Exclusive Interview: KEVIN SORBO
Kevin Sorbo is one of those people that, after talking with, you feel like you have known your whole life. In a career spanning almost 20 years, Sorbo first shot to fame for his work as the title character in HERCULES: THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS. Sorbo followed up that massive success with the role of Captain Dylan Hunt in Gene Roddenberry’s ANDROMEDA. Sorbo, who easily crosses over between TV and Movies (MEET THE SPARTANS), has two new fright films out: SOMETHING BENEATH (available on DVD now) and NEVER CRY WEREWOLF (Available on DVD September 16th).
Kevin was kind enough to talk with HOUSE OF HORRORS about these films, his work with kids and what it’s like to be known as Hercules.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us.
KEVIN SORBO: It’s my pleasure! Where are you located? Where do you live?
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: About two hours out of Seattle, just below British Columbia.
KEVIN SORBO: Really? It’s so pretty up through there. I shot “Andromeda” up there for five years, up there in British Columbia. That whole coast line with all the islands; it’s just really beautiful. For boating, sailing, it’s just a great place to be.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: It really is, I am so lucky to be here. I mean, tourists come here. When you live in an area where tourists come to visit, that’s a good thing. I’m from Minnesota, originally.
KEVIN SORBO: Really? Where?
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: I was born in St. Paul and raised in Apple Valley.
KEVIN SORBO: You’re kidding! You know, I’m from Minnesota.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Yes. Mound, Minnesota.
KEVIN SORBO: I grew up on Lake…Have you ever been on Lake Minnetonka?
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Yes, I have. Minnesota was a great place to grow up.
KEVIN SORBO: Isn’t that funny?
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: A lot of good people come out of Minnesota.
KEVIN SORBO: That is really cool. I remember this girl I dated from Apple Valley. Her name was Jill. It was kind of my first love.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Hey, that’s my mom’s name! (Implying he could be my father)
KEVIN SORBO: How old do you think I am anyway? (laughs)
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: (laughs)
KEVIN SORBO: Twenty year-old girls will stop me in the store and say, “Oh, we loved you in “Hercules!”, and then I realize they were five when the show went on the air.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: You have two thrillers coming out. SOMETHING BENEATH that came out the 9th and NEVER CRY WEREWOLF which comes out on DVD September 16th. Can you tell us a little about both?
KEVIN SORBO: Well, SOMETHING BENEATH is kind of a tribute to the 50’s sci-fi movies. You know, with the giant tarantulas? All that stuff. It has that feel to it. David Winning directed it. David is a good friend of mine. He directed quite a few episodes of “Andromeda” and we’ve always kept in touch, he emails me on a pretty regular basis. Actually, we are putting together this project right now and I hope this happens. A very cool project. I can’t talk about it right now, but if we get this thing going – It comes down to financing right now, everything is crazy with the financing. But he called me up and said, “Look, I’ve got this part and it’s a fun film.” He sent me the script and I liked it. We went up there and we shot it in Toronto and down in Hamilton. We shot all around the suburbs of Toronto. Winnipeg was just so cold. It was November and December and the script pretty much calls for a springtime setting and there was nothing springtime about it! Our lips were frozen. I guess it’s a politically correct piece in a way dealing with how we overbuild and overuse the earth. It’s sort of, in a way, the earth fighting back against humanity and the over expansion of us just trying to take over every nook and cranny of this beautiful planet. It deals with that and the creature is a tar creature, kind of like the Thing, it’s like the Blob. It works with your mind than anything else. If you touch it or come in contact with it in any way it manifests your greatest fear. If you fear spiders suddenly there are thousands of spiders crawling over your body. The victims usually die of fright and, you know, how do you deal with your greatest fears?
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Is NEVER CRY WEREWOLF in the vein of FRIGHT NIGHT in a way?
KEVIN SORBO: Yes.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: You’re almost playing the Roddy McDowall character. Like, you’re having to really confront these things in real life. Things you were only pretending to before.
KEVIN SORBO: Yeah, I play a character who has a television show that has been playing forever, a hunting show, sort of in the vein of Steve Irwin and everybody thinks he is a real hunter and he’s not, he’s an actor.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: That’s what I love about it. It’s someone saying, “I have no idea what I am really doing, I’m just acting like I do.”
