Ian Anthony Dale Discusses MORTAL KOMBAT: LEGACY, HAWAII FIVE-0, and MURDER IN THE FIRST
Ian Anthony Dale’s star seems to be on the rise in a big way.
On September 26, Dale reprises the role of Scorpion in the second season premiere of the oh-so-popular web series Mortal Kombat: Legacy. Then, on the following day, he reprises the role of Adam Noshimuri in Season Four of CBS’ Hawaii Five-0. Plus, on Oct 9, we’ll see Dale in American Horror Story: Coven on FX. If that weren’t enough, Dale has added yet another regular series role to his credit. Just last week, TNT announced that it has ordered ten episodes of Murder in the First, an original series for the network from Steven Bochco. Dale plays Lt. Jim Koto, supervisor of a San Francisco homicide division. Murder in the First will air in summer, 2014.
Mortal Kombat: The Beginning
In the midst of all the hoopla and celebration going on in Dale’s life, I somehow managed to get a few fleeting moments of Dale’s time to talk about these exciting projects.
Dale has been associated with the Mortal Kombat project for a number of years. He told me, “I’ve been with this from the beginning (Season One premiered on machinima.com in 2011), and it’s been a really fun journey.”
Dale came to the role of Scorpion through Maurissa Tancharoen, Director Kevin Tancharoen’s sister, with whom he worked on an episode of Fox’s Dollhouse. (Maurissa was one of the writers). Dale said, “At the time I was working with her, her brother, Kevin, was just starting to put together this web show called Mortal Kombat: Rebirth, and he needed an actor to play Scorpion. Maurissa suggested the two of us meet, and when we did, Kevin very excitedly and enthusiastically shared with me the story. His excitement and his drive were infectious, and I immediately saw no down side to joining him and being part of this. Of course, now I’m so happy that I did, because it became a viral hit with around 10 million viewers within a week and a half.
“It’s been interesting to see just how popular it is. Really, we’re just experimenting to see what’s possible within a digital world. We’ve been surprised and pleased at every corner. Hopefully, Season Two will have the same kind of success Season One did, and hopefully, even better success.”
Time for Homework
I wondered how Dale prepared for such variety in the recent roles he’s played. He told me, “I try to do as much homework as I possibly can to understand my characters and understand each story. I would say that the biggest difference between this particular web series and almost everything else I do is that this series is quite intense. We had several fight rehearsals in preparation to film the fight scenes. That is something that I really enjoy doing and don’t get to do all that often. The more practice you put in rehearsal time, the more confident you feel on the day that you step on set to shoot it for real. I think all the tight rehearsals we had in preparation for filming really show up in the end product. It’s really dynamic and hits hard. I think the fans are gonna really get a kick out of it.”
Working with Friends
Mortal Kombat fans who are also fans of Hawaii Five-0 will notice the appearance of not only Dale, but Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Hiro Noshimuri) as well as Mark Dacascos (Wo Fat). Though their Kombat characters don’t have a lot of interaction, there’s an interesting story to how they all got together in Season Two of the web series.
Dale said, “Kevin was kind enough to ask for my input in the casting process for the season. We were able to pull our resources and reach out to people within our friend circle to see if there was any interest to be a part of the project. When I approached Mark, I was just praying and hoping that he was available and interested. Fortunately, he was. He really does a perfect job as Kung Lao. And, then, of course, Cary is the ultimate actor as Shang Tsung (a role he played back in the Mortal Kombat 1995 film). He adds such an authenticity to this web series because of his history with the franchise. I was so happy he was available and willing to come on board. It’s always a great feeling when you get to work with your friends. We had a great time, and those guys did a terrific job.”
A New Scorpion
Dale will have some challenges with Scorpion this season as well. He said, “In Season One, we got to see a more human side of Scorpion towards the end, and we got to see him being a father and a husband. We also saw him deal with certain humanistic qualities of conflict and vulnerabilities, particularly when he lost his wife and child. In Season Two, we see the ramifications of that loss and see a much darker Scorpion.”
A New Side of Adam Noshimuri
Fans of Adam Noshimuri will also notice changes in his character this season. “Last time we saw him, they were on a ship heading out to sea, away from everything they know, with just each other to support and lean on. I can confirm to you that Adam will be returning and that we’re going to see a new side of him. Thus far, he’s primarily been the love interest of Grace Park’s character (Kono). He’s been thrust into romantic scenarios, but we don’t get to see him ever being a real tough character. Early on in Season Four, we get to see a little bit of those action elements with the character. I think a lot of people will be surprised and, hopefully, pleased.”
(A sidebar of interest is that the Adam character was written specifically for Dale and pitched to Executive Producer/Showrunner Peter Lenkov. Originally, Adam was just going to be the reluctant son of the Yakuza boss, but the character evolved and became the love interest of Grace Park). Dale said, “Since that evolution, the storyline has really taken off and just been a lot of fun to play.”
American Horror Story
Another recent project coming Dale’s way was a guest spot on FX’s American Horror Story. Dale will appear in the premiere episode of Season Three, airing October 9. He told me, “I don’t really know what I can say without spoiling too much, but I can tell you it was one of the most pristine guest starring roles I’ve ever done. I look forward to watching it. Ryan Murphy (creator/Producer) doesn’t put anything out there that’s not really good, so I felt really lucky to have the opportunity to work on one of this shows.”
A Leader in Changing TV
With all the excitement on present shows, what could the future possibly hold for Dale? He said, “I’d like to produce and direct. And, one of my ultimate goals is to be the lead in a television series.
He went on, “The television landscape is changing. It used to be that only stereotypical roles were available to people of color, and now that’s changing. Now, we see them as leads, but we don’t see very many Asian-American male leads. That’s something I’d like to be part of changing. That’s a goal of mine. One of my biggest dream jobs is to play James Bond. I don’t know if that could happen in my lifetime.”
I had to put Dale on the spot and ask which one of the three series he’s currently involved with, does he enjoy working on the most. His answer was very diplomatic. “I’m always drawn to complex characters. I think all three have a complexity. I enjoy them all. I’m just happy to be on the journey.”
Cheryl has been a freelance TV/film writer for more than 10 years. Simultaneously, she has worked in PR for Bon Jovi Productions in NYC, PolyGram Records (also in NYC), and Rogers & Cowan Public Relations. Cheryl has published articles at suite101.com, “Sci-Fi Entertainment” magazine, and “Soap Opera Weekly.” She was also a credited researcher for English author Denis Meikle’s JOHNNY DEPP: A KIND OF ILLUSION. Cheryl enjoys writing for the entertainment industry and meeting new people. She is also an animal lover.