We loved him in his legendary role as Hercules and then as Captain Dylan Hunt in Andromeda. If you thought Kevin Sorbo has been taking it easy since those two smash hits, think again! He stars in the Hallmark movie, The Santa Suit, currently airing on the Hallmark Channel, guest stars in an upcoming episode of Hawaii Five-O, co-stars with Dennis Quaid, Linda Hunt, and Carrie Underwood in Soul Surfer which hits theaters in April, and has two other theatrical releases on he horizon! Not to mention What If, coming to theaters next summer and Julia X which is set to be released later in 2011.
The busy father-of-three young kids – Braeden, 9, Shane, 6, and Octavia, 5 – recently sat down with Celebrity Baby Scoop to talk about the difference between raising boys vs. girls, how his wife Sam Jenkins is the “brains of the family,” and the “pathetic” state of our education system: “Our public education ranks 57th in the world.”
CBS: You are dad to three kids, Braeden, 9, Shane, 6, and Octavia, 5. What are they into?
KS: “The better question is what aren’t they into.! When I’m not away shooting a movie or something, I’m basically a cab driver for them. There’s karate, basketball, football, track and all these other sports that just keep overlapping each other. I just feel like I’m driving around all the time. They’re good kids. They love sports, they love to make a mess in the house, of course. I get to clean it up which is a nice arrangement for them. They’re good kids. They’re very good at asking and saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ for the most part and ‘sir’ and ‘ma’am’ and all of that. We’re always reminding them.”
CBS: Love the names. Any special significance?
KS: “I’m of Norwegian bloodline like a lot of Minnesotans, but I went with Celtic names for the boys though. I don’t really know why. I always liked the name Braeden. I went with the old Irish Gaelic spelling. For Shane, two of my best buddies, stunt guys on Hercules, were named Shane and they made me look good for seven years. Octavia was my wife’s idea. We were going back and forth between Reagan and Octavia. Reagan seems to have won out and has become really huge. There are a lot of little girls named Reagan right now. Octavia came from my wife Sam being a fan of Shakespeare and going all King Lear on me. Octavia is old Roman for eighth child and she’s my mom and dad’s eighth grandchild. And she was born in October.”
CBS: You had two boys and then a girl. Has it been very different raising a girl?
KS: “Yeah! I remember the first time I had to change her diaper. I screamed for my wife and she came running and said, ‘What’s wrong, what’s wrong?’ I said, ‘Look, no penis!’ After changing diapers for 5 years with the boys, it was an experience that I knew was going to happen, but I thought I’d go for a laugh with her.
There is a difference but because she has two older brothers, she’s turning into quite the little tomboy. She’s also very girlie and loves to have her princess dresses on, but it’s funny to see the difference. For example, the boys will make something out of building blocks and then just destroy it, run it over or knock it over. She makes something or creates something and just wants to preserve it. It shows you that we are different creatures. It’s interesting to see that.”
CBS: Give us an idea of what it’s like in your household.
KS: “I’m always the first one up. I’m a very early riser. I get by on 4 or 5 hours of sleep. I’m usually up at around 4 or 4:30 in the morning and I’ll take those first 2 or 3 hours and work in my office. I have my own production company. I’m always firing off emails across the globe, looking for financing or distribution for different projects I’ve got going.
The oldest is usually the first one up. The other two like to sleep in. It’s fun for me because I get to have cuddle time with each of them and talk about things. It’s a special time for me. We’ll lay on the couch together and it’s quiet time, personal time with each of them. I miss them when I’m on the road. It’s nice little hangout time when they’re just laying on my stomach and we’re just talking face to face.”
CBS: What kind of dad are you? Strict, fun, laid back?
KS: “I’m more the fun, laid back one. My wife is definitely the disciplinarian, she’s the toughie one. They run to me before they’ll ask her because they know she’ll say no. They’ll come to me and say, ‘Can we play a video game?’ I’ll ask, ‘Did you play today?’ They’ll say, ‘No’ and I’ll say, ‘Go ahead’. Then my wife will come in and say, ‘Wait a minute, I told you, you couldn’t play video games until you picked up or did the dishes or until after dinner,’ or whatever the case might be. They know, as we all do, the difference between right and wrong but the boys will try and get away with crossing their fingers behind their back. They crack me up.”
CBS: Have any of your kids expressed an interest in acting? Would you encourage it if they did?
LS: “Yes, my oldest, and Octavia who hasn’t said anything but she’s definitely a drama queen. The stuff she does and the way she moves. The way she moves to music, it’s like get out the strip pole – way too sexual. Where did she learn all this? She shakes it and I’m like, ‘Stop doing that’ [laughs]. Braeden definitely wants to follow in my footsteps and Shane is determined to be an artist. In my office, I’ve set up a little work station for the kids and he’s the one in here most of the time drawing and coloring, cutting paper.”
CBS: You and your wife, actress Sam Jenkins, have been married since 1998. What’s your secret to a successful marriage and partnership?