KEVIN SORBO: I know. Nina Dobrev is the main character who comes up and I just happen to be in their town. I’m going from town to town signing autographs at hunting and sporting goods stores. The show is on at 3 am and nobody watches it anymore and they want to cancel me now and my career is over. My wife took everything in the divorce, I’m living out of my crappy van and Nina’s character tries to talk me into tracking a real werewolf and I’m like, “You’ve got to be friggin kidding me”. She [Nina’s character] says, “You can fight this thing! Remember that time you fought that polar bear?” and I’m saying, “Honey, I’m an actor.” That’s pretty much what my character is. You know he’s struggling with alcoholism and he’s got a lot of things going on in his life and he sees this teenage girl who is going to go risk her life and he kind of has a change of heart. He decides he needs to do something with his life so I come in and try to help save the day. Well, she really is the one who saves the day but my character definitely helps. He is there to help create just one more problem for the werewolf to have to deal with.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Brenton Spencer directed that. Wasn’t he also a cinematographer on “Andromeda”?
KEVIN SORBO: He was. He directed a couple of episodes as well. He is another guy who sent me a script not too long ago, actually it has been awhile. We’re going back and forth with sci-fi cable to make it a TV series. It’s a great idea, the script is phenomenal. We’re hoping to make it work but, once again, I can’t elaborate on it. It just gets out there but it’s not real yet. I’m hoping it does happen. I would love to get back up there and shoot because I really enjoyed Vancouver, we’ll see what happens.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: It’s like a game of telephone sometimes when things get out on the internet. It comes out as being this whole other project.
KEVIN SORBO: Yeah, it’s funny how much stuff is already out there about it. It’s like, how do they find out about it?
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: I know, that shocks me too!
KEVIN SORBO: I’ve got five projects I’m sort of juggling right now and the fan club gets a hold of these things somehow and I think, “How did you find out about that?”
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Back to David and Brenton. Does it help the film making process along when you have familiar faces on the set?
KEVIN SORBO: I think so. Yeah. I did an episode of “Psych” and half of my crew from “Andromeda” is now working on that series. It just makes it easy to walk on the set and see a bunch of familiar faces.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: The same goes for working with your wife Sam, I’m sure.
KEVIN SORBO: She gets popped in there once in awhile for things. She got to do the beginning of a western I did called “Avenging Angel”. I had always wanted to do a western and I got to do two last year. Now, I’ve got three more on my plate.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Oh yeah, “Avenging Angel” was on the Hallmark channel. That was really good.
KEVIN SORBO: Yes. It was their highest-rated movie in the history of Hallmark. I’m going to brag about that and now they want to do a sequel to it. I have always wanted to do a western and it was a lot of fun.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: I love westerns.
KEVIN SORBO: Yeah, me too.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Speaking of Sam, do you ever get out of doing stuff around the house by reminding her you’re Hercules?
KEVIN SORBO: (laughs) I think because of that fact I have to do a lot of stuff around the house.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Yeah. “Could you go pick that up, move that over there…”
KEVIN SORBO: “Yeah, could you go pick those things up over there. (groans) I am so sore right now, we have been moving boxes for three weeks now and I’m still moving boxes.” It’s just a mess!
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Are you a fan of the horror genre?
KEVIN SORBO: I like all movie genres, to be honest with you. I remember being a kid and watching old 50’s reruns and stuff, THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON. I’m not a big fan of the slasher stuff. You know, gore for the sake of gore. I like a good mind thriller, you know? Look at THE SIXTH SENSE, I love stuff like that. What was the one with Nicole Kidman?
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: THE OTHERS.
KEVIN SORBO: Yes. That was pretty cool.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: I like the ones with a little twist.
