. And maybe Kenshi too. I really love Kenshi.

They're all great, but it's like you said, you got to do it in moderation. Otherwise, you could have this over-bloated mess, like "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation," which was bombarded with so many characters.

That's the champagne problem about "Mortal Kombat." They've done such a good job at making these cool, iconic characters that you could almost make a movie about each one. You could do a sister movie with Mileena and Kitana, and you could do a movie about all the police and the cyborgs and stuff. You could do a movie about Stryker and Cyrax. Obviously, you could do a movie about Scorpion and Sub-Zero, that's just theirs. It's really endless. And so, it's difficult to choose. And thankfully, I'm not the person that chooses that.

Now that the movie is out, Cole Young's lineage has been confirmed — he's part of Scorpion's bloodline. There's been a lot of fan speculation, but in the sequels, do you think it's possible he could take on the mantle of being a new Scorpion? Are you hoping there's other powers that Cole develops in the sequels?

Yeah. I think I look at Cole similar to the way that Cassie Cage's powers grow. And I think that, that's similar to what I was thinking when Cole finds out he's part of the Shirai Ryu heritage and the Hanzo bloodline. And I think that in the end of the movie, when Scorpion says, "Take care of my bloodline," it's kind of like he's not passing the mantle of Scorpion onto him, but he's letting him know like, "Look, this is who you are. This is who you're part of." And I hope that we continue to unlock and grow with not only Cole's fighting style, but his powers. He just got those powers. He just got them. If you look at the way that my character fights in the beginning, it's completely different to how he fights at the end. When he locks those characters, it unlocks a new level of physicality in him. We did that on purpose. This deep-rooted thing that's in his blood comes out, and it actually changed his physicality too. And so, I wanted to add that into it, but it's not even begun to be developed. So we can develop it into something that's more related to the Hanzo bloodline. And if we continue this journey, I plan on adding a lot of little Easter eggs in.

Are you allowed to talk about any abandoned concepts or deleted scenes? I would imagine, with a film like this, there has to be so many outtakes or scenes that got cut.

In every film, you shoot a lot and not everything makes the movie. That's just common. I would say most movies have four or five hours that you could make a four- or five-hour cut of the film, but that's not always the way that it should play out. So yeah, there's some fight scenes in the film that weren't fully in there. There's some stuff with me and Kung Lao that I thought was really sick. There's an incredible fight. I mean, all of the fights were so long. We would basically get the pre-vis that the stunt and the choreographers would give us. And they would be like a 10-minute segment of fights, with so many different moves. And I'm like, "Let's do it." But it doesn't always make the cut. But I do know that I was told that we will likely be able to release some of that footage as special features and stuff. So that's really cool, because we shot a ton of stuff. 

As everyone knows, we went back and did some re-shoots, and there was a lot of stuff during the re-shoots that didn't make the film either, just rhythm-wise and timing. And sometimes, like I said, it's a convoluted story with a lot of different characters, and you can't put everything in. It's impossible. So hopefully, we get to see some of that stuff, because there's some really bad-ass fight scenes.

Lewis Tan once played Kung Jin

If there's an extended director's cut, I'd watch three-hour version, no problem.

Even in the opening scene, I fought two-and-a-half rounds with Ian. And there's only half a round that made the movie. There's a ton of stuff in there that was like, oh man, we beat each other to death. He couldn't walk after that fight. He didn't have to perform after that, and I had to go and finish the movie. So hopefully, that stuff makes it in, because I got scars to prove it.

Did you guys toy the idea of throwing in some of the more ridiculous aspects of the franchise in the movie, like Babalities and Friendships? Were they ever talked about or toyed with?

No, no. I think that we are trying to create a tone for the film that hasn't been done before. And it's a very hard tone to balance, which is the fantasy elements, the mythology and also the grounded-ness and the grit and the brutality of it. And that type of stuff just didn't really fit in. I mean, look, if we do three or four of these movies, maybe we can find a place for them. But especially for the first one, because the first one is kind of setting up, what could be this big reboot. And so, I think that we don't want to, you know, go there yet, but that doesn't mean that it's not off the table.

