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Kevin Sorbo adds the genial to Gene Roddenberry's
Andromeda By Patrick Lee
Kevin Sorbo, star and executive producer of the
hit syndicated SF series Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda,
said that the show is undergoing several big changes
as it enters its third season in North America, with
an order for at least one more after that.
First, Robert Engels (Twin Peaks) joins the production
as head writer, and will bring a lighter touch to
the series. Second, Sorbo's character, Capt. Dylan
Hunt, will loosen up a little himself.
Big changes have also taken place for Sorbo behind
the scenes. Sorbo, 44, and his wife, Sam, 36, recently
celebrated the first birthday of their first child,
a son named Braeden Cooper. Sorbo is learning how
to balance family with Andromeda's grueling schedule.
Sorbo took a moment in October to speak with Science
Fiction Weekly about Andromeda during a break in filming
at the show's Vancouver, B.C., studio. Sorbo also
talked candidly about the departure of Robert Hewitt
Wolfe, who created Andromeda based on notes from late
Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.
You're now balancing fatherhood with work?
Sorbo: [Braeden]'s the only thing that's important
Having a child kind of changes your perspective on things,
Sorbo: Yeah, it does. No question. It's cool. I
love it. Absolutely love it.
Where are you at in the production process on Andromeda?
Sorbo: Episode 17 already. We're flying. I think
only two or three have aired in the States so far
[the season began Sept. 30]. ... We start [production]
much earlier in our TV [season than big network shows].
We start shooting in April, when most people are just
finishing up their previous year. And it's good for
a number of reasons. Number one, you get out of here
before the real rainy months. But we don't go outside
that much anyway. But still, I kind of like the fact
that I get mid-December through mid-April down in
L.A. or wherever else I'm going to be.
What do you do on your hiatus?
Sorbo: Those four months I'm sort of bopping around.
Hopefully, other projects will come up. That's one
reason I love the show so much, because I get such
a bigger break. Never got that on Hercules [The Legendary
Journeys], you know? Just a couple months a year.
And you're not so far away?
Sorbo: Yeah, New Zealand wasn't exactly a hop, skip
and a jump, that's for sure.
How many episodes are you shooting this year?
Sorbo: Twenty-two a year.
And you've already been renewed for season four?
Sorbo: Four is already picked up, so we're definitely
coming back next year, and unless we totally explode
or implode, we will get season five. I feel pretty
confident. I think we've got a good fan base now,
and Tribune [Entertainment, which produces the show,]
seems to be pretty solid behind the show and where
they want it to go
There are some changes this year. You have a new
Sorbo: Bob Engels.
What does he bring?
Sorbo: I think it's just different in the fact that
there's more of the humorous beat to it. There's more
of a quirky beat to it. We're not going to go so overboard
of what he did with Twin Peaks, but there's still
just more strange twists and turns. But I think we're
making it just more accessible for everybody. I think
we're making it easier to follow. We were getting
off the track, and the show was getting too dark and
too hard to follow. And I think season three just
brings a lot of shows that just have a beginning,
middle and end. Pretty much like the original Star
Trek was. If you weren't watching every week, you
could, boom, pop on and still see what's going on
and have fun.
Even season two had too much backstory?
Sorbo: Robert Hewitt Wolfe was replaced midway through
season two. ... He just had a different vision of
... what everybody thought the show was going to be.
So when one guy wants his vision, and the other producers
and the studios and the financial backers are all
saying, "Well, this is not what we want [and]
thought the show was going to be," unfortunately
for himbecause Robert's a very talented guyhe
loses that battle. But he wasn't willing to change,
so all the power to him if he doesn't want to be that
What did he want?
Sorbo: It was just ... very dark. ... We want to
stay true to Gene Roddenberry's vision, which had
the show being, "Let's have some hope. Let's
have some happy endings." Every ending was kind
of a downer. We've won the battle, but oh my God,
we really didn't, because now look what we've got.
It was just kind of dark and sad, and I think that
was putting a shroud over everybody in the cast and
crew. I mean, it was just, "My God, can we have
some levity, you know?"
