AR: Hello Kevin, Welcome to The Action Reloaded, its awesome to have you here. Without beating around the bush I gotta ask about Hercules! It started out as 4 or 5 TV movies then went to series. I find that pretty cool as usually it’s the other way around. you get the series, then once it ends you get a continuation in TV movies.
KS: Yeah that’s true initially it was going to be four two hour movies. It was a thing that universal studios were doing it was called the action pack. Where they had five different movie ideas and mine was Hercules Legendary Journeys, then there was tech wars, the rising son or something it was a kung Fu series and then they had the bandit and then they had The Midnight Run based on the Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin movie. So they had these series of movies and they would rotate them every week, so they had 20 weeks worth of movies. By the end of the first movie we were the only one that they really loved and they said they would add an extra movie. initially it was kinda funny because I found out from our executive producer Sam Raimi who directed a bunch of Spiderman movies and The Evil Dead, he said that in the meetings out of the five movies they all said Hercules would be the first to go and that no one would be interested in that one. We were the only ones to get a fifth movie added. By the end of the fifth movie we were told we’re staying in New Zealand as we are going to series, and we stayed there for seven years.
AR: During the Hercules days you were in great shape, I had read during the fifth or sixth season of Hercules you had suffered a shoulder injury? which prevented you from doing more of the fights and stunts?
KS: It was much bigger than a shoulder injury, I had an aneurysm in my left shoulder I was unaware of, I was having all kinds of problems in my left arm and with the fingers on that hand they were very numb and cold. But I was doing most of my own stunts and I was working out two hours a day, lifting heavy. on top of 12-14 hours on set everyday. typical day for me was 16 hours door to door.
It ended up being an aneurysm in my left subclabivical the thing had opened up completely sending hundreds of clots across my arm and three clots worked there way up to my brain and I suffered three strokes. so I could have been killed instantly, wheelchair bound with the strokes. but the strokes…to be lucky about strokes I guess they went to my vision, my balance and my speech. I have a book out called ‘True Strength: My Journey From Hercules To Mere Mortal & How Nearly Dying Saved My Life’. The True Strength book has been out for about six years now.
AR: Going back to filming Hercules after that must have been such a challenge for you.
KS: Yeah, the last two seasons of Hercules I was much more limited on my time on screen, that’s why we brought in Bruce Campbell more and a couple of other people more. but I’m lucky to be alive I had my recovery and went on to do five more years on Andromeda series and shot fifty five movies and I have passed every physical exam they have thrown at me, so I’m lucky to have survived what I went through.
AR: So much for just a shoulder injury (Laughs)
KS: (laughs) No it wasn’t just a shoulder injury, the studio kept it pretty quiet as the show was doing pretty well and was a cash cow for the studio. I went from a 12-14 hour day on the set to one hour a day after I came back from four months of physical rehab and just slowly worked up the time again. But I never got back to those 12-14 hour days on that show. I got back up to maybe eight hours a day.
AR: Am I right to assume the injury had a major impact on your decision to leave the show
KS: Yeah, they put a pretty good contract in front of me so I was thinking about it, but then I got an offer from Majel Roddenberry, Jim Roddenberry’s widow and I’m a huge Star Trek fan of the original series. She said ‘my husband wrote this series after Star Trek got cancelled and I think it would be an honour to have you play Captain Dillon Hunt, the first Captain after Captain Kirk’. I jumped on it right away, like I said I grew up watching the re-runs of Star Trek when I was in university and it was so cool to play that role. We shot in Vancouver for five years. that’s why I walked away from Hercules otherwise I probably would have kept on going. I loved the show, I loved the crew but we were about to lose most of that crew anyway because Peter Jackson took about 80% of my crew to start filming Lord Of The Rings.
AR: After Hercules and the aneurysm, did it effect you working out and keeping shape?
KS: I work out everyday, I got a great gym in my home. I power walk around the golf course caddying my clubs that’s around 6 miles. I lift weights about an hour a day and I will do another 40minutes of cardio and stretch afterwards.
AR: I have to ask you about two of my favourite movies you had done Walking Tall, can you tell me about them.
