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Hercules on Faith and Film: An Interview with Kevin Sorbo

WizardWorld held a media welcome event before their comic con in Raleigh, NC, where Kevin Sorbo took the time for an interview with Legendarium Media.
 

Kevin Sorbo hanging out with Legendarium Media reporter A.D. Poole and event guest Micah Doubledee at the Wizard World Raleigh press event.
Kevin Sorbo hanging out with Legendarium Media reporter A.D. Poole and event guest Micah Doubledee at the Wizard World Raleigh press event.
 

Legendarium: [We’ll] start out with a simple question—

Kevin Sorbo: It’s too much for me, man.

LM: How did you get started in acting?

KS: You know, I was eleven, actually. I used to watch a lot of old movies with my Mom. My Dad never really cared for them but I loved those old Cary Grant movies and Rock Hudson and whoever it may be, but I think I hit that age. . .I liked what they did, but it was really when I went to see a play, a Shakespeare play, “The Merchant of Venice,” and as an eleven-year-old kid I probably didn’t understand ninety-percent of what they were talking about, but I was mesmerized by the actors on stage. And I told my Mom that day driving home, I said, “Mom, [I’m going to] be an actor.” And I got one of those “That’s nice, dear” replies. . . Yeah, I kinda knew at a young age what I wanted to do, but I really didn’t start going after it until I got into college and I started minoring in it and drama.

LM: Was there a favorite movie that inspired you to think, “Yes! This is what I want to do with my life?”

KS: I would probably say it. . .[was] “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” I was a big Paul Newman fan, a Robert Redford fan, but I love Paul Newman and I started watching all his movies through the ’70s and all of his older movies I started getting into around junior and high school ages and stuff. . .I even got a letter from him which is in my office at home, it’s pretty cool. . . .

LM: Now, I noticed that you actually directed a couple of episodes of Hercules. How did you handle both the acting and the directing at once?

KS: You know, what made it easy, was I waited until the third season of Hercules before I started doing that, and my crew was with me for the seven years we were down there so I was very comfortable with my crew. Jonner, our DP, was so good at just really letting me do what I wanted to do. I mean not knowing all the technical stuff that he’s saying, but I would say “I want this, Johnny,” or “OK, we’re going to do this, this, and this, and I give you that.” So it wasn’t like I could go in and say, “I want the 32 lens and I want the light moved over.” That’s his job, anyway. I felt very comfortable doing it because I’m very good—I think I’m very good—at looking at scripts and breaking them down and looking at, in my mind, “where are we?” In books, whenever we read, we have a movie in our head. That’s why when so often, when you see a movie that you’ve read the book first you go, “Oh, the book was so much better!” Because I don’t care how big your special effects are, they still can’t match what we see in our brain when we’re reading. So, I think I’m good at looking at something and breaking it down and saying “this is what I want.” I’m directing a movie later this year and we’re starting to break down the script for that. It’s a wonderful technique but acting is still, to me, my biggest passion.

LM: Did you enter Hollywood as a Christian or did that come later?

KS: I’ve been a Christian my whole life. Now, I think I had my ups and downs but never had ups and downs with my belief. In my 20s I did a lot of stuff I’m not happy I did. But the belief was always there, the faith was always there.

LM: You have spoken before about the Hollywood backlash [at your beliefs], but I was curious if anyone working with you in the secular realm of the industry was open to learning more about your beliefs?

KS: It happens, mostly happens on the faith-based movies I shot, you know, from “Soul Surfer” and “God’s Not Dead,” and “What If. . .” and. . . “Abel’s Field”—I love it, it’s a modern day Cain and Abel. . .and I got a western coming up this year, a modern-day western called “Gallows Road.” We talked on those sets. I’ve been on the other sets but I don’t really turn preacher for anybody, but if the subject comes up I don’t back down from it, I mean, I’m a Christian, you know? It’s weird that you’re better off being a radical Muslim in Hollywood than being a Christian. I mean, it’s weird. I mean, it’s a strange statement coming from my mouth, but I look at it and go, “They defend that faith, and they defend what those guys are doing, even though they would kill any of them in a heartbeat!” It’s weird to me. I can’t put my mind around why we’re coddling a religion that deals with so much hate, so much anger, towards anybody else that’s not a Muslim. It’s weird. Are all Muslims bad? Of course not all Muslims are bad. But there’s quite a few of them out there. They estimate over three-hundred and fifty million of out them out there, over a billion plus that are radical Muslims. I don’t know where they get that number, but that’s kind of scary, to think. . .that have that we have that many people that are ready to kill us. It’s a strange place.