We just finished an episode that Peter DeLuise directed,
first-time director. Peter's out of  Jump Street
and all that. Great director, had a blast. I'm saying
this without seeing even just the first cut of it.
I think it's by far and away our most entertaining
and funniest show that we've ever had, and I want
more shows like that. I'd like about one-third of
the shows to be like that and a third to be sort of
middle-of-the-road and then another third to be the
darker and heavy, more dramatic ones.
The one we're doing now ["Twilight of the Idols"]
is a more dramatic one. We have Michael Ironside in,
playing a really good foil. Oh, he's great. We had
a great day yesterday. This is a very talky episode.
I think I have more dialogue in this episode than
I did in three combined. Michael says more than I
say in a season. They just gave him chunks of pages.
... He plays a guy that he's good, but he's evil,
but it's "Who knows?" We definitely left
it out there that he can come back, which I hope happens.
What other surprises can we expect this year?
Sorbo: Like the last episode we shot ... we end
up in a system that we didn't want to go into. It's
basically a garbage system. It's a very poor, bad
side of the tracks. The people that run the system
are half cracked-out anyway. It's literally the garbage
dump of the universe. They have toxic waste floating
in space. ... And because of that, and because of
the high radioactivity and everything else, we can't
even find a way out of it. And they have to navigate
the old way, basically by stars and knowing where
Well, we don't know where the hell we are. So we
have to actually employ these lunatics to get us out
of this system. And in the process, we come upon a
princess within their royal court area that's really
not a princess. She's a con. We find out she's a con,
but she's got these monks. ... And then the guy at
the royal court thinks she's a princess, and she's
conned everybody, but she's also stolen all their
money. And I'm stuck in the middle of it, and they're
just going to kill her on sight, with an android who's
a judge who's only operating at about 70 percent anyway.
It's just funny. And Peter made it just hilarious
and a howl. Everybody reacts to each other, and in
the middle of this all, I'm obviously very attracted
to the princess. I kind of like the bad-girl image
she's got, because she's also very hot. And it was
just a fun episode, and Peter brought in a lot of
humor to it, which I like, because we always did that
in Hercules. ... Hercules in space is what that episode
is. It was fun.
So Dylan's going to be a little more Han Solo this
Sorbo: Yeah, I think so, and I think that's where
the episodes are starting to go. ... This season you'll
see us running into more and more problems with the
Commonwealth that Dylan formed, because it's not the
Commonwealth that he wanted. It shows you right away
all the political crap that goes on. It doesn't matter
what country or world or wherever you're from. Politics
are always going to be there, and [with] politics
comes people's own personal interests. They sort of
get in the way of what I thought the Commonwealth
was going to be. There's all kinds of corruption.
So he becomes disillusioned, and pretty much before
the season's over, I think people will see Dylan say,
"You know what? Screw the Commonwealth. You know
what? Let's just go out and do good for people. I
don't have time." He's going to become a little
bit more impatient. Sarcastic, but in a fun [way].
... He's going to be, like you said, more of a renegade.
He's going to be more of a guy [who's] just going
to say, "You know what? I got nothing to lose
anymore. I've lost everything. Let's just go out and
have some fun."
Isn't that where you wanted it to go all along?
Sorbo: Oh yeah. I think just [that] this guy has
lost everything. Why should he be so conservative?
... People like action shows like this and adventure
shows like this. You know, we all want to be that
hero. That guy that just says, "What the hell?
I could die, but at least I'm doing something good
for something." That's what I call being a hero.
You put yourself in harm's way for the good of somebody
Is the show becoming more Hercules and less Star
Sorbo: Well, for lack of better reference, yeah.
I mean, you know, because that's where I came from.
... And I don't want people that didn't like Hercules
to be turned off by that. It's still a science-fiction
show. It's still a show about the future. It's just
that we've brought [a] lighter tone to it, and I think
we've made it ... a funner show. It's more of a "Butch
and Sundance" type of feel to it now than it
was about just being dark and depressing. Because
there's enough dark and depressing crap out there
every day right now, and I think people want to have
an escape. And hopefully we're one of those shows
that can give people an hour of just having a fun
Can you talk about balancing the dual role of star
and executive producer?
