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90s TV legend discusses overcoming obstacles

By Neil Strebig, Point Park News Service:

Kevin Sorbo, 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, will host over a dozen celebrities, writers, illustrators and geek centric personalities including the cast of Netflix’s hit “Daredevil,” Nichelle Nichols of “Star Trek” and WWE Superstar Finn Balor.

Photo credit: kevinsorbo.net
Photo credit: kevinsorbo.net

We caught up with Sorbo, the former star of USA Network’s “Hercules: The Legendary Journey” and SyFy’s “Andromeda” via a phone interview about the upcoming events. 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 here.

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?

A: You know between “Herc” and “Andromeda” – if it’s between those two shows – it’s probably “Herc” 70 percent, “Andromeda” 30 percent. I find that kind of interesting because “Andromeda” was the first show ever created by Gene Roddenberry. He wrote it way back in 1969 after the original Star Trek series finished. 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.

Q: What was it like then – I know you had the health issues and everything else, which I’ll get to, but what was it like coming down from 90s TV star, a household name to then kind of reinventing yourself?

A: Yeah, I suffered three strokes back in 1997 at the end of Season Five and an aneurism 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. It was kind of cool to be part of something like that. 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. 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.

Q: I know you mentioned the health problems before, how’d you manage to overcome that adversity and stay positive through it all?

A: You know a lot of that had to do with my wife. 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. 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’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.’

Q: I kind of have to ask, any advice for aspiring actors or any creative talent in the cinema industry?

A: 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 at wizardworld.com.

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