Former “Hercules” and “Andromeda” visits the Steel City for upcoming Pittsburgh Comic Con
The Minnesota native, author, and television/movie star will be visiting Pittsburgh this upcoming weekend for the Pittsburgh Comic Con at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The second annual Pittsburgh Comic Con, sponsored by Wizard World, which host over a dozen celebrities, writers, illustrators and geekcentric personalities including the cast of Netflix’s hit series Daredevil, Nichelle Nicols of Star Trek and WWE Superstar Finn Balor.
I was fortunate enough to speak with the former star of USA Network’s Hercules: The Legendary Journey and SyFy’s Andromeda via a phone interview last week. Sorbo, whose wife is a South Hills native, shared his thoughts on life at conventions, how he overcame health troubles and shared some advice on the industry.
**Note some of the questions and answers have been edited for space. Listen to the interview in its entirety through the link below. Original article featured for the Point Park News Service.**
Q: When you go to conventions, what is it like for you? Do you have more of the Hercules crowd or more of the Andromeda crowd?
Kevin Sorbo: You know between Herc and Andromeda– if it’s between those two shows – it’s probably Herc seventy percent, Andromeda thirty percent. I find that kind of interesting because Andromeda was the first show ever created by Gene Roddenberry. He wrote it way back in1969 after the original Star Trek series finished. You know I shot Hercules in New Zealand from 1993-2000 and I shot Andromeda from 2000-2005 up in Vancouver, B.C. But since then in the last eleven years, I’ve shot 51 movies, but now more than half the crowd comes up more to talk about one of my other movies then those other two. It’s sort of a crossover crowd now, not just a fantasy and sci-fi crowd. It is a crowd that appreciates whether it’s a faith-based movie, a psychological thriller or an action movie, whatever it might be. I bring quite a variety of pictures now because it is amazing how people want different shots not just the two shows that I did for such a long time, so it is quite a mixture now.
Any convention horror stories?
KS: No. You know people are pretty cool though. I realize there’s a lot of other actors there and stuff, so people are going to go to the shows they want to go to. There’s a lot of television channels, right? So not everybody has watched my stuff and I get it. So the people that come to your table really are people that want to meet you. You do those Q&A sessions – they give you Friday, Saturday or Sunday – you do the Q&A, you go to a private room and there’s anywhere from 50 people to 2,000 – it really depends on how big the con is. And they’re there because they like you, they’re not there to heckle you or give you a hard time. That doesn’t really happen. You know I think if you get more of a hard time, it’s really just out in the general public. Certainly when I was I doing Hercules. You know I couldn’t go out to any pubs or bars to watch a football game without some drunk guy coming up and wanting to pick a fight with me. It’s like ‘Dude, it’s just a T.V. show I’m not half-God, okay.’ But you know it’s the male ego we all got problems with that.
I know you had the health issues and everything else, which I’ll get to but what was it like coming down from 90s T.V. star, a household name to then kind of reinventing yourself?
KS: Yeah, I suffered three strokes back in 1997 at the end of Season Five and an aneurysm in my shoulder that was congestive of a problem something we didn’t really know what was going on. But it took me three full years to really get back to feeling normal again. But we kept the show going with Hercules those last two years the best we could; we passed “Baywatch” just two years prior to my strokes as the number one show in the world, we held that spot for five years. You know it was kind of cool to be part of something like that. You know and then I had Andromeda and I think Andromeda was sort of a way to reinvent myself in a different way. Instead of becoming the Gilligan of my show with Hercules, you know I became a completely different character with Andromeda with Captain Dylan Hunt. And since then I’ve shot 51 movies and been very busy with my own production company. I just directed a movie in Alabama that will come out next year; I also did the lead acting in it. I’ve been very fortunate to keep my career going and through the independent world. You know I’ve done some bigger movies…but the independent market has been very good to me. I’ve got three movies lined up already for next year, I got three more movies coming out next year that I shot this year, so knock on wood I’m still staying alive.
I know you mentioned the health problems before, how’d you manage to overcome that adversity and stay positive through it all?
KS: You know a lot of that had to do with my wife. You know I’m a pretty strong willed person to begin with, but when I got sick like that she made me write this book ‘True Strength’[True Strength: My Journey From Hercules To Mere Mortal] and you know I didn’t want to write it. You know I guess it’s once again that insecurity and the male ego thing because I didn’t want people to see how weak I’d become. You know you’re playing a part like Hercules and you’re cruising along, you’re in great shape and then you get an illness like that that could’ve killed you. It does a lot to you on the inside as well. I just had to find a place where I’m not going to let anyone set my limitations and certainly myself. So she helped me just push through it. She’s a Pittsburgh-New York girl and she’s got a tough personality and she just said ‘You know what? It happens, stop being a freaking baby about it. What are you going to do now to make yourself better?’ And you know I think that was huge to let me look in the mirror and go ‘I can beat this.’
So you take it somewhat of a blessing in disguise?
KS: You know it was in a way, it sort of slowed me down in a way. I was burning the candle at both ends. I mean I was working fourteen hours a day in Hercules; lifting two hours a day and driving to set anywhere from a half-hour to an hour a day – so a typical day for me would be seventeen to eighteen hours, door-to-door. And that was for the first five years before I got sick. So it kind of put things into perspective what’s really important. It really came down to my family, my kids, my friends and stuff like that. You know it sounds corny, but that’s kind of true. You know it is being with people you care about and love that make it all worthwhile.
I kind of have to ask, any advice for aspiring actors or any creative talent in the cinema industry?
KS: You know I go speak at some of my old acting classes and some of my old coaches are still coaching out here in L.A. I go speak once every couple of years at these classes. And I tell these guys, you know you’re going to get a lot of doors slammed in your face. There’s a lot of reasons why you’re not going to get jobs and you know they’re stupid and they’re petty – you’re too tall, you’re too short, you’re too old, you’re too young, you’re too fat, you’re too skinny – it’s all about rejection in the industry. You get involved in this business because you love the craft of acting. Get into because of that don’t get into because you want to be Johnny Depp and be worth $100 million every movie and be super famous. If that happens, that’s just a bonus. Do it because you want to be an actor. It’s a simple as that.
Sorbo’s films “Let There Be Light” and “The Reliant” are due out next year. He will be appearing at the Pittsburgh Comic Con, present by Wizard World, November 4-6. Guest can purchase tickets on site or online through the resource center.
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore