“The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior” muscles its way onto store shelves on August 19th in both DVD and Blu-ray disc formats.
“The Scorpion King 2” tells the story of the young Mathayus (Michael Copon), and the events that molded his formative years before he became the Scorpion King.
As a carefree boy of 13, Mathayus witnessed his renowned Akkadian mercenary…warrior father murdered by the jealous rival warrior, Sargon (UFC fighter Randy Couture). Mathayus enters the illustrious Order of the Black Scorpion academy, where he spends the next seven years learning to become a fighting and killing machine-driven by his vow to one day avenge his father.
When at age 20, Mathayus graduates, Sargon has not only become ruler of Akkadia, but has acquired black magical powers that stymie Mathayus’s attempt to assassinate him.
Convinced that his only hope of defeating Sargon and his growing power is to retrieve a charmed weapon from the Underworld called the Sword of Damocles, Mathayus embarks on a perilous supernatural odyssey – accompanied by the feisty girl warrior Layla (Karen David), the aspiring Greek playwright Ari, a freed Chinese captive named Fong, and a few other characters he meets and enlists along the way.
These disparate characters form the core of Mathayus’ indomitable gang as they attempt to find a way to enter the Underworld and more importantly, return from it. Not only must they face the formidable challenge of that task, they must also confront the beautiful but evil goddess who resides there, Astarte. At stake is not only the fate of the entire Akkadian nation but Mathayus’ very soul as well.
Stars Michael Copon and Karen David, who portray Mathayus and Layla, took a few minutes to discuss the challenges and benefits of playing multi…dimensional characters in a summer action flick.
M&C: Michael, how long before the development of the movie had it been since you were in an action role like this?
Copon: Eight years. Seven actually, well eight years now, but last year it was seven. I was a Power Ranger on TV, so that was like… I mean it was action, it wasn’t like this courageous, you know, warrior hero but I mean it still was somewhat of an action role. And I got a doll out of it. This was the first thing I’ve done since then that’s been like an action role.
M&C: What sort of preparation do you have to do for it?
Copon: I was learning Capoeira prior to the film, and also Eskrima; it’s a Filipino sword fighting. And then right when I got the film I just was working out in the gym a lot and staying flexible. And then just jumping in there with the strangers and learning all the choreography, and coming up with new ideas for the fight scenes with them and basically just getting that down.
Because it’s pretty much a dance. People don’t realize it; like the fighting, it’s like a dance that you’re doing with everyone else. You just make it look as real as possible. So it’s a lot of fun doing that.
M&C: Tell me a little bit about your character, Mathayus.
Copon: Well, Mathayus, to me is this kid that has… he’s courageous, he’s strong, he’s powerful, but yet he’s also very sensitive. He has a lot of passion and emotion that drives him to be this courageous warrior. He is very focused and driven. You know, he’s very concentrated on one thing.
That’s the goal, to get this sword through the entire film so that he can avenge his father’s death. But I think that what I loved about, you know, this role is not to make him just, you know, just on the surface. I wanted him to have emotion and be able to be in touch with his sensitive side towards his friends, like towards Layla who becomes… he realizes he has so much love for her.
And just realizing, too, that he can’t do this alone. You know, he realizes that throughout the journey that he needed Layla and all the other characters to continue on his journey.
M&C: Karen, is Layla there to fill the role of the sexy sidekick or is there some more to her? Were you able fill her out a little bit?
David: Well, I hope I filled her out a bit, besides the corset [laughs]. I wanted to make sure that Layla’s character is, you know, not as one…dimensional as some people might assume.
She’s not, okay, I am flattered that people might think she is eye candy and stuff, but she’s very much a girl on a mission to prove to herself and to her best friend and childhood friend, Mathayus, that she can play with the big boys just as well as anyone else could. So, she has a bit of a chip on her shoulder because she wanted to be a Scorpion King soldier as well, but she couldn’t because she was a girl.
