Beliefnet
Faith, Media & Culture

Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

Ready, willing and Abel. With eight movies currently in the production pipeline and a western film slated to debut next month on The Hallmark Channel, Kevin Sorbo is easily one of busiest actors in Hollywood. Yet, after reading the script for Abel’s Field,  the new faith-themed independent film from up-and-coming producer Tore Knos,  the iconic star of TV’s Hercules made the decision to help nurture the unusual story enigmatic high school grounds keeper named Abel (Sorbo) that helps a stressed-out teenager (Samuel Davis) who, forced by his mother’s death and father’s  abandonment, must rear his two younger sisters. (You can read my review here.)

I interviewed Kevin once before and was pleased to have the opportunity to catch up with him again to ask him about Abel’s Field and his various other projects.  Here are some highlights from our conversation.

JWK: What drew you to Abel’s Field?

KEVIN SORBO: The script (by Aron Flasher), of course. I met with Gordie (Haakstad, the director) and with Tore at a tiny little restaurant…in Santa Monica. The beginning of it was just like, okay, let’s try to raise money for it because at that time it was at square one — just us three really jumping on board with it. I just said this is what I want to do. I love the script, I love the storyline, I love the character. I love this tormented guy that was not willing to forgive himself because I think everybody (who sees) the story can relate to that whether they’re Christians or not. But, certainly, if you believe in God you get to the point where (you feel) “Yeah, you know what, God forgave my sins but I still have to forgive myself.” I think a lot of people can relate to that — when you get to that point, that breaking point or that realization point that you just go “You know what? I gotta do what I gotta do and this is the right thing to do.”

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JWK: What do you hope people take from the film?

KS: You know, I hope they think. I love being in this business because I love what movies and television and all that kind of stuff has done to me through the years. I love that it can bring up all these different emotions in me — whether it’s anger or happiness or sadness…whatever it may be. And I love being part of that process.

JWK: Is that one of the joys of being an actor — the idea that you can really touch people’s lives?

KS: No question. I mean, let’s face it, the media in all its forms — whether it’s NBC, Fox or whoever it may be — they can all influence, good and bad.

JWK: What was it like working with Samuel Davis, the young actor who plays the high school student your character befriends in the movie?

KS: (He’s) a very confident young man. He came in there and he looked me square in the eye and we shook hands. He was like “Let’s go to work.” He said “I’m open to hearing suggestions from you or Gordie or anybody.” For a guy who was only doing his second movie…I thought he did a wonderful job.  He’s done a couple of things since then and he was a joy to be around. My boys just loved him and we had a good time together. I took him out golfing a couple of times. He sucks but he had fun golfing.

JWK: Talking about the impact the media can have on people, your autobiographical book True Strength telling the story your own medical crisis in the nineties is out and has touched and motivated a lot of people.

KS: You know, it was a story that my wife (urged) me to finally get out there and I said “Okay, now’s the time to do it.” I was one of those students in college that, if I had a semester to do a paper, I always waited till the last two weeks. So, I think I just waited all these years to really get out the story of my strokes and my recovery and what I went through. My wife just said “You’ve got a great story that’s going to be very powerful for people and send a very powerful message that they can overcome anything that comes into their life.”  We still have to deal with some of the handicaps that happen from illnesses but, at the same time, you can live a better life if you’re willing to put yourself forward and put the effort into it and find your own true strength and just be a strong-willed person and say “I’m not going to let other people set my limitations.  I’m gonna make this better. I’m not gonna live my life like this. I’m gonna life my life better.”

JWK: Do you feel that, perhaps, by waiting some years to tell the story, your perspective on it deepened and that, maybe, you had that much more wisdom to share?

