"There's a frog upon Los Angeles and my friends have lost their way"

 

LOS ANGELES

(circa 06.87 - fall 1993)

 

Sorbo settled in Los Angeles, transmitting his overseas commercial momentum into campaigns for a very popular brands. (14.03.97 Unknown source)

 
COVER bio: "With a modeling career spanning seven years and three continents, up and coming actor Kevin Sorbo has done it all. This avid beach goer has appeared on the soap "Santa Barbara" and has done TV commercials for Michelob and Pepsi Light. When not working he can be found swimming, golfing or running on the beach." (Summer 1987 International Male Catalog)

 

Kevin Sorbo: You know I did beer ads, but as a starving actor you do what you can to work too. (12.11.96 Total TV)
 
Kevin Sorbo: I had recurring roles in the HBO sitcom, "First And Ten". These brief acting stints and commercials helped keep me financially afloat. (16.10.96 Glitter #2)
 
Kevin Sorbo: When I came to Hollywood, I didn't know anyone out there. And I am proud of my accomplishments when I didn't know people and had to put up with door after door being slammed in my face. But I always knew I would make it. That might sound cocky, but you have to be cocky to survive in this business. (03.11.96 New York Sunday Daily News)
 
''I had a decent portfolio from my commercials but a lot of the people I met, agents and such, laughed at me and said I was already too old to get started,'' Sorbo said. Fortunately, he had the right look for commercials and he never had to get a day job to support himself. (27.08.97 Orange County Register)
 
Kevin Sorbo: I came to California to pursue my acting career. California is just a very diverse place, with the ocean and mountains. But the traffic drives me nuts! I think that people in New York are more honest, but I love LA women. The Beach Boys [in their classic song] summed it up the best when they said, 'I wish they all could be California girls'. (09.88 Playgirl)
 
Meanwhile Sorbo became one of the most successful commercial actors in the business.
 
The Minnesota native has been in and out of the public eye for years, appearing in commercials for everything from Diet Coke to Lexus automobiles. (10.95 Sci-Fi Universe #10)
 
Kevin Sorbo: I worked very well commercially. And I didn't have to bartend or do all those things most actors have to do. I was very fortunate. I was one of those actors that kept working in L.A., and I was able to make a good income and have the time to go to acting class, showcase in plays, whatever. (12.11.96 Total TV)
 
Over the next several years, Kevin studied with such highly respected teachers as Janet Alhanti, Roy London, Bill Trayler and Richard Brander. (1998 Official site of H:TLJ)

 

Kevin Sorbo: I played by the rules - and they're tough rules to play by. There certainly are shortcuts in this business, but that's not the way I played it. I took my classes.
TVW: What are the shortcuts?
KS: The casting couch is still alive and well in Hollywood.
TVW: There were powerful women with whom you could have traded favors?
KS: There were, but I just didn't do anything about it.
(23.08.97 TV Week, Australia)
 
Kevin Sorbo: I was one of those lucky guys who didn't have to do the bartender or the waiter thing. Commercials kept me alive. I was very fortunate that I shot a lot of commercials that paid the bills for me, that allowed me the free time to go to acting classes that I wanted to be involved in, to concentrate on the career. I knew the (downside of) the business when I came out here. I had a good eight years of 'too old' - 'too tall' - 'too short' - whatever. It's hard to take that rejection and not take it personally. (12.04.96 The News-Times)
 

Kevin Sorbo: I didn't ever look at myself as a commercial actor. I looked at myself as an actor who did commercials to make ends meet. Commercials in America pay very well, and I was very successful. I was able to get myself involved in plays, showcases and acting classes that were good for me and my career. It was as simple as that. (11.00 Science Fiction Weekly #194)

 

Kevin Sorbo: I worked hard for a long time to get where I am today. Success was very slow coming to me. (12.97 Starlog special)
 
Kevin Sorbo: I had a lot of lean years out there, of the doors being slammed in your face. People used to say to me, well, why don't you get your degree, you'll have something to fall back on? And those are words that just fueled the fire for me. 'Fall back on.' It used to drive me nuts, and that just made me say I'm never going to get that degree. I'm going to show people I can do it. Basically I have my degree in acting. I took seven years of acting classes. So as far as I'm concerned, I have a doctorate in acting classes. There was nothing else I wanted to do. I always had blinders on. I wanted to be an actor. I wanted to be an actor. I wanted to be an actor. That was it. So there was nothing else I wanted to do. I never thought I wouldn't make it in this business, whether it was still another 10 years from today. I just always believed that I had the ability, I had the talent, I had the look, I had whatever it was, the combinations that you had to have. As long as I stuck with it, as long as I believed in myself, I knew it would happen one day. I mean I honestly believed that. I think that's true with anything. I think what happens is that, you know, there's like an 80% turnover rate every year within the acting profession. People come in and they say this sucks, and it does. I mean there's a very dark and ugly side of what Hollywood is all about. But there's also the side that I love about it. It's very infectious. It's a very addictive business, if you look at it in the right way. (02.12.96 TV Guide on-line)