KEVIN SORBO: I like intelligent thrillers. Now, I like Eli Roth and I have respect for the man but he wanted me to be in the original HOSTEL. I was reading through the script and they needed me for like a week in Bulgaria and I said, “You know, I have a problem getting paid to torture a 13 year old black girl”. I was supposed to blow torch her face off and that kind of stuff is just sick to me. Actually, I find it sad that people like that stuff so much. It’s like watching the beheadings from the Middle East where they capture these people, they put that one on the Internet. I couldn’t watch it, I had friends that watched it. I can’t watch that.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Yeah, I can’t watch stuff like that either.
KEVIN SORBO: Yeah, and knowing it’s real. I like a smart horror film. I like THE BIRDS. I don’t know if it would classify for that genre.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Like PSYCHO, the classics.
KEVIN SORBO: Right, but to watch teenagers get sliced and diced? Nah.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: What made you turn to acting? How did you get your start?
KEVIN SORBO: I was always interested in it, always. Partly because of my mother. Nobody in my family has acting in their bones, I don’t come from any kind of lineage of that. I remember watching old movies with her. I always watched the Katherine Hepburn’s and the Spencer Tracy’s. As a kid growing up I just really liked it. Even then I knew, I looked at how it was filmed. If you look at the old movies, they use very few cutaways. They were filmed like more of a live theater back then. If you look at ROPE and if you watch what Alfred Hitchcock does with that. He just sets a camera down that looks over the top of the casket. And it stands there forever and people are coming in and out of the room. It’s unbelievable. It was like real theatrical acting put on tape back then. I kind of like that. When I directed “Hercules” I did one scene like that and they said, “We need close ups!” but I thought that was cool to have the actors kind of move in and out like that. Woody Allen does that, I like that kind of stuff. It’s a long range shot where the people are walking through the woods and you know they’re there, you watch them from 100 yards away but you can hear the conversation. It’s interesting, it sort of makes you watch it even more. But I was always interested. I knew since I was 11 that I was going to be an actor. I just knew it.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Are there people you haven’t worked with yet that you have always wanted to?
KEVIN SORBO: Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Probably two of the biggest reasons why I wanted to act. I watched all their movies. I love BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, one of my favorite movies of all-time, followed closely by JERIMIAH JOHNSON. If you’ve never seen it go rent it.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Actually, I have never seen that.
KEVIN SORBO: Go rent it. It is a great Robert Redford movie. It is beautifully shot. It’s where he fell in love with Sundance. That’s where he started Sundance. That’s where it all started. But that movie is phenomenal. Sydney Pollack, who was the director, is also someone I wanted to work with but he passed away, which just shocked me. I met Sydney once when “Hercules” was on the air and he knew me from that. He congratulated me on it and I said, “Sydney we are going to work together one day” and he said, “Yes we will!”.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: God I loved him in TOOTSIE! I just loved him in that!
KEVIN SORBO: Yeah, Dustin Hoffman wanted him to play the part of his agent and Sydney didn’t want to. Besides from being a phenomenal director he started as an actor and he had a very natural talent.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: That scene in the restaurant where he says, “Michael, I begged you to get some therapy”. That line was delivered perfectly.
KEVIN SORBO: (laughs) Yeah, when he saw him in drag for the first time.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: (laughs) He just looks at him like, “Oh, my God.”
KEVIN SORBO: Very funny.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: You’ve done your share of comedy and drama. Which do you prefer? Is it true what they say, “Death is easy, comedy is hard”?
KEVIN SORBO: You know, I’m naturally kind of a smart ass. Four boys in my family and we were all like David Letterman clones in a way. We were so sarcastic with each other. All of my friends are that way, too. I’m kind of drawn to people like that, people who are kind of jerks. But they do it in a loving way. I went golfing with three of my buddies last weekend and every hole we are just being assholes with each other. You know, play mind games with each other. It’s very stupid but there was money on the line. But, it’s, um, what was the question?
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: (laughs) Drama, comedy, which do you prefer?
KEVIN SORBO: You know what? I did a lot of guest spots during hiatus. Everything – “Two and a Half Men”, “Just Shoot Me”, “Will and Grace” and all that stuff. I love doing that stuff and what I love about it the most is the live audience. I love that every Friday it’s like a little play. When “Andromeda” finished in 2005 I did a pilot for the 2005 season for ABC called “Bobby Cannon”. Now, “Bobby Cannon” was phenomenal only because it had such an amazing cast and an amazing show writer in Berry Kemp, who was a very accomplished writer on “Taxi”, “Newhart”, and he was the creator of “Coach”. He was a really good writer and we did this pilot and – sorry, my little two year-old girl just came up to me…
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Awww
KEVIN SORBO: (talking to his daughter) You go ask mommy for that, ok? Say hello.
