Ed Boon wanted every fighter in Mortal Kombat 1 to be played by a famous actor, with Keanu Reeves as Kenshi

Kenshi fighting Kitana in Mortal Kombat 1.
(Image credit: Netherrealm Studios)

I've loved the recent Mortal Kombat games, but if there's one thing they have not been good at, it's celebrity cameos. From Ronda Rousey as Sonya, to the Dimitri Vegas skin for Sub-Zero, to most recently Megan Fox as Nitara, more often than not the appearance of a famous face in these games means that you're about to be subjected to voice-acting more grisly than the fatalities. So I'm frankly a little horrified to find out that Ed Boon's dream for Mortal Kombat 1 was for all the fighters to be played by different household names.

"One of the things that I entertained with this game… What if we made a game that had an actor, a famous, recognizable actor play every character?" says Boon in an interview with Rolling Stone. It's clearly more a pie-in-the-sky idea than something that would ever have been possible—Boon alludes to how expensive it would be, and how few actors would want to spend the time needed in the recording studio, lamenting that "there are hundreds of lines of dialogue that they have to read. A lot of actors don’t realize just how sophisticated video games are." But it's interesting, and a little odd, to find out this would be Boon's dream for the series.

The recent Mortal Kombat games have revelled in goofy, over-the-top storylines that have benefited hugely from the talent of dedicated voice actors, who can give their unashamedly cheesy dialogue the theatrical oomph it needs. Rare is the film actor with the chops or the will to do the same. 

I'm not sure about Boon's casting choices, either. He mentions Jean Claude van Damme as Johnny Cage, which makes some sense given the first MK was originally supposed to be a JCVD game. But the actor's appearance as a premium skin in MK1 only highlights how dreadful he would've been if he'd played Johnny over the course of the whole story. He goes on to suggest "Keanu Reeves to play Kenshi". I'm sure Reeves would at least put in a good performance, but given it's pretty fundamental to Kenshi's story and fighting style that he's Japanese, it'd be a pretty odd fit. 

But hey, Boon's been at this 31 years now—he's entitled to have whatever bizarre dreams for the series he wants, I suppose. If they did do an all-celeb entry in the series, who would you like to see in it? For some reason I can't get Bryan Cranston as Ermac out of my head.

Robin Valentine
Senior Editor

Formerly the editor of PC Gamer magazine (and the dearly departed GamesMaster), Robin combines years of experience in games journalism with a lifelong love of PC gaming. First hypnotised by the light of the monitor as he muddled through Simon the Sorcerer on his uncle’s machine, he’s been a devotee ever since, devouring any RPG or strategy game to stumble into his path. Now he's channelling that devotion into filling this lovely website with features, news, reviews, and all of his hottest takes.