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Saturday, Mar 6, 2021
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Movie Interviews

Beta Test  w/ Johnny Cage!

I may be showing my age, but I first saw Linden Ashby in the movie Mortal Kombat as (in my best game announcer voice) Johnny Cage.  I try to watch the movie every time it’s on cable! Several years later I saw him again on the soap Young and the Restless in a story arc as a bad guy obsessed with one of the characters (Sharon played by Sharon Case).  Over the years I’ve seen him in other projects like the movie Wyatt Earp with Kevin Costner and some guest spots.  But then in 2011, Teen Wolf happened.  Playing the lovable Sheriff Stilinski who plays a great dad to son Stiles (Dylan O’Brien) I was wondering if I was ever going to see Linden Ashby fight even remotely like he did in Mortal Kombat.  Well, my wish was granted in the movie Beta Test, out next Friday July 22nd in a limited release in theaters.

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Playing baddie Andrew Kincaid, CEO of major video game company Sentinel, he plays a real game of life and death with protagonists Max (Lorenz Tate), a game tester, and Orson Creed (Manu Bennett).  I really enjoyed the final showdown between Bennett and Ashby because I felt like both actors really brought it!  The movie definitely gets you thinking about where the future of gaming is going.

As soon as the opportunity presented itself to talk with Ashby I jumped on it of course! It’s not every day you get to talk with someone who was in one of your favorite movies growing up as well as on a TV show that you enjoy.  What made it even better was that Ashby was such a pleasure to talk to!  This is going to be two parts guys because I was blessed with a long conversation.  WARNING there are some mild spoilers!

TNE:      I saw [the movie] last night and I’m like, what the heck? I remember you playing a villain before. You were playing a crazy person on Young and the Restless.

Linden Ashby:  Right. Right. Right. Yeah.

TNE: So I was like, it’s not surprising, for me, that you would play a bad guy, but I’m so used to you as Johnny Cage and Sheriff Stilinski on Teen Wolf that I’m just like, he’s so good. Why is he a crazy person?

Linden Ashby: Stilinski is like the – just the best dad person in the world and it’s been so much fun to play that part. You know it’s surprising how many people I talk to and I see, and they’re like, ‘the show, it’s helped me through so many times, and you know your character, I wish I had a dad like you.’ And this, and that, and it’s – you get involved in work, the day to day work, and you forget how it really does – I mean it touches people’s lives, and that’s what’s really cool about what we do. But yeah, bad guys can touch people’s lives, too.

TNE:      So did you originally audition for Andrew Kincaid, the role, or was it –

Linden Ashby:   No, no, no. Nicholas called me up and made the offer, asked me if I wanted to. I read the script, but he talked to me about what he wanted. He wanted to do this like a homage to 90s film. You know action films with a 2016 twist and subject matter, and I think it’s really neat what he did with that, because it’s sort of a throwback action flick.  [Beta Test] deals with issues that we’re really dealing with right now. You know gun control, and you know corporate greed and control of the world that we live in.

TNE:      I thought it was interesting at the very beginning of the movie you see the interview that Kincaid does with the news people, but then, at the very end, you see (SPOILER ALERT) Lorenz Tate kind of doing the same thing, and you see him watching his own interview, and so, do you feel like there’s a potential for a sequel? I don’t know. It just seemed like Lorenz Tate was giving some serious evil vibes.

Linden Ashby:   You know power corrupts… P. Townsend said it. What? 40 something years ago. ‘Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.’ Yeah. He’s gonna be that guy, now.

TNE:      Yeah, so back to the beginning of the movie with the interview.  I felt like it was very timely, considering what literally just happened (the Orlando shooting) and how Congress is even now still talking about gun control. What are your thoughts regarding what’s currently happening in the world, regarding the US gun laws, or are you able to talk about that?

Linden Ashby:   I can talk about it, because I actually feel pretty strongly about it and it’s my opinion. That’s it. You know I’m no more qualified to talk about anything or what I say has no more validity than what the next person says, but I know that, to me, the solution is incredibly simple and they’re making it complicated.

The solution is no more guns with clips, or magazines. You know? Magazine is a technical term for it. Everyone knows it as a clip.  No more guns with clips and that solves the problem.  Then, everyone says, ‘well, I need a gun for home protection.’ Well, you go, you get, you got one. You got a revolver. There’s a pistol. You’ve got a shotgun. You’ve got a rifle. Anything with a true bed magazine where you have to put one bullet in at a time, or you know, a hunting rifle where you put them down in and it fits three in there, but no more clips, and if we did that, it – to me, it’s such a simple solution. There is no one that can justify why they need – why do you need a magazine?

TNE:      Yeah.

