This year saw the release of the Resident Evil 4 video game remake, and Mike Kovac voices the role of the antagonist character Jack Krauser, and in 2022, he, as an on-screen actor, played Benny Hines in Series 3 of Kung Fu. During his years so far as a screen actor and stunt performer, Mike’s projects have included Batwoman, Virgin River, Deadly Class, The 100 and Supernatural, and early in his career, he guest-starred as Kaptain Krazee in a stand-alone episode of R. L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour. Over the summer, Mike worked with director Rob Grant on feature film This Too Shall Pass, with a release date not yet officially announced. Mike answered our questions about voicing the role of antagonist Jack Krauser in this year’s remake of Resident Evil 4, playing Benny Hines in Kung Fu and guest-starring in R. L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour as Kaptain Krazee.
You voice Jack Krauser in this year’s remake of the Resident Evil 4 video game, how much did you know about the Resident Evil franchise before booking the role and what was it like seeing the completed character in this game for the first time?
The Resident Evil franchise has legitimately been near and dear to my heart for as long as I can remember. Well before I was ever involved as Krauser, I had (and still have) an Umbrella Corporation decal on the back window of my car. Was I destined to become a bad guy? Perhaps. (Actually, I tend to play antagonists quite a lot. I don’t know what that says about me)
I’ve played every major RE installment since first encountering the series with favourites including the classic RE, RE2, and RE4 – both the originals and the remakes. Getting to be involved in this project was a perfect excuse to play the games again… even though I’d already replayed RE2 earlier on that year! I wanted to go in with as much working knowledge of the characters, especially Leon, as I could. Understanding the relationship between Leon and Krauser was so integral to our process.
Getting to see the completed character for the first time was very otherworldly for me personally. So many people had come together to make this thing a reality and I’m still having a hard time fully understanding that I got the privilege of being a part of it. I feel very lucky.
What was Krauser like to voice and how was it getting into character?
I had the extreme benefit of being able to do the full performance capture for Krauser, which included the movements displayed via MOCAP (motion capture) as well as the voice. Being able to embody the character while we were doing the scenes made a huge difference. It also meant that I got the chance to work with and off of the other phenomenal actors in the game, including Nick Apostolides, André Peña, Genevieve Buechner, Marcio Moreno, Jon Bryant, Christopher Jane, and Lily Gao. Plotting and acting out the scenes brought depth which wouldn’t have otherwise existed.
Krauser himself was a fun role to get into. I had auditioned for the role several times without knowing what the project was, only understanding that it required a lot of knife work, which I have a background in. I was allowed to audition with my practice knife in-hand! Each scene that we filmed was engaging, essential and, ultimately, very physical. Krauser has a lot going on under the surface and we all worked together to explore that and bring his trauma/troubles to the forefront of his actions and what he was doing. He’s a very damaged character trying desperately to be okay and in control. Hopefully that came through for people as they played the game.
How did you find the experience being part of a Resident Evil game and how different did you find this to your previous projects?
Working on the game and, in turn, working with CAPCOM was like nothing I’d ever experienced. The team was so focused while at the same time being open to collaboration and ideas. Before we ever hit the volume (the space where we perform the MOCAP), we were doing table reads and meetings. It was a far cry from the usual “Hey, we gotta get this done as fast as possible” attitude that so many shows and projects must deal with, and such a breath of fresh air for me.
When we finally did get into the playing space, there was never any rush. The CAPCOM team made it clear that the intention was to get this right for the project, whatever that ended up being. There were alternate lines, movements, and blocking put forward and filmed. There was room for questions and conversation. This might all sound basic to someone outside of the industry, but I assure you this is not par for the course! It was a dream to have the time and resources to put the story and player experience first. I can’t say enough good things about my time getting to be a part of all that.
What was it like playing Benny Hines in Series 3 of Kung Fu last year?
Haha! Benny Hines has been one of my favourite characters to play on one of my favourite sets! He’s a great combination of cowardly, underhanded, backstabbing, so how could you not have a blast portraying that kind of villain? I was thrilled when I got to return as Benny in another episode, as the entire cast and crew is made up of some of the sweetest people on the planet. In particular our lead, Olivia Lang, is a dream to work with. She has no problem getting her hands dirty when it comes to putting together the action, and the whole stunt team loves that. It makes it so that we can put together some really interesting choreography!
How was it working on the TV series Batwoman as both an actor and a stunt performer?
Oh wow, Batwoman was one of those shows where I kept on getting to come back and I kept on enjoying it more and more with each visit. On those sets I got to be a thug, a jerk dressed up in a werewolf costume on Halloween, an escaped inmate from Arkham Asylum, and a sort of human-vampire hybrid! Once again, the stunt team was incredible to work with, putting together innovative and unique sequences each and every episode. Things were never boring, and we got to really spread our wings when it came to on-camera fights and violence.
I would also be remiss to not bring up Javicia Leslie, who played Batwoman herself in Seasons 2 and 3. I first met her when we were rehearsing a scene under a bridge in the middle of the night during a rainstorm, and she was laughing and as cheerful as if we were filming in Stanley Park on a sunny afternoon. She was tireless and, again, an absolute gem to share the screen with.
Can you tell us about your time filming for episodes of Virgin River, Deadly Class, The 100 and Supernatural?