Sorbo: I think I've gotten better at what I believe
my role as executive producer is. There are other
executive producers, but we all sort of look at things
in our own ways. ... We all get a little piece of
the pie, so to speak, and our say in the show. And
sometimes it becomes overwhelming. ... [Production
companies] Fireworks [Entertainment] and Tribune will
say, "We got to get this done, blah blah blah."
But I enjoy it. ... I did on Hercules, too. I mean,
I never got any final say in terms of editing, but
now I get to look at the cuts. I get to say, "Look,
why is this shot gone?" Or "Can we make
that quicker?" Or "I know we took a shot
here of Harper doing this and that." So ... you
know, I get in my say. And I think I have a good sense
of the show. I think I understand it. So I'm one of
the many cooks.
It's not that I get final everything. But they certainly
will look at my suggestions, and the majority of the
time, they actually implement them in the final cut
because ... I think I'm making good decisions. I think
I'm making good choices. If they don't like what I've
asked, they'll tell me why, and I don't be a baby
about it. I'll sit there. I mean, I'm always open
for open debates and arguments. You know, it's just
nice to have a say in there.
From the start, I hired the cast. I had final say
on really what the cast was going to be. We'd see
a selection of three, and I had in my contract to
say yes or no. And they trusted me, and I think that's
why they brought me on board to get the show off the
ground in the first place. I think the success of
Hercules had something to do with a series of this
nature being guaranteed 44 episodes before we even
hired actors, show runners, anybody. And, you know,
I wanted that credit on Hercules and never got it.
So I'm in there. I'm not just saying my lines. I'm
also actively involved in the things that happen on
How does that play out on the set? Do you exercise
Sorbo: Oh, certainly. But I felt it even on Hercules.
I think I was on shows as a guest star, and you see
the way actors are, good and bad. And I said I don't
want to be one of those bad ones, you know? I want
to be a guy that people still like. I mean, we all
get in our moods. We're not up every day. But I'm
a bit of a joker, and I like to have fun on the set.
I always like to have fun on the set. When you work
long days, you might as well. And I've been on shows
where the lead actors were not very friendly and not
very nice. And you can see the crew. It's not fun.
Nobody wants to be there. Nobody wants to do anything
with this guy. These guys will bend over backwards
for me, and I'll bend over backwards for them. It's
a good working relationship on both sides of the camera,
and same thing with our actors. Today with [co-stars]
Lisa [Ryder] and with Gordon [Michael Woolvett], we
have a very good time on the set. And I appreciate
their talents, and I believe that they appreciate
what I bring to the table as well.
What can you tell us about guest stars this season?
You asked Bruce Campbell to appear?
Sorbo: Bruce pulled out, dirty bastard [laughs].
He pulled out because of his book [If Chins Could
Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor]. He'd done a
book, and he's going on doing the second release of
it, and he's just traveling all over the country,
signing things. So he says he wants to do it, so hopefully
we'll get him back. ... It'd be great. We had such
a good time on Herc, and he wants to do it. It's just
a matter of finding him. He was actually supposed
to play the part that James Marsters ended up getting
in season two, the Nietzschean [Charlemagne Bolivar].
So that was originally written for Bruce. But James
did a great job with it, so we're actually trying
to get James back now, too, to play that part again.
But we gotta get something with Bruce, and we're going
to get [Sorbo's Hercules co-star] Michael Hurst back
to play a different role again. So that'll be fun.
We've got John de Lancie back. We've got Michael Ironside
Sorbo: I did Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? [with
him]. Jason is a huge Gene Roddenberry fan. So he
would love to do it, so hopefully we'll get him too.
I mean, it's out there, and people want to do it.
Who's the guy from 24 [Dennis Haysbert]? He sat behind
me at the Emmys, and he said, "I'd love to come
and do your show." I said, "Do you have
time?" And he goes, "I'm in the show, but
I got time." I said, "We'd love you to come
on, you know?" It'd be great.
Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura [Sorbo is a native
Sorbo: Jesse said he'd love to do it, too. So now
it's a matter of just putting it out there. You know,
it's really up to the writers. I'm giving them a list
of people who want to do the show. ... Meat Loaf wants
to do it. I'd love to get Meat down here.
