Kevin Sorbo is pleased with the real-life role he’s taken on – as an inspirational force and example of someone who’s come back from serious illness. The actor who rose to fame as the mighty Hercules came out a couple of years ago with his frank memoir, True Strength: My Journey From Hercules To Mere Mortal And How Nearly Dying Saved My Life – disclosing the full extent of his battle back from three strokes and an aneurism that left him physically weak and with permanent blind spots in 1997. The paperback version of the book came out a few months ago, and to his surprise, “I’ve actually gotten more attention from the paperback than I did when it originally came out,” Sorbo admits.
As a result, he finds himself being approached “not only by stroke survivors, but people who’ve battled cancer, come back from car crashes, whatever it may be. People tell me that this book inspired them to really find their own true strength.”
Once having done his utmost to hide his condition from the public, he now concedes, “It was a fight to get back, I’ll tell you. I told my wife many times, you know, if it wasn’t for my support I don’t know how I would have done it, but I had great people around me and I also believed in myself and had a strong will.”
Sorbo is cohosting “‘The View’ Friday (3/8), “so I’m hoping we can talk about these things,” he says.
He will definitely be talking about his two latest projects — his March 23 “Shadow on the Mesa,” a Hallmark Movie Channel Original movie Western, and his newly-released on DVD “Abel’s Field” movie that he also produced.
“I love doing Westerns it’s my third Western with these guys,” he notes of the Hallmark project. “It’s a great old classic Western, with two families fighting over some land — a Hatfields and McCoys type of situation. Gail O’Grady plays my wife and she’s not so nice in this one. She’s been having an affair with Greg Evigan, who is the bad guy who tries to take over my property.” Meredith Baxter is also in the cast, and Wes Brown of “Deception” plays Sorbo’s son he knows nothing about, who’s tracking him down intent on killing him in revenge for his mother’s death.
“I wish I could do more Westerns,” he tells us. “They used to play very well overseas, but that’s not so much the case anymore. I don’t know what happened there.”
He has movies and how they play very much on his mind, with a slate of six film projects of his own in development. As soon as Sorbo finishes his promotion tasks for “Shadow on the Mesa,” in fact, he says he’s heading to Arizona for huddles with potential investors.
His “Abel’s Field” movie, with Samuel Davis as a teen struggling to overcome a terrible home situation, was five years in the making, and Sorbo was aboard for two and a half of those years helping bring the film to fruition.
“We shot it in Texas, put some of it together, and Sony – who I did ‘Soul Surfer’ with – loved what they saw and picked it up for distribution, which was awesome.”
There is a mentoring aspect to the film, in that “the character I play is pretty much thrown in a situation with a teenage kid who’s thrown in a situation with me. At first we don’t want to deal with each other at all, but eventually we become friends and mentors to each other and ultimately that helps lead him lead his own life.”
Mentoring, of course, is a subject close to the actor-producer’s heart, as Sorbo’s Fit for Kids program continues strong. “The mentoring started back 15 years ago, in my ‘Hercules’ days,” he recalls. “It was something I’ve always wanted to do, and we’ve created the Number One after school program in the States, with a 98 per cent graduation rate for kids in the program and we’re very proud of that.”
As far as his health these days, “Oh, I’m feeling good, yeah,” he says with a smile. “The stroke happened in 1997, and it took six years for me to fully recover but I went on and did the last year of ‘Hercules.’ I did 110 episodes of ‘Andromeda,’ and I’ve done about 40 movies since then, so I think I’ve proven I’m back in good health.”
Not too surprisingly, Sorbo says he has another book percolating. Write on.