Each of those were different from one another but equally great projects to have been a part of. A quick sum-up of each:
Virgin River – One of the few shows where I haven’t been a bad guy! Also, the show with the youngest actor I’ve ever worked with, Matheus, who was playing my son and was all of eight months old at the time.
Deadly Class – What a festival of stunts and over-the-top characters! I spent my time in the show as a backwoods yokel, and it features a scene where I got to impale two living bodies with a chainsaw, one of them being my own.
The 100 – I’m pretty sure I got this role because they needed someone to get shot in the head and then fall without the use of pads behind them. Regardless, it was great fun and my first time being able to work with the wonderful stunt coordinator, Marshall Virtue!
Supernatural – Ah yes, a classic. Supernatural provided years of entertainment (and employment) for people in the Vancouver area where I live. Jared (Padalecki) and Jensen (Ackles) are both absolute gentlemen, and I count myself lucky to have been part of the legacy.
Towards the beginning of your screen career, you guest-starred in R. L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour as Kaptain Krazee, what was the character like to play and what did you enjoy most about being involved with the series?
Kaptain Krazee on R. L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour was my first union gig in fact, and my gateway into the world of television acting! In truth, I had shown up to audition for another character, but the makeup I had on, which was applied by a professional makeup artist friend of mine, turned enough heads that they ended up wanting me to read for Krazee. (A big thank you to Laura Moxon for that!)
That character itself was a maniacal clown with broad vocals and even broader mannerisms. I was initially worried it was going to be too much, but our director Peter DeLuise assured me it was in-tone with the story. That man was definitely one of my favourite parts of being in the series. He has endless energy, insight, and care when it comes to being a leader.
Where does your love of screen acting, voiceover and stunt work come from and how did you get into each?
Ooph, this is a big question to answer. I think the simplest thing to say is that I’ve been involved in entertainment ever since I was able to retain memories. I always wanted to tell stories and be a part of that, so I started acting as a kid and it just sort of went from there.
The stunt work was a product of playing sports, doing martial arts, and then training in professional wrestling. Those skills turned out to be a useful combination when put together with acting training through Capilano University.
The voice work came the most recently, which spawned out of walla work (which is kind of like background work for voice performers). I think I got a reputation for more intense vocals, particularly for extreme efforts and yells.
Do you have a favourite aspect of your career and what are some of your favourite highlights so far?
One of the elements I enjoy the most about my career is that it’s so varied day-to-day. Between acting, stunts, voice work, and general filmmaking, I get the opportunity to go to many places and meet/work with different people. I truly love the variety and I don’t want that to stop anytime soon.
Some of my favourite highlights include:
- Getting beat up by Genevieve O’Reilly’s character on the set of Tin Star (series), which was filmed in the middle of a national park just outside of Banff, Alberta.
- My one character in Yesterday (feature) shooting and killing another character I portrayed in the same scene. We had to do this because one of our other stunt performers had a conflict that day and couldn’t show up.
- Being thrown into a car by a merman on the set of Siren (series).
- Having the opportunity to work with Adam Copeland, whom I watched wrestling growing up, on the set of Interrogation (feature). We would end that day with him shooting me with a pistol. Ha!
What advice would you give someone starting out in the acting or stunt industry?
It’s great!… so long as you love it for the right reasons. The glitz and glam is there, but so are days that last 16 hours on a “Fraturday” (A filming day that starts late night on a Friday and goes into Saturday morning). You kind of have to love that element of the business too, or else it will grind you down. Embrace the wildness!
What are some of your favourite films and TV shows to watch?
On the series end of things, I’m a big fan of Deadwood, The Wire, The Sopranos (pretty much most things HBO), Peaky Blinders, The Haunting of Hill House, Midnight Mass (I love Mike Flanagan), WWE and AEW programming.
As for films, I’m always down for Night of the Living Dead (both 1968 and 1990 versions), Wayne’s World (1992), It Follows (2014), The Ritual (2017), Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), The Exorcist (1973), and Waiting for Guffman (1996). My favourite movie is still The Shawshank Redemption (1994).
Can you tell us about your involvement with wrestling?
Yes! I started training in professional wrestling in Calgary when I was still in high school. I kept that up and am still involved with a few organisations in my area. I credit pro wrestling with giving me the foundations of falling safely that so much of my work turned out using!
How do you like to spend your free time?
Away from the industry, I delight in downtime! Far away from the falls, fights and long hours, I enjoy reading, playing video games, being on the couch with my wife (who’s also in the industry) and playing with our dog. On screen, our lives are very exciting! Off screen, it’s just as exciting… but I seem to get shot less. I’d like to keep it that way.
Do you have any upcoming projects that you can share and what are you hoping the rest of the year brings for you?
An upcoming project I’m really looking forward to is This Too Shall Pass (feature), which I filmed with director Rob Grant this past summer. Rob and I have a long history of working together, and this movie is bound to be one of my favourites to watch. It certainly was one of my favourites to work on.
The story follows Simon, a 16-year-old suffocated by his strict Mormon upbringing, who rebels and crosses the border with friends for a weekend in Canada, where they individually discover more about themselves. It’s in the vein of a wonderful coming-of-age comedy.
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