ComingSoon Editor Tyler Treese spoke with voice actor Imari Williams about his role as Tremor in Mortal Kombat Legends: Snow Blind. The film will be available on digital and on DVD and Blu-ray on October 11.
“When the mercenaries Kano and Black Dragon become determined to take over Earthrealm, an unruly Kenshi seeks tutorship from the retired Kuai Liang to stop Kano from decimating all of Earthrealm,” reads the synopsis for the film.
Tyler Treese: Mortal Kombat is such a great franchise, not only in gaming, but there are so many great movies, animation, and live action. What was your relationship with the show before getting this role with the franchise?
Imari Williams: I mean, just a general fan. I grew up with Mortal Kombat all my life. It was the separation between Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter and Tekken. It was great. What I associate Mortal Kombat with is frustration, because you’re always trying to get their kills, you’re always trying to master the character, and you’re always trying to get your timing right – especially for controllers when they are the first came out with. Then over time, seeing it evolve and seeing things change and the gameplay change, and then all of a sudden they made a franchise. I was there to see the first Mortal Kombat movie back in the 90s, man, when it first came out. So it’s been part of my fabric since I was a kid, basically. To be part of the franchise…it’s absolutely amazing.
You get such a fun role here with Tremor, who is this badass. It has these awesome earth elemental attacks that look so cool with the animation. What did you like most about this character?
Oh man, I love that he gets mean, you know what I mean? It was like therapy sometimes. He wanted to be nice, good, mean, mean, and he was able to do it. It also allowed me to distill and soak in it and not really rush it and take my time with it. Then bring depth and graininess to my voice.
The fight scenes are so awesome in this movie. When you approach a role where you’re going to growl and make all those wild fight noises, how do you approach that?
When you fight the noise or the strains… the strains are still there. They’re interesting because you know when you’re making a video game you’re going to put in the effort unless you’re doing one of those role-playing games where you’re just moving the stage. But I went into it knowing I would have to chase the grunts and all that, so it takes a bit of stamina – I’m not going to lie. I had to get up. I like swinging my arms. For some of them, I’ll give myself a light little sock in the face to get some kind of feel. I like the physical side of it. It’s like when you’re like, “Oh! Growl! You listen to what they want, you watch how the character moves on screen – because you have dailies you go to – and then you make your choices. So it’s always… I love it. It’s funny. It’s after the session [that] I’m still shattered, like I’ve just worked out or something. It’s physical, but it’s great.
One thing I really liked about the movie is that it lives up to the level of gore that people have come to expect from Mortal Kombat. What was your reaction ?
There are these scenes that happen where I had to get really guttural and just get mean. I won’t spoil it or anything. But I love it because when you’re just taken apart, it’s funny to see where you can go, like how do you push that character and convey to the audience what that guy’s going through? A lot of the gore in this movie was so mean. You just see blood splatter everywhere. It’s kind of like not blinking in a way. No apprehension. No accumulation. Just heads flying, people getting impaled and shit. Unbelievable. It was great.
You play a really cool role in this movie. Tremor lets his fist do the talking most of the time, but he’s kind of a roadblock for Kenshi – someone he fails against and then has to defeat to fill his arc. How satisfying was it to have this meaningful backstory for this character?
I just think, for me, I looked at it like, “Here’s that muscle for that iconic character, Kano.” “I thought that was great. I mean, I love what he does. He’s here for the muscle, but he’s also keeping things in line for King Kano. I love the physicality of the character and I love her sheer power. So that was awesome. And I thought it fitted the story really well.
One of your earliest video game roles is in my favorite game, Asura’s Wrath.
God, man, can I tell you something? I’m shocked. Like I made this game, right? And I’ve never heard of this game more than now. This game was one of my first games I ever recorded in my career. The first game I recorded was Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, where I played this guy named Shona. Then the second role I booked was for Asura’s Wrath, where I play Augus. I get goosebumps thinking about it, because there are so many people showing their love for the game. It’s amazing. I think it’s fantastic. I have never seen a game saved as long as Asura’s Wrath.
It wasn’t a huge hit, but the fan base is super passionate. What does it mean when people are still praising your performance as an Augus a decade later?
