A native of Mound, Minnesota, Kevin Sorbo stars as Dylan Hunt in the science-fiction/action hour sensation, “Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda,” based upon an idea from the late "Star Trek" creator's archives. Since its debut in 2000, “Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda” has been the number one action hour in first run syndication and is entering into its third season. Kevin has also been named the third most bankable star in syndication, behind Regis Philbin and Oprah Winfrey. Recently, Kevin was cast as the lead in the independent feature “Clipping Adam” for first-time director Michael Picchiottino. Kevin will play Father Dan, a freethinking priest who helps a young boy cope with the death of his mother and sister. Kevin quickly rose to international stardom in the title role of the hit series, “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.” Beginning as five two-hour telefilms in 1993, the popularity of the made-for television movies resulted in the January 1995 launch of the weekly one-hour series, which became a breakout hit. Quickly becoming the number one first-run program in syndication, the innovative action hour revitalized the entire action/adventure genre on television and prompted two spin-off series. Kevin also directed two episodes of the show, and co-wrote one installment.
In 1997, Kevin made his feature film debut with "Kull the Conqueror,” a prequel to “Conan the Barbarian.” Kevin has also appeared on several hit television shows such as “Dharma & Greg,” “Just Shoot Me,” “Cybill,” “The Commish,” and “Murder, She Wrote.” In addition to acting, Kevin is the spokesperson for “A World Fit for Kids,” a non-profit organization that provides gang, drug and dropout prevention programming to kids at risk. In his role, Kevin raises awareness of the importance of mentoring and acting as a positive role model to the youth of our country.
Currently, Sorbo and his wife Sam (who as Sandra Jenkins played the dual role of Serena/The Golden Hind on Hercules) design "The Sorbo Collection" for Boyd Furniture. The first two items, "Camargue" and "The Hamptons," are solid-wood pieces with warm earthy tones and old-world designs, for the living room, dining room and bedroom. The Sorbos enjoy the opportunity to be creative together.
A native of Mound, Minnesota, Sorbo enjoys golfing and snow skiing in his spare time. When not filming his series in Vancouver, British Columbia, Sorbo and his wife reside in Nevada with their son Braeden.
Kevin Sorbo: From Hercules to Andromeda
Kevin Sorbo is the star of the current WB series, "Andromeda," but most people still know him better for his role in the former hit show "Hercules." Sorbo played the good-natured Greek god for more than four years. Now, 20 pounds lighter minus the stringent workout regiment, he talks about the Hercules phenomena, the new show, and what may lie ahead.
DM) To what do you attribute the popularity of "Hercules."
KS) The humor of the show; we don't take ourselves seriously. We knew that after we finished the very first movie. We did five two-hour movies before the series. Anyway, at the ending of the first movie, we realized that if we took it too seriously people will laugh at us instead of laughing with us. I think that was the main part people enjoyed – the tongue-in-cheek. Plus, there was always good moral messages in there. I got messages from churches and school – it was just amazing. I still get letters from people who never saw the first seven seasons and fell in love with it in reruns.
DM) Is there a fine line between being humorous and not taking yourself too seriously? Some critics panned the show almost as if they didn't get it that you weren't taking yourself seriously.
KS) I love that about critics because the show went on to be the most watched television show in the world so it shows you what critics know. Critics do what they do because they can't do what they really want to do which is be an actor. I don't know if there is a fine line. People have pre-set ideas of what they want the show to be and if it didn't become that, they're just going to rip you apart. This is what the producers wanted. That's why the cast me. If they wanted to make it a real mythological Hercules show, they wouldn't have put California dialogue in there. I wouldn't have been built like an NFL quarterback. I would have been built like a linebacker or a left tackle with steroids, 300 lbs instead of 230. That's not what they wanted. They wanted to bring a different sensibility to the show that was never done before. I don't care what they say.
DM) Do you get reaction from fans now that the show is over?
