A slimy underground goo seeping through a hotel?s sewage system and causing a series of strange deaths would be no contest for Hercules, the sword-slinging warrior who once demolished all manner of menace each week on TV. But since Kevin Sorbo is now playing Father Doug, an Episcopalian priest with a green thumb, and not the chest-hair-bearing role that made him famous, things are different! Now out on DVD, Something Beneath, directed by David Winning, is a creature flick with an eco-horror punch?about an ecological summit, organized by Father Doug, that finds itself under attack by a strange slime-like organism causing hallucinations and bizarre death! (But don?t worry guys, it?s not like there?s some unseeable, intangible force making people kill themselves or die in peculiar, inexplicable fashions. Hollywood would never allow a film like that to be?ohhh wait.)
Anyway, we chatted with Sorbo (and, by the way, if my eleven-year-old self knew I?d spend an afternoon on the phone with Hercules, she?d probably pee just a little), about his latest flick, which just came out on Tuesday, chatted about some pretty terrifying underground creatures, AND got the scoop on his upcoming 15th century vampire film Avelar with Mortal Kombat?s Christopher Lambert and Rutger Hauer!
Tell us a bit about your role in Something Beneath.
I play Father Doug, an Episcopalian priest, which means I can still get laid. [Laughs.] I?m in the wrong place at the wrong time, where mother earth has decided to rebel against all the ripping apart of the natural surroundings that we constantly want to build on. But he?s not your typical priest; he?s a little bit of an action guy. The movie is sort of a flip back to the ?50s creature films. It?s a little bit of The Blob, only this one doesn?t swallow you up and eat you. This one, when you come into contact with the creature, it manifests your greatest fears, and people die of fright.
So do you feel that Something Beneath is more of a creature film or more of an eco-horror film?
It certainly seemed to me that it?s a little bit of a politically correct statement talking about what we?re doing [to the environment], overbuilding. We?re hurting our earth, and I think that that message was even stronger than what the movie was intended to be. After reading the script and looking at the dailies you start to realize that the message is more about what we?re doing to earth?in the guise of a horror film.
Was it that message?along with working with David Winning again?that made you want to get involved with the project?
David was the biggest reason that I got involved. I?m very good friends with David. He directed ten to eleven episodes of Andromeda. He?s a great guy to work with and loves actors. He sent me the script and the timing was right. I love to work. I go crazy when I?m not working. It was a chance to work with David and a couple people I worked with in the past. And I had the chance to see Winnipeg in November, which is just friggin? cold.
There have been tons of under-the-earth creatures. We?ve seen Tremors, from nearly twenty years ago, Neil Marshall?s recent film, The Descent and the upcoming J.T. Petty film, The Burrowers. What do you think is so terrifying about creatures lurking beneath us?
I think it?s the same fear like Jaws. I remember some guy, this oceanographer, was at Sea World or some place talking about how you know there are sharks around. He basically said, ?Well, if you taste the water and it?s saltwater, there are sharks there. They?re everywhere.? If you?re walking on land?like Tremors which I thought was a great movie?what if something came up from underneath you? The whole fear when you?re lying in your bed as a kid and you think you hear a creature underneath the bed. It?s the unknown and the imagination that all of us have. Our minds just run wild and make us fear nothing. It?s what we do?and obviously Hollywood is aware of that so they cash in on it. [Laughs.]
In Something Beneath, when the creature touches the characters it supposedly manifests their biggest fears. What is your own biggest fear?
My biggest fear? As Kevin Sorbo?
As Kevin Sorbo.
Wow. I guess losing my kids now that I?m a father with three young children. I don?t ever want to have to experience that.
In Something Beneath you?re taking on the role of a priest?a non-traditional priest but still a role in which we?re not quite used to seeing you. You?ve gone from Hercules to Episcopalian Father Doug to Mr. Phoenix in the upcoming super-exploitation film Bitch Slap, and everywhere in between...
I think everybody has different sides. Everybody has ?em. It?s like The Stranger, the Billy Joel song from back in the ?70s. I think we all have a lot of masks. In your lifetime you only get a chance to try on a few. As an actor, I?m really lucky to get to put on all these different masks. I have the dark side, the conservative side and?for a chance to play a priest, it was fun. In Bitch Slap, well, I?m about to do a movie that?s going to make my Bitch Slap character look tame. I can?t wait to play this guy. I was flattered they offered me the role. It?s a really dark, evil person and you want somebody to kill this guy. He should not be walking the face of the earth. I have no idea where I?m going to go with that. I?m actually meeting with the writer and director today. It?s going to be fun.
