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Kevin Sorbo Brought Hercules to Life Like No Other — See What He’s Been Up to Since!

Read all about the actor and his own 'legendary journeys' here!

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When Kevin Sorbo enters a room, people take notice. At 6’3” with a muscular frame, it’s no wonder that Sorbo embodied the essence of Hercules, which would prove to be his breakout role in TV’s Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, which aired from 1995 through 1999.

Born in Mound, Minnesota, where a park has subsequently been named in his honor, Kevin David Sorbo excelled in athletics all throughout his academic years. In college, he played multiple sports and took to the stage in various plays.

The actor who played Hercules, 1999
Kevin Sorbo, 1999SGranitz/WireImage/Getty Images

After leaving college, Sorbo joined an actors theater group, but ultimately took his good looks and traveled throughout Europe and Australia in the mid ’80s working in television commercials and modeling for print ads. He actually began his acting career with a one-liner in a commercial for Jim Beam whiskey: “This ain’t Jim Beam,” he repeated throughout the spot. 

Kevin Sorbo makes his acting debut

After working as a bouncer and a model in order to pay the bills, Sorbo made his real acting debut in one episode of the daytime soap Santa Barbara. By this time, his TV commercials had become quite lucrative and by the early 1990s, he’d appeared in over 150 of them.

MUST-READ: ‘Santa Barbara’ Soap Opera Secrets: A Look Back at the Juicy ’80s Drama Series

Kevin Sorbo, 1996
Kevin Sorbo, 1996Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Episodic television work included Murder She Wrote, 1st & Ten and The Commish. Failed attempts at lead roles in The New Adventures of Superman and The X-Files followed. Then, along came Hercules, famous for his strength and his far-ranging adventures.

MUST-READ: ‘Murder She Wrote’ Cast Secrets, Plus The Latest Clues About the Movie Reboot!

Sorbo’s big break

Where would Sorbo’s career be today if he wasn’t cast as the ancient Greek demigod Hercules in a series of five TV movies? The first was Hercules and the Amazon Women that aired in April 1994, with the others following later that same year.  

The 'Hercules' series actor, 1997
Kevin Sorbo, 1997SGranitz/WireImage/Getty Images

So popular were these movies that the television series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys was a shoo-in. It started airing in syndication from January 1995 for six seasons. Kevin Sorbo found himself an international star as the lead in one of the highest rated syndicated television shows at the time.

Xena: Warrior Princess, starring Lucy Lawless, was a Hercules spin-off and the two united for voicing the characters in the 1998 film, Hercules and Xena – The Animated Movie.

MUST-READ: ‘Xena: Warrior Princess’ — See the Cast of the Hit Action Series Then and Now

Lucy Lawless and Kevin Sorbo, 1996
Lucy Lawless and Kevin Sorbo, 1996Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

If you ever watched Hercules, you can see that it was made in a comical way for the most part,” he told The Christian Post in 2011. “I remember getting lots of letters from kids around the world saying that the show helped them curb their temper and not look for trouble and just walk away from it, because that was the stronger thing to do.”

A novice when he entered Hercules’ world, Sobo learned the craft of filmmaking well enough to direct and co-write some of the episodes, while also studying martial arts in order to do many of his own stunts.

MUST-READ: Lucy Lawless: Catch Up With the Warrior Princess, Advocate and Icon

Lucy Lawless and Kevin Sorbo, 1996
Lucy Lawless and Kevin Sorbo, 1996Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The actor’s health struggles

A secret on the Hercules set was finally revealed when the series was cancelled. Health issues reduced Sorbo’s abilities to perform the physically demanding role during the later seasons, and it was disclosed that the actor suffered several small strokes during the filming of Hercules. As a result, he was weakened for the next several years.

In the fall of 1997, he underwent drug therapy for an aneurysm in his left shoulder. Complications from the medication forced him to withdraw from a planned role in Black Dog, which went to Patrick Swayze instead.

Kevin Sorbo, 2000
Kevin Sorbo, 2000Toni Anne Barson Archive/WireImage/Getty Images

MUST-READ: Patrick Swayze Movies: Celebrating the Charismatic Star’s Most Iconic Roles

Between the end of Hercules and the beginning of his next big role in the syndicated sci-fi series Andromeda, Sorbo had lost 20 pounds of muscle — which he has since regained. But don’t call Sorbo a victim by any means.

Life after Hercules for Kevin Sorbo

He has been a steadily working actor, producer and one-man culture warrior. In 2013, he received the Public Leadership in Neurology Award from the American Academy of Neurology and the American Brain Foundation for his efforts raising awareness about strokes.

The 'Hercules' actor in 2013
Kevin Sorbo, 2013Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images

Sorbo landed the role of Captain Dylan Hunt in the aforementioned Andromeda that aired from 2000 to 2005. Two years later, audiences saw him in two direct-to-video sequels to Walking Tall and in the Hallmark film Avenging Angel, where he co-starred with wife Sam Jenkins.

Despite poor reviews, Meet the Spartans (2008) was a box office success. Sorbo reunited with Sam on the game Cloudberry Kingdom, which was one of many voice acting jobs. Look for Sorbo’s brief appearance in this year’s biopic Reagan, starring Dennis Quaid.

MUST-READ: Dennis Quaid Shares About His Album, Upcoming Projects and Faith in New TV Special: “There’s Blessings Coming Our Way!”

Kevin Sorbo, 2023
Kevin Sorbo, 2023Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Kevin Sorbo is a man of faith

Growing up Lutheran, Sorbo has a very strong Christian faith and in 2014 he co-starred in God’s Not Dead, a Christian film in which he portrayed an atheist college professor.

While critics panned it, the film was a commercial success and the first of a sequence of Christian films Sorbo would produce or perform in. In 2017, he directed and starred in the Christian drama, Let There Be Light.


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