KS) Yeah. It's four and a half years over. Sometimes I just look at it and I'm blown away whenever we get together for one of these DVD commentaries. I see each of the shows only once. I see the rough cuts and the final cut, but we're talking about season three, which is 1996. It's weird for me to look back on it. Eight years is a long time. You forget things and start to laugh when you remember them.
DM) Do you see anything differently in hindsight.
KS) I did once. Even when it was fresh in my mind, when we just finished a show and we saw the final cut four months later. I look at them and I don't necessarily see me doing the role. Even if I wasn't the guy playing Hercules I would have been a fan of the show. I just liked it. With fans coming in that still love the show, I still get letters. I get people who come up to me and say, "I like Andromeda, what you're doing now, but I really miss Hercules." I think that's the biggest thing I get from people, more than anything. For me, it was a lot of fun to do, so when I look back on these episodes and see what was in there, I am impressed by how well the show looked. The production value was great. It will be timeless because it was a time-period piece. It's not something like a 70s show. It will always look like a fun show.
DM) Does your Hercules experience almost overwhelm your work on Andromeda?
KS) Oh yeah. I still get people who say, "What are you doing now man? You're not as big as I thought you'd be." That always cracks me up. I feel like saying, "I'm really not Hercules. When I played the character four and a half years ago, I was bigger. I'm an actor, I don't have to weigh 230 lbs and lift weights two hours a day." Most of that is from guys. Let's face it – we're men and by nature that makes us insecure. I get that from guys all the time. I say, "I'm only 6'3" and I weight only 210 so I guess I'm a little guy." I would say that 60% of the people who come to me now are hard-core Herc fans. They know Andromeda but that's not the show that they want to watch. That comes from the studios as well. Universal and USA that owned Hercules did a great job of marketing and getting the show out there. Tribune is happy that the show makes a little profit and they're happy. We've still picked up for a fifth year so the show is doing well, though.
DM) Does Andromeda still get the same hard-core fans?
KS) You get some, but it's a different fan. With Hercules, it's interesting; people look at you like you're their buddy and pal. I didn't play him like a jerk. He was a fun guy, he made mistakes and he'd make fun of himself. He had a good relationship with his buddies. Andromeda had a different type of fan base. They take things a little more seriously. Andromeda fans get pissed off if things don't go the way they want it to go.
DM) Which character is more you?
KS) Definitely Hercules! He's a lot braver than I would ever be. I think as far as the self depreciating humor, that was more me.
DM) You've done guest spots on "Dharma and Greg," "Just Shoot Me" and others. Do they look at you as "The Hercules guy," or are you Kevin Sorbo?
KS) I think at first I'm the Hercules guy. I just did an episode of "Hope and Faith." I think people, even the studio people, look and say, "Wow, he can do that," especially in a business that if you're an actor, you're an actor. But even in Hollywood you have to keep proving yourself the more successful you are.
DM) It sounds like you have to prove you're an actor as opposed to that buffed-up guy who worked out and played on "Hercules."
KS) I'm sure. I'm sure. You can't change peoples' perceptions of you. Am I worried about being typecast? I'm playing another role right now that's quite different from Hercules and it's doing really well. Even though it's not the hit that Hercules was in America, overseas Andromeda is kicking ass. It's in over a 150 countries and it's doing fine. I might be typecast as an action guy, but I don't think people still look at me as just Hercules. That's not a horrible thing, either. There are actors who never get to work ever. I'm working. Is it something I'm going to have prove later down the road. Yeah, I will. One more year on andromeda I'm going to have to start pounding the pavement again to prove that I can do other things. I have enough believe in my ability as an actor. I think I'm very good at what I do. Do I think that I have room for improvement? Yeah, we all have room for improvement no matter what job we're in. I know I get better every year as an actor. I get more confident as an actor. Just like anybody in the profession should feel the same way I think you need to have the confidence to do well in no matter what they're in. Otherwise you should find something different to do. I love what I do and so far I'm lucky enough to make a living at it.
