Kevin Sorbo Was Hercules. Now He Trolls Liberals All Day on Twitter.
The “Hercules” star talks with Marlow Stern about downplaying COVID, that sexual-harassment allegation, his Bernie Sanders film, and his pro-Trump, lib-trolling Twitter account.
Last week, I interviewed two celebrities who have used their considerable platforms to downplay the COVID-19 pandemic that’s killed more than 260,000 Americans. The first was Jake Paul, the YouTube stunter turned stunt boxer who claimed the highly contagious virus was “a hoax” and further implied that it was part of some nebulous government conspiracy. The second was Kevin Sorbo, the actor most famous for the TV show Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, who went on Fox & Friends in early May and compared COVID to the flu while urging businesses to defy closure orders, and has since downplayed the severity of the virus on his Twitter account.
Sorbo’s Twitter account has become an object of fascination for this writer. The 62-year-old actor’s Twitter is dedicated to “owning the libs,” as it were, and tweeting pro-Trump talking points. Of late, it’s been fixated on the election results, sharing baseless conspiracy theories about widespread voter fraud, despite the fact that Trump’s own election cybersecurity czar Chris Krebs asserted that the 2020 presidential election was “the most secure election in American history,” and that there “is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.” (He was subsequently fired by Trump.)
So I got on the phone with Sorbo, who’s in Florida looking at homes, to discuss his online persona (which he alleges is the work of his teenage son), the election results, and his new film Free Lunch Express—a satirical picture about the life of Bernie Sanders that paints the Vermont senator as a Stalin-worshipping socialist-hypocrite with a sprawling lakefront mansion (none of these things are true, incidentally). Sorbo describes the film as “Airplane! meets Jojo Rabbit.”
So you play the ghost of George Washington in this movie.
Yeah, it was fun. I got a TV series with these guys called The Potwins, and it’s sort of like a Last Man Standing thing where we make fun of all political sides, which is great. I think they all need to be made fun of, I think.
What attracted you to doing this movie? Did you jump at the chance to make fun of Bernie Sanders?
Well, you’ve gotta make fun of all political figures—Trump, Bernie, everybody. It seems to be open ground for people all the time, no matter what side of the fence you’re on. Bernie’s an interesting character, man. It’s so funny to see this guy’s rise from his youth. I show up in a dream sequence when he’s a young man. I’m only in the movie for about three minutes.
On the bus to Vermont.
Yeah, and I say, “Hey, you can still turn back!” And he says, “No—communism all the way!”
I want to ask you about the film’s depiction of Bernie Sanders. I know it’s a comedy film and all, but there are some strange inaccuracies in it—right down to even years he did certain things, and it struck me as strange. For instance, it has Bernie moving to Vermont in the wrong year, in ’65 versus ’68 when it happened, and his parents are still alive throughout the course of the film when they both died quite tragically when Bernie was very young.
Well Marlow, I gotta be honest with you: I haven’t seen the whole movie. So… what you’re asking me is probably what you should be asking [the filmmakers]. I have no idea why there’s a three-year discrepancy for when he moved there. Maybe that’s an error on [the filmmakers’] part, because that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
How do you feel about Bernie Sanders? Because the film does paint him as a Stalinist.
He did have his honeymoon in Russia. And from what I know about the guy, he certainly is a believer in the communist and socialist system.
He visited the Soviet Union after he married Jane in the late ’80s, but that was as part of his duties as mayor to promote a sister-city program. It wasn’t a honeymoon.
Oh, it wasn’t a honeymoon?
Nah, it wasn’t. And you know, a lot is made in the film of his lake house. But it’s a home that Sanders purchased for half a million dollars in Vermont, yet in the film it’s this giant palatial mansion.
Oh, really? OK. I don’t know. I only read what I can read about the guy. I mean, he admits to being a socialist. I don’t know where socialism has ever worked, to be honest with you. I grew up in a Hubert Humphrey/Walter Mondale Democrat family in Minnesota. My parents were Democrats through and through. I think I registered as an independent myself. I’ve voted on both sides of the aisle. I voted for Clinton—not Hillary but Bill. And when I have people tell me that socialism works, I say, “Why don’t you go live in Venezuela for a while?” I’m in that business of Hollywood, right? Netflix, Amazon, Paramount—all these studios can jump on that socialist bandwagon but it’s a capitalist business. They want to make money and be successful. I know capitalism isn’t perfect either, but it’s the system that made America the country that it is. There’s nothing perfect out there, but my god, you see what’s going on in our world right now? It’s crazy. All the anger, hatred, and divisiveness. Have differing opinions. I’m all for freedom of speech.
