THE LEGEND OF HERCULES
Gods, Heroes and Mortals
For the role of Hercules which has been reprised over the years by many,
Harlin wanted to cast
an actor people could really embrace as a fresh, new face--and someone who could
take the character
of Hercules and make it his own. "The way we approached the casting of this
entire movie, was that we
wanted rising actors who weren't necessarily associated with a lot of other
previous roles," said Harlin.
"I really wanted young faces and great actors."
Harlin searched through Europe, Australia and the U.S. for actors and had
them test on screen
with different scenes. Some of the actors weren't found until right before
production began, including
for the role of Queen Alcmene. "We didn't find Roxanne McKee until about the
week before we started
shooting," said Harlin. "I probably saw about 80 actresses for that role, as I
did for most of the roles,
because I always had a very clear picture in my head. All of the actors had to
feel right for this kind of
historical film. I didn't want them to feel too modern and we were lucky enough
to find, for every role,
just the perfect fit."
Kellan Lutz recalls his connection to the role of Hercules also began as a
young boy with a wild
imagination living on a farm. "Hercules represents so much to me, and it was
always something as a kid
growing up on a farm I'd dreamt about playing," said Lutz. "Once Renny had the
script, I wanted to meet
with him, and I almost felt like if I bugged him enough, and showed him how much
this part meant to
me, that I'd get the role. So I auditioned for him, and he saw something in me
and here I am today just
living that little boy's dream."
The infamous character of Hercules instantly came to life for Lutz when he
put on the costume
and walked onto the grand sets. "You walk into these incredible soundstages and
you see the other
actors wearing these amazing costumes and the acting just comes naturally from
that point," said Lutz.
"This is one of the best experiences I've ever had as an actor and the best
group of people I've gotten to
work with. Renny is the leader of this massive ship, and he leads with
authority, compassion, openness,
love and respect to everyone. And that just makes everyone want to prove to him
how much they
appreciate working on this film."
Starring as Hercules' best friend and partner in battle, Sotiris, Liam
McIntyre had also long
admired this time period. "I read a lot of history as a kid, and always found
Greek and Roman mythology
to be so fascinating," said McIntyre. "What I loved most about this time period
is that it's the dawn of
civilized society if you will--where cohesive, structured, formal armies are
forming and religious systems
are feeding into their laws." Like Harlin, the actor was also drawn to Hercules'
influence on today's
heroes. "Hercules was truly the benchmark for men and superheroes. If you go
back to that time and
look at Hercules you'll see they're all in some way based off of him," continued
"The work our costume designer and production designer have done has been
McIntyre. "The idea that you can walk into set Monday and be on a ship, and then
on Friday you're on a
battle field that is as authentic as you can imagine is just phenomenal. And our
costume designer has
been brilliant-- because one thing she didn't have a lot of was time. She created
masterpieces out of
thin air. We're very lucky as actors to be working with such a great team."
As Hebe, the Princess of Crete, Gaia Weiss' first impression of the expansive
sets had her feeling
like a kid in an amusement park. "I was absolutely amazed because everything is
so grand," said Weiss.
"It felt incredible that it all came from someone's imagination. Renny and his
production design team
are remarkable at making everything look absolutely gorgeous."
Weiss prepared for her role by creating a soundtrack that would get into the
right emotion. "I
always get a soundtrack so I can work on my lines with it in front of a mirror
where that sound creates
an atmosphere for me," said Weiss. "When you're first working on a script you
don't know how the sets
will look, and sometimes you don't even have a clear idea of what the atmosphere
of the film will be, so
this soundtrack helps me with that."
Finding the right actress for Lutz to play opposite of was important for
Harlin. "It's not only
about finding the perfect actor for each part, but how those actors are going to
interact with each
other," said Harlin. "And we got lucky with not only the chemistry of these two
lead characters, but with
the chemistry of everyone on that screen."
"I love the Hercules and Hebe relationship because while this film has a lot
of fighting and
action, it's equally a romance piece," said Lutz. "There's a connection between
these two characters
that feels true and real. You can see that behind their titles, of princess and
demigod are two young
lovers full of life."