Linden Ashby:   Why do you need to be able to reload quickly? Because that’s what it’s all about. That guy going into that nightclub, they make it about the assault weapon. No. he could’ve gone in that place in Orlando with a Beretta pistol, or a glock that 13, or 15 rounds, and boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. The ability to reload quickly is what makes it a military weapon. As soon as you can pop that clip out and shove a new clip in and keep shooting, it becomes a bit – you know those are weapons that should be limited to law enforcement and military.

I read an interesting article the other day. It said in the 1950s, they did a survey and 60 percent of the population of the United States in the survey said that a citizen should not be able to own pistols. 60 percent! I’m a gun owner. I own guns.  I’m a member of the NRA, you know; but it’s just out of control right now.

Well you know I was in Wyatt Earp.  When the cowboys came to town, first thing they did, hand over your gun.  You get it back when you leave. They’re like, ‘hell no. We’re not having a bunch of people running around shooting each other.’ You know people forget that. It’s – but now, I will get down off of my soapbox. Yeah, but I think it’s a very simple issue. No guns with clips.

No one can really – every argument against it, you could – you know, I need gun for home protection. You’ve got it. You’ve got a shotgun. You’ve got a pistol.

TNE:      Yeah. Exactly!

Linden Ashby:   If you can’t get it done in a couple of shots, you’re probably not gonna get it done.

(Guys this was the shortened version of his answer regarding gun control but it was still valid points. Now, back to the movie)

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TNE:      Was this the first time you’ve worked with Samurai swords?

Linden Ashby:   No. I mean in class, you know like in a dojo, I worked with them. I’m a pretty good stick guy, but I’m not a great sword guy.  I played around with them a little bit, but I didn’t have really any experience, but it’s sort of like, you know, a bow, a staff, sticks. It all uses that same movement of a sword and it came pretty naturally.

TNE:      Well, that’s cool, so with the final fight scene between Kincaid and Creed, how much of that was you and Bennett and how much of that was like stunt guys?

Linden Ashby:   There were no stunt guys.

TNE:      Sweet!

Linden Ashby:   Yeah and that was – you know, Nicholas was like (Ashby pauses)– well, you know what? I take that back. A stunt guy went through the window.  But other than that, that’s it.  Nicholas was like, no. I don’t want any stunt doubles, and I’m like, “Hey, man. I’m not as young as I used to be.”

Stunt doubles are a good thing, and he – you know all these actors there are like; I did all my own stunts. I’m like, “F* that.” You know, yeah. You can do that and get yourself killed, but I used to love doing my own stunts, and I still do, actually.   But you know, I get kicked, and punched, and you know thrown, and hit the ground, and I remember in Mortal Kombat, after a fight, you know pissing blood, because I got kicked in the kidneys so hard.

TNE:      (Gasps) Oh, Lord!

Linden Ashby:   Yeah and it’s – you know and different TV shows and stuff, and it got to the point where I would not fight an actor. I’m like, no. Put their double in and I’ll fight the stunt guy, because actors – it’s like they hear rolling and action and it’s like – I remember I did a fight scene with – God, I can’t remember the actor’s name, but he played like Huckleberry in the Police Academy movies guy, and they’re like, alright. We’re rolling, and we’ve got speed, and he’s like (breathing hard). I’m like, holy sh*. He lost his mind!

TNE:      Oh wow!

Linden Ashby:   Oh man, and it’s like – in a scene, you know, if I’m doing a fight scene, hit me once, it’s an accident. Hit me twice, you know, the jury’s out. Hit me a third time, I’m gonna f*ing light you up. It’s just like don’t – it’s not a real fight! You know, slow it down. Let’s do this. Let’s all go home for dinner tonight. There’s a big difference between movie fighting and real fighting.  I’ve totally gotten sidetracked here, and yes. There were no stunt guys in that fight scene, except for to go through a window.   And that’s my old a** throwing some kicks.

TNE:      You’re not that old!

Linden Ashby:   I felt it.  I felt it.

TNE:      Well, I think about like Manu Bennett. I mean he worked on [the Starz hit] Spartacus, and I know that they did a lot of their own stunts on that show, so I guess you were a little more comfortable working with him, knowing that he had that kind of experience and knowing the difference between punching for real?

Linden Ashby:   It’s funny. I love Manu, but you know, he can – he was actually great to work with, but I think he can get – because he’s so strong, he can get a little heavy handed.

TNE:      Ahh okay.

Linden Ashby:   Which I don’t mind all that much, but there are times that you’re like- you know, Steven Segal was famous for people…

TNE:      You worked with him on a movie, didn’t you?

Linden Ashby:   No. I didn’t work with him. I was in a movie that he was in.  I don’t know the man at all [personally], but I know a lot of guys that he’s hurt.

TNE:      Got it.  Were there any accidental injuries on set? Like were you at least able to function after the movie?

Linden Ashby:   Oh yeah. Yeah. I don’t think anyone really got hurt badly.  I’ve seen stunts like the simplest stunts and people get hurt. You know, and then, I’ve seen stunts that should not have been happening and people get hurt. You know it’s – you don’t ever want to see that.

