Mehkad Brooks was already in the gym to become an Earthrealm supersoldier Jax before he was officially granted the role in the upcoming Warner Bros reboot. Mortal Kombat. The actor was a longtime fan of the classic fighting video game adapted in the movie Simon McQuoid, and as a believer in fiction, he accepted only one possible outcome. The son of a widely used NFL receiver, and a former All State basketball player himself, is no stranger to putting in the extra effort to get the job done.
These efforts were not in vain: hold the role, and the momentum continued. Brooks worked with trainer Andrew Scotch to put 35 pounds of muscle on his massive body while lifting weights and binge eating. That physical strength combined with intense boxing training gave him the tools to portray a human being able to protect Earth from the monsters of Outworld. Men’s magazine Talk to the actor about grueling workouts, eating like a caveman, and finding Jax in Burning Man.
Men’s magazine: How did it feel to play Jax in a new Mortal Kombat movie?
Mehcad Brooks: The fact that I was in this role was surreal, because I’ve been playing this game since I was a kid. I was leaving Supergirl and knew I wanted to do something completely different. So when I heard about this opportunity, I quit everything I was doing, and went to the gym. I knew I had to be this guy. I know that sounds crazy. I didn’t want to give them a single excuse for not giving me the role, and I felt it was supposed to be. It wasn’t arrogance, but my heart was invested in getting the result I wanted. I know people might be scratching their heads at the idea that someone would put 20 pounds of muscle for a role they might not get, but yeah, that’s what I did.
Once you landed the role, how did you start developing the character?
I’m a burner. I have gone to Burning Man five times, and I lined up while I was preparing for the movie, so I used this Burning Man experience to find Jax on a deeper level. I know what it does for myself and my awareness and focus. I started changing my stage name to Jax while I was there. I had already gained 20 pounds by that time. I took off the gas mask people were wearing to protect from dust, because I thought Jax wears no mask. I spent a lot of time in the desert on my own. What better way to communicate with a guy who has taken so many tours of the desert than out into the desert, and stripping yourself completely.
He is the worst man the army has to offer – the kind of men they send out to hunt monsters and intergalactic ninjas. He’s not exactly a good guy. We are fortunate to have chosen Earthrealm to fight for it. During that time, the perceptions she made of being a Jax have been paying off. I’d be ready to play with him in a matter of weeks at that point, which was a slightly out-of-body experience.
How did you get started building Jax’s physique?
I found a picture of Jax online that I thought I would be able to do. I woke up every day and visualized this scene where I fight Sub-Zero from Audition for 15 minutes. Even when my body was tired, I did not succumb to exhaustion, I pressed harder. You saw my highest potential. I saw the enhanced version of myself in my head, and I worked hard every day to get there. I have a trainer that I work with from Los Angeles called Andrew Schoth. This guy is a beast. I think the first time I worked with him I almost vomited. I had to put ice on my wrist and neck. This is what we are dealing with here. I worked in every gym I could. For this role, he created a detailed workout where we did heavy weights and several reps. I followed this up with quick jittery movements and plyometrics.
What were you going to say was the most cruel?
I do not wish these exercises were my worst enemy. I would stumble outside the gym, sometimes crawl. He would have me run full speed on the treadmill while doing the buns with our 25-pound weights, then lower the weights and run at full speed with an upward tilt, followed by another minute while leaning down. And this is just one group. This is when you think about killing him. But you start seeing results within days. This is what makes you submit to it.
Did you train while filming as well?
There were days where I would shoot for 12 hours, then take a two-hour pause, hit the gym for two hours, and then work out the rehearsal for an hour. There were weeks in every time I was getting about four hours of sleep, but I was still moving. I was doing everything. If I am on a plane, I will wrap my bag.
Boxing is a big part of Jax’s fighting style in the game. How did you like training in the ring?