Kevin Sorbo's "Andromeda" 100th episode
It might come as a surprise to some that the No. 1 action hour on television in 92 countries around the world is a first-run syndication show set in outer space, but that's just one of the many unusual aspects of Sci Fi Channel's "Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda," according to head writer and executive producer Robert Engels, who reports "huge audiences" in South America, among other locales.
The Tribune Entertainment production, which flies its 100th mission on Friday, was propelled to global success on the strength of a character-driven and good-versus-evil-in-the-universe plotline.
Now, as the crew prepares to go dark after episode 110 and five years of production, the show presents an interesting case study in how to get a lot of visual wallop on a weekly budget -- the Holy Grail for producers of hourlong fantasy shows. In addition, the series has achieved venerated "franchise" status, spawning a slew of spinoff merchandise.
Of course, it doesn't hurt a sci-fi show to have Roddenberry's name attached. The late author's futuristic vision has, since his death in 1991, been nurtured by his widow and current executive producer, Majel Roddenberry. But that plus also equates to a huge challenge in terms of getting that vision on the screen with the quality Roddenberry's fans have come to expect.
Creating a futuristic world requires innovative and believable visual effects and makeup, and "Andromeda" has averaged a significant $1 million on special effects per season over the course of its run. After four campaigns, most of the effects post work was moved in-house under the guidance of visual-effects supervisor Bruce Turner, as a cost-saving measure.
An average episode has about 60-100 visual-effects shots, Turner reveals, with some episodes (including the 100th) exceeding that -- comparable to a visual-effects shot count for certain feature films. "Even for TV, the shot counts are pretty high," he says.
Of course, the biggest sci-fi trick is that "Andromeda's" crew is able to pull this off with an in-house unit comprised of a mere 12 artists relying on off-the-shelf software with an eight-day turnaround. Turner's staff has eight noncontiguous days scheduled for each episode and is usually working on three episodes at any given time. Those eight days are stretched out over a three-week period to finish effects. "The most challenging thing is to make the show look as cool as we want given the time deadline," Turner admits. "Every eight days a new pile of work lands in our lap, and every eight days we have to deliver a pile of work back to post -- but we can juggle stuff a little if we need to."
The entirely PC-based visual-effects unit uses NewTek's Lightwave as its main 3-D tool, as well as for lighting and rendering (via a 50-processor render farm). Other software includes 3-D package Studio Max, compositing with Combustion and After Effects and 3-D motion tracking with RealViz MatchMover, which enables the show to use moving cameras during visual-effects shots. In addition to the in-house unit, some shots -- mainly ones to put graphics on computer monitors and give the fiery sizzle to weapons -- are subcontracted out to Vancouver visual-effects shops including Spin, Northwest Imaging and Shaman Digital. (For Season 4, the show also used Atmosphere Visual Effects.)
With this integrated visual-effects team in place, "Andromeda" is able to feature some extraordinary sophisticated effects. For example, in one episode this season, the eponymous spaceship flies into a mechanical sun that has been switched off, so that the crew can service it. "The sequence I'm pretty excited about (includes) shots of the Andromeda flying around inside the sun," Turner says. "The sun is a big crystalline-carbon structure, and the model is like a big cathedral." The model even boasts "volumetric lighting," a sophisticated method for simulating a light glow (as with a streetlamp or flashlight). "It looks really pretty," Turner opines.
Adds star Kevin Sorbo, "The visual effects are a star in their own right." Sorbo, who plays the lead role of Capt. Dylan Hunt, also is one of the show's executive producers, along with Josanne Lovick, Jay Firestone and Adam Haight. "To me, visual effects are what help make or break the show."
Behind all those effects, however, is the idea generated by Roddenberry and explored by Majel Roddenberry (who also happens to be the only actor to appear in all four "Star Trek" series, if only as a computer voice in some). Tribune Entertainment president and CEO Dick Askin says that a successful collaboration between his company and Majel Roddenberry on the syndicated 1997 series "Earth: Final Conflict" led him to ask her to search her husband's archives for a new idea.