KS: “I know, I laughed about that with her when we hit our 10 year anniversary. I said to her this is like our golden anniversary in Hollywood years. I should have had three wives by now [laughs]. I’m not following the typical Hollywood road, I guess.
We make it work. It’s a good partnership and relationship. She’s the brains of the family and I’m more the creative one in the family. That goes quite well together. She can look at projects I’m working on, read the script and tell me what the problems are in the script. She’s able to look at the whole picture while I might pick apart a specific scene. That combination works. She’s just a bright cookie. I just use my father’s saying, after 58 years of being together, and he says, ‘I just agree with her.’ ”
CBS: We have to ask you about Hercules. We read that it surpassed Baywatch as the most watched show in the world at the time. Why do you think it was such an international hit?
KS: “It’s been done for 10 years which just blows my mind. We started filming in 1993 and we did five two-hour movies before we started on the series. And I knew by the second movie that they were going to do a TV series. No one had said anything to me, but I remember telling my manager when we were shooting in New Zealand that this would become a series. She asked how I knew and I said, ‘We did something really cool on set today and I have a feeling that this is really going to strike a chord with people’. And sure enough, before the movies were even finished shooting, Universal said they were going to make a series out of it.
I think the comedy and the humor in it appealed to people. We didn’t take ourselves so seriously. There was a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor. We also had mythology and good moral values in there, and all those things combined just struck a chord with people. We were in 175 countries and it was exploding. We spun off Xena: Warrior Princess and that became a whole different show with a whole different audience. It was a big lesbian cult and she was killing 15 guys an episode. The shows took completely different roads even though Xena was basically a female Hercules, but the following was completely different.”
CBS: Currently you’re involved in the audio drama Macabre Mansion‘s Fall of the House of Usher, based on Edgar Allan Poe’s classic short story. Please tell us about this project.
KS: “It’s funny, I read a lot of Edgar Allan Poe back when I was in junior high and I’ve been doing a lot more voice-overs lately. I also have a couple of games out there now. One is the God of War Part III that I did with Malcolm McDowell – that was a blast to do. More and more recognizable actors are doing voice-overs now. So I thought, ‘I’m going to throw my hat in the ring.’ It’s been fun. I like the project and the story.”
CBS: We read that you’re the spokesperson and chair of a World Fit for Kids. Please tell us about this cause and why it’s so important to you.
KS: “I’ve been doing this for over thirteen years now. It’s an after school program. It’s also a mentoring program where inner city teens become mentors to younger children. It’s a three hour after school program. The first hour deals with physical fitness because many kids aren’t getting physical fitness through school any more. It’s proven that if you do an hour of exercise, your retention and attention span is so much better. That’s why the hour after we have the kids exercise, we hit them up with their homework and their books.
We struggle with funding. It’s just nuts. I go to Congress once a year and speak with these boneheads. I ask them, ‘Why are you cutting after school programs and physical education?’ I don’t care what president is in there, our educational system is absolutely pathetic. Something has to be done about it. It’s really, really bad and is just getting worse. Our public education ranks 57th in the world. This is the dumbing-down of America, the dumbing-down of our kids. I don’t know why there’s not a bigger uproar from parents. We’re so filled with apathy in this country right now. Just let the government take care of it. No! You know what, no!
We do better as individuals. That’s what this country was founded on. We don’t need bigger, stronger government spending our money. We need people coming up with ideas and ways to make our lives better. People create jobs, not government. It just drives me insane, especially as a parent. We’re home schooling our kids, we don’t even put our kids in school. California tried to outlaw home schooling last year. Tried to ban it. The reasons were pathetic, but the reality is home schooled children are vastly superior educated to kids in public school. Why is that? Why is it that the parents can teach our kids better. My first grader is already in 2nd grade math, as an example.
Through a World Fit for Kids, we fight childhood obesity as well. So we have one hour of some sort of physical activity: tennis, dance, basketball, whatever they want to do. We work with over 12,000 kids in the L.A. county area. L.A. county’s drop out rate is 54% now, starting in as low as 5th grade. With the 12,000 kids we work with from the same area, we have a 98% graduation rate with a 67% higher grade point average. So I go to Congress and say, ‘What am I doing so much better than you guys?’
I wish more people would have a bigger uproar about the lack of education for our children. We have 12,000 more kids that want to be in the program, but the money just isn’t there. I’m a spokesperson and don’t get a penny out of this. I have a celebrity golf tournament every year to raise money for the program, but we need more. We’re trying to branch out all over the country: Baltimore, New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Seattle.
We really need people to speak up about the importance of educating our kids. I was telling people in the last election, ‘Vote everybody out’. I want term limits. No more 40-year Congressmen. If the President only gets eight years that’s all you guys should get too. If they put that to a vote, I think overwhelmingly the American people would say yes.”
CBS: How does your family celebrate the holidays?
KS: “I’m a big Christmas guy. The lights are already up around the house. I have three trees up this year. I just love it. I love the lights, the history, and it’s the only time of the year that I miss the cold weather and snow in Minnesota. My parents will be coming out, my sister and my wife’s brother. I wish the whole family could make it. We’ll have a nice gathering here.”