411mania.com Interviews: Mark Dacascos
Posted by Jeffrey Harris on 09.24.2013
411mania.com speaks with actor and martial artist, Mark Dacascos in an exclusive interview. Mark is now featured in the upcoming season of Mortal Kombat: Legacy as Kung Lao. Mark speaks on his role of playing Kung Lao, his work as the main villain of the hit series Hawaii Five-O, and his most dreaded dish as the chairman and host of Iron Chef America.
Recently, 411mania.com got the chance to sit down and speak with longtime actor and martial artist, Mark Dacascos. Soon Mark Dacascos will make be making his debut as Kung Lao in the hit web series, Mortal Kombat: Legacy, based on the mega-videogame franchise. The second season of the show featuring Dacascos as Kung Lao will be premiering soon. Dacascos will even be wearing Lao's trademark razor-brimmed hat. Besides Mortal Kombat: Legacy, Dacascos also plays the big bad of the hit CBS series, Hawaii Five-O, in Wo Fat the archenemy of series lead, Steve McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin). The show will soon be entering its fourth season as the intrigue involving Wo Fat increases and his relationship with Steve McGarrett becomes more complex.
Mark Dacascos also starred in such hit films as Brotherhood of the Wolf and Cradle to the Grave. In addition, he's been the chairman and host of Iron Chef America on the Food Network for over 200 episodes.
Jeffrey Harris: How cool is it for you getting to play Kung Lao and does it give you a lot of cred with your kids playing this famous character from Mortal Kombat?
Mark Dacascos: Yes and yes. I love it. It is a dream role and I'll explain that in a second. My kids love it. They're huge fans of Mortal Kombat videogames. And it's funny because they'll play every game I let them, but because of school I only let them play on the weekends, but I tell my son, "they can't play me if they're going to get me killed all the time." But it's funny man. They come over and say, "Dad, look what you're doing!" They're playing with their friends. It's pretty cool. In terms of me playing Kung Lao, I am a huge fan of Kevin Tancharoen's trailer of his reboot of the film. I loved his sensibility and version of what he did with the first season of Mortal Kombat: Legacy. Playing Kung Lao is a dream role for me. One, the series is so well written. But as a teenager, growing up in Hamburg, Germany, when I was 17, I actually moved from Hamburg to Taipei, Taiwan to study Mandarin and to learn more martial arts so that in my mind I would someday travel to mainland China and become a Shaolin monk. So to be able to portray in Kevin's show is really a dream come true. Obviously in real life, I didn't become a monk. I ended up marrying a Texas girl and having three kids and being an actor. But playing Kung Lao in this show is a dream role for me.
Jeffrey Harris: What is Kung Lao up to in this season?
Mark Dacascos: What I can say is that the battle for good and evil is incredibly prevalent in the relationship between Liu Kang and Kung Lao. The great thing is you're going to see and get a feel for the friends they are from the relationship that they've had over the years. You're going to get the kind of puzzling, complicated relationship between Liu Kang and Kung Lao. I'll say this: Kung Lao never gives up on hope.
Jeffrey Harris: I think you playing Kung Lao is a no brainer since you're so much like him. And I saw the trailer and I saw you wearing the trademark hat. How do you like getting to wear the famous razor-brimmed hat?
Mark Dacascos: It's way cool Jeffrey, thank you. I appreciate that. My kids love playing the fatality with the hat. *Laughs* Yeah, it's pretty cool. And they're like, "Dad, can you bring it home?" And I say, "No, I can't bring it over. It belongs to the production. Maybe we'll get one for you someday."
Jeffrey Harris: Now I've read some reports that Kevin Tancharoen is developing this as a movie as well. Have you had any discussions with him on this going into a movie format?
Mark Dacascos: Well I've heard – unofficially now. This is just from hearing rumors and from what I've read, and also if I remember correctly, the first time I had rehearsal and the first time I met Kevin in person, they were certainly moving in the direction of a feature film. For all intents and purposes, without anybody telling me officially, they are all moving in that direction. And it makes sense. They have a huge fanbase. And people that have never seen the movie or movies and even played the games like my mother-in-law, she's even heard of Mortal Kombat. People that have played the games and seen the movies, I mean that's a huge fanbase. And I think they have a great leader in Kevin Tancharoen. And his producer Lance Sloane is 100% supportive of his sensibility. Obviously, I think they should do it. It would be fantastic. And I'm saying that whether they do it with or without me. Hopefully I can be part of it, but regardless, Kevin is brilliant.