I found I was really slow because I was putting on so much weight, and moving all that torso required a lot of energy. I started watching old videos of Mike Tyson and Joe Fraser every night. I took their methods and combined that with how Jax moved in video games. He bounces a lot, then almost wobbles a little when he comes. I was taking videos of myself to check my progress. I enjoyed watching the myths for action, and using that in what I brought to the character.
What was your diet like when you were preparing for the role?
I was eating a vegan before I started role training, and I probably went to eat the equivalent of half a cow a day. I think as a country we definitely do eat meat. We usually don’t value animals, and we don’t renew the world in the places we take it from. I’m all with people who make whatever choices they want through the diet, but our ancestors were hunters, gatherers, and scavengers.
This means that they were eating a lot of fruits, vegetables and nuts, but also every now and then they ate the meat themselves. This is my diet – I eat 1 animal protein for a week. That might mean I’ll be eating a lot of lamb, or anywhere from 12 to 16 chickens, over the course of the next week.
What did a sample day of eating look like to you?
I’ve been shaking up plant-based protein throughout the day, right from the start. Earlier in the day, I was doing somewhere between 12 and 18 eggs. If I had been eating chicken that week, I would have done four to six breasts, always with vegetables. I was cutting carbs somewhere around 5 p.m. in the evening. I didn’t have a drop of alcohol during the whole process.
How did you feel while eating this way?
I felt like a caveman. It was kind of like the most extreme paleo diet I’ve ever heard, and I ended up with a caveman body. It felt great and got amazing results when combined with the work I was doing. It’s not something I would support, because it’s so pricey and I’ve been eating somewhere around 12,000 calories a day.
Did you supplement your diet with anything else?
I was taking these named elixirs Black root tonic, Which are custom made. They do not believe. They have all of these extra elements and minerals that you need. I have continued with them since then.
Jax has an unforgettable appearance in the game, starting with his bionic arms. How did it feel to be on set and in costume?
The first time you put on a costume is the first time you have completely embodied the character. Jax’s costume wasn’t that complicated. It is utilitarian and militaristic. He must be able to move in it. If a shit hits the fan, he has to hold the shotgun severed and be able to roll immediately. I can’t go too deep into how the two robotic arms come together, but that takes a lot of work. I try to find pleasure in everything, even if that means I need to be in a set position three hours earlier than usual. You have seen the movie. It’s unbelievable – and my arms look great.
Did any of the fighting energy came about the way everyone else carried themselves?
The only confrontation I can talk about is with Sub-Zero, played by great actor Joe Tasleem. In Hollywood there are only two actors asking the camera department to slow them down because he’s too fast on the lens to capture: Bruce Lee and Joe Delivery. Personally, I don’t have sex with Joe Taslim. You know what I’m saying? I haven’t seen anyone move so fast. It’s like watching Michael Jackson dance up close. This is what it’s like watching Joe battle his choreography. Doing fight sequences with him made me upscale my personal game. Did I ever think that I could face a delivery atmosphere? No. Have you left the group thinking that I can drop a delivery atmosphere? No, am I going to put cash on anyone other than a delivery Joe? No.
How do you feel about the amazing reaction to the trailer for the Red Squad?
It’s all I could possibly want. I felt that if one of the trailers did better, it would be the trailer for the red squad due to the nature of the fanbase inside Mortal Kombat. Nobody is playing Mortal Kombat He just wants to fire someone. They want to uproot their hearts. This is what the movie offers them. People might be skeptical, but I really think this is the greatest movie adaptation of a video game ever. I saw what I saw in the cinema. This will be the new standard.
Given that the movie is a box office success, which seems likely, will you have to put your arms back in to play Jax?
I feel like I am A.m Jax. There is a lot of love for these characters, and for many people this will be the first time they see these characters as independent. We worked until we bled. We’ve been pushed by our fears and imposter syndromes. We love these characters. We needed to bring it home, for the sake of the fandom and for us. I’ll take it with me forever.
Mortal Kombat It premieres in theaters and on HBOMax on April 23.
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