Kevin Sorbo: From Mythical Hero to Purveyor of Faith
As the invincible Hercules, he has thrilled audiences around the world. Now he inspires with messages of hope, faith, and family.
In 2019, the release of the faith-based action film, The Reliant, fueled more debate on one of the most burning issues of our day. Kevin Sorbo, who starred in the movie, supports the film’s defense of the second amendment and how faith in God provides sanctuary during troubled times. Sorbo doesn’t mind controversy when it comes to difficult subjects, and when it comes to faith, the veteran actor is immovable even if it means being shunned by Hollywood.
It wasn’t always this way for him. Sorbo rose to international stardom but attributes his success to humble beginnings. Born in 1958 in Mound, Minnesota, and proud of his Norwegian heritage and small-town upbringing, he was raised in a loving Lutheran family and taught Christian values. His father was a junior-high-school teacher, and his mother gave up a nursing career to raise their brood of five children.
His passion for acting was sparked during a school trip to a Minneapolis theater to see Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. “The actors and how they commanded the attention of everyone in the room mesmerized me. It wasn’t ‘real,’ and yet they still made people listen, think, laugh, and cry. That was tremendous power,” he recalls. But this passion would remain secret for years.
Sorbo loved playing football, basketball, golf, and baseball while in high school. Then he dutifully attended Minnesota State University Moorhead, where he double-majored in marketing and advertising. He started working as a model for television commercials and print advertising to help pay for tuition. But a fateful night while stranded in his car during a Midwestern blizzard awakened the passion that had long burned inside him. He decided to quit college and start marketing himself. Initially, he traveled to Europe and Australia in the mid-1980s, where he found modeling work for print and television advertising. By the early 1990s, he had appeared in over 150 commercials.
Los Angeles became his home in 1986, and that same year he made his first appearance in an episode of the television soap opera Santa Barbara. Soon after, he landed guest appearances in popular primetime shows such as Dallas, Cheers, The Commish, and Murder, She Wrote. His first film debut came in 1992 with a supporting role in the thriller Slaughter of the Innocents.
The Big Break
In 1993, Sorbo landed the leading role of Hercules in a series of five television films by Universal. Their huge success prompted the launch of the television series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, which ran until 2000. He gained international fame and hailed a major star for his Hercules role. The series became the most-watched television show in the world airing in 176 countries. Filming the show allowed him to learn filmmaking, and he applied his new skills in directing two episodes and co-writing another. He even learned martial arts so that he could do many stunts himself.
While portraying a slayer of mythical monsters and hero of the people, Sorbo’s muscle-bound physique could not withstand a real-life crisis kept hidden from public view. He had suffered an aneurism in his left subclavian area in the artery feeding blood into his left arm. The condition caused several strokes that left him with 10% vision loss, migraines, imbalance, and diminished strength. He attributes his survival to nothing short of a miracle. In 2011, he chronicled his injury and journey to recovery in his autobiography True Strength: My Journey from Hercules to Mere Mortal —and How Nearly Dying Saved My Life.
After Hercules, he starred in the leading role of Captain Dylan Hunt in Andromeda, the first television series written by Gene Roddenberry since Star Trek. The series aired from 2000 to 2005 and became America’s number one syndicated show for its entire run.
Throughout his career, Sorbo has starred in over 60 films, including Kull the Conqueror, Meet the Spartans, five installments of Mythica, and two follow-ups to Walking Tall. He starred in leading roles and made guest appearances in over 40 television movies and shows such as Hallmark’s Avenging Angel, Two and a Half Men, Hawaii Five-O, and Psych. Several video games were voiced by him, including The Conduit and Skylanders, and he was the voice of God in the dramatic audio production of Breathe Bible.
Journey of Faith
Since becoming more open about his views on faith, Sorbo believes opportunities in Hollywood have dwindled for him. He states, “There’s negativity towards Christians in Hollywood and negativity towards people who believe in God.” It is faith and family that inspires him to make independent films such as Let There Be Light, Christmas Dreams, God’s Not Dead, and What If, films that everyday people can relate to. He is encouraged by fans asking him to make more faith-based films.
Sorbo, with his wife, Sam, wrote the devotional book Share the Light, inspired by their film Let There Be Light about an atheist who finds his purpose after a near-death experience. Sorbo says in an interview with The Greenville News, “This is the kind of uplifting movie that Hollywood used to make. People want more movies like this, and that’s why I want to keep making movies that deliver a positive message.”
Very outspoken on attacks against Christianity, Sorbo has been interviewed many times on the subject by the media. He is doing his part in promoting values through his films and bringing awareness through speaking engagements, the press, and social platforms. He has over 486,000 Facebook followers and 184,000 Twitter followers, plus fan clubs worldwide.
A successful actor, director, and producer for over 30 years, he’s received multiple awards and recognitions for his work, such as The Movie Guide Award for Most Inspirational Performance of the Year and Best Family Movie of the Year 2011 for the faith-based movie What If. His books have also received critical acclaim.
While on the set of Hercules in 1996, Sorbo met actress Sam Jenkins who had a lead guest role in the series. A year later, they were married and have been supportive of each other’s projects ever since, often collaborating on various works. They live in Florida with their three teenage children.
Since 1997, Sorbo has been the spokesperson and chair of A World Fit for Kids!, a nonprofit that promotes healthy behaviors and personal empowerment for students through their afterschool programs. In 2005, he became the spokesperson for Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit organization helping to ensure access to quality afterschool programs for all children.
In the Pipeline
Anticipation builds as we await his latest movie lineup set for release in 2020. One Nation Under God explores the fight to put that phrase back in the Pledge of Allegiance in schools, first amendment rights, and personal convictions. Also, The Mustard Seed, a film about a little girl “who can perform miracles” and Miracle in East Texas, a comedy based on the true story of two con-men and the world’s biggest oil strike.
Documentaries being released in 2020 by Sorbo include Against the Tide that follows Oxford professor John Lennox’s apologist debates against famous atheists. Also, Before the Wrath about the scholarly discussion on the Rapture and why it is prophesied, and Climate Hustle 2 exposing a massive hidden war on our culture.
Sorbo will have starring roles in future projects, including the TV comedy series Meet the Potwins about political correctness gone amuck and the movie Healing Hearts about a teenage girl discovering life again after her father’s death. Sorbo will also direct and star in the movies Elijah and Jack on the adventures of a farm boy and his dog during the American Revolution and Not Too Far From Here about finding hope during hard times.
Sorbo remains a Herculean champion for the people and continues to deliver his message with strength and courage —provoking our thoughts and enlightening our lives. For more information on Kevin Sorbo and his projects, visit his official website at kevinsorbo.net.