TNE:      What was your favorite scene to shoot?

Linden Ashby:   In this movie?

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TNE:      Yeah.

Linden Ashby:   The sword fight. It was much fun! I had a blast!

TNE:      How long did it take for you to learn the choreography?

Linden Ashby:   A few days.  Two or three days.

TNE:      Does it take like about a day to shoot that scene?

Linden Ashby:   Mm-hmm. It was a better part of a day. Yeah. I think it was a full day to do that fight scene. You know inside and out. Yeah.

We had all kinds of people hanging out of the windows at the building across from us. They’re like, what the hell is going on on that roof top?

TNE:      Now, it looks like you filmed in Seattle, or was there a set built?

Linden Ashby:   Yeah, we filmed in Seattle. It was great!

TNE:      Was that the first time you filmed like a project in Seattle?

Linden Ashby:   It was. I’ve been to Seattle before, but this is the first time I’ve filmed there, and it’s such a great city. There’s so much to do, and the people are so cool, and I really liked it. I can’t say enough nice things about it.

TNE:      What do you like about Andrew Kincaid, other than that he’s crazy?

Linden Ashby:   Well, I think that he – I think his deal is his heart is in the right place and time. I just think it’s way – you know the way he achieves his agenda is a little questionable.

TNE:      Riiight.

Linden Ashby:   But I would think that – yeah. I mean look, his intelligence, his ideals, those are all good things, and the fact that he just – you know he believed in something. Yeah. He was a little misguided in the way he carried it out, but you know, he was a visionary.

TNE:      With the way technology is moving forward, could there be – I feel like there is a potential for a similar situation to occur where a gamers are able to control a live person’s movements. I mean do you feel like this could be a – or become a real life situation?

Linden Ashby:   I think that – I don’t think it’s out of the question at all. I mean I don’t know that it’s – is it possible right now?

TNE:      No.

Linden Ashby:   But I think – I think it will be. I also think that gaming will be – you know what’s the right word? You know sort of a – oh come on. Help me out.

TNE:      Gateway?

Linden Ashby:   A what?

TNE:      A gateway?

Linden Ashby:   No. I think it’ll be – I think gaming will become virtual reality.

TNE:      Okay. Well, I mean they’re already doing VR stuff.

Linden Ashby:   Yeah, but I think it’ll be a full out of body – you know you become – you are the character. It won’t be any keypad, or you know game console. You will be in the game and that will be fun.

TNE:      That’s a little creepy, though, depending on the game.

Linden Ashby:   Yeah. Yeah.

TNE:      Have you played video games with your daughters, or just in general at all before the movie?

Linden Ashby:   You know I – we never allowed them to have Xbox, or anything, or PlayStation. I just thought that it wasn’t something that I really loved for kids. You know I saw what it did to them when they played. You get really edgy. You get really obsessive. Savannah, our youngest, is – well, she’s 24, but she really enjoys online gaming.  It’s cool, but I find that you can get incredibly isolated and you get drawn in, and it’s fun; It is, but no. We weren’t big gamers.

TNE:      What was the first video game you remember playing?

Linden Ashby:   Me?

TNE:      Yeah.

Linden Ashby:   Well, the first? Well, Kong, and then, loved – what was it? Missile Control? Missile whatever where like they’re shooting missiles and you have to block them.  Then, I wasn’t a big Pac Man fan. Space Invaders was pretty fun. You know you’re talking old school, and then, –

TNE:      Yeah. Yeah.

Linden Ashby:   What was it? Oh, we got totally like into Zelda, (laugh) and then, Dracula’s Castle with that whip, and then, there was something with a dolphin, and then, with the girls, Spyro the Dragon.

TNE:      Okay. (Impressed)

Linden Ashby:   And then, something with a bird. Like a bird character.

TNE:      Angry Birds?

Linden Ashby:   And it was – no. No. This was a long time ago.

TNE:      Oh okay.

Linden Ashby:   And they were like – like in a musical land, and horns, and everything

TNE:      Oh, Lord. Okay. Yeah. I played video games as a kid, but I wasn’t like super into it, but I did play Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat.

Linden Ashby:   Well, I’ve obviously played a little bit of that, but not as much as you would think.

TNE:      Awww. Wait, wait, wait, wait. Did you play –?

Linden Ashby:   I used to love that boxing game where you would be – you know, like that you were the virtual boxer.

TNE:      Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I remember that.

Linden Ashby:   What the heck was the name of that – and then, his little head would become a whirly bird, and he could take off, and – I can’t remember.

TNE:      My friends would probably know.

Linden Ashby:   Yeah. I played that with the girls a lot and we had a great time.

Stay tuned for part 2 of my conversation with Mr. Ashby.  In the meantime, can all my gamer geeks help us out with figuring out what game Ashby was referring to with the Birds?   Comment below or tweet at me @willcat12!

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