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Bridgette Wilson's Transformation From Mortal Kombat To Now

Certain actors are known for specific decades. Even if their careers span multiple decades, their notoriety is limited to one — from Charlie Chaplin in the '20s to John Wayne in the '50s, they were everywhere. Bridgette Wilson-Sampras made a valiant effort to be that for the 1990s. This effort was anchored by her beloved appearance as the power Sonya Blade in the film adaptation of the revolutionary video game franchise, "Mortal Kombat."

Born in a small town in Oregon of barely 2,000 people, Wilson-Sampras grew up a tomboy and spent a lot of her time fishing and other outdoor things. She even dreamed of owning a driving a hot pink semi, driving Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders back and forth to their games. Don't believe it? Listen to her tell the story to John Stewart in this throwback interview. Alas, she took a different route and ended up in theater and pageantry, eventually being crowned Miss Teen USA in 1990 at the age of 16.

She relied on her family at an early age, as she revealed after the pageant, saying, ″There are 51 beautiful girls here. I'm a sincere person, and I believe in myself, and having my family here was a help.″ She told the judges she dreamt of an entertainment career, and a mere half a decade later, she would be taking the movie industry by storm, landing the role of Sonya Blade in 1995's "Mortal Kombat" and a handful of other now cult classics set her up to take over the '90s. However, her career would blossom early and then turn in a different direction; here is Bridgette Wilson-Sampras' transformation from "Mortal Kombat" to now.

She had a huge 1995

While Bridgette Wilson-Sampras' star brightened in 1993 when she starred as Arnold Schwarzenegger's daughter in "Last Action Hero," she would have the biggest year of her career in 1995. She appeared in four movies, landing primary roles in two. She would appear as Nicole in the racial and social statement "Higher Learning" and appeared alongside Anthony Hopkins in "Nixon." 

Her biggest starring role came in the cult classic, "Mortal Kombat" as the sole female warrior from Earth, Sonya Blade. While "Super Mario Bros." and "Double Dragon" broke revolutionary ground as film adaptations from video games in 1993, and 1994's "Street Fighter" beat the next generation console games to the big screen, "Mortal Kombat" seemed to perfect the jump to the theaters, dwarfing the prior three films in box office numbers by almost surpassing all three combined. This was made possible largely by her performance as Blade. She also played the teacher and primary love interest opposite Adam Sandler in his film jump-start vehicle, "Billy Madison."

With this massive year on the books, it seemed Wilson-Sampras' star could go nowhere but up. Looking back on her now, she played integral parts in three cult classic films ("Last Action Hero," "Mortal Kombat," and "Billy Madison") at the very beginning of her career—a promising start for the young actress. While we look back on the movies she did in 1995, it is easy to say she should have been a much bigger star. However low-profile the rest of her film career was, it wasn't by accident.

She married tennis Hall of Famer Pete Sampras and focused on family

It is easy to look at Bridgette Wilson-Sampras' career and think it was a shame she couldn't take off any more than she did. However, it wasn't because she couldn't make it happen. She has been very vocal about her decision to step away from the spotlight with the distinct purpose of being a mom. She married International Tennis Hall of Famer Pete Sampras in 2000 and began a family with him. 

A People Weekly interview in 2000 reported a comment she made years earlier in 1993, "I know I want to have a family and be a housewife." she said. "That's really the most important thing with me." In a later interview with Modern Mom (via People Magazine), she continued to discuss how important being a mother is to her. "I balance family and career by doing what makes me the happiest!" she said. "That, for me, without question, is putting my family and kids first. Therefore, I work a lot less acting-wise, but the jobs I do take mean something to me, and my surrounding support system knows it." The actress went on to explain that when she's acting, her family "[works] extra hard" to help out, with Sampras taking on additional duties and her mother joining her on location. "I'm blessed to have the best of both worlds, but I do believe it's because I work to nurture both," she said.

While audiences may have missed her on the big screen, it is clear she prioritized building her family over her career, something instilled in her from a young age. She even set herself up to miss the premiere of "The Wedding Planner" to travel to Australia to support Sampras. Luckily for her (but unluckily for Sampras), he lost in the fourth round, allowing them to get back on time. That is dedication!

She is an activist for various foundations

Just because she wasn't lighting up the marquee with her name in glitter doesn't mean she stayed a homebody and mother. Bridgette Wilson-Sampras spent a good amount of her time as an activist in multiple organizations.

She was a national spokesperson for Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) and relished in the experience she got doing something essential and picking the mother's brains about parenthood. In an interview with Cinefantastique Magazine (via this report), she spoke about her time. "It was great for me," she shared. "Fortunately, I've never lost anybody to drunk driving, but I know people that have. But also, because it was mothers and an adult group, for me to be a part of it, I felt fortunate because I was able to be sort of (be) their young voice." She added that she found this to be a great chance to interact with children and make a difference in their lives. "That felt good," Wilson-Sampras continued. "I'm still a supporter of it, but not as actively involved as before."

She also was an active supporter of the American Oceans Campaign and multiple AIDS charities. She spoke about her love for the experience. "I like to be involved for myself and educate people about it," Wilson-Sampras said. "And it absolutely helps me as an actor, because I think that the more you learn in any area, in any situation, any phase of life, whether it's an organization or just walking down the street and meeting new people – all these experiences help me as a person and as an actress."

She returned to acting to voice her most famous character

Bridgette Wilson-Sampras hasn't forgotten where she came from, which includes her time as an actress. While she stayed true to her roots as a family woman and mom, she did the same as an actress by revisiting her most famous character.

Late in the first year of the pandemic, NetherRealm was dealing with a year's worth of blowback for the negative reviews of having Ronda Rousey voice the beloved Sonya Blade. When the world sought solace and played more video games while locked down, NetherRealms decided to ease the quarantine suffering through a new set of downloadable content (DLC) in the form of new skins. Enter Wilson-Sampras and her return to her iconic character. She wasn't alone in the return, as Raiden actor Christopher Lambert and Johnny Cage actor Linden Ashby joined her. Players could now download their actor's likeness and play as their original character, and the three voiced new lines as well.

The return of the three original actors was a welcome bit of nostalgia for the original fans of the games — the ones who grew up playing them. It was also a beautiful throwback to the times when the entire world dealt with their collective crushes on the first live-action interpretation of the character, and the love for Wilson-Sampras followed.