"We wanted to do more of a sci-fi adventure, and I asked her to see what type of material was available," Askin recalls. Two ideas came to light, one of which was originally labeled the "Andromeda Ascendant" project. That went into development in the late-1990s with Robert Hewitt Wolfe, who became the show's first head writer.
Meanwhile, Askin had his eye on Sorbo, who was winding down from his ongoing role on the syndicated "Hercules." "We felt strongly that Kevin was one of the most bankable stars in syndication," Askin says. "He'd been so successful -- we felt immediately that Kevin was really the ideal Dylan Hunt character, the captain of the Andromeda, and this would give him a chance to show a more expanded range of talent." Tribune's belief in the combination of Sorbo, a Roddenberry idea and the creative force of Wolfe prompted an order for 44 episodes at the outset. "We were willing to step up and put the money on the table, to give the project the best possible chance to succeed," Askin explains. "We were all very comfortable with that order."
"Star Trek" fan Sorbo was sold, and the show ultimately was produced by co-partners Tribune and Toronto-based Fireworks Entertainment. But Trekkies expecting warp speed and phasers soon found that "Andromeda" was a different creature. Roddenberry's show bible provided dramatic distinction between "Andromeda" and his iconic "Star Trek" franchise, which first aired on NBC in 1966. "We're over 3,000 years in the future, so that makes us much farther in the future than 'Star Trek,'" Engels says. "We could create technology and mythology not connected to 'Star Trek.'"
Nevertheless, "Andromeda" has shared some "Star Trek" themes -- the emphasis on character relationships and plotlines with a universal theme -- and extended that similarity into the way it approaches portraying futuristic science, relying on David Gallagher of Pasadena-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory for science accuracy.
Elsewhere, the look of the show comes from cinematographer Gordon Verheul, who provides a consistent tone and visual sense. "How we lit, how fast we could go is dependent on the DP," says Engels, who reports the series is shot with 35mm Panavision cameras and Fuji film, entirely in Vancouver. Composer Matthew McCauley's music for the show has been so successful that his requiem is now being performed in concert by the San Francisco Opera.
From Tribune's point of view, "Andromeda" has been a huge success. "It's been a phenomenon in syndication," Askin says. "(It) is right up there with 'Star Trek' and 'Stargate (SG-1)' as the three strongest sci-fi shows that have ever been brought into syndication. It has been a terrific journey for all of us."
Still, that journey is nearing its end as the fifth season closes out. "It had always been planned from the beginning as five years, 110 episodes and out," Askin says. "Unless you have an unusual situation like a world-class sitcom, once you get into your fourth or fifth year, a show starts to lose its luster. We were determined to do our best to avoid that." He adds that the marketplace for sci-fi also is changing, as sci-fi stories set in space are being preempted by more grounded Earth-based sci-fi storytelling.
But the show will continue its journey in the afterlife of syndication at Sci Fi Channel, which made a deal this month with Tribune for the cable network rights to the series.
And with 4.7 million hits on the show's official Web site (www.andromedatv.com) -- a figure that doubled as Season 5 began airing -- a lot of fans will no doubt want to relive their space adventures again and again.
That fan loyalty, Sorbo says, comes from the essence of the show itself. Special effects might draw in viewers -- but they stay for the familiarity of a Roddenberry-germinated story. "We deal with issues that make sense today," he says. "What sets 'Andromeda' apart from other sci-fi shows is that it has a lot more heart and personality."
Kevin Sorbo helps kids
Kevin is the spokesperson and chair for A World Fit for Kids!, a successful mentoring program that trains teens to become heroes to the kids in their own neighborhoods by using the vehicles of school, fitness, sports, and positive role models. The program is unique because of the powerful format of 'kids teaching kids' - it provides teens with responsibility and self-esteem and younger children with mentors and positive role models, saving two lives in the process.