We can go back to the socialism thing later but as far as the film goes, I’m curious if you think you’d object if liberals made a film like this about Donald Trump? Like, what if liberals made a film about Trump’s early years as a kid where he was idolizing Hitler who was in turn visiting him and giving him advice? Because in this film, there’s young Bernie idolizing Stalin who’s visiting him and giving him advice. But Stalin killed millions of Jews, and Bernie has spoken out against the Soviet communism.
I always find it interesting when they compare Trump to Hitler. I see it all the time in print and on TV. And I’m going, “Well, Nazi stands for National Socialist.” And Trump hasn’t killed six million Jews.
I think that’s very hyperbolic. I agree he’s no Hitler. But you know the National Socialist Party was not the same as “socialism,” right? The Nazis weren’t socialists, and the Nazi Party was also fervidly anti-communist.
Well, if you look at the far-right and the far-left, they’re both pretty close together in that fascism/communism world. They’re both pretty crazy, to have that sort of belief. And you’re right about Stalin. My god. Tens of millions of people. They don’t even know how many people he’s killed in his own country. But I’m all for a movie that makes fun of Trump, why not? Saturday Night Live for four years has basically had a whole TV series making fun of Trump. I don’t think anybody’s safe from anything.
Stalin was a very bad guy. You know, I’d heard that you were close to playing Mulder in The X-Files. Is that true?
Well, “close” if you want to say I got in the top five. That’s relatively close when they’re looking at hundreds of actors, I guess! I would have loved to have done that because I’m a sci-fi geek. But that never happened. And all the power to David Duchovny.
Were there any other roles like that where it was almost like Tom Selleck and Indiana Jones, and looking back now you’re like, “Fuck, I was close.”
Lois & Clark! Dean Cain got it. And it came down to us. We both did a screen test with Teri Hatcher. That night, my manager and agent called up and said I got the role, and then 24 hours later they called up and said, “Nah. We’re gonna go with Dean Cain now.” That was a tough actors’ story but three months later I got Hercules. I joke with Dean now and say, “Hey man, your show was on for three years and got canceled. Mine became the most-watched show in the world. It worked out the way it was supposed to work out. Dean made a better Superman anyway, but it would have been fun.
I read that you left Hercules somewhat abruptly. They wanted to extend your contract for a few more years but you declined. Why did you leave?
At the end of Season 5, I got really sick. I didn’t know I had an aneurysm inside my body, way up in my neck and shoulder, and the thing had been spitting blood clots in my arm for months. And when it opened up completely, it sent a series of clots into my brain and I suffered four strokes. It took me four months to try to walk and balance again. Luckily, the age I was and also the physical fitness I was in helped. If it was 80 years old, it would have probably been a different story. But I was able to fight back. And with Hercules, we did finish the last two seasons, but it was tough on me because I went from a 14-hour day to a one-hour day when I first got back four months later, and slowly built up time. It wasn’t locked in to do Seasons 8, 9, and 10. They were talking about it. But then the Sci-Fi Channel came to me with Andromeda, and Universal owned Sci-Fi, so they were fine with it. And I was ready to do something else. I think all actors want to mix it up.
Were you tired of popping your shirt off?
[Laughs] I mean, I loved the show—trust me—but here’s the thing: The timing was kind of good, because we were about to lose 80 percent of our crew since they started filming Lord of the Rings there [in New Zealand] at the same time, right as we were wrapping up our season.
I wanted to go back to your health scare. I read that you suffered those strokes during the promotional tour for Kull the Conqueror. What was that like? It must have been crazy to go through all that during what should have been a career high point—headlining your first blockbuster movie.
Well, it sucks. Hercules was riding high, we were the No. 1 show in the world, and did Kull, and had another action movie I was going to do right after Kull and before we headed into Season 6. Universal was really gearing me up to take over for Arnold Schwarzenegger and be the next big action guy. So it hurt my career tremendously. It sucked. Not only was it bad on my ego but it was bad on a lot of things. It was bad on my psyche, bad on my physical health, bad on everything. But thank god Andromeda came along. They gave me five years to keep on working, then I just merged into doing a lot of independent movies. It’s been a fun road for me. I’ve played everything from a pastor to a serial killer in the 60-plus movies I’ve done.
About the road after Andromeda, you’ve said in the past that Hollywood blacklisted you because of your beliefs. I’m curious why you feel that was the case.