Is Brent Stait (Rev Bem) coming back?
Sorbo: We just shot an episode with Brent. It's
an interesting metamorphosis he goes through. He changes
his look. He's still an alien, but the Magog turns
into kind of a bizarre Magog-human-like transformation.
Is that an attempt to address his makeup issues
[Stait left the show in part because he didn't like
the elaborate makeup]?
Sorbo: Oh, certainly. Certainly. But I think the
look is kind of cool. I'm trying to get him to come
and do more episodes next year.
Any chance he'd be a regular again?
Sorbo: If I had my way, yes. But beyond that, I
don't know. It's still up in the air.
Do you guys do a lot of practical jokes on the set?
Sorbo: Let's cut to the chase. The force lance looks
like a vibrator, OK? I mean, it looks like a penis.
It does. The first season, they actually were, like,
flesh-colored. It was ridiculous, and you couldn't
help it. The minute anybody sees them or looks at
them or holds on to them, you can't help but think
of it. So I constantly do things, the pig that I am,
[to] every female co-star we have on the show. I basically
pull it out at the end of every take, and I ask them,
"Have you seen my force lance?" And it's
become an ongoing joke. I actually put it on the first
year's crew gift. I gave boxer shorts out. On the
back it said, "Have you seen my force lance?"
with the Andromeda logo on the front. It's become
a standard-issue joke.
Gordon Michael Woolvett, who plays Seamus Harper,
is also writing an episode this year?
Sorbo: Gordon has a bizarre, twisted, incredibly
intelligently, funny mind of his own, and ... he's
right now writing the next episode which we'll shoot.
... Number 19 will be his episode. He wrote two other
scripts that I think are really good. The studio doesn't
know what they're going to do with them yet, but they
commissioned him to do this other one. But I'm hoping
the second episode which I just read that he wrote
is a great episode. And we're hoping that we end up
Are you planning on writing or directing any of
Sorbo: You know, I'm ready to do two episodes a
year in my contract. ... Physically, I was supposed
to direct the 19th episode this year as well, which
would have been my sixth one to direct. I keep turning
them down. I like my life right now, and directing
just adds another 20 hours onto a work week that's
already 80 hours long. So I just look at it and go,
"You know, I've got a kid." I've got a different
life now than I had on Hercules. I was a single guy,
and I was so far out of the loop of Hollywood. Here
in Vancouver, it's the same time zone, it's two and
a half hours away. So even though I'm out of the loop,
I'm not out-out-out of the loop. So I'm just trying
to get other things going in my life. I'm trying to
get open some doors for future films. I've got a meeting
this weekend to potentially do my own sitcom, so there's
other things I want to do.
When would that be?
Sorbo: Well, this show's got at least two more years
on it. But we're putting out the feelers, and I've
had some good response as a guest star. I've done
Just Shoot Me, four episodes of Dharma & Greg,
and I just had good response from the different studios
... saying they wouldn't mind maybe having something
happen. Yeah, two years is still sort of a long way
away, but then again, it's not, and I want to keep
the door open. I mean, I don't know what's going to
happen with the show. They haven't said anything beyond
five years, so I've got to think of my own future,
Any feature-film work?
Sorbo: I just did a small film called Clipping Adam,
which is a small independent film with Louise Fletcher
as well. I play a priest that works with this kid
that's kind of going through a lot of issues since
his mother and young sister died in a car crash and
his father's an alcoholic. It's kind of a heavy drama,
very touching, and I hope it gets distribution. I
think it's got potential to do well at maybe film
festivals and things. But it was fun to do something
different. I shot that in August on our hiatus, and
I'm looking for a couple things right now. I've got
a script that I'm in love with. I don't want to give
a name right now. It's out to a feature-film actor,
but I don't think there's really any difference between
feature-film and TV guys, since everybody in movies
is now doing TV as well. So, you know, I'm hoping
for something else. I do want to break the mold and
kind of get to do other things and sort of stretch
the acting muscles and show people that it's just
not all Mr. Action Guy.
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