 

Kevin Sorbo: I'd been lifting weights for 23 years, for sports at first and then for modeling and commercials. And it was always a good release - for those eight years in Hollywood that I got door after door slammed in my face, I'd go workout. (19.10.00 Los Angeles Times)
 
Kevin Sorbo: I took a lot of acting classes and went to a lot of auditions. (24.08.97 Calgary Sun)
 
Kevin Sorbo: I spent eight lonely years in Hollywood. (1996/97 TV Guide Entertainment)
 
Kevin Sorbo: The minute I dropped out of acting class and stopped hearing the voices of teachers and other actors telling me how I should be doing things, I started working. (12.04.96 The News-Times)
 
In 1990 Kevin made Public Service Announcement "America responds to AIDS" - a real 25 seconds gem.
 
Kevin Sorbo: I swear I never thought about quitting. There was plenty of rejection in my life but there was never a question in my mind about my future as an actor. I know it sounds corny - call it destiny or whatever - but I had no doubt that I would eventually make it as an actor. I used to walk into auditions and honestly believe that every job was mine. I thought that the other actors should just go home and not even bother to audition. Then, when I didn't get the part - and I didn't get plenty of parts - I just figured they picked the wrong guy. (27.08.97 Orange County Register)
 
Kevin Sorbo: For some reason, I just felt it, I believed it would happen in my heart there was no question it would happen if I just kept plugging away. There is a high fatality rate in this business and a lot of people give up. But since the age of 11, when my parents took me to see a play, I wanted to be an actor, I knew I would make it work, damn it! (07.04.98 TV Week, Australia)
 
Kevin Sorbo: I was up for many things that I didn't get. I was of a mind to take ANYTHING at that point. I'm an actor. Play a black, pregnant woman? Yeah, I can do that! But I was coming very close and, to me, that meant my time would come when it was meant to come. I just knew that something was going to click. (16.10.96 Glitter #2)

 

page is on the move

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Commercials
Roles he lost
Roles he got

 

Sorbo's dues-paying period finally began to show signs of paying off.
 
Kevin Sorbo: In 1991 I started getting more work in television. I started getting a few pilots. I knew something was going to happen. Things started rolling for me. (12.98 Xpose #29)
 
[Sorbo was getting pilots.] A Fox hour called "Aspen" that wasn't picked up. An NBC hour called "Condition Critical" in which he would've played a doctor. Even a CBS concept called "Gumshoes". (11.05.95 Newsday)
 
Kevin Sorbo: The two years before [Hercules] were very good for me... the amount of work I was doing [and] the contacts I had developed were all very positive. (11.03 AskMen.com)
 

Somewhere at the beginning of 1992 the TV was hit with Jim Beam commercial, that made Sorbo a recognized face around the world.

Lucy Lawless: Everybody in the world knows the Jim Beam guy. Americans don't. You can't advertise hard liquor, can you? In the little amoral countries, he's a big star! (01.96 Femme Fatales #5)

 
During the early 90's, Sorbo came very close to getting some leading parts. One of them was in the movie "Twenty Bucks", with Sam Jenkins playing Anna {details here}. It was the second time they have just missed one another...
 
Kevin Sorbo: The year prior to "Hercules" was a very good year for me. I had done a couple of pilots. I was close on a couple of other ones. (01.05.99 San Antonio Express)
 
Kevin Sorbo: I had guest shots on "Murder She Wrote" and "The Commish", and a part in the mystery flick, "Slaughter Of The Innocents." (16.10.96 Glitter #2)
 

Sorbo starred in two pilots ["Condition critical" and "Aspen"]. <...> Those unsold pilots were seen around Hollywood and the producers of the Hercules project asked him to come in for a script reading. (27.08.97 Orange County Register)

 
Best known as a commercials actor, Sorbo had just started to break into gueststar roles when Tapert and Raimi pegged him as their mythical hero. Says Tapert: "We knew we couldn't go with a traditional muscle man. Our model for the character was always a Joe Montana type, a star quarterback who wasn't off-putting because of his size or good looks, just a decent good guy you'd want to sit at a bar with or invite into your living room. Kevin is just that type." (15.01.96 Variety)
 

