Exclusive: Kevin Sorbo on Modern Hollywood and Teaming Up with Sean Hannity
LifeZette talks to 'Hercules' star about his faith-based film — he hopes it speaks to audiences mostly ignored by the industry
While he was known early in his career as the lead on the hit television series “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys,” Kevin Sorbo has more recently made a splash with audiences for his work in the faith-based genre, with roles in such movies as “What If…” and “God’s Not Dead.”
Now the actor is about to be known to moviegoers for one more thing: directing. While he was behind the camera on a handful of episodes of “Hercules,” Sorbo is making his feature-film debut with “Let There Be Light,” an independent movie co-written by his wife, Sam Sorbo (pictured above right), and “The Hurricane” scribe Dan Gordon.
The film hits theaters October 27.
“There are millions upon millions of people who want movies with good values and good morals,” Sorbo told LifeZette in an exclusive interview by phone about his film. It’s this audience, he said, that Hollywood studios are ignoring, despite box office hits like “God’s Not Dead” and “War Room.”
"Let There Be Light" wasn't financed through traditional avenues. After Sorbo's wife with friend Dan Gordon had written the screenplay, it was a well-timed call from Fox News host Sean Hannity that got cameras rolling on the picture.
"I read it ['Let There Be Light'] and three days later, I get a call from Sean Hannity," Sorbo said. The filmmaker had been a guest on Hannity's program numerous times, and the Fox News host was a fan of Sorbo's work in the faith-based genre. Hannity was looking to help create something with a positive message.
With Hannity's support, "Let There Be Light" came together more quickly than most productions. Sorbo said the filming in Alabama "went very smoothly," and the project was completed over the course of little more than a year. Most films, according to Sorbo, take "three to five years" to make their way through financing and completion.
"Sean [Hannity] was the best executive producer you could ask for because he just stayed out of the way," Sorbo said, laughing. The Fox News host wasn't entirely absent from the production, though. He even makes an important appearance in the film as himself — and is using his news-based show as a platform to promote the movie.
"Let There Be Light" is the story of a famous atheist who fights publicly against any notion of a God. Still reeling from the death of one of his sons, Dr. Sol Harkens (played by Kevin Sorbo) hides his pain behind alcohol and clever quips about partying.
After a near-fatal car accident leads to a life-changing vision, Harkens begins to question his beliefs and makes a journey back to faith and his family (all played by Sorbo's real-life family, including his two sons and his wife).
It's the type of film with a positive, powerful message that's missing from a lot of today's mainstream content. Its release may even be timed just right, as entertainment news is bogged down with stories of corruption and cover-ups regarding harassment and abuse in Hollywood, along with divisive celebrities calling out their own fans who may support the country's president or be politically conservative.
Regarding stories of alleged abuse by industry titans such as Harvey Weinstein, Sorbo, who was born in Minnesota, said, "This has been going on for decades in Hollywood. Everyone's afraid to say anything because guys like Harvey [Weinstein] are the guys that have the power to get people into movies, so the casting couch has always been around. It's never going to go away until people get busted, but this is a huge black eye for Hollywood."
Sorbo wants his work to speak to everyone — to people of all political and faith backgrounds.
As far as celebrities such as Eminem, Seth Meyers, and Jimmy Kimmel who curse out their conservative fans, telling them to "go away" or failing to appreciate or acknowledge their support — all of that confounds Sorbo as an artist.
"It's just weird to me," he said. "I miss Johnny Carson, I got to tell you. That guy was a class act. Even Jay Leno was a class act."
Celebrities don't appreciate their audiences the way people like Carson did, the "Hercules" star said. Now they talk with "so much hate and so much anger." He added, "I don't understand why we can't get along."
Sorbo wants his work to speak to everyone — to people of all political and faith backgrounds. "I don't want to just preach to the choir. I want to reach people out there who are agnostic, even atheists," he said.
Even if they can receive just a small part of the message in the work, then Sorbo believes "it's all worthwhile."
As for Hollywood's refusal to back faith-based pictures when there is such a large and hungry audience in America, Sorbo wishes it would change — but he's not terribly hopeful. "Hollywood really likes to stick with the same formula. They want to do 'Pirates of the Caribbean 17 [instead of faith-based pictures],'" he said.
When Hollywood does take a stab at faith-based movies, it tends to leave Christian audience members like Sorbo stumped and unsatisfied. "They hire atheists to do Old Testament stories. It's amazing to me," he said, referencing the 2014 blockbuster attempts that were "Noah" and "Exodus: Gods and Kings," from directors Darren Aronofsky and Ridley Scott, respectively. "It's why both of those movies really bombed after the opening weekend."
Sorbo, however, still holds out hope for a brighter future between Hollywood and faith-based pictures. "I wish they would jump in there," he said. "Maybe one day it will happen."
For now he's focused on his own film — and its success. Church groups and people who want the movie to play in their area, he stressed, should inform their local theaters to help the film spread beyond its 300-plus opening multiplex count. Independent movies like "Let There Be Light" need positive word-of-mouth and sizable opening numbers to thrive.
Said Sorbo, "Without a big opening weekend, they disappear."
For more information on "Let There Be Light," click here.