Kevin Sorbo is kicking off a new public service ad campaign to help prevent food allergies in at-risk infants. Kevin, holding his son Braeden, is featured in the ad being launched by the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), to educate expectant and nursing mothers. Look for the ad to appear in Prevention magazine, and also soon in Parenting magazine. Kevin has also agreed to be a celebrity spokesperson for the campaign.
Kevin Sorbo writes poem
Kevin wrote the following poem for the cast and crew of Andromeda, and asked that it be shared with the fans:
THE LAST SLIPSTREAM
“It's Never Easy" for goodbyes,
When years of "Have you seen my force lance?"
Brings laughs and rolls of eyes
So "Let's bring it" to a classy end,
Until "It's showtime" and we meet again.
With thanks for the 110 impossible missions.
It's been a blast!
Kevin Sorbo stars as Captain Dylan Hunt in the science-fiction/action hour series, "Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda," that is based upon ideas from the late Star Trek creator's archives, and developed for television by Robert Hewitt Wolfe. Andromeda debuted in the fall of 2000 as the number one action hour in first run syndication and is in it's third season.
Kevin Sorbo's hit series ''Andromeda'' enters its third season
Kevin Sorbo, star and executive producer of the hit syndicated SF series Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda, said that the show is undergoing several big changes as it enters its third season in North America, with an order for at least one more after that. First, Robert Engels (Twin Peaks) joins the production as head writer, and will bring a lighter touch to the series. Second, Sorbo's character, Capt. Dylan Hunt, will loosen up a little himself.
Big changes have also taken place for Sorbo behind the scenes. Sorbo, 44, and his wife, Sam, 36, recently celebrated the first birthday of their first child, a son named Braeden Cooper. Sorbo is learning how to balance family with Andromeda's grueling schedule.
Sorbo took a moment to speak with Science Fiction Weekly about Andromeda during a break in filming at the show's Vancouver, B.C., studio. Sorbo also talked candidly about the departure of Robert Hewitt Wolfe, who created Andromeda based on notes from late Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.
Q: You're now balancing fatherhood with work?
Sorbo: [Braeden]'s the only thing that's important now.
Q: Having a child kind of changes your perspective on things, doesn't it?
Sorbo: Yeah, it does. No question. It's cool. I love it. Absolutely love it.
Q: Where are you at in the production process on Andromeda?
Sorbo: Episode 17 already. We're flying. I think only two or three have aired in the States so far [the season began Sept. 30]. ... We start [production] much earlier in our TV [season than big network shows]. We start shooting in April, when most people are just finishing up their previous year. And it's good for a number of reasons. Number one, you get out of here before the real rainy months. But we don't go outside that much anyway. But still, I kind of like the fact that I get mid-December through mid-April down in L.A. or wherever else I'm going to be.
Q: What do you do on your hiatus?
Sorbo: Those four months I'm sort of bopping around. Hopefully, other projects will come up. That's one reason I love the show so much, because I get such a bigger break. Never got that on Hercules [The Legendary Journeys], you know? Just a couple months a year.
Q: And you're not so far away?
Sorbo: Yeah, New Zealand wasn't exactly a hop, skip and a jump, that's for sure.
Q: How many episodes are you shooting this year?
Sorbo: Twenty-two a year.
Q: And you've already been renewed for season four?
Sorbo: Four is already picked up, so we're definitely coming back next year, and unless we totally explode or implode, we will get season five. I feel pretty confident. I think we've got a good fan base now, and Tribune [Entertainment, which produces the show,] seems to be pretty solid behind the show and where they want it to go
Q: There are some changes this year. You have a new head writer?
Sorbo: Bob Engels.
Q: What does he bring?
Sorbo: I think it's just different in the fact that there's more of the humorous beat to it. There's more of a quirky beat to it. We're not going to go so overboard of what he did with Twin Peaks, but there's still just more strange twists and turns. But I think we're making it just more accessible for everybody. I think we're making it easier to follow. We were getting off the track, and the show was getting too dark and too hard to follow. And I think season three just brings a lot of shows that just have a beginning, middle and end. Pretty much like the original Star Trek was. If you weren't watching every week, you could, boom, pop on and still see what's going on and have fun.