THE SWEETEST LITTLE GIRL VOICE EVER: Hi, Hi.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Hi there!
KEVIN SORBO: There, you got to talk to my two year-old.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Oh, cute. Awww….
KEVIN SORBO: Now my 3 year-old just came in the room.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Yeah it’s like, “Hey do you want to talk to my other kids!”
KEVIN SORBO: Yeah (laughs), You know if I am getting too monotonous for you…
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: (laughs) Nah.
KEVIN SORBO: We did Bobby Cannon and they shot 28 pilot episodes which they’re kind of not doing anymore because the form of television has changed so much. That was kind of average, 25-30 pilots, the studio would pick up each year. Then they would pick up seven or eight of those for the fall season. We tested it and we were number one in every market. Then they brought it to New York and the president of ABC, in his infinite wisdom, decides he doesn’t want to do the show. Years later I am still shocked. Right now we should be shooting season four of it. There is no doubt in my mind. The only show it would be competitive with, and I honestly believe this, is “Two and a Half Men”. It would be us two as the top two sitcoms. It was a very funny show about a 42 year-old quarterback from the Chicago Bears who thinks, should he retire or should he keep playing? He wants to keep playing. In the pilot episode they draft the next college stud and I think my days are numbered. Kate Walsh was in it as my potential love interest and she, of course, went on to “Grey’s Anatomy” and then to “Private Practice”. I’m shocked to this day that they never picked it up. It was a very, very funny pilot. But, there you go.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: That kind of stuff sticks with you.
KEVIN SORBO: Welcome to the business! This is the guy that said no years ago to Jerry Bruckheimer with “CSI”. He said “No, that will never go”.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Yeah, that show just didn’t sound like it would be any good.
KEVIN SORBO: (laughs) Yeah, so, you know what I’m saying? They had the good fortune to put “Desperate Housewives” on the air but he didn’t like that either.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: This guy’s got the magic touch!
KEVIN SORBO: (laughs)
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Come on Kevin, tell me how you really feel about this.
KEVIN SORBO: I’m really bitter about it.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Well, I would be too. It would be really hard to shake that.
KEVIN: (Talking to child) Daddy’s on the phone.. I’m the pied piper for my kids.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Does your oldest realize your on TV and in the movies?
KEVIN SORBO: They all do.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: What is their reaction? It’s probably the most normal thing in the world for them.
KEVIN SORBO: I think they think everybody is on TV
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Well, everybody is almost.
KEVIN SORBO: I know, especially with reality TV. The real kicker for them is that I played “Hercules”. They can say, “My dad played Hercules”.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: That will close down every playground argument.
KEVIN SORBO: (laughs) They want me to reenact every fight and I did like 500 fight scenes over the 100 plus episodes. Guys, sorry, I’m too tired to do all that.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Speaking of kids, you’ve got a really nice and much needed non profit organization called A WORLD FIT FOR KIDS. Can you tell the readers what that is all about?
KEVIN SORBO: They can definitely go on the website at http://www.worldfitforkids.org/
I have been spokesperson now for 12 years. We have a very good foundation run by Normandie Nigh, Normandie is great. Back in 1996 I was looking for a foundation that basically dealt with kids living in unhealthy environments. Inner city schools, most of them being raised by one parent or a grandparent. A vast majority of them don’t have a father figure, which is very sad. It’s a cycle we need to fight and try to end. That’s one of the things we deal with. We also deal with childhood obesity. We deal with education, keeping music programs alive, drama programs alive, art classes. Everything that is dealing with the artistic world that is being cut out of the school curriculum right now.