You guys are all these bad-ass, talented martial artists. If there was some weird meta real-life scenario, and the cast actually had to throw down in a real tournament, who would you be most intimidated to spar against?

Well, Joe Taslim, for sure, is one. I mean, he's an Olympic judo guy. And we fought in the movie, and he's really strong, and he's really fast. And I love that guy to death. So I would hate to fight him, because we just have such a great bond. But I would like to spar with Joe. That'd be fun. And then Max Huang. Max Huang is a really incredible martial artist from the Jackie Chan stunt team. And he's insanely fast, and his kicks are crazy strong. We fought too. And it was like, okay. So yeah, those two would be in my opinion, the ones that I would want to challenge for sure.

Hardcore fans know that this isn't your first time dabbling in the MK universe. You played Kung Jin in "Mortal Kombat: Generations," which I guess is an abandoned project. Can you tell us about that? Will it ever see the light of day?

That's funny. Not A lot of people know about this, which is a really cool little Easter egg. But basically, yeah, a long time ago, I don't know how long ago it was — it was before I did "Into the Badlands" — I got this role, and they were like "Mortal Kombat." And Garrett Warren, who is the action director for "Logan" called me up and he was like, "Got this role for you. Kung Jin. Check it out." And I was like, "Well, Garrett Warren is awesome. So, I want to work with him, and obviously 'Mortal Kombat.'" I didn't know the character Kung Jin, to be honest with you. I didn't know too much about him. So I had to look it up and find out about him. And when I did, I was like, "Yeah, this is really cool." 

I get to set, and Julia Roberts' brother is there, Eric Roberts. And we were rehearsing these scenes, where I'm like lost in the woods, trying to find my way. These were shorter. It was a short web series. So it wasn't going to be these huge long episodes. I think they were 15 or 20 minutes long. And then I have this crazy fight scene, and I was looking forward to that. So we shot it all. It looked really cool. And I got one or two pictures on set, that I took myself, and I've never seen the final product to this day. And I even called up Garrett Warren about it. He was like, "I don't know where that is, man." So, I don't know what happened to it. I know they shot some other stuff too. I don't know what happened to all of that footage. Maybe that'll come out in this special feature as well. But it was so long ago. It's very interesting. So, this is actually my second time doing "Mortal Kombat."

Lewis Tan's DC Comics dream role

Now that you're a "Mortal Kombat" star, if somebody approached you and said, "Hey, we want you to play Ryu in a "Street Fighter" movie," would you be game for it? Or would you feel like you're betraying the "Mortal Kombat" franchise by doing that?

Yeah, I would feel guilty for sure. There's some video game stuff that I think is really cool. I love "Metal Gear Solid", and I know they're doing that. I do think that "Tekken" is pretty cool and that the whole storyline is pretty interesting. But I would feel guilty if I did "Street Fighter." I think that would be bad, but I do want to work for DC. I really do want to do a cool DC project next. That would be awesome, because I love Warner Brothers, and I love Batman ... That's on my checklist.

Who's the DC character you love the most? What's your DC dream role?

I like Red Hood. Obviously, I like the Nightwing character, like I've talked about before, but I'm open to different things. I'm open to hearing. I don't know. What do you think? Who do you think I could play?

Well, I was going to say Nightwing. I would have totally suggested Nightwing. I could totally see you in that part.

Yeah, I think so too. I think that I could deliver something pretty interesting there. Yeah. There's a lot of opportunities there, so we'll see. But that's on my list. Usually, I say these things, and a year later, I'm doing it.

Are there any other existing franchises on TV you'd love to be a part of? I don't know, how do you feel about something like "Cobra Kai"? If they said, "Hey, we want you in 'Cobra Kai' season four," would you be game for that?

No, I'm not interested in "Cobra Kai," although I heard it was a really funny and cool show. I'm not crazy that there's not a lot of Asians in that show and it's about karate, but that's nothing against the series. I'm sure it's a really funny series. But no, I'm not interested in that. I'm interested in telling original stories from the perspective of Asian Americans, and I'm interested in doing the biggest possible hero roles as an Asian American and showcasing us in that light. That's what I'm interested in.