You can call my old agent at ICM or my old management team. I mean, they’re the ones who said, “We can’t get you in the door anymore because you’re conservative and you’re Christian.” That’s like being a double leper in Hollywood. They weren’t inviting me to audition for any TV shows and movies anymore. It was obvious. And I became more vocal about it. I got tired of being on sets and hearing one thing and I would challenge people. I wouldn’t challenge them in an angry way but I’d say, “What do you mean by that?” I wanted to have an open dialogue, and that just pissed people off, because they’d say, “You’re wrong.” And I’d say, “How am I wrong?” There was no answer.
I mean, one time somebody said that I was homophobic, and I went, “What?” I’ve been in the business for 35 years, I’ve worked with a lot of gay people, and you won’t find one gay person saying I was a horrible, wretched guy to work with. You won’t, because I don’t have that in my body. I don’t care what someone’s sexual preference is. That doesn’t bother me in the least.
You said that you’re not homophobic, so does that mean that you believe in gay marriage and equal rights for the LGBT community?
Yeah sure, why not! As long as we’re all paying taxes, why not? Everyone can have the same benefits. And I think we’ve made leaps and bounds with that. You’re always going to have Christian groups speaking out against it, but you’ll also have Christian groups not speaking that way. So, let’s have an open dialogue and talk about it.
That’s cool. So there was an incident—and I know you haven’t commented on it—but an actress named Haley Webb, who was your costar on the film Single in South Beach, came out on Twitter and accused you of sexual harassment. She wrote and I quote, “I don’t think the person who repeatedly tried to pressure his 3 decades younger co-star into sleeping with him, publicly shame her on set when she refused to and insist the director add unnecessary sex scenes between us should be flapping his gums about feminism.”
So, I didn’t even know about that until the director and the producer of the movie got a hold of me and told me, and they both said, “Hey, if you want to go after her, we’re with you.” The director said that was never true. I don’t know what her problem is about me but fine, whatever. I’m not going to let her have her 15 minutes, because it was so ridiculous. It was so stupid. And it lost steam because I didn’t pay attention to it. That’s just… I don’t know. Maybe her career is not going anywhere and she’s trying to spark up her career somehow. I don’t know, but it’s not worth my time. I have nothing against her. I thought we had a great time working on the set, it was fun, and that was pretty silly to me.
Why didn’t the director make a public statement defending you? [The film’s directors, Alejandro Itkin and Hunter Carson, as well as Webb, could not be reached for comment.]
Because I told… I told him it doesn’t matter to me. Who cares? I mean, look, that was two, three, four years ago? Who cares! This #MeToo? Good lord. We can go back in anybody’s life and say, “He flirted with me at a bar when he was 21 in college.” And yeah, I probably did flirt at a bar with girls in college. Big deal! I didn’t rape anybody. I didn’t force myself on anybody. So to me, it’s just incredibly childish and immature.
But these allegations are more serious than flirting at a bar.
That what? That I asked for more sex scenes with her?
There’s that, and that you publicly shamed her, and pressured her to sleep with you. And look, I will say this was something written on Twitter and not proven yet. But I’m just asking you about it.
Well, I totally forgot about that until you brought it up, and nobody’s brought it up to me until the director told me about it. I don’t think it’s that important to hash up again. Look, is your life perfect? Is my life perfect? Have I never done anything I regret? But I did not force anything on her as an actress. I’ve never forced anything on any actress I’ve worked with. If this is something I do on a regular basis, then where’s the 35 years of women I’ve worked with to come out of the closet and say something? It’s gotten so ridiculous with this #MeToo thing, to try and destroy people’s lives.
We spoke about your views a bit and how you feel they’ve gotten you into trouble in Hollywood, and I’m curious if there are more closet Trump supporters in Hollywood than people think? People who felt like they couldn’t go out and support him publicly because it would harm their careers but privately supported him?
Sure there are. I think there are a lot of people in a lot of industries, let alone Hollywood. I think there are a lot of people in businesses—no matter what their business is—who keep themselves quiet about being a Trump supporter, or being an Obama supporter, or being a Bernie supporter, or being a Biden supporter. A lot of people are afraid that if they’re outnumbered in a business situation, “Gosh, I’m gonna lose my job, I’m gonna lose friends.” I think that’s been going on forever but it’s more to the front now, given the way the world moves now with social media.
Have you turned on Fox News now like a lot of other Trump supporters?
You know, I’m tired of the news. I’m not watching much of anything right now. I’m just busy getting my own movies funded, and if I’m watching anything right now, I’m watching comedies. Maybe on the internet I’ll get bits and pieces from CNN, Fox, and the BBC. It’s funny, I remember telling people years ago, “Watch BBC talk about the subject, then watch CNN talk about the same thing, then watch Fox talk about the same thing, and you’re going to get three sides to every story: yours, mine, and the cold, hard truth.” We’ve gotten away from the facts and truth and post stuff now just to get numbers, and just to get people to pay attention. And I think that’s dangerous.