Weiss finds her character is drawn to Hercules because of his courage as a
protector and his
sentiments as a kind man who she can't live without. The actress recalls
preparing for her role with Lutz
and developing the background they imagined for their characters. "Kellan and I
had actually imagined
different backgrounds, which actually complimented each others," said Weiss. "We
had two weeks of
preparation which helped us become closer and friendly. And that helped because
sometimes you just
come on set and you have a kissing scene or a love scene and you don't even know
the person, so it can
feel a bit awkward."
"Gaia brought this elegance and timelessness to her character and has been an
to work with," said Lutz. "She's such an easygoing person and we created a
friendship hanging out offset
that translated into our characters with such ease. As acting partners taking on
a love scene it helped
because we had trust in each other and could forget about the awkwardness of the
Beyond Hercules' relationship with Hebe, was the passage of a conflicted
young man coming
into his own. "Throughout the film Hercules is on this greater journey of
finding his identity and
becoming the man that his is promised to be," said Lutz. "And in the end he
accepts his responsibility as
a sort of Robin Hood to the people--fighting injustice with justice to bring
honor to his mother, his loved
ones, his kingdom and to take his rightful place as this demigod."
The character required the actor to prepare and train for the demanding
physicality of his role.
The actor chose to perform most of his own stunts and prior to beginning the
film, trained with a
Bulgarian stunt team and his stunt doubles. Lutz trained for three weeks on
sword fighting, horseback
riding, spear throwing, and chains for his many battle scenes. "I love doing
stunts and action films which
is the genre I've chosen as an actor," said Lutz. "Some of the combat is of a
grand scale, while other is
hand to hand and I've really put all of myself into all of these scenes, with
some scars to prove it. With
such a great stunt team led by Rowley Llram, I felt really prepared for every
fight scene--it's been fun
For the film's stunt coordinator, Rowley Lrlam, his preparations began about
ten days before
shooting. "Luckily for me, the Bulgarian stunt team was really talented and had
the choreography for
the first month's shooting down," said Llram. "So I allowed that to continue and
spent those ten days
prepping and getting my head around the script and the schematics of the sets.
We had 80% of the
fights in the movie shot in the first month so we had a lot to figure out right
"The kind of stunts we've done, and the scope of action we've put together is
the biggest I've
ever done in my career," said Harlin. "And that's thanks to the amazing effort
of everyone who's worked
on this film."
With most of Hercules' greatest fight scenes alongside Sotiris, McIntyre
character's role as a sounding board for Hercules and a confidant who brings
balance to the demigod's
perspective. "One of my favorite things about making this film was collaborating
with Renny on forming
this character," said McIntyre. "We decided he was the kind of man who came from
isn't glorious and hasn't had the privileges Hercules did. Sotiris plays it
safe, is more cautionary and a
little wiser about the world because of his difficult life, whereas Hercules
always attempts impossibly
wonderful things." McIntyre particularly enjoyed that the characters did not
like each other at the start,
but come together in battle and become brothers in armor with the common goal of
find they have more in common than they'd imagined with their struggles and
their great loves, and the
mutual dream to be free and return to them. Sotiris recognizes that Hercules is
a special human being
unlike anything he's ever seen before and decides to align with him and form a
McIntyre brought his own experience to the film's battle scenes from his work on
"There's something childlike about doing stunts because it's like being 10
again," said McIntyre. "What I
loved most about the action sequences in this film was this slow motion camera
that they'd use to
capture the smallest motion that just makes it all more dramatic and exciting.
It's a great responsibility
to do these stunts and pull them off to make it look like you're some incredible
warrior from ages ago.
Luckily, I have an excellent stunt double, who does all of the things I can't
manage, but also guided me
throughout every action scene."
Working with horses was relatively new for the actor who once believed he was
allergic to the
animals and was slowly introduced to them over the years with his work. "There
are a lot of action
sequences in the film where we're cantering along, galloping along at a huge
pace and having to control
the animal, deliver lines and look good doing it wasn't all that easy," said
McIntyre. "And if I pulled it off,
it's a testament to the stunt team on the show who made sure we looked
convincing and confident."
WeWeiss was excited by her character's ability to ride horses so brilliantly.
"When I read the script, I was really excited that my character was so bad ass
and such an excellent rider," said Weiss. "But then I realized I have two weeks
to become this person, because I've never been on a horse before. I was nervous
at first, but with the adrenalin, I was able to ride well enough to make sure
she looked like she'd been riding horses her whole life. And for that I thank
our amazing horse master and stunt coordinator."