That’s exactly why, when I got Tremor, I wanted… If you give a character 100% passion, it’s going to resonate with someone. When you feel that from other people, you feel like you’ve done your job and you feel amazing, because you’re saying “yes” to yourself. The choices I made worked. Other people understand where I’m coming from. And there’s no better joy than seeing yourself succeed in a job you’re passionate about, right? Because we have many passions in life, let’s be realistic. There are people who are passionate about many things, but being successful in one’s passion is just a gift and it’s a blessing. So I’m so happy, man. I’m so, so thrilled that people can hold on to what I’ve done and recognize what I’ve done and appreciate it. It’s the biggest rush.
You’ve done a lot of great work in anime lately. Were you an anime fan before?
Oh man, yeah! I was watching anime before I even knew I was watching anime. I was looking at Voltron, you know what I’m saying? There was no name for the anime when I started watching – I’m Gen X. So I was raised on Speed Racer, Voltron, Robotech… I was getting video tapes – when we still had VHS tapes – and I was going to a special store that would have anime. I started watching Bubblegum Crisis and all those other awesome anime I grew up on. But what really got me into anime that made me fall in love instantly was Akira. Akira was like… it blew my mind. And since I saw Akira, I wanted more. So I started browsing everywhere I could find anime. I would double it, I would consume it. I would go to any VHS store and try to find some like my favorites. Yeah, I’m an anime chef.
You’ve worked on some really iconic series. You did Hol Horse in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. What did it mean to be involved in this franchise?
Man, I had no idea about JoJo until I started acting in JoJo, and I was like, “This show is crazy as fuck. I was like, “what?! With good old Hol Horse, he’s a gentleman, but he’s also a brute, but he’s also a second-rate ruffian. With him, you’re like, he’s the man, isn’t he? But he’s not the man, he’s a coward, but he’s a gentleman. He has so many different layers, man. I mean, I’ve never played a character like him. He’s a ladies’ man, right? He’s kind of a villain, but he has an ethic. He won’t hit a woman. He loves all women, “even the ugly ones and the fat ones”, he said, right?
But then he’s also like a badass, but then he attaches himself to powerful bosses, which gives him leverage, right? So he’s kind of like a hermit crab, going from bad boss to bad boss who gives him protection. So I love doing it. Hol Horse is one of my favorite characters, man. He is so good. In fact, I could have Emperor on my forearm. I debate it. I could get the Emperor tattooed.
You put a lot of thought into the characters and the performance. You recently appeared in Demon Slayer and your role there, Shinjuro Rengoku, is so interesting because he was a Hashira and was a top Demon Slayer, and he falls so far. So tell me about playing Shinjuro.
Shinjuro is like… when I was offered this role, I remember when I begged Bang Zoom! Entertainment. I was like, “please, if you have something for Demon Slayer, please send it to me. It’s one of my favorite series. I found out they did. I did a lot of stuff for Bang Zoom, and I was like, ‘Please let me do something there. And then they gave me this role and I was like, ‘I can’t screw this up. So I just wanted to go with everything I had. Research the character, research his alcoholism, who he lost, and try to bring it to the character as best I can. And I’m still… I pray they have yet another Demon Slayer. So I’m like, ‘Please, please just bring it back. Please bring it back.
You also did a great job in the voice acting for Sword Art Online, and it’s such a great series. Your character, Bercouli Synthesis One, is so awesome. How does he play this character in such a popular series?
Man, I started Sword Art very late. It’s such a vast universe. It’s so big and there’s so many series leading up to what I did for Alicization. But my guy, Bercouli… that role, for me, was one of my favorite roles because it was a different approach that I took for him. I really wanted to slow him down. Alex von David, who helped me, was the voice director for the show, and he really helped me slow it down and get that badass… they call him Hot Uncle Bercouli, because he has gray hair but has this chiseled body. He’s this guy who could take care of everyone he loved, so I really wanted to put that into my character. So I really fell in love with Bercouli, and I actually have a time sword on my forearm with his dragon watching over the Citadel he was living in on my arm right now. It was the first tattoo I ever had, it was Bercouli’s. So I really like this character. I love the franchise, being part of Alicization was just awesome. Such an epic arc, man.