Q: Even season two had too much backstory?
Sorbo: Robert Hewitt Wolfe was replaced midway through season two. ... He just had a different vision of ... what everybody thought the show was going to be. So when one guy wants his vision, and the other producers and the studios and the financial backers are all saying, "Well, this is not what we want [and] thought the show was going to be," unfortunately for him—because Robert's a very talented guy—he loses that battle. But he wasn't willing to change, so all the power to him if he doesn't want to be that way.
Q: What did he want?
Sorbo: It was just ... very dark. ... We want to stay true to Gene Roddenberry's vision, which had the show being, "Let's have some hope. Let's have some happy endings." Every ending was kind of a downer. We've won the battle, but oh my God, we really didn't, because now look what we've got. It was just kind of dark and sad, and I think that was putting a shroud over everybody in the cast and crew. I mean, it was just, "My God, can we have some levity, you know?"
We just finished an episode that Peter DeLuise directed, first-time director. Peter's out of  Jump Street and all that. Great director, had a blast. I'm saying this without seeing even just the first cut of it. I think it's by far and away our most entertaining and funniest show that we've ever had, and I want more shows like that. I'd like about one-third of the shows to be like that and a third to be sort of middle-of-the-road and then another third to be the darker and heavy, more dramatic ones.
The one we're doing now ["Twilight of the Idols"] is a more dramatic one. We have Michael Ironside in, playing a really good foil. Oh, he's great. We had a great day yesterday. This is a very talky episode. I think I have more dialogue in this episode than I did in three combined. Michael says more than I say in a season. They just gave him chunks of pages. ... He plays a guy that he's good, but he's evil, but it's "Who knows?" We definitely left it out there that he can come back, which I hope happens.
Q: What other surprises can we expect this year?
Sorbo: Like the last episode we shot ... we end up in a system that we didn't want to go into. It's basically a garbage system. It's a very poor, bad side of the tracks. The people that run the system are half cracked-out anyway. It's literally the garbage dump of the universe. They have toxic waste floating in space. ... And because of that, and because of the high radioactivity and everything else, we can't even find a way out of it. And they have to navigate the old way, basically by stars and knowing where you are.
Well, we don't know where the hell we are. So we have to actually employ these lunatics to get us out of this system. And in the process, we come upon a princess within their royal court area that's really not a princess. She's a con. We find out she's a con, but she's got these monks. ... And then the guy at the royal court thinks she's a princess, and she's conned everybody, but she's also stolen all their money. And I'm stuck in the middle of it, and they're just going to kill her on sight, with an android who's a judge who's only operating at about 70 percent anyway.
It's just funny. And Peter made it just hilarious and a howl. Everybody reacts to each other, and in the middle of this all, I'm obviously very attracted to the princess. I kind of like the bad-girl image she's got, because she's also very hot. And it was just a fun episode, and Peter brought in a lot of humor to it, which I like, because we always did that in Hercules. ... Hercules in space is what that episode is. It was fun.
Q: So Dylan's going to be a little more Han Solo this year?
Yeah, I think so, and I think that's where the episodes are starting to go. ... This season you'll see us running into more and more problems with the Commonwealth that Dylan formed, because it's not the Commonwealth that he wanted. It shows you right away all the political crap that goes on. It doesn't matter what country or world or wherever you're from. Politics are always going to be there, and [with] politics comes people's own personal interests. They sort of get in the way of what I thought the Commonwealth was going to be. There's all kinds of corruption.
So he becomes disillusioned, and pretty much before the season's over, I think people will see Dylan say, "You know what? Screw the Commonwealth. You know what? Let's just go out and do good for people. I don't have time." He's going to become a little bit more impatient. Sarcastic, but in a fun [way]. ... He's going to be, like you said, more of a renegade. He's going to be more of a guy [who's] just going to say, "You know what? I got nothing to lose anymore. I've lost everything. Let's just go out and have some fun."