"My background is originally [in] horses," said Lrlam. "It was a relatively
straightforward task of
basically fast-tracking their tuition with Cara the horse master and basically
giving them an intensive
one-on-one tuition, so that hopefully we would be ready in time. Getting them
ready was one of the
toughest challenges for me because we only had a few days to get them where they
had absorbed as
many tips and training as possible to do their work."
As Hercules' half-brother, Iphicles, Liam Garrigan had an embarrassing riding
kept telling me I was doing well riding, and so I was confident I could handle
my scene where I'm riding
up with Kellan and Gaia," said Garrigan. "But I couldn't control my horse, and
it would not stand still for
love nor money. It kept smelling the backside of Gaia's horse, and then scared
Kellan's horse knocking
him off. We got it all on camera--it's a good shot."
While the actor may have struggled with some of the riding in what is his
first feature film, his
talent is evident in the brilliant performance he gives as Hercules'
half-brother Iphicles. The brother's
rivalry is obvious early in the film with Iphicles jealous of Hercules' stature
and looks which have won
over Hebe. Desperate for their father's, (King Amphitryon), love and respect,
Iphicles turns against
Hercules and spirals into his tyrant father's ways. "Iphicles is a villain, but
I believe he's also more of a
tragic character," said Garrigan. "It's great fun playing the 'bad guy' as you
get some awesome lines, but
unless there's something to really underpin his story it can feel two
dimensional. So having the
opportunity to work with Renny, play around with the lines and really sink my
teeth into the role has
been brilliant. A fun character to explore."
AsAs King Amphitryon, Scott Adkins has had previous experience playing villains
playing the bloodthirsty cruel king. "The one thing this man wants is for his
bloodline to survive and his
kingdom to be safe--and he will achieve that at whatever cost," said Adkins. "I'm
quite good at playing
the villain and expressing anger for some reason--maybe I have a lot pent up in
me somewhere. But I
also understand this character and see him a bit differently in playing him."
The actor created a back story for the king that helped explain his desire for power. "The fact is
that Zeus has come down
from Mount Olympus and had his way with Aphitryon's wife--leading to a son,
Adkins. "And he knows Hercules isn't really his son but to avoid embarrassment,
he goes along with it
until he's confronted by the truth, and then he's hell bent on protecting his
bloodline and ensuring Iphicles will have the throne."
Hercules' mother, Queen Alcmene played by Roxanne McKee is trapped in a
with this brutal king. As her husband continues to take over countries, killing
people, she becomes
desperate to end the violence and destruction taking over her life. Praying to
the gods she asks for help
and through the oracle, kia, the goddess Hera hears her plight, honoring
Alcmene's request with a
child born to her and the god Zeus.
"Kakia is an interesting part to play," said Mariah Gale. "Hera speaks
through her to tell Alcmene
she will have the son of Zeus and it's a powerful scene that changes everything.
Kakia is a character that
comes in and out, really only flashing into the story briefly, but in quite
powerful moments for both
Alcmene and Hercules."
"Alcmene finds herself in a dangerous situation where she's the mother of a
child that does not
belong to her husband, but Hercules is the savior and she must protect him,"
said McKee. "Her
relationship with Hercules is sweet and incredibly special because she loves him
not only because he is
her son, but because he will save her people and is a gift from the gods."
The queen's love for her firstborn son, Iphicles is frayed when Hercules is
sent to die at battle by King
Aphitryon. "There is a painful scene where she believes Hercules is dead and she
knows that Iphicles
feels she loves Hercules more," said McKee. "Iphicles is his father's son and
has his own destiny, one not
mapped out by the gods. And she's losing feelings for Iphicles because she's
seeing him in a new light in
reaction to his brother's death. Everything in him is beginning to resemble more
of the characteristics
she detests within her husband."
The actress was drawn to the journey of her character playing a young 20 year
old, to a mother
of two grown men. Throughout the film the character is guided by Chiron, a tutor
and scholar on the
King's court, who protects her and Hercules. "Alcmene feels very close to him
and trusts in his wisdom,"
said McKee. "Her relationship with him is very important because she's able to
glean facts and
information from him that she wouldn't otherwise obtain and his loyalty to her
leads him to protecting
Hercules after her death."