As far as Twitter divisiveness goes, I want to talk about your Twitter account, because it’s become quite popular in the conservative world, and a lot of the content on your Twitter account is taking shots at liberals. So when you talk about being kinder and having an open dialogue, I’m curious if you think your Twitter account is helping in that regard.
Well, I gotta be honest: My son is running my Twitter account, and I don’t know what he’s posting.
Really? You don’t write your own tweets?
Yeah. My son does it. I don’t even pay attention to it. He’s more conservative than I am.
Wow. OK. Well, there’s been a lot of tweets from your account of late about how Trump didn’t lose the election. What do you think about that?
Here’s what I think: From what I’m reading, I mean you gotta admit, there’s voter fraud all the time, and to think that Biden got more votes than Obama did? I have to question that. Because if you look at all these boat parades and rallies that Trump had where tens of thousands of people show up, and Biden shows up and there’s eight people there, and you gotta wonder, Wow, really? To me, there’s voter fraud out there—we know it. I’ve seen videos of people marking ballots just one after the other, and only filling in Biden’s name, and signatures identical, and dead people voting—
—I’m sorry, you just said you’ve seen videos of dead people voting?
No, but it says on the internet that we have thousands of votes where the names are people that are already dead. You’ve never heard that some of the vote coming in are from people who already passed away?
Oh, I have. But that’s been pretty thoroughly debunked. That’s not true.
That’s been debunked? Well, OK. I’d like to see the articles on that, because I’ve seen plenty of articles showing that it has. And tell me how one county can have a hundred percent voter turnout? That’s impossible. And some of the counties had 106 percent, 110 percent voter turnout.
What county had that?
We’re probably gonna disagree on this. I think there’s been voter fraud for decades, and it’s just getting worse and worse and worse. We have to come up with a way that isn’t fraud. Dude, I got another interview so I gotta jump off.
OK, could we get another minute or two?
OK, go for it.
With the election stuff, on Nov. 9, 2016, you wrote on Facebook, “Poor little liberals out there protesting Trumps win of the Presidency. Do you honestly believe if Hillary had won any Conservatives would be out there protesting?”
But there’s a lot of truth to that. Come on, man. Obviously you’re a liberal. And that’s fine.
I’m not sure if you’re aware of my politics, but I gotta ask: Isn’t that what Trump supporters are doing right now?
Well, yeah, but I think they’re doing it now because of the voter-fraud issue. They’re doing it because of the voter-fraud issue. You’re the first person to tell me that the dead-people-voting thing has been debunked. I want to see an article on that, because I have not seen anything on that.
Oh yeah, there have been plenty. The Guardian has a good breakdown of it that you should check out where they debunked it.
OK, I’ll check that out. I’m curious. Look, if Biden’s our winner, Biden’s our winner. But it shocked me that Biden got more votes than Obama did. I think Obama, between the two, was much better to be president than Biden. But that’s just my opinion.
I think it was more people mobilized against Trump than enthusiastic for Joe Biden. But lastly, one other thing you’ve done is downplay the coronavirus pandemic.
No, I don’t downplay the coronavirus. It is what it is. But here we go again: Look at the World Health Organization, look at the CDC, and what they’re saying. I have guys that I went to school with who work at the Mayo Clinic, and they’ve got to keep their mouths shut. There’s no proof that masks do anything. In fact, the studies show that people who wear masks all the time and people who don’t wear masks all the time—people are getting the coronavirus pretty much the same. It doesn’t matter either way. What we need to be doing is quarantining people with pre-existing conditions. The average age is still over 80 that is dying from this. I think it’s a horrible thing. I just don’t like the idea that we’re incentivizing hospitals to say, “Every death is a COVID death,” when let’s face it: Not every death is a COVID death.
Just to be clear on your first point, both the CDC and the Mayo Clinic have recommended mask-wearing as a way to curb the spread of coronavirus. You mentioned those two organizations and they’ve both recommended mask-wearing.
I’m looking at sites too, and they’re saying, you know what? The tests coming in now, it doesn’t matter. It can go in through your eyes, it can go in anywhere. Look… look at Sweden. They didn’t have a lockdown and they’re doing pretty damn good.
No, they’re actually not doing well anymore. It’s bad over there.
OK, well let’s just agree to disagree. I mean, you’re gonna write whatever you wanna write about me. It’s too bad that you wanna do a smear piece on me.
We’re just talking here.
You’re probably going to. And that’s fine. I mean, I can’t stop what people write. And you’re bent one way, and I’m bent the other way.