Xena Magazine, Issue 13, December 2000

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The show which launched KEVIN SORBO into the stratosphere, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, is now but a distant memory to the eponymous star of the series. As Sorbo's brand new television show, Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda, launches in the US and the UK, the legendary journeyman offers his views on the next phase of his career.

Sorbo's New

Legendary Journeys

The role of Dylan Hunt, captain of the Andromeda in the series of the same title, represents something of a departure from Sorbo's previous role as half-god and hero of the ancient world, Hercules. As the star of Renaissance Pictures' fledgling series reveals, he had to make a few personal, phsyical [sic] changes in order to play Hunt. "I've actually dropped 20 pounds!" he explains. "I'm kind of doing a leaner, meaner [character]. I can still kick butt, though!

"So it's a different show," he acknowledges. It has more of an adult theme to it. Certainly kids are going to want to watch it as well, but I was drawn to it because there's a little bit more drama involved in it, as opposed to what Hercules had."

Sorbo was approached by Andromeda's producers to play the part of Dylan Hunt while he was wrapping Hercules' sixth and final season, towards the end of 1999. However, things would've been very different for the actor now had he instead accepted a role in another series he was offered at that time. "I was actually contemplating doing a network TV show," he explains. "We were in negotiations for it. It's not even being made now. It was called Saint War. I believe CBS was looking at it, but I don't know if it [was cancelled] because I pulled out. But I was in serious talks with the people that were involved with that. And the writer was Jeff Roven, who is actually a ghost writer for Tom Clancy.

"It was a great-looking series and I was very, very interested in it," Sorbo continues. "But Andromeda came along and I think syndication offers a guarantee. They guaranteed us two years. That' 44 episodes. Not many TV shows get a 44-show kick-off without proving themselves first.

"I thought, here's a show where the premise of it and the idea behind it are so good and so impressive, that if you get 44 shows to put out there and bombard the television screens with, hopefully you can garner yourself an audience."

Sorbo was attracted to Andromeda for a number of different reason [sic]. "I liked the ensemble cast. I liked Gene Roddenberry. I liked what [co-executive producer] Robert [Hewitt Wolfe] came to the table with," he says. "There were so many different things that sort of played in it for me. I thought it'd be silly not to go for this because I think this is going to be the same as but completely different from other futuristic shows that have been done before, and that are out there right now."

One of the reasons this particular futuristic show held more promise for Sorbo was because of its creator, the legendary Gene Roddenberry. Roddenberry had come up with the concept for the show following the cancellation of his first legendary science fiction series, Star Trek, and Roddenberry's widow, Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, had resurrected the idea and brought it to life with the help of former Star Trek: The Next Generation/Star Trek: Deep Space Nine writer/producer Robert Hewitt Wolfe.

Sorbo recalls that, as a child, he was passionate about Star Trek, and his respect for the legendary 'Great Bird of the Galaxy' was fostered at an early age. "I was like six years old, and my older brothers watched Star Trek. And you kind of do what your older brothers do. I became more hooked on the show in reruns, when I got into high school and college.

"It became sort of a ritual. It was on every night up in Minnesota, where I grew up. And we'd watch it Monday through Friday. I've probably seen every episode 50 times! That's not an exaggeration.

"And I was always just drawn to the characters," he recalls. "I was always drawn to the relationships. I think that's what drew me to working on this type of show. I loved the relationships between the original characters, you know, whether it was Spock or Captain Kirk or Lieutenant Uhura whoever it may have been. I liked those relationships. I think that's what makes us watch TV. I mean, if the conflict and the drama isn't there between the characters, what's going to make it interesting for people to watch? That's why we watch anything, whether it's going to be a Hercules or an ER, or hopefully an Andromeda.

"When I was finishing up the last four or five episodes of Hercules, Majel actually sent me quite a big box of Gene's work, and it was very interesting. Not only this series, but a lot of his speeches at universities and things. Since I was unfortunate to have never met the man, it was interesting to read his speeches at college. He was very well spoken, obviously, and had a good sense of humour. So, I sort of got a taste of what kind of person he was."

Sorbo was also particularly excited by the role of Dylan Hunt himself, a character he felt offered him the chance to really stretch his acting muscles. "Here's a guy who has been in suspended animation for over 300 years. He's lost his family, his friends, his way of life. He's lost everything. He's lost the civilisation he lived in.

"He is a no-nonsense guy, which is interesting. But he doesn't win all the time. It's not like Hercules, where you know he's going to win every battle. This is a guy that's a mortal man. And even though he's 342 years old, he still has issues to deal with. It's a far more conflicted character. So he's more interesting to play. To go back to Hercules he could only save the world, that was easy!"

As much as he loved working in New Zealand for Hercules' six years, Sorbo admits that there are a number of advantages to working on a show which is shot in Canada. "[I'm] closer to home, for one thing," he points out. "I mean, it's still part of North America, and I'm only two-and-a-half hours away instead of 13 hours away. Also, my wife is an actress, and there are 41 productions in Vancouver right now. There was only one in New Zealand at that time. So there's not a whole lot down there compared with what Vancouver has to offer. And it's nice to be closer to home. It really is.

"What's good about this show is it is more contained. On Hercules we shot in eight or nine days per episode. These are seven-day, even six-day episodes, and it's contained. It's in a studio. I think we have 13 or 14 days scheduled for outside.

"Two episodes of Hercules was at least that much, and we don't have that problem of worrying what the weather is going to be like. It's contained. I [also] have about a seven and a half month shooting schedule as opposed to a nine and a half month shooting schedule [on Hercules]. So I have four and a half months off continuous each year now, and I'm looking at other projects. Im actually in discussions right now about doing a movie in January.

"So it has opened up the door for me to do other things, which was another draw for me to do a show like this. That was something I was looking for. I think this is better for me in a lot of ways. So there are selfish motivations involved as well."

Kevin Sorbo is extremely grateful to fans of Hercules for the support they have shown him over the years, and acknowledges that he recognition he is receiving now for his role in Andromeda is in no small part due to the devotion of those fans. "I want to thank all the [the fans] who wrote so kindly about it through the years," he affirms. "It was wonderful for me to do that series and I had a great time with it.

"There [are] a number of fan clubs out there that Hercules spawned in England and German and Italy and Greece and all these different places. And they're already writing to me and showing me that they're putting [Andromeda] on their web pages. So it's kind of neat to have this sort of push before the show even hits the air, and to see the interest and loyalty of the fans. I'm hoping the Hercules audience follows us over here, and Im hoping the Star Trek and gene Roddenberry fans follow us over here as well. If that happens, we'll have a hit.

"I think we've got a great crew put together; we've got a great cast put together. I grew up being a big, big fan of Gene Roddenberry's work. To be part of something that he envisioned 30 years ago is well, my brothers think it's pretty cool!

"I think potentially this could be a ground-breaking series."

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