Q: Isn't that where you wanted it to go all along?
Sorbo: Oh yeah. I think just [that] this guy has lost everything. Why should he be so conservative? ... People like action shows like this and adventure shows like this. You know, we all want to be that hero. That guy that just says, "What the hell? I could die, but at least I'm doing something good for something." That's what I call being a hero. You put yourself in harm's way for the good of somebody else.
Q: Is the show becoming more Hercules and less Star Trek?
Sorbo: Well, for lack of better reference, yeah. I mean, you know, because that's where I came from. ... And I don't want people that didn't like Hercules to be turned off by that. It's still a science-fiction show. It's still a show about the future. It's just that we've brought [a] lighter tone to it, and I think we've made it ... a funner show. It's more of a "Butch and Sundance" type of feel to it now than it was about just being dark and depressing. Because there's enough dark and depressing crap out there every day right now, and I think people want to have an escape. And hopefully we're one of those shows that can give people an hour of just having a fun fantasy.
Q: Can you talk about balancing the dual role of star and executive producer?
Sorbo: I think I've gotten better at what I believe my role as executive producer is. There are other executive producers, but we all sort of look at things in our own ways. ... We all get a little piece of the pie, so to speak, and our say in the show. And sometimes it becomes overwhelming. ... [Production companies] Fireworks [Entertainment] and Tribune will say, "We got to get this done, blah blah blah." But I enjoy it. ... I did on Hercules, too. I mean, I never got any final say in terms of editing, but now I get to look at the cuts. I get to say, "Look, why is this shot gone?" Or "Can we make that quicker?" Or "I know we took a shot here of Harper doing this and that." So ... you know, I get in my say. And I think I have a good sense of the show. I think I understand it. So I'm one of the many cooks.
It's not that I get final everything. But they certainly will look at my suggestions, and the majority of the time, they actually implement them in the final cut because ... I think I'm making good decisions. I think I'm making good choices. If they don't like what I've asked, they'll tell me why, and I don't be a baby about it. I'll sit there. I mean, I'm always open for open debates and arguments. You know, it's just nice to have a say in there.
From the start, I hired the cast. I had final say on really what the cast was going to be. We'd see a selection of three, and I had in my contract to say yes or no. And they trusted me, and I think that's why they brought me on board to get the show off the ground in the first place. I think the success of Hercules had something to do with a series of this nature being guaranteed 44 episodes before we even hired actors, show runners, anybody. And, you know, I wanted that credit on Hercules and never got it. So I'm in there. I'm not just saying my lines. I'm also actively involved in the things that happen on the show.
Q: How does that play out on the set? Do you exercise leadership?
Sorbo: Oh, certainly. But I felt it even on Hercules. I think I was on shows as a guest star, and you see the way actors are, good and bad. And I said I don't want to be one of those bad ones, you know? I want to be a guy that people still like. I mean, we all get in our moods. We're not up every day. But I'm a bit of a joker, and I like to have fun on the set. I always like to have fun on the set. When you work long days, you might as well. And I've been on shows where the lead actors were not very friendly and not very nice. And you can see the crew. It's not fun. Nobody wants to be there. Nobody wants to do anything with this guy. These guys will bend over backwards for me, and I'll bend over backwards for them. It's a good working relationship on both sides of the camera, and same thing with our actors. Today with [co-stars] Lisa [Ryder] and with Gordon [Michael Woolvett], we have a very good time on the set. And I appreciate their talents, and I believe that they appreciate what I bring to the table as well.
Q: What can you tell us about guest stars this season? You asked Bruce Campbell to appear?
