Take a quick glance through KFK’s archives and you’ll often run into the name Michael Jai White. He’s what you get when you put the agility of a panther into the body of a Greek god. Whether he’s the hero, the villain, or someone in-between, Michael is as powerful a presence in reality as he is onscreen.
That last grey area is the space he occupies in Christian Sesma’s recent cult hit, “Vigilante Diaries”, where he portrays the sinister Barrington, a Nick Fury-like mastermind who manipulates the world around him from behind-the-scenes. Today, Michael shares insights on the making of the film and the experience of appearing alongside fellow heavyweights as Jason Mewes, Michael Madsen, Sal ‘Chavo’ Guerrero, and Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson!
Hi there Michael, great to be speaking to you today! Had you heard of Kung Fu Kingdom before?
Hi Brad, yes, I’d absolutely heard of it! I was ecstatic about what KFK had to say about “Never Back Down: No Surrender“!
Awesome, we definitely really enjoyed it! Well, let’s start off with how you became involved with “Vigilante Diaries”.
Christian Sesma contacted me, and I already had a few friends who were involved with the film. I thought it was a cool idea, it kind of harkens back to a lot of action movies of the 90’s and Christian had a very Quinton Tarantino-esque take on it, so I had a really good time being involved with it. I really liked playing Barrington because it was a chance to play a character closer to who I am, somebody who had brawn and brains and who’s pulling the strings behind the scenes.
Yes, it definitely has a Tarantino-vibe to it! So, what was the most physically challenging thing about making the film?
Well, there weren’t too many physical challenges. I had a few fight scenes, but I didn’t do too much in the film in terms of martial arts. Barrington is a very top-shelf special ops kind of guy and everything about him is very calculated. He’s a character who’s always a few steps ahead of everybody.
For sure! So, what are some fun or memorable experiences from making the film that you can share with us?
It’s just going to work with a bunch of buddies that you’re just having fun all along with. We’re all big kids and you get to play on the idea of “boys will be boys” and that’s definitely what we did.
Indeed, with one of those boys happening to be Quinton “Rampage” Jackson! Had you met Rampage before “Vigilante Diaries”?
Oh, yeah Quinton and I have been friends and training partners for years. We train a lot when he has a fight coming up and we’ve done three movies together now. One that we having coming out later this year is “Cops and Robbers” where we play brothers.
Awesome! What was the experience like of making the film with some of the other well knowns like Michael Madsen, Jason Mewes, and Sal ‘Chavo’ Guerrero?
It was a lot of fun. I’ve known Michael Madsen for years and I actually trained him for a boxing movie he did a few years ago called “Strength”, but this was our first time acting in the same film. So it was just like a lot of friends making a movie together.
Cool! Moving off of that, given the ending of the film, is there any chance you’ll be back for “Vigilante Diaries 2”?
It’d definitely be a lot of fun to return. We’d love to make a bigger and better one for part two, because what we were able to do with the budget we had was nothing short of amazing!