Mortal Kombat 1 features two huge actors, with Megan Fox playing Nitara, and Jean-Claude Van Damme available as an alternate skin and voice pack for Johnny Cage. However, Ed Boon didn’t want to stop there, at one point envisioning a Mortal Kombat 1 cast where every single fighter was played by a big-name celebrity.
This is despite the questionable quality of the celebs Mortal Kombat has partnered with so far, including in Mortal Kombat 1 itself. Fans have been overwhelmingly critical of Fox’s performance as Nitara, and the Van Damme skin has also come under fire for its poor voice acting, and lack of resemblance to the actor.
„One of the things that I entertained with this game […] which we didn’t do, was, ‚What if every character in this game was played by an actor?'“ says Ed Boon, speaking in an interview with Rolling Stone. „Like we got Keanu Reeves to play Kenshi. This is, like, [a] pipe dream.
„What if we made a game that had an actor, a famous, recognizable actor play every character and Johnny Cage was absolutely the one who would have been played by Jean-Claude Van Damme.“
As we can tell from the main cast we did get, this plan obviously never came to fruition. Boon cites concerns with logistics for this, rather than a desire to stick with actors who primarily work in video games.
„A lot of actors don’t realize just how sophisticated video games are,“ says Boon. „When you sign up for it, you’re not just signing up to go in one day, be in the recording studio for an hour, and you’re done.“
It’s probably for the best that NetherRealm didn’t get its way with this, considering fans have been predominantly against the practice of getting big names in the series for the sake of it. Perhaps most infamously, Sonya Blade was played by Ronda Rousey in Mortal Kombat 11. Fans were highly critical of her performance, although some now say that Fox’s take on Nitara is actually worse. Then, there’s the Van Damme’s own appearance, which excited fans at first, but left some disappointed when we got the final product – which doesn’t resemble him much at all. Without the look, we’re just left with some dodgy voice acting.
Another downside of getting these actors is that getting them back in to record new lines proves difficult, and presumably quite expensive. In Mortal Kombat 11, Sonya’s pre-fight banter with DLC fighters had to be stitched together using dialogue they had already recorded for other scenes, making it all pretty awkward.