Enslaved in Egypt, Hercules is destroyed after learning of his mother's
death. "He's captured in
slavery trying to get his freedom and get back to his loved ones when he
suddenly learns that within
that period of time, his mother has died," said Lutz. "And it's strange because
of the closeness of the
mother and son's bond, Roxanne and I thought we had so many more scenes together
than we really
did. Hercules is really suffering during this time trying to break free, but
when he hears of his mother's
death and his identity begins to come together--he knows he must finally break
During this period of enslavement, Hercules belongs to the slave trader--Lucius,
Kenneth Cranham. "Lucius is not a particularly pleasant character," said Cranham.
"He's bought Hercules
and Sotiris along with several jesters that he has in his repertoire to fight
and make money off of. I was
really drawn to the film because of Renny. We'd worked together before and I was
happy to get the
chance to be in Renny's gang again."
Warming up the crowds before Hercules and Sotiris enter the ring and fight
for Lucius' wager,
are the clowns Agamemnon and Creon who wrestle and amuse as entertainment. As
actor Luke Newberry responded to the relationship between his character and
Hercules. "In a film
where there's a lot of fighting and aggression, there's this sweet relationship
between Hercules and
Agamemnon where Hercules really takes him under his wing," said Newberry. And at
the same time, at
this dark point in Hercules' life, Agamemnon is a bit of comedic relief for him.
Together they face this
grim world as friends."
Never imagining himself being part of such a big action film, Newberry was
excited to get his
hands dirty and be more physical in his acting. "My first day on set can only be
described as mental,"
says Newberry. "There's a mud pit full of water and I'm up to my knees in mud
and there are about 500
people screaming, shouting and cheering. I've never done such a physical role
before where I've had to
learn fights and how to throw myself around."
His fellow actors were excited with how the shots were set up with 3D phantom
shooting. "I'd never done 3D before," said McIntyre. "It's cool to see this
evolve and be created almost
live because you're occasionally going to the monitors and seeing with 3D
glasses, this whole element
come to life in front of you. You can see they're using it to tell a better
story and making it more
"I'd used phantom cameras once before and I've done two films in 3D," said
definitely tried to get a bit closer with the punches and the blows to get that
feeling of depth. The way
Renny's used the phantoms impressed me because he's not just using it in the
action sequences, but to
highlight the peak of the drama in every scene."
For Lrlam, the stunt coordination was a little more difficult with the
element of 3D. "Well, 3D is
actually the worst thing a stuntman could ever have to deal with because you can
see depth of field,"
said Lrlam. "So normally in 2D, when you punch someone you can miss by six
inches and no one knows.
With 3D you have to be much tighter. With a phantom shot, normally when you're
which is the favored move, you're a thousand frames. So everything is in slow
motion and you have to
be bang on accurate with your moves." Lrlam was very pleased with how the actors
and stunt doubles
were able to nail their scenes. "It's fantastic when you get to see it,"
continued Lrlam. "I absolutely love
my job and having this constructive role, being a part of the design process and
the creative process
alongside people like Renny Harlin."
As the film's leading role, Kellan Lutz has equal appreciation and admiration
for Harlin's talents.
"Renny's such a visionary," said Lutz. "I'm a huge fan, but to be able to work
with him and see his genius
first hand is incredible. It's the reason we have such an amazing cast."
"Renny has really impressed me with his ability to keep all of this together
in his head and at the
same time have so much enthusiasm, excitement and a real genuine friendship and
love for everybody
on set," said Garrigan. "You know he's the man in control, but he always has
time for you. At the end of
every day Renny gives out an MVP award--which is a bottle of vodka. And that's
every single day on the
shoot without fail. He's that kind of guy. And it just means that everybody's
pulling in the same direction
for him and hoping to realize his vision."
From the moment I read the script it filled every requirement for me to
really be invested," said
Lutz. "It's a full-fledged story with different facets and layered characters. I
think a lot of people will be
able to see themselves in these characters. When audiences see this movie,
they'll be taken on a ride."
"There's just something cool and sad about working on a film with people that
you get on with
because things are so transitory, and suddenly everyone is gone," said McIntyre.
"Everyone has been
really interesting and all have dinner together often. And something that is so
underrated is how well
you can get on with a crew because they really make the whole system work. And
our crew in Bulgaria
was fantastic. It was like a well-oiled machine."
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