So the years that are spent away from Mathayus while he has been training away to become this mega Scorpion King soldier Layla is sort of on this journey trying to figure out what she wants with herself and her life and also, you know, continues to train as best as she could in the hopes of one day bumping into Mathayus upon his graduation and hoping that, you know, she can… they can sort of pick up from where they left off.
M&C: So Mathayus is kind of on an emotional journey and Michael, you said that you wanted to put some emotion into him, were both of you trying to do that? Were you trying to put emotion into the characters?
Copon: Yeah, I think what I love about Karen is that she is not this actor who just plays on the surface. She has a lot of depth to her characters, and it worked really well with myself and we were reacting off each other a lot, which is important in acting. It’s a lot of listening to the other person and reacting on what they’re doing and it played out really well.
Especially the scenes where we had to kind of be like, you know, like “I don’t like you, but I do.” [David laughs] Like, “you annoy, me but I love you at the same time.” You’ve got that song that just came out [sings] “I hate that I love you so.” We’ve got that kind of like vibe to us, but you know I think we both added that sense of really deep emotions.
Something that I think both our characters are realizing that, you know what, we want to be more than just what normal people are. You know, it’s like we were avengers. We were these great, you know, what do you call them?
David: Well, you wanted to create something, I mean, Mathayus/Michael… Michael was on this, you know, playing this… his intentions for Mathayus were very genuine and were really great, ‘cause he was just on this mission, on this journey, and it’s just wonderful how everyone… we just all worked together as a team.
We didn’t want our characters just to be the obvious, you know. Like for example, what you said, Layla was just being eye candy or Mathayus just being this warrior. It was more about, you know, showing different sides of our characters. And that, I think for both of us, is really fun to play those different dynamics for the characters.
M&C: Not to mention the fact that you get to do a lot of your own stunts as well as act as these characters. So, I am sure you probably felt like the characters at some point.
Copon: Oh, yeah.
David: Oh yeah. Yeah, it was great. Because I think…
Copon: Like, I really went out with my sword [David laughs], and I would attack people, and I almost got arrested… no, I am totally kidding. [everyone laughs] No, but… no, I think we did. I think we did feel like, you know we really, I mean that’s the whole goal, I think, as actors.
Not that I am promoting to be method, or anything, but I think it – if you can allow it, like kind of live in your character’s mindset and be in that moment as much as you can, because I think you’re going to get the best out of it.
David: Yeah, we had so much fun playing our characters, too, and because all of us worked so well together and worked well together as a team, it was just… it was so much fun, and it makes life so much easier when it’s like that. And we were all excited about our characters, so that helped.
M&C: Tell me what you guys have coming up next.
Copon: Currently, I am shooting “We Got the Beat” it’s something I am co…producing and starring in. Also starring Rob Hoffman, lead in “Step Up 2”; Ryan Pinkston from “Punk’d”, Ryan Hansen from the new “Friday the 13th” film. We’ve got some other big names in it as well. It’s about Brad Roberts, high school quarterback, quits the football team to start the first ever boy band 1982. It’s a comedy, obviously.
We’re hoping it’s going to be like “Napoleon Dynamite”/ “Full Monty” of 2009. That, and the remake of “Night of the Demons”, the 80’s film… horror film I’m doing in September 15th in New Orleans, and I’m also hosting the new “Dance or Drop” on MTV. It’s supposed to be taking over the TRL.
We are shooting in Time Square. It’s like the Corny Collins show of our century, from “Hairspray.” It’s basically like an MTV version of American “Bandstand” and “Soul Train.” So, it’s a lot of fun. It’s right in Time Square. There’s going to be a lot of press. They will be live every day for that as well. Of course, my album, too, is still trying to get going.
David: [laughs] I can completely relate to the album stuff. I am in the middle of album deadlines right now. So, I have been in the studio getting the albums done and just writing a few more tracks for the album, and I have been doing some campaigns in the Roots clothing up in Canada. They have some stores over here.
And for a cosmetics company as well. I am just in between kind of reading scripts. There’s a few things that have come up, which I am told by my publicist I am not allowed to say, but watch this face because I will be making some announcements soon. Just kind of in between those things for now.