Interview : Sisi Stringer (Mortal Kombat)

Would you rather listen to the interview? Listen to Sisi and Nick here https://anchor.fm/morning-brew

Leading up to the release of Mortal Kombat, Nick got to sit down with Australian actress, Sisi Stringer, who plays Mileena in the film about all things Mortal Kombat!

Nick: Congrats on the movie! And I’m not just saying this because I’m here talking to you – but the movie is awesome!

Sisi: Thank you very much! They sent the cast and crew a screener that was like, heavily password protected. So my first watch was on a computer screen without good speakers, and a watermark on it and not even in like 720p! Then I watched it in the cinemas and was like “Oh my God!” Incredible!

Nick: In Mortal Kombat you are playing Mileena – would you be able to give a brief background on character?

Sisi: Mileena is a clone of Princess Kitana, this beautiful warrior princess from Edenia – this beautiful place, so green and lucious. Then Mileena is from the Outworld which is the complete opposite. My first day – we filmed in a coal mine. That’s the landscape we were working with!

Nick: I’d love to hear what it was like landing a major Hollywood blockbuster role – what was the process for you to become Mileena?

Sisi: Well, it just came to me as an audition among many others. People often ask what made you want to go for this role, and more often than not, that’s not how these roles work, particularly for emerging actors. I rage quit my audition tape because it was going terribly – I thought my acting was terrible. But then there was a bit of interest [from the studio], and then they flew me to Adelaide to do a screen test with [director] Simon and they had already made a costume with my measurements which was a little bit exciting! I found out later that I was the only person they flew out to Adelaide!

Nick: Mileena is a force to be reckoned with in the film in both physicality and general intimidating demeanour – what’s that headspace like for you while playing that character? Was it fun to be more on the villainous side?

Sisi: It was really fun and I always would get most into character by putting on the suit, this very tight leather corset! I had layers of prosthetics for the scars and then the war paint she uses to cover them. 

Nick: And how much of Mileena from the games inspired your take on Mileena, and how much were ideas that you wanted to bring to the movie?

Sisi: Whatever parts of me that already existed in Mileena, you just bring. Particularly in the physicality of it all. I had a book of notes and questions on all the characters and when I spoke to Simon, my last few questions about Mileena were like: “In MK 9 and before, Mileena is hypersexualised, what are we doing about that?” And he just shut me down straight away and said that we are not doing any of that sexist or racist bullshit. And I was like – “Great!”. He just wanted to make it dark and real, and we both agreed on that. That’s what the fans deserve. It’s very respectful to the fanbase who asked me in messages that we want three-dimensional characters. The fans also told me that somewhere in the lore that Mileena is also bisexual! And I am also bisexual myself, so that’s another way I can relate to Mileena!

Nick: A lot of Mileena’s screen time is in intense action scenes that seem physically demanding – with your history as a dancer, were you able to utilise dance choreography experience for the fight scenes?

Sisi: Absolutely! I did martial arts training for 4 months before shooting and that helped immensely. But I danced all the time, I did so many lessons and performances each week, which helped so much. Things like coordination, I’m really flexible from dance and I can stretch and kick and twirl and jump which made things so much easier.

Nick: Mortal Kombat has an insanely passionate fandom and then on a more intimate level with your character – all the fanart that you reshare on your Instagram shows the level of loyalty in this fanbase. When they’re creating, it’s not just images of Mileena, but images of Sisi Stringer as Mileena – that must be an incredibly awesome feeling?

Sisi: It’s amazing, the fanart slays me! When I got my first fan letter, I just couldn’t breathe. And then the art was coming through and I would get emotional. You see a work of art and go ‘wow’ – but think about how many hours that took someone. How they had the thought: “I love this so much, and really appreciate this person or character” so much that they got out their art tools and made this piece and put in all that effort! It’s brilliant, I’m obsessed with it!

Nick: When the first trailer dropped and then broke the record for most views on an R-rated trailer, and on top of that, I think Mileena has one of the most iconic moments in the trailer when she licks the bloodied blade! This can be a yes or no answer – but the trailer built up heaps of hype… does the movie live up to the hype?

Sisi: HELL YEAH! HELL THE F*CK YEAH! I saw the film last night with all my friends and family and it’s genuinely an amazing film. And one thing I have to say is that I am so proud of such a diverse cast. Particularly with what’s going on in America with Black Lives Matter and the Anti-Asian Hate Crime movement – even with things happening in our own country. It’s a really important time to see something like Mortal Kombat in the mainstream being led by such a diverse cast!

Thank you so much to Warner Bros. Australia for letting me chat with Sisi! You can catch an extended and uncut version of our chat on Novastream’s own podcast – Morning Brew!

Mortal Kombat is in Australian cinemas April 22 and streaming on HBO Max April 23!

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Nick L'Barrow
Nick L'Barrow
Nick is a Brisbane-based film/TV reviewer. He gained his following starting with his 60 second video reviews of all the latest releases on Instagram (@nicksflicksfix), before launching a monthly podcast with Peter Gray called Monthly Movie Marathon. Nick contributes to Novastream with interviews and reviews for the latest blockbusters.

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