KS: The Walking Tall movies I shot back in 2007, Walking Tall: Payback and Walking Tall: Lone Justice, I loved doing those movies. We shot them in Dallas Texas. They were talking about making it into a TV Series, but sony and MGM were together and they decided to split ways and fought over titles and Walking Tall series got stuck in the middle and anything that wasn’t decided on was just left.
AR: That’s really frustrating as a fan of your Walking Tall movies I thought the character of Nick Prescott was great. There was so much more to learn about the character.
KS: Yeah you’re right because they never went into what his past was like. The walking Tall movies started way back in the 70’s with a character named Buford Pusser and they said I didn’t look like an Buford Pusser so they changed my name. but they called me to do a movie when I was filming Andromeda and I couldn’t do it so they ended up getting Dwayne Johnson for that role instead. They came back to me when Andromeda had ended and said we have got two movies we want to do, straight to dvd. they did really well on dvd and people responded very well.
AR: The fight scenes were great, but I suppose after Hercules they were a breeze to do right?
KS: Well I consider myself an athletic guy, I played American football, baseball and basketball growing up and all through university. So I like the physicality of it all. It was fun to do. I am hoping for more things down the road. I love the action stuff, the good guy beating up on the bad guy (laughs)
AR: I was looking at your filmography and I seen four movies which were prairie fever, shadow on the messer, avenging angel and Jesse James, which are all western movies. Would that be a favourite genre of yours?
KS: I love Westerns, the westerns all through the 40s, 50s, 60s and even the 70s were big around the world whether they were movies or TV shows. In today’s world they are still big in America but not really big over seas anymore. I would love to do more I got about six scripts that are westerns but it’s hard to raise money for them.
AR: I have seen from your IMDb page you have alot of dramas listed, is that a genre you enjoy?
KS: I enjoy all genres my next movie is a comedy, and I have done movies that over here in the states are called Faith based movies because they got god in there or Jesus in there. I think every movie is a faith based movie like if your an atheist that’s a religon you got to have alot of faith to just believe in nothing. I like to do movies that have got a good message. I did a movie called What if which I think is great it’s like a Christian comedy it’s a great family movie. I made a movie called God’s Not Dead which is a two million dollar movie and it made over 140 million worldwide. My latest movie Let There Be Light I directed it, my wife wrote it and my two boys are in it. It’s about the world’s greatest atheist and he has a world changing event that sort of challenges his view and what he goes through. I’m very proud of that movie we didn’t have any money to promote it and we shot it on little over two million dollars and it made seven million dollars. so lucky enough all my investors got their money back. I also have a new TV series with lionsgate right now that we’re crossing fingers for. It’s a family TV series that has good values but it’s a drama, it will be shot in South Africa on a huge reserve with all the big five animals there.
There’s also a show were trying to put together now by Michael Sloan it’s called The Handyman, Michael Sloan was the creator of the Equalizer TV series and now they just finished the second movie with Denzel Washington, and I would love that it’s full on action, The Handyman is really an extension of The Equalizer so I’m hoping we get this out together as well. Then I have a basketball movie were hoping to get done. I got alot of fires burning, I don’t like sitting around.
AR: Before we wrap up Kevin is there any upcoming projects or movies you want us to look out for?
KS: My movie Let There Be Light is out you can purchase it from Amazon or kevinsorbo.net I got alot of stuff on there. People always ask for 8×10’s, I got original scripts with original signatures from the cast, I got wardrobe and stuff like that. I got One Nation Under God is going to open in theatres in the fall and I got an action movie coming out called The Reliant it will be out around Christmas time in America. There is also a family movie from Lionsgate coming out it’s called Bring Me The Dolphins & a comedy called East Texas Oil and it deals with the oil boom in the early 1900’s in the state of Texas and I play one half of a team of con-men that go through the obituaries and they woo widows out of their life savings in fake oil wells. It’s based on a true story and it’s very funny and there’s redemption at the end folks so don’t get upset, the character I’m playing is fun and it’s going to be a blast.
AR: Thank you for your time Kevin it has been great chatting with you and good luck with your future movies and TV shows.
KS: Thank you and folks check out my official Facebook and kevinsorbo.net