Jeffrey Harris: At the end of last season of Hawaii Five-O, Wo Fat has become like a Two-Face Wo Fat and half of his body has been physically scarred. And that must tick off all your adoring female fans because you're a very handsome man.
Mark Dacascos: *Laughs* Thank you, I appreciate that.
Jeffrey Harris: Did you have to yell at the producers and say, "You can't scar Wo-Fat! How am I supposed to do the rest of the show like this?!" I mean how does it work now that you have the scar makeup?
Mark Dacascos: Ah man, you're funny. Listen, I'll tell you what. For the season finale, I woke up for one of the days at 2:30 in the morning for a 3:06 pickup. I got to set at around 3:30-3:45 and from then until around 8:30-ish, we're in makeup – doing special effects makeup. I go on set at around 9 o'clock. It's crazy, anywhere from four and a half to six hours of special effects makeup. Yeah, it's nuts man. But I'll tell you what, I did ADR for that episode a few weeks ago. And I was in a studio watching it on the big screen while we were doing some lines, and the makeup is so good. Even on the big screen it holds up. I thought I am one ugly dude. And it looks real. Melted ear. Lazy eye. The flesh is just pock-marked and raw. It's pretty raunchy.
Jeffrey Harris: It's pretty amazing, but did you have any reservations about Wo Fat getting scarred like Two-Face from The Dark Knight? And where is the story with Wo Fat going?
Mark Dacascos: You know what, I actually think I kind of like it. In terms of where it's going – and I'm friends with our executive producer, Peter Lenkov – but I know nothing. I know no more than the fans. He hasn't given me any inclination of where the storyline with Wo Fat is going. If Wo Fat gets reconstructive surgery and comes back a slightly better version of his Two-Face or if he stays like that, I have no idea.
Jeffrey Harris: I have a theory on Wo Fat if you'd like to hear it?
Mark Dacascos: I would love to hear it.
Jeffrey Harris: My theory is that Wo Fat is actually the half-brother of Steve McGarrett. Mother McGarrett is actually Wo Fat's mother and that's why they have like a collusion going on. And that is why McGarrett can't kill him.
Mark Dacascos: So that's what you feel.
Jeffrey Harris: Yes and I think in the next season they are going to graduate from archenemies to frenemies.
Mark Dacascos: *Laughs* Frenemies! Okay, okay.
Jeffrey Harris: I mean in the season finale Wo Fat was asking McGarrett to protect him, so I think there is going to be an uneasy alliance now.
Mark Dacascos: That's actually really cool. I was kind of thinking that too, but I don't know because – I would love that. It sounds really good. And it would make total sense in terms of story. And [it was] the only reason Mama McGarrett and Wo Fat didn't shoot each other when they had the chance, right? But yeah man, I asked Peter straight up, just for character-wise, which way is it, one way or the other? And he told me, "I cannot tell you that." So I honestly do not know. But I love your theory, and I think it would be really interesting to explore that.
Jeffrey Harris: How did you like getting to do those fight scenes with Terry O'Quinn and Alex O'Loughlin?
Mark Dacascos: I loved it. I loved it. Terry is a trooper man. We rehearsed the fight -- that particular fight -- a day before. And they flew me in early, so I got to work with some of the choreography, and I put my two cents in. Jeff Cadiente was the stunt coordinator, and Terry did a lot of his own stunts. And doing the fight scenes with Alex was really cool. That guy is an athlete anyway. So yeah, we had a blast. And Alex, being a lead on his show, he's running around crazy doing all these other scenes. And from doing a dialogue scene to just five minutes later doing the fight scene -- literally because we were fighting against the sun going down -- He pulled it out, so I have nothing but admiration and appreciation for O'Loughlin and the same for Terry O'Quinn.
