”Hey, Hercules,” says his smarmy friend Salmoneus, as they amble among bosomy Greco-Roman babes and ripple-chested centaurs in a scene from the new hit TV show Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. ”You ever thought about getting an agent?… I could get you a contract for big dinars…. Suppose you wanted to get out of the hero business, y’know, open up a souvenir shop.”
Not interested, says the Bronze Age hunk.
Therein lies the difference between actor Kevin Sorbo and the mythical hero he portrays. For Sorbo already has a pretty darn good agent, and it’s thanks to him that the former Budweiser pitchman now stars in one of the hottest entries in the syndication arena — a campy hour packed with three-headed dogs, salacious goddesses, and dialogue more appropriate to Homer Simpson than Homer the Greek.
The legendary gig was an opportunity that Sorbo, 36, nearly passed up. The actor figured his teensy-weensy 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame couldn’t fill the sandals of recent no-neck Herculeses, men like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno. ”When I got the script, I thought, ‘I’m not going to waste my time or [the producers’],”’ says Sorbo. Luckily for him, the aforementioned agent urged him to go to the audition, where he was snapped up. ”We were looking for a Joe Montana type,” says executive producer Robert Tapert. ”Kevin has that immediate Midwestern accessibility.”
A native of Minnesota, Sorbo has labored valiantly on his way to fame, slogging through scores of commercials, finishing second to Dean Cain for the part of Superman in Lois & Clark, and starring in several never-picked-up television pilots. More recently, he made an appearance on Cybill as Zsa Zsa Gabor’s boy toy.
But if you think Sorbo’s big break has been all fun and Olympic games, think again. The show shoots in New Zealand — more than 6,500 miles from Sorbo’s California girlfriend. And on the country’s less-than-cutting-edge TV system, Hercules has yet to make an appearance. ”There’s a lot of cricket,” sighs Sorbo. ”Which is basically baseball on Quaaludes.”