KS: Oh, certainly. I was able to remove myself from what had happened to me, in a way.. I could look back…with fresher eyes instead of just the pained eyes I was (looking) through those first two or three years. You know, what was interesting was doing the audio book. Because, (writing) the book itself, I spent a good solid year just going over things. A chapter would come here. A chapter would come there. The arrangement of chapters came much after the book was written through myself and also through the publisher. But it was doing the audio book where it just really hit me because, you know, you’re reading straight through. It wasn’t a year’s process. It was a couple of days in a sound booth and, boy, there’s places that just made me relive things. It was tough. I got emotional in the booth. They’re going “Keep going! Keep going! This is good!” And I’m saying “No, I’m not going to sit there and cry! Let me just get past this! I’ll be ready to go in a minute!”

JWK: The fact that you came back from such a struggle, does that impact the type of movies you’re looking for?

KS: In a way. I can’t say I’m picky (in terms of genre). I mean I’ll read anything (for) the first 20 pages…It doesn’t matter if it’s a psychological thriller (or) if it’s a faith-based script. It doesn’t really matter. If the first 20 pages don’t grab me, I don’t finish the script…I got one called Julia X. They sold it in all kinds of places around the world. It hasn’t been sold in America yet…It would be drag for me if it doesn’t get seen in this country…because it’s a whole different role for me. I played a serial killer. And then on the heels of that I did my What If… movie. We were runner-up to Narnia for the best family movie of the year. I won a really nice acting award for it. The characters couldn’t be (more) completely different from each other — North and South Pole.  I guess, because I have kids, I would tend to do things that are more family oriented. I love comedies.

JWK: With Hercules and Andromeda, you’ve had two hit TV shows in your career. Any chance we’ll see you back in another TV series any time soon?

KS: I hope so…I am looking…I’ve got a show that my wife created and I helped to work on it…We’ve got interest with a couple of studios, a couple of producers. I’ve got another pilot that came to me recently that I really liked a lot. There’s another one I’m reading for soon — because it’s pilot season…I would love to get back on TV, there’s no question.

(Note: Earlier on in our conversation, I brought up a 2005 pilot Kevin starred in called Bobby Cannon. I think his comments offer an interesting insight into the business of television. I inserted our exchange here for the purpose of article flow.)

JWK: By the way, I happened to recently checkout YouTube clips of a 2005 sitcom pilot you did called Bobby Cannon. That looked pretty solid. I’m surprised it wasn’t picked up.

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KS: Dude, it tested number one in all eight markets of the 28 pilots (for) ABC.  There was one guy who decided not to pick it up and that was, at that time, the president, Steve McPherson. It would have been an eight-year hit. We’d be in our last year right now. It’s annoying, beyond annoying. Barry Kemp‘s a great writer and the show only would have gotten better. I mean for a rough-cut pilot, it turned out pretty darn well…It’s just frustrating that in Hollywood you never know why something does or doesn’t get picked up…One guy makes the decision. And this is the same president at the time who said no to CSI and American Idol…They don’t know any better (than anyone else). It’s all a guessing game for them. But it’s weird they spend the money and the time testing it and then it does so well and they don’t pay attention to what the audience says. This is a strange business.

JWK: True enough. You also have a golf tournament with your name on it. Can you tell me about that and the cause it supports?

KS: A World Fit for Kids…It’s for my after-school program. We’ve done three (tournaments) and I want to get the fourth one going…I’ve got musical guests and comedians all lined up to perform…And, of course, we have golfing for two days. We lost our main sponsor — another casualty of the economy. We’re just looking for a main sponsor right now.

JWK: Anything else our readers might be interested in?

KS: Shadow on the Mesa airs on the Hallmark Channel (on Saturday, March 23)…Gail O’Grady and Greg Evigan are in it with me. It’s a nice western action drama.  Wes Brown is in it too.

Note: Abel’s Field is widely available at retailers such as Walmart and Target and via digital rental or download on iTunes. You can also buy it online at Amazon or ChristianCinema.com.

Kevin Sorbo fans can follow him at  @KSorbs on Twitter, as well as his website and Facebook page.
Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
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