Kellan Lutz Talks About The Legend of Hercules

Kellan Lutz has always been fascinated by Hercules and after a brief conversation with writer/director Renny Harlin, he jumped at the chance to take on the title role in The Legend of Hercules. The first action movie of 2014, this Hercules tale is an origin story in which the son of Zeus discovers where he came from and evolves into the hero he's meant to be.

What was your reaction when you first saw yourself in the costume?

"I thought you were going to say when Renny said that I got the role. I was going to yell your ear off. I was just so happy for that. When I saw myself in the costume... you know, Renny knows how to pick them. He's an amazing director and has impeccable vision, and he hired Sonoo [Mishra]. She's done some amazing things, but she's not too well known. Already mentally I felt like Hercules, but with the wardrobe that she created, the costume, from the smallest details I just came alive. I just wanted to start swinging the sword around, having the lion cape. It was a process and we didn't have much time. She's talented so it really helped me get into character. I never wanted to go home. I never wanted to sleep. I just wanted to wake up, have it be a new day, just so I could be in my costume."

Did you take it home with you at the end of the shoot?

"I took quite a few things home with me, and they let me. I have my sword. I have the dagger that my mother is killed with. We had red in all my gladiator battles, just to show a progress of the story, just like a red pot or a red bandage, just the blood that's been shed and Hercules had gone through. I took part of that cloth home. I took the pendant - the snake pendant - that Hercules wears to remind him of what he's fighting for, for his love of Hebe. I took quite a bit, actually. I liked it."

You said you didn't have a lot of time. Was there a really short period between when you were hired and when you actually got in front of the camera?

"Renny called me while I was in Arizona on March 21st, I believe. He said I have seven days to get to Bulgaria. I had to drive back to LA and then I was like, 'Shoot.' Thank God I live such an active life style. That's why I didn't feel too much pressure. I'm like, 'Look, I don't have time to get crazy, crazy shredded because we were shooting so soon.' I had a week to get to Bulgaria, then I had eight days to start shooting. I had to learn how to ride a horse like an expert with my butt getting really sore. It's a lot of rubbing if you don't ride right. I also had to fight with a sword like an expert so it was really great having Liam McIntyre, who was Spartacus, there to train with. He would just show me all the short cuts. It was a lot of work in a small amount of time."

Was only having eight days to get ready for the role better for you in the long run? Or do you like it when you have months to think about it?

"Let me dissect that a little bit. Preferably, I would love to have as much time as I can, just mentally, physically, spiritually get into the role. The great thing that really assisted me in our case is, I was already mentally prepared. I've been in love with Hercules and the tales of Hercules since I was a little boy and I would color in Hercules and the Nemean Lion. My admiration for the tales and who he signifies as a hero and a lot of his spiritual attributes reflect biblically and I'm a man of faith. I read The Iliad and The Odyssey at a young age before they were required in school reading. I already knew who Hercules was and who I wanted to bring to life. And already I lived an active lifestyle so physically I was there. I just wanted to really put myself on the horse riding to look like an expert, and with the sword play. I'm a perfectionist. I love being the best that I can.

But in most times, if this was another tale that I had no knowledge of, I would have felt a lot of pressure. But I was just so excited for our movie because I already felt him. It was a blessing to allow my childhood dream to come alive and bring him to the big screen."

How close was what you thought of Hercules as a child and what you grew up admiring about him to the Hercules we see in the film?

"99.9%. It really signifies who his core is... he's a gentleman. He's genuine, loving, and respectful. He is a hero's hero. He's the original superhero. He doesn't have to be boastful, because he's super strong. He cares about people. He's very humane and has a lot of humility. His super-strength comes through, like all of us. If we get that push of adrenaline, that fight or flight where you need to save someone, you're going to have that inner strength. It's just a really great transition seeing this man, who is a demigod, with attributes of self-denial and guilt and shame, go on the journey as we have with our story, and become the god where he's the saviour of the people. He's the fighter against injustice.

The only thing that was missing that I really wanted that we had tried was the long hair. I've been a huge fan of Kevin Sorbo's Hercules. Just growing up and seeing that show, I've always wanted long hair. My hair grows outwards, not down. It's not heavy enough. We had tried a wig and I was just really adamant. I'm like,'Renny, this is what I'd really love to do. This would just nail it to a T for me.' I already felt like I knew who Hercules was with his personal attributes and his character. But with the long hair... He let me try it. He knew, but he let me figure it out on my own. Riding a horse in the rain while you're fighting people is the hardest thing to do with a wig. It's just all over the place. We opted out to use my short hair. I quite preferred it."