LM: Now, do you have any advice for any Christians aspiring to work in the film industry?

KS: [Laugh] Well, you know, why there would be a backlash for one thing, I don’t get it. There are people in Hollywood that would speak openly about it, that have whatever problems they have against people that are Christians or conservative, but there are many that wouldn’t but behind closed doors you could make a very interesting documentary, I think. . . .Unfortunately [acting] is like a drug, I love acting, I love being on the set, I love it, I’m very comfortable with being who I am as Kevin Sorbo, it’s fun to me to make-believe and make a living at this stupid industry that’s so childish in so many ways, but at the same time, you look at movies like “God’s Not Dead,” you look at “What If. . .” [and] there’s a lot of wonderful things that come out of movies like that because it can still deliver great messages through movie and television. Unfortunately, I think Hollywood takes a wrong turn, does a lot of agenda-pushing that I think is negative for the country and detrimental to the country, but they don’t seem to care. But you know, I’d like to tell anybody out there, stick to your beliefs but if you want to be an actor, be an actor. It’s a long, tough road, you’re going to get a lot of rejections—whether you’re a Christian or not, you’ll get a lot of rejections—and you just got to give it a good push and give it a good try. I tell people all the time I’m a 13-year-old overnight success, so, I gotta keep pluggin’ along.

LM: Was there a particular film or show that is your favorite that you worked on?

KS: I would say “What If. . .” [It] was the first faith-based movie I really did about five years ago. It was with Dallas Jenkins [who] is Jerry Jenkins’ son, he directed it. I just signed on to do the next two “Left Behind” movies, they did it with Nick Cage last year, I’m doing the next two this year. I’m very excited for that.

LM: As Rayford [Steel]?

KS: How many books are there, I mean, I dunno, didn’t they do, like, fifteen books? I don’t know what the set-up is, to be honest with, but I know I lead in the next two books, so if that’s who the character is, that’s who it is. They’re writing it now, so I know nothing at this point, I don’t know what they’re going to do, because, you know, they switch around books all the time and change things. But I’m looking forward to it, so, we’ll see what happens.

LM: Alright, last question: Why don’t you tell us more about the upcoming films that you have this coming year and the next year.

KS: I got a movie called “Caged” that I shot last year in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. That one deals with human trafficking. . . .We had Bobby Jindal, the Governor do a couple scenes in there, that’s one of his causes, so he came on as himself. Another movie called “The Secret Handshake,” shot in Nashville, it’s a family comedy written by Howie Klausner also directed by Howie. . .[Howie’s] biggest [movie] was probably “Space Cowboys” with Clint Eastwood and Tommy Lee Jones. . . .“The Gallows Road” is coming out, and then—I shot, like, six movies last year—I’m starting a western soon. I’m getting scruffy, we’ll start shooting in about two weeks. That’s called “Steel Renegades.” I’ve got a drama I’m shooting called “Car Pooling” with Dean Cain—we got Superman and Hercules together in one movie. He was in “God’s Not Dead” with me, but we didn’t do a scene together. And then I’ve got two “Left Behind” movies, and then then I’ve got one I’m going to be directing and there’s one in the Philippines I might be shooting, too. So, I’m staying busy. And I just sold a series, a faith-based series, to NBC. We’re writing the script, doesn’t mean we’re going to shoot, but we did sell it, it’s a good sign. You look at “Highway to Heaven,” “7th Heaven,” “Touched by an Angel,” which had eight-to-ten-year runs. Nothing on TV’s been like that for years, so it’s time we put on a faith-based television series.

About Andy Poole

Some say that the pen is mightier than the sword, but Andy Poole brandishes both. He lives in Raleigh, NC where he writes fantasy stories from a second-story room doubling as a library and Medieval armory. His writing style is inspired from influences as varied as Victorian Gothic literature and 80s thrillers like Miami Vice. When he’s not building new worlds or saving our own, he likes to interact with his followers through Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/andypoolethewriter and Twitter at @andypoolewriter. You can also reach him at by email at [email protected]