Kevin Sorbo: When the Hercules script showed up, I didn't even open it. I called my agent and said, "You've got to be kidding! You're bound and determined to make me into a superhero. [If not Superman, than Hercules.] I don't want to get into a stereotypical situation where people will be saying that's all I can do." But my agent said it did not read that way. (16.10.96 Glitter #2)

 
Kevin Sorbo: I expected they wanted someone with the physique of Lou Ferrigno or Arnold Schwarzenegger: compared to them I'm a skinny little man. (03.12.96 Unknown source)
 

Kevin Sorbo: "I thought of Steve Reeves, I thought of Lou Ferrigno, <...> I thought of all those people that had done it before, and I wasn't interested. I'm a big guy, but I'm not that size of a big guy - not the big muscle-body thing - and I wasn't about to transform my body into something like that."
Why should he? He was on the brink of stardom as A Normal Person. After years of doing ads and commercials (Budweiser, Diet Coke, Lexus) and dutifully attending acting classes, this homespun Fabio "had just come off of almost getting the pilot for 'Lois & Clark' - it was down to Dean Cain and [me] for that." He was getting "pilots and pilots, back to back to back." <...> So, Hercules? Nah. "But my agent said to read the script and worry about it later, and I read the script, and I liked it," says Sorbo. "I just felt there was something here that, there was nothing like it on TV right now." (11.05.95 Newsday)

 
Kevin Sorbo: I laughed at the idea of playing Hercules initially because that was not the direction in which I wanted to go. But there was something about the way they were approaching the character that intrigued me. (27.08.97 Orange County Register)
 
Kevin Sorbo: I read the script and I saw where they were sort of going with it and I said, "Well, let me read the next one." So I read the next one and, you know, it was a different sort of Hercules they wanted. (08.97 TV Guide Online)

 

Read more about the start of the "Legendary Journeys": How It All Began
 
Kevin Sorbo: Then an audition came up for Hercules. When I went there, there were a lot of different types of body types, as well as different types of physical types. Obviously, they were just looking -- the network didn't have anybody in mind. I gave a good reading that day. I read the first two scripts... and I really liked the script. I really liked the humor in it, 'cause that was what I like anyway... (11.03 AskMen.com)
 
It was Sorbo's 6'3'' height more than his strength that often pigeonholed him into meat-headed spokesperson jobs and away from the dramatic roles he wanted. But whatever Sorbo's balance between height, muscle and acting ability, it was exactly what Tapert and Raimi were looking for. Starting with his first auditions, Sorbo decided to play up the human side of Hercules, emphasizing that he thought the character should bump his head, bleed and generally make mistakes like any other mortal. Tapert and Raimi liked what they saw. "When I first went in I felt comfortable with how I wanted to play the character, and I didn't ask them what they wanted until the fifth or sixth audition," Sorbo says. "Whatever I decided in terms of how I wanted to do the character was already either in their minds, or it changed their minds." (10.95 Sci-Fi Universe #10)
 
Kevin Sorbo: They called me back six more times in two months... and then by the seventh time, I asked them what they wanted. (11.03 AskMen.com)
 

To audition for Hercules Kevin was called several times, until he recalls, "I didn't even want the part anymore!" ((08).95 Starbiz 95)

 

Kevin Sorbo: After seven weeks of auditions and callbacks, I began to wonder if I was doing the right thing. <...> Part of me was actually scared that I might get the part, and I wasn't sure if this was the right thing to do. (16.10.96 Glitter #2)

 

Kevin Sorbo: I went through a grueling audition process for the part and over a two month period I went seven times, and I realized they were waiting for somebody to come and be what they wanted, I guess. And I fit that bill. (07.97 Interview Renee Witterstaetter with Sorbo in Auckland, NZ)

 

Sorbo was guest-starring in serial "The Commish" and while shooting in Vancouver he got a phone call informing him that he had won the lead role.

 
On Sorbo's 35th birthday, Hercules producers decided he was exactly they were looking for. (03.07.95 People)
 

Kevin Sorbo: I was getting frustrated and was about ready to say forget it when I got the call saying that the part was mine. I then decided that this MIGHT actually be fun. I was thinking, "This is so cool! I'm getting paid to be a kid again!" (16.10.96 Glitter #2)

 

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2005-2007 KSJAA - Please, don't borrow contents without permission


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