Daniel Nelson portrayed NYPD riot police officer turned Black Dragon mercenary in 2021’s Mortal Kombat movie.
12 May 2021
Kamidogu: Tell us a bit about yourself: who is Daniel Nelson?
Daniel Nelson: I’m a born and bred Kiwi living in Australia since I was 18 with a two year stint in Singapore somewhere in there. Started acting when I was 20 years old but stunts took over at 23 and I’ve done that ever since.
Kamidogu: How did you first get involved with the Mortal Kombat movie?
DN: I had previously worked for the supervising stunt coordinator and second unit director on Godzilla vs. Kong and he put me forward for the role.
Kamidogu: The release of Mortal Kombat comes more than 25 years after the original. With such a passionate and highly dedicated fan base was there a lot of pressure to deliver?
DN: I believe there was pressure. I definitely felt it. There is a very vocal fan base so I wanted to make sure with the limited encounters I had in the film I delivered a strong performance that fans would enjoy.
Kamidogu: Had you ever played Mortal Kombat before working on the film?
DN: Yeah I recall playing it as a child on my friend’s console. Although I never had gaming consoles growing up. Once I found out about the role I immersed myself in the games and lore.
Kamidogu: In your opinion what makes Mortal Kombat so special?
DN: I think it’s the characters. There’s something for everyone. They all have huge personalities and an array of interesting different powers. But at the same time it’s grounded and never gets too big for its boots.
Kamidogu: Do you have any interesting stories or unforgettable memories from on set that you’d like to share?
DN: Where we filmed the final fight between Liu Kang and Kabal was in a quarry two hours inland from Adelaide. We did a week of rehearsals out there and the flies were so relentless we had to wear nets over our faces. At any one time you’d have 10 to 20 flies on your head. Fortunately they go to sleep at night when we actually shot the fight.
Kamidogu: Would you like to see a spin-off movie based on Kabal? If so, what in particular would you like to see done with your character?
DN: I would like to see Kabal’s motives explored more. He’s not an evil guy. A bit like Kano where he does things for money. Maybe even a prequel before he is in the respirator.
Kamidogu: What was the most difficult challenge you had to endure during the production of Mortal Kombat?
DN: Fighting in the Kabal mask was super challenging. Even things like walking up the steps to Shang Tsung’s throne I couldn’t see the steps so had to guess where each stone would be. Swinging the swords at Ludi’s head was very sketchy as I had limited vision and no peripheral vision. The lenses would fog up straight away which didn’t help. On one occasion I actually hit him in the face…fortunately the soft prop swords used for the fights didn’t injure him.
Kamidogu: How did you get into this particular field of work? What advice would you have for someone wanting to pursue a similar career?
DN: I started in stunt shows at theme parks, which surrounded me with other stunt guys who worked in film. But it’s what you train in your spare time that is really going to make you stand out from the rest. I think skills like Judo, Boxing, Kung Fu, trampoline and gymnastics are definitely good areas to train in for this type of work.
Kamidogu: What is the funniest thing that has happened to you?
DN: I once forgot my togs to a swimming carnival. Thinking I had them on I walked down to the starters blocks in my underwear. Embarrassing for me. Funny for others.
Kamidogu: What are some hobbies you enjoy outside of work?
DN: I enjoy landscape photography and compete in a sport surf lifesaving when I’m not busy on a job.
Kamidogu: What are some of your favourite TV shows and movies?
DN: Jurassic Park, Star Wars, Game of Thrones and anything with zombies.
Kamidogu: What is your favourite food?
DN: Probably pizza.
Kamidogu: What is the craziest thing you have ever done?
DN: I once explored a cave in Vietnam in the side of a mountain. It was very dark and I had no idea where it lead to. It’s in a vlog of mine on YouTube.
Kamidogu: What is something most people don’t know about you?
DN: I’m a marginally decent artist and once created a comic book from scratch.
Kamidogu: Do you have any famous last words?
DN: Better to try and fail, than not try at all. Not my quote but I did think about it a lot when I had my doubts trying to become a working stuntman.