Jeffrey Harris: I really liked that scene with you and Terry O'Quinn because it looked like you really wanted to hurt and kill each other.
Mark Dacascos: Oh cool. I really like that one too, thank you. It was fun. We had fun. And the Terry O'Quinn fight, I had no stunt double whatsoever. I mean they had one available for me, but I helped with the choreography and I was happy that they let me do that. And I did everything else. And for the fight with Alex, with the exception of – let's see there's one part where he did this jump kick, one or two bits – but everything else for the most part, I would say Alex and I did like 90% of that fight ourselves; maybe 95% of it ourselves.
Jeffrey Harris: Now getting to work on Cradle to the Grave and to work with Jet Li and to have a fight scene with him, that had to be one of the highlights of your career, right?
Mark Dacascos: It was certainly one of the highlights of my career. Absolutely. I loved working with Jet. He was nothing but a professional. I mean it's crazy. We shot that fight scene over the course of nine days. And yeah, not once did he blast me in the face. He had perfect control, speed, just great technique. I learned so much. He's one of my heroes.
Jeffrey Harris: What a death scene in there too, huh? They blew up the face.
Mark Dacascos: *Laughs* Always with the face, man.
Jeffrey Harris: Producers are always trying to mess up your face, I don't know what it is. I hope in Mortal Kombat that Scorpion doesn't set your face on fire or something.
Mark Dacascos: Ah see, now that you put it out there, Kevin is going to hear that and go, "Hey, that was a really good idea, Jeffrey."
Jeffrey Harris: In working on Iron Chef America have you ever had to eat something that you really had to choke down. You had to force it down. Like you had to put a smile on, but deep down you were thinking, "Oh god, this is the worst thing I've ever tasted."
Mark Dacascos: Yes! Yes! And I'm going to tell you because – yes -- *Laughs.*
Jeffrey Harris: Was this the one with the gizzards?
Mark Dacascos: I can't even remember the gizzards because this one was to me so bad it kind of like supersedes everything. We had a Halloween battle a couple years ago between Chris Cosentino and Michael Simon. And these guys are great chefs obviously and they love working from nose to tail, which makes sense. Respect for the animal, right? Waste nothing. But imagine, Halloween battle, nose to tail, and the secret ingredient was offal. So we have all the guts and the innards of all these animals. And I can't remember if it was Chris or Iron Chef Simon but one of them fried pig rectum holes. They look like onion rings but they tasted like butt. The whole kitchen smelled like butt. The chefs stand right at the table. I'm at the head of the table. And I don't judge. I'm kind of like Switzerland. So I put it in my mouth, I chew on it and I swallow it. And I try to give a very polite smile whether I love it or not. In this case I did not love it, but respect that some people do. And it was certainly different…That one still haunts me. Thank you for bringing that back up *Laughs* .
Jeffrey Harris: Since you are such a multi-talented dude, has Marvel Studios given you a call to play a character yet? I think you'd make a great Shang Chi, the Master of Kung Fu, or maybe Adam Warlock for the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. I think you fit a very similar mold to Adam Warlock. He's sort of like the intergalactic guardian of the Marvel Universe. He actually has some similar qualities to your Eubulon character from Kamen Rider Dragon Knight. I think that would be a great character for you.
Mark Dacascos: Well thank you so much and Jeffrey I would like for you to give them a call for me.
Jeffrey Harris: How do you like Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa is working on Mortal Kombat: Legacy as Shang Tsung. He previously also played Shang Tsung in the original movie.
Mark Dacascos: I am familiar with his work. I'm a huge fan of his work and I'm a huge fan of him as a person. We worked on one scene of Hawaii Five-O together, and I've been overseas with him on different events, film festivals and everything. He is a great guy and a super talent. And man does he rock this second season of Mortal Kombat. He knocks it out of the ballpark.
Jeffrey Harris: Mark thank you for your time. I can't wait to see this new season.
Mark Dacascos: Thank you so much for the interview. I appreciate it.
Thank you to Mark Dacascos for taking the time to speak with us. The new season of Mortal Kombat: Legacy premieres on September 26 at Machinima.com. The new season of Hawaii Five-O featuring Dacascos as Wo Fat starts on September 27 on CBS.