Mortal Kombat’s Lewis Tan Is Proud to Be a Sex Symbol

You’ve carved out a space in martial arts and action. What other genres are you interested in?

I love everything. I want to do romantic films. I want to do indie dramas. I want to do dark comedies, all sorts of different things. I’m a trained actor, and I’m a movie lover. I got my foot in the door through action, and I love action. I want to dominate that genre, for my legacy, my family’s legacy, and for people of color to represent. I’ve also written four screenplays and three of those screenplays got options, and I have my directorial debut coming soon and start pre-production on a film that I wrote about my father’s life and dealing with racism in London and becoming the national champion in martial arts as well as a champion disco dancer in the ’70s.

Wait, your father was a champion disco dancer?

My father was a champion disco dancer. He got invited to Studio 54 by Andy Warhol. He’s one of the first Chinese disco dancing champions.

So does that mean you also know how to dance?

Look, I got rhythm, but I can’t dance like him. He’s on a different level. I know how to move. I’m in tune with my body.

You’ve mentioned you want to do romantic movies, so when people say that you’re a sex symbol, how does that make you feel?

Well, it makes me feel proud because when I was growing up, there weren’t any Asian sex symbols. When I saw myself on a building and I was shirtless on this 100-foot poster, the first thing I thought was, I’ve never seen that before—there’s an Asian guy up there. I think that’s important because a lot of people didn’t grow up feeling confident because they thought the world looked at them a certain way. That is really important to me because we influence the mindset of society as filmmakers, artists, musicians, and writers, so I’m happy to represent in that way. But I get some crazy DMs.

Do tell! What’s the craziest DM you’ve received?

I can’t say it. It can’t be printed. [Laughs.]

Okay, so how about the second craziest?

Just crazy stuff. Like, “I want to have your kids and you don’t even need to be the dad.”

I guess sometimes you just have to shoot your shot?

It’s a bold shot. But after long consideration, I turned the offer down! 

Jonny Marlow

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