Director SIMON MCQUOID and LEWIS TAN on the set of New Line Cinema’s action adventure “Mortal Kombat,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Mortal Kombat Exclusive: Simon McQuoid and Todd Garner Interview

by Neil Bui

Dorkaholics was invited to round table interviews to speak to the film’s producer Todd Garner and director Simon McQuoid about Mortal Kombat.

Neil Bui (NB): You’ve stated that your goal was to “make the most badass fighting movie that’s ever been shot.” In your opinion, what movie or movies did you specifically want to take the “badass fighting movie belt” from and why?

Todd Garner: So this is something I’ve been clearing up all night. I did not say that, Simon said that. He said, “I’m going to make the most badass fight movie ever made.” And then Lewis and Joe Taslim and everybody went, “let’s do it.” That’s a pretty tall order. The reason why I think we have a shot at it is that when you go back and you look at American-made movies, even The Matrix, go back and look at them, and Keanu trained his ass off. So you see John Wick and The Matrix and think that’s as good as it gets. And still, somehow not comparing, but when you look at the eastern martial arts movies, the fighting is just better, it just is. And the reason why is that they hire martial artists. He (McQuoid) hired real martial artists, the best fight choreography experts. And he went for it. I hate saying stuff like that because I know how hard it is to make a movie but this is up there.

Producer TODD GARNER and Director/producer SIMON MCQUOID on the set of New Line Cinema’s action adventure “Mortal Kombat,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Producer TODD GARNER and Director/producer SIMON MCQUOID on the set of New Line Cinema’s action adventure “Mortal Kombat,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

NB: When I heard Benjamin Wallfisch’s music in the trailer it straight up gave me chills! I think it treads that fine line of not being too cheesy but also honoring the video game’s legacy. Could you quantify just how important Wallfisch was to this film and what a truly great score can do to help elevate a film?

Simon McQuoid: He was incredibly important. You know I talked about this little story. I’ve always loved Ben’s music. I loved what he did on Blade Runner 2049 and some stuff he did in Dunkirk and that very beautiful elevated quality to what he brings in a real scale or so visual scale. So that was really important that that was here and part of the film. He happens to be one of the most beautiful people you could meet and such a lovely, humble, gorgeous guy.

The first meeting we had I thought I was just gonna have to go to the mat to get this guy on the movie. But as it turns out, he was sort of pretty keen on being involved in the movie as well.

So, we get into this meeting and I’ve got what I intend to say all ready. Then he says, ‘you know the song in Mortal Kombat is obviously a really important ingredient. Have you thought about using that in any way?’ And I said yeah obviously and I sort of talked to him about how I’m sort of looking at all the fundamental DNA within Mortal Kombat, trying to elevate it. And he said, ‘well, I’ve got a demo. Do you want to play the demo?’ Of course, play the demo, please. And he played his demo and it was a gigantic epic version of the song, of what’s inside the song, right?

It doesn’t mean it’s just the song, but what he did is a forensic study into what makes that song. Sort of, as we’ve done with every character as we’ve done with everything. We’ve just sort of unpicked and rebuilt and worked out what’s important to elevate. And he played this demo and then I just played it over and over and over and I’ll never forget that day. I actually had beads of sweat coming down. I was literally sweating when I heard it. So we played it in the speakers at New Line where we met and then he left.

And then as I walked out to the hallway, everyone pokes their heads out of their offices like ‘holy shit’. And it was a great moment. So then he took that idea and he’s sort of done that throughout the whole score. And for those who love the song, you won’t be disappointed, put it that way. You’ll be happy.

Raiden’s Theme is actually the song slowed down, as a little nugget of joy for you there. But you don’t hear it like that. There’s this essence of it that you sort of like feel it. The same way is, my hope is that when you see these characters, you sort of feel their essence, but it’s not like they’re literally identical. It’s not like you’ve seen it before, but it was sort of capturing the essence is really what I’ve tried to do across the board. We’ll see whether I’ve succeeded. You can tell me after the film comes out.

Mortal Kombat will be available on April 23rd, 2021. What do you hope to see in the film? Let us know in the comments below.

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