What about Shatterstar? I know "Deadpool 3" was in limbo for a while, because the Fox-Disney merger was going on. No one knew if they were going to be interested in rated-R movies. But they recently greenlit it, so "Deadpool 3" is a go. Do you want to revisit Shatterstar?

Of course, man. Yeah, I feel like I didn't get to show everything that I could show with that project, obviously. Thank God, in "Mortal Kombat," I jump out of an airplane and actually land correctly. Yeah, there's a lot to do with Shatterstar that I feel like could be expanded into a really cool film or series. And obviously, I would love to work with Marvel and Ryan Reynolds again. And I get that question all the time, and people always ask me when they see me out, "Oh, we really wish that there was a Shatterstar film. He's my favorite character." And I always feel bad, because I'm like, "Damn." I don't know. I feel like people are mad at me that he died so fast, but it's not my fault. I got to go further into that, but that was a "Deadpool" movie. It wasn't a Shatterstar movie. So actually, it served its purpose, but I feel like we need to do him justice. Come on, Marvel, let's do this.

Has NetherRealm reached out to you about Cole Young appearing in the video games? Would you like to see him in the next Kombat pack or DLC?

Oh, of course. Yeah, it'd be nice to see him in the DLC. They haven't reached out to me about it. I did get a really nice message from John Tobias, and I got a really nice message from Chris Casamassa, who played Scorpion. I know Ho-Sung Pak really well, who was the original Liu Kang. I got a nice message from them. So yeah, they've shown a lot of love, but I haven't heard anything about being in the video game. I mean, I'm waiting for that phone call. That would be a dream come true.

The Asian American James Bond

You just announced "The Quantum Spy," which I think is funny timing, because in your recent Playboy feature, it was suggested that you should be the next James Bond. And then two weeks later, it comes out that you're going to be in "The Quantum Spy," which is basically, as you described it on Twitter, like "an Asian James Bond." Can you tell us how that project came to be?

So, Tony Krantz, who is a producer that did the Emmy-winning "24" with Kiefer Sutherland, I worked with him on "Wu Assassins." And he's developing this amazing project with Dave Kalstein. Dave Kalstein, who is also an Asian American martial artist, just a great writer and a bad-ass dude in real life as well. That combination, they just hooked onto this book by David Ignatius. And it's a deeply, deeply layered character study. And it's a dream come true to be playing a character like that. It's very daunting and challenging, but also really cool. We plan on doing some really authentic, brutal martial arts, not just martial arts, but violent, real life, how-to-break-people's-arm-and-kill-someone-in-the-fastest-way-possible, military-style martial arts, not like Kung Fu martial arts, and make some really authentic scenes. And at the same time, study the cultural differences between being Chinese and being Chinese American and also the similarities that we all share. 

The book is a little controversial, because it goes into territory with relations with China and the U.S., but I think it's something that we actually need to explore in a way that tells a truthful depiction of the culture. Because those are two beautiful cultures. I'm a part of both of those cultures, and I love and respect them both, but there's a lot of things that we don't understand about each other. And I think that it's a really cool exploration in understanding what makes us human. And at the same time, we're going to deliver some of the most craziest action sequences. I'm so freaking excited for that. So yeah, it's a dream come true in a way. I'll be producing and starring in that. So it'll be cool, because I'll have more creative control of the way that we design the action sequences and some of the decisions that we make. So I'm looking forward to that next level.

After the Playboy story came out, there were people on Twitter, including other actors, who agreed with the suggestion that Lewis Tan could play James Bond. You were born in England. After that story went live, did you hear a lot of comments about the suggestion? And would you take the part if it got offered to you?