In L.A. County, where we started this at, we’ve got a 5 year plan to go nationwide. Going out to different counties and states that are interested in what we do. Just less than a year ago we received the Gold Medal Top Starlight award from Governor Schwarzenegger. We’re in a public school county and public schools are in horrible shape. That’s a whole political thing we could get into.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Yeah
KEVIN SORBO: It really annoys me. We should not be 57th in the world in public education, we should be number one. We’re the most powerful country in the world, the richest county in the world, and our public education is 57th in the world. That’s bad. LA County has a 54% drop out rate. We have a 100% graduation rate with kids involved in my program.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: That is great.
KEVIN SORBO: Yeah, that is pretty cool. I love it. It’s a mentoring program, basically choosing and living a healthier lifestyle. Making the right choices. Oh, hold on (Talking to child) Are you alright, did you fall down?
Well, we had a little accident already. Some are bad, you know? 90% of them are not. It’s more like, oh come on, quit crying. They must cry 20 times a day.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: (laughs) Yeah, walk it off, come on!
KEVIN SORBO: Come on, you’re not bleeding much. (laughs)
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Is this one of the bad ones? Should we wrap this up here?
KEVIN SORBO: No, we’re ok.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: What is something people don’t know about you that they would be surprised to find out?
KEVIN SORBO: I play guitar and piano. Not great but I am taking lessons and I love to cook. There, I gave you 3 things.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: More than I expected!
KEVIN SORBO: (chuckles)
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Are there any projects coming up that you can mention?
KEVIN SORBO: I worked with David Zucker (AIRPLANE). I did a movie coming out October 3rd with Kelsey Grammer and Jon Voight called AN AMERICAN CAROL. It’s very funny. Hollywood will get upset about it and it’s like come on you guys can we not laugh at both sides of the political fence? It takes on Michael Moore. Michael Moore is played by Kevin Farley, Chris Farley’s brother. The political ghosts from the past show him how fucked up his politics are. I’m sorry, it’s hilarious. Look, I can laugh at both sides. I have voted on both sides in my life. I’m actually one of these true independents in Hollywood which is like, “Oooh!”. If you don’t vote for the democrat then they’re going to crucify you and I’m just saying, “Why cant I vote for who I think is the best guy?”
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: If people are honest they are a little bit of both.
KEVIN SORBO: You know what? exactly. I grew up in a very democratic household, my parents are old democrats. I would sit there and say, “Ok dad, let’s talk about this and this and this”. We’d throw out about 10 issues and I’d say, “Six of your issues are really conservative issues dad”. Do you know? I mean I’m for helping people who need help but I’m also for less government, I don’t want more government…
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: …and helping people to help themselves, that is just as important.
KEVIN SORBO: Yes! We are such a self-entitlement country right now, it is pathetic, and the fact that we sell mediocrity. My 7-year old, they give out trophies for football and baseball and it’s like why is every kid getting a trophy? They were in 5th place. They’lll say, well we don’t want any kid to feel left out. I said, “Well, if they didn’t win……”
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: I actually agree with that.
KEVIN SORBO: I show my trophies to my kid and he asks how I got them and I say, “I won them”. That day on the golf course I was the best golfer that day, I worked hard to get that. On the baseball team we were the best baseball team all year, they have to learn that competition is a good thing, not a bad thing.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: It takes away from the winners too.
KEVIN SORBO: Exactly
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: I apologize in advance for this next question. For the fangirls, what did you wear under your “Hercules” costume? Boxers or briefs?
KEVIN SORBO: (laughs) Boxers! I always wear boxers but with those leather pants on…you gotta wear something that breathes a little bit.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: (laughs) That’s a great answer.
KEVIN SORBO: Heh
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Well, there really is no wrong answer.
KEVIN SORBO: Three layers of leather pants, it was 12 pounds kicking and running in those.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: No thank you.
KEVIN SORBO: Ha, you have to find some way to stop the chaffing.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR (laughs)
KEVIN SORBO: So, there you go.
THE FAN GIRL NEXT DOOR: Well, thank you! I really enjoyed talking with you. Thank you so much Kevin.
KEVIN SORBO: My pleasure, thanks much!
SOMETHING BENEATH is available on DVD now and can be purchased at AMAZON
NEVER CRY WEREWOLF will be available September 16th