Mortal Kombat’s Kano Totally Improvised His Hilarious One-Liners

Josh Lawson as Kano shooting a laser out of his eye.

Mortal Kombat has a little bit of something for everyone. From the signature fatalities to the campy comedy, there’s a lot to like. Recently, I had a chance to talk to Josh Lawson, who plays the iconic Kano in Simon McQoid’s upcoming reboot, about tuning into the more hilarious aspects of the movie. According to Lawson, there was quite a bit of improvisation that went into his character's hilarious one-liners.

Ahead of Mortal Kombat’s release, I asked the Kano actor about his character's snappy dialogue and if all of those witty one-liners were in the script. He had this to say:

No, they weren’t. Simon McQuoid definitely let me off the chain to have a bit of fun and I'm not sure any two takes were ever the same. There would have been a lot to sift through. I had a lot of fun. I was able to kick the tires, of course there was a script and then there was a lot of scripted stuff too, but yeah, I was definitely able to just have a bit of fun.

While there were certainly scripted bits, it sounds like Lawson had plenty of chances to sneak in some dialog of his own. Apparently the opportunity to improvise on every take provided a chance to get to know Kano’s character better:

That was part of the way I found the character, to be honest, you know, I was able to sort of riff around the improv and through that, I was like, yeah, I'm starting to understand this guy. He's a bastard. He shoots his mouth off, his bark is probably a little worse than his bite in a way. It was really fun to be able to figure out that Kano’s words were as much of a weapon as his fists were.

Fans of the franchise may recognize that Kano’s bark is certainly as big as his bite. The smack-talking leader of the Black Dragon cartel is known for his witty one-liners, longstanding feud with fellow original character Sonya Blade and powerful laser eye.

The upcoming Mortal Kombat reboot features just about every original character from the 1992 game, with the notable exception of Hollywood heart-throb Johnny Cage. Despite his absence, those involved with the project are optimistic that we will see the Shadow Kick artist in a potential sequel.

Cage’s absence aside, Simon McQuoid's Mortal Kombat looks like a beautifully brutal good time that will please both long-time fans and newcomers alike. A major part of the entertainment will surely come from Lawson’s performance as Kano.

Fans will have to wait to check out Mortal Kombat until it releases in theaters and on HBO Max this Friday, April 23rd. But if you don’t mind light spoilers, you can watch the first brutal seven minutes of the movie right here.

Braden Roberts

Into tracksuits by Paulie Walnuts, the Criterion Channel and Robert Eggers.