I've been hearing that for quite some time. I think I'm coming into the age where that could possibly be a reality. I was hearing that when I was a little younger, and I thought I was too young to play James Bond. Yeah, I was born in England, but I was raised all over the place. Asia. I was raised in China, Singapore, the U.S., London. I think obviously, it'd be a dream to play James Bond. It would just have to be at the right time in my life, where I felt like I could do that justice. And that time is coming. And "Quantum Spy" could be a big step in that direction, where people could see me in that role and see the complexities of the character and see the physicality. And then they could put those connections together. So this could be a seed for the future. And of course, James Bond is a dream role.

Who's your number one dream director that you would love to work with?

My dream directors to work with, in no particular order, are Quentin Tarantino, because apparently, he's finishing up soon. So, Tarantino would be number one, since he's finishing up, apparently. P.T. Anderson. I really like Park Chan-wook, who did "Oldboy," "The Handmaiden," and "Stoker". I would love to work with him. I really like what Lynne Ramsay is doing. I think that she's a really unique director, and that would be really cool to work with her. So yeah, those are my top choices right now.

Lewis Tan on nude scenes and Academy Awards

"Fistful of Vengeance," when can we expect to see that? I don't think they've announced release date yet, have they?

I don't know. I feel like it's going to end up dropping somewhere in September, but that's not a confirmed date. All I know is that we took the things in "Wu Assassins" that really worked, and we timed those by 100. And I think that we shot every single — except for one day that was in a studio, the very last day — every single other day was on a real location and all over Thailand: motorcycle stunts, boat stunts, car stunts, guns, martial arts, fighting all throughout the entire city. I destroyed one of the nicest hotels in Thailand, literally. This is going to be a very special action film that people are not prepared for. And it's not "Wu Assassins 2." It's "Fistful of Vengeance", and it's much more brutal and much more violent. And I think I did my first fully nude scene in that movie. No one knows about that yet.

Oh, wow. So, we got an exclusive. I wasn't sure if you're one of those actors that had a no nudity clause, because there's a lot of actors that just don't do those scenes.

Well, here's the thing. When I talk about Asian representation, it's not just in that fashion of, I want to be a superhero. It's like, I want to represent what I've never seen. You never see Asian Americans onscreen in a sex scene, where it's looked at as romantic and cool and sexy. It's usually like either you're the butt of a joke, or that's it really. I mean, I could count on one hand how many times I've seen an Asian American be intimate in a Hollywood movie, and that's insane. So yeah, when people ask me would I do this nude scene or would I do this sex scene, even though it might be awkward, if the story calls for it, I'm 100% down, because I need to show us in a different light. And so, I'm willing to do whatever it takes to do that.

In early 2020, you were very vocal when Parasite won best picture, you were emotional and happy about it winning, but you also criticized that there was a lack of Asian nominations in the acting categories. Well, boom, one year later, look what happened. Steven Yeun gets that best actor nomination for "Minari." Were you over-the-moon about that? Steven Yeun becoming the first Asian best actor nomination in the 93-year history of the Oscars, what was your reaction to that?

That's really incredible. And it's not just my comment. Everyone really felt that way. There was a lot of people that were like, "This doesn't make sense. How is it the best picture? It got nominated in every category, but no acting?" It's also with some of the best actors in the game, by the way. So it's kind of like, it was ridiculous in a sense that it made you feel like, we know this movie is genius, but we can't give you all the awards. You guys are Asian. And it kind of like, what? It's almost like this understated thing. It's like, well, we'll give it best picture, but don't nominate the lead actor, even though he was genius. It was painful to see that, and I think that it wasn't just me that felt that way. Many people felt that way. 

So yes, to see an Asian American get nominated, that's fantastic, man. And I'm very, very happy, just as someone who's in the industry, just to see that. It doesn't even matter if he wins or not. I think whoever's the best person should win. And that's how I feel about awards in general. You know what I mean? I would hate to get a nomination just because I'm Asian. I would hate that. But there's been many times where people of color have not been nominated because of the color of their skin. And so, at the same time, it's kind of like, it's a win. It's a win when I see it. May the best person win that award, but it's a step in the right direction. So I was very, very proud. I was filming on set when I read that announcement, and we were all jumping around about it. 

Mortal Kombat is now in theaters and available to stream on HBO Max.