Anything else you can tell us about that film? A title?
I can?t really talk about it right now. They don?t want me to say anything besides mention that I might be doing it?but I?m sure it will be on IMDB soon enough.
We just spoke with your Bitch Slap co-star Erin Cummings a bit ago (interview here) and she mentioned that the two of you might be teaming up again for another project?
You know what? I?m actually meeting with those people this week about that same project. It was a movie that I was supposed to shoot a while ago. Now we?re going to shoot in Baton Rouge, LA. I?m hoping she gets the part because she?s actually perfect for it. The film is called Avelar, it?s an ancient city. This is sort of a 15th century fantasy piece. I?m supposed to be in it with Christopher Lambert, but I don?t know what his schedule is since he?s shooting a series in Bulgaria. Rutger Hauer is supposed to play her father. It?s a sword-and-sorcerer, vampire-type movie. It?s wonderful. It?s not stepping too far from my realm, Kull the Conqueror or Hercules, but it is. It?s quite a different character, he?s a much more selfish character than Hercules could ever be, but he?s a funny character. I love his lines. He reminds me of Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park. She?s absolutely perfect for two of the roles but I?m hoping she gets the part as my half-sister because then we?ll get to work together. The other role I wouldn?t see much of her until the end of the movie when we have to fight her.
Any idea as to when we can actually see Bitch Slap?
There?s a lot of hype on that movie! I almost wish I had a bigger part on it. I was only on set two days. [Laughs.] Overseas they?re getting the Asian and European markets. I think it?s going to be a surprise cult hit. I think they?re probably looking at February or March. I would hope they would try to get it out to Sundance. I think it?s a perfect movie for Sundance.
You?ve mentioned a few times in past interviews that Spider-Man was one of your favorite comic books growing up, and of course one of Spider-Man?s greatest rivals is the symbiote Venom. What was it like for you to actually play a character whose greatest rival was ALSO a symbiote being? Did you embody Spider-Man at all? Looking back, did you feel at all like your comic hero?
I never thought about that! That?s the first time I?ve heard that, but the parallel is definitely there. [Laughing.] I will say I was kind of disappointed in Sam Raimi not giving me some kind of role in any of his three Spider-man?s. My god, he was the executive producer on Hercules! He basically had nothing to do with Hercules besides lend his name to it because he never once showed up to New Zealand. It was kind of shocking, I worked my ass off for him and made him a lot of money and he didn?t seem to care. [Laughs.] That?s Hollywood. It?s not the nicest profession in the world and most people are really not that nice.
In the ?90s, the names Kevin Sorbo and Hercules were sort of synonymous. You?ve worked on a ton of projects since then, but what has been your most enjoyable?
I?m going to have to say Hercules. That was the pebble that got the ball rolling. I had a blast working on it with the crew and Michael Hurst. It was a big chunk of my life, seven years. It was just fun. I like shooting different things. [But] I love that genre, and the Herc will always hold a big place in my heart.
Anything you can tell us about the thriller Sleeping with the Lion that you?re working on with Clint Howard?
It?s going to happen but it?s already a good year behind. It?s amazing how slow things move. I play the lead character, a cop who?s suffering from insomnia, and anytime he does doze off there?s a heavy dream sequence and you don?t know if I?m dreaming or not dreaming. You sort of have to decide for yourself what is dreaming and what is a real situation. My character is so exhausted all the time he can?t even figure it out and it starts really screwing with him. So I hope we start shooting it soon.
Aside from the few titles we talked about, do you have anything else coming up?
On October 3rd in theaters I have An American Carol. I?ve got a Sci-Fi cable movie called Fire from Below, which should be coming out in November/December. And I?ve got a kid-friendly title called Mule Boy. [Laughs.] They have to change the title, I told them they have to change the title. It?s about a talking mule, and I play a slimy real estate agent. And I have a thriller called 9 Mile and a western that I?m hoping to do this year. It?s called Tranquility.