You know his back story, but the film's trailers basically center on the action. How much do we actually get to learn and how much of the movie is just action?

"It's an amazing story. What we decided to do was build the epic adventure but start from the beginning. You learn who Hercules is and you go on a journey with him finding out who he is, with him accepting his true identity. That is him being kind of a selfish teenager thinking he's just human, thinking he's born of the evil king. Then his love is stripped away. He's enslaved. Through different trials and tribulations he's forced into accepting [who he is]. What he's learned after his mother dies is that he is part god. He is a demigod. He's born of Zeus. He goes through these moments of self-denial but can't help but accept it due to these battles, like being able to kill six gladiators. Sure enough, that's who he is. He fights against injustice. You just learn who he is.

It leaves it open to a sequel and then we can go on to 12 Labors. The great thing about mythology and Hercules is there's a multitude of tales. You can never tell every tale and put it on the big screen. There's just too many of them there. There's no right or wrong. The great thing is it's mythology so you can create any part of the tale, a small thing and embellish it a little more because that's what mythology is. It's a timeless telephone game. People have added to the story, changed it a little bit. That's where we take our freedom. We just want to start at the beginning, set it up, and then let's go on the ride. I would love to play Hercules for the rest of my career. I just had the time of my life."

How many sequels do you want to do?

"There's so many tales. I'd love to do 12 Labors next. It's really kind of great to do this and then have The Rock's come out. I love mythology and I love Hercules. Ours is a beginning one for fans, I think they're going to really love it. His later years, when he has gone through a lot of the hardships and he's really the warrior and the fighter, see The Rock's Hercules. I'm excited."

Do you think that the popularity of superhero films and the continuing popularity of Marvel and DC has actually opened a younger generation up to rediscovering Greek mythology?

"I don't know about Greek mythology, per se. I feel like Hercules is the original superhero. I think Thor and Captain America and Marvel and DC have all come from mythology, tales of heroes who are part god, part human/part god in some nature. It's kind of like back in the day Westerns were the action. As we have grown in a culture we have guns, we have tanks, we have fast cars. Now action is more of that. You want the superhero to fly and shoot lasers and have amazing weapons. It's kind of hard to go back, but you'll always have that layer. You'll have that foundation where they came from.

It's sort of hard to make, besides No Country for Old Men or True Grit or 3:10 to Yuma, to really do a Western as an action movie. We've kind of evolved, in a sense. I'm not saying not to watch mythology, but for new heroes, I think they do take on some story to story. You can always create new characters. I think nowadays making it to that kind of grandiose scale of Marvel and how they've been doing it and what we deal with with Hercules, you can't just do a simple version anymore. You really have to have an epic adventure and make it 3D and have this massive overload of action. But ours is equally action. It's fast-paced. It's a great love story. All the character development, I'm really proud of what Renny created."

Speaking of Renny, what was he like on the set and what was that whole experience like for you?

"Oh, my god. He's the best director I've worked with. Hands down. When we had first met for the audition, we found out... Like a business meeting, you sit there, you talk shop a little bit. He was really intrigued with my passion for mythology and the serials. I was really intrigued with his. He was really impressed. Then we started talking personal life. We were neighbors down in Venice. Then we realized we share the same birthday, March 15th, so very fateful. Then I was telling him this story. I was like, 'Oh, I leave my back door open and this cat comes in to my place. It'd lay on my chest. It's the weirdest thing.' Renny's like, 'Well, that's my cat!' I was like, 'Where do I sign on the dotted line because this is just too hilarious?!'

Just from day one on set, he's just such a visual director. He has this comedic authority. Maybe it's because he's from Finland. He has this funny kind of quirky humor. He's always telling jokes. He's all about camaraderie. Every day from set we would do these family dinners. He would be the host and he would do this thing where you have to tell a story or something you're thankful for. He just really drove the ship in the best way that I've ever worked with a director. Maybe it's because I'm the lead and we chatted so much, but we still talk. We still hang out. I've never done that with another director.

I've just been so impressed. I was a huge fan with him from Cliffhanger and especially Die Hard 2. I love all those Die Hard movies. To know that he is such a good dude with such a kind heart. He's so loving. He's the one who really pushed for us to work with saving the dogs in Bulgaria, him and Erica, his girlfriend, and to work with that organization to create a facility to help rescue these stray dogs that are all over the place in Bulgaria. He's just a kind man and hard worker. He's literally just involved in everything, every little detail in the world that we create. Hands down, my favorite."

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