Sorbo: Bruce pulled out, dirty bastard [laughs]. He pulled out because of his book [If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor]. He'd done a book, and he's going on doing the second release of it, and he's just traveling all over the country, signing things. So he says he wants to do it, so hopefully we'll get him back. ... It'd be great. We had such a good time on Herc, and he wants to do it. It's just a matter of finding him. He was actually supposed to play the part that James Marsters ended up getting in season two, the Nietzschean [Charlemagne Bolivar]. So that was originally written for Bruce. But James did a great job with it, so we're actually trying to get James back now, too, to play that part again. But we gotta get something with Bruce, and we're going to get [Sorbo's Hercules co-star] Michael Hurst back to play a different role again. So that'll be fun. We've got John de Lancie back. We've got Michael Ironside this episode.
Q: Jason Alexander?
Sorbo: I did Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? [with him]. Jason is a huge Gene Roddenberry fan. So he would love to do it, so hopefully we'll get him too. I mean, it's out there, and people want to do it. Who's the guy from 24 [Dennis Haysbert]? He sat behind me at the Emmys, and he said, "I'd love to come and do your show." I said, "Do you have time?" And he goes, "I'm in the show, but I got time." I said, "We'd love you to come on, you know?" It'd be great.
Q: Do you guys do a lot of practical jokes on the set?
Sorbo: Let's cut to the chase. The force lance looks like a vibrator, OK? I mean, it looks like a penis. It does. The first season, they actually were, like, flesh-colored. It was ridiculous, and you couldn't help it. The minute anybody sees them or looks at them or holds on to them, you can't help but think of it. So I constantly do things, the pig that I am, [to] every female co-star we have on the show. I basically pull it out at the end of every take, and I ask them, "Have you seen my force lance?" And it's become an ongoing joke. I actually put it on the first year's crew gift. I gave boxer shorts out. On the back it said, "Have you seen my force lance?" with the Andromeda logo on the front. It's become a standard-issue joke.
Q: Are you planning on writing or directing any of your own?
Sorbo: You know, I'm ready to do two episodes a year in my contract. ... Physically, I was supposed to direct the 19th episode this year as well, which would have been my sixth one to direct. I keep turning them down. I like my life right now, and directing just adds another 20 hours onto a work week that's already 80 hours long. So I just look at it and go, "You know, I've got a kid." I've got a different life now than I had on Hercules. I was a single guy, and I was so far out of the loop of Hollywood. Here in Vancouver, it's the same time zone, it's two and a half hours away. So even though I'm out of the loop, I'm not out-out-out of the loop. So I'm just trying to get other things going in my life. I'm trying to get open some doors for future films. I've got a meeting this weekend to potentially do my own sitcom, so there's other things I want to do.
Q: When would that be?
Sorbo: Well, this show's got at least two more years on it. But we're putting out the feelers, and I've had some good response as a guest star. I've done Just Shoot Me, four episodes of Dharma & Greg, and I just had good response from the different studios ... saying they wouldn't mind maybe having something happen. Yeah, two years is still sort of a long way away, but then again, it's not, and I want to keep the door open. I mean, I don't know what's going to happen with the show. They haven't said anything beyond five years, so I've got to think of my own future, you know?
Q: Any feature-film work?
Sorbo: I just did a small film called Clipping Adam, which is a small independent film with Louise Fletcher as well. I play a priest that works with this kid that's kind of going through a lot of issues since his mother and young sister died in a car crash and his father's an alcoholic. It's kind of a heavy drama, very touching, and I hope it gets distribution. I think it's got potential to do well at maybe film festivals and things. But it was fun to do something different. I shot that in August on our hiatus, and I'm looking for a couple things right now. I've got a script that I'm in love with. I don't want to give a name right now. It's out to a feature-film actor, but I don't think there's really any difference between feature-film and TV guys, since everybody in movies is now doing TV as well. So, you know, I'm hoping for something else. I do want to break the mold and kind of get to do other things and sort of stretch the acting muscles and show people that it's just not all Mr. Action Guy.
Kevin Sorbo's new project with ABC
Barry Kemp ("Coach," "A Minute With Stan Hooper") has come aboard to develop Sorbo's comedy project at the Alphabet and Touchstone Television. Kemp will executive produce alongside Eric Gold on the project, which is expected to be a family comedy of some sort.