Stars of THE SCORPION KING 2: RISE OF A WARRIOR, Karen David and Michael Copon are true rising performers in the entertainment business, with lucrative careers in TV, film and music. Filmed entirely on location in South Africa, this made for DVD (which debuts August 19, 2008) sequel was directed by renowned film and music video director Russell Mulcahy.
The story concerns a young warrior named Mathayus (Copon) and his love interest Layla (David) as they try to reclaim their kingdom from the black magic warlord Sargon (Randy Couture). During their adventures, they encounter a menacing Minotaur – half-man half-bull, travel across many lands — including Egypt, and are trapped in a cryptic underworld, presided over by the sinister vixen Astarte (Natalie Becker).
Both set to emerge as major stars, David and Copon worked tirelessly through the short intense production schedule for THE SCORPION KING 2. Here they reflect on their roles, their careers, shooting and training on location, and working with acclaimed director Mulcahy.
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COPON: For me it was the fact that I’ve always imitated The Rock and people think I’m a younger version. Being able to play his son is really crazy. Four years later, I’m playing him. Just being a warrior in a film is every guy’s dream.
DAVID: And to play a kick –butt action heroine was fun for me to play. I’ve been fencing for some time and always wanted to find a role where I could use it.
Did you have to get into any special shape beyond what you normally do for the film?
COPON: I’m in shape regularly, but I put on 15 pounds for the film. I ate protein shakes and wanted to build size so that next to Randy Couture I wouldn’t look like a puny boy. Just good to always keep working out.
DAVID: Michael has a stricter regime than I do, but when you are traveling so much for work, it gets challenging to keep in shape. I do push-ups on set in the middle of takes. We were working in the gym getting up to par. A lot of what we are doing is high adrenaline. In this type of film, you have to know what you are doing as second nature. The fight sequences are so intricate. It was hardcore but intricate.
COPON: You only have a month or two [of filming] to show everything that you got. After, there is nothing else you can really do. You are doing everything that you can really really fast.
Have you ever been compared to Brandon Lee in THE CROW? What is your ethnic background?
COPON: I’m working on getting the rights to his life story – based upon his death in that film. My dad is Filipino and my mom is German. The Filipinos started off as Aborigines, so they are now mixture of races and cultures. My mom was born in Kentucky.
DAVID: My mother is Chinese and Himalayan and my father is Indian with Jewish ancestry. It’s interesting – growing up – you just want to fit it. You just want to be American or Canadian. I get told to this day how good Mathayus and Layla look together on screen!
COPON: It can be a benefit – we never fit into a category while auditioning. No one really knows what we are. We are embarking on a new revelation.
Karen, one of your best scenes in the film was going through the tunnel to confront the Minotaur. What was that like to shoot?
DAVID: That Minotaur was pretty big! I have a confession to make: Layla and I are a bit different. She walks through any shade of darkness. For me, the set was so realistic; I was telling Michael that I was a little bit scared. You hear Russell [Mulcahy] in the background, but you felt like it was real.
How was Russell Mulcahy as a director in creating your performances?
COPON: He took the time with Karen and myself. He made sure that we knew the script front and back. That we were all seeing the same thing. He was very compassionate and an actor’s director. He wanted us to feel great so that we would perform better.
DAVID: He was like a little boy – it was lovely. This is a man who had just great success doing the early Duran Duran music videos. His eye for the visual beauty of a shot – there is a lot going inside that mind.
COPON: He comes up with a way to create something special.
What was the vibe like shooting this film in South Africa?
DAVID: The sets were so amazing that they built – it’s just unbelievable. We felt like we were there. On top of that to have the backdrop where we were. It was such a beautiful place. We got to do as much as we could on our days off. What a beautiful place to be making a great film.
COPON: A lot of the locals were living in a third world aspect of it. That brought me back to even how these Akkadians were living back in the day. The culture of South Africa is completely different. It brought me to a whole new world and made me a better actor.
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Originally posted 8.18.08