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Feature: Hercules

Dark Side of a Hero

A new Hercules Anakin Skywalker isn’t the only hero showing his dark side this Spring... in NBC’s new Hercules mini-series, Paul Telfer takes the Greek demi-god back to his murderously gory origins in the ancient legends…

For the ancient Greeks, any hero worth his salt had something terrible to atone for… and in NBC’s new mini-series, Hercules is getting back to those roots.

“The issue of Hercules is the responsibility of the male, symbolically told all through his life.” comments Paul Telfer, the young star who’s stepping into Kevin Sorbo’s sandals. “We’re all born and we don’t know why we are born into the world; he falls in love with women he can’t have; it’s the idea of pursuits, the chase of love and the dynamics of sexual politics.

“Then there is the idea of the warring mother and father, which is obviously very Greek, but anybody can associate the idea of the parents’ relationship, and you go through all this and you end up with the main crisis point of the story, where he’s driven insane and he kills his children. I don’t have children but I know, especially from my brother-in-law and my father, that when you have a child there is so much anxiety about your responsibility for them, so he goes through this nightmarish construction of himself, only to have it all destroyed, and then have him reconstruct himself.

“It’s very symbolic,” he concludes.

It’s also a big responsibility for a young actor getting his big chance at fame. “Yeah, it’s back to working in the fish restaurant if it’s not successful,” he jokes. “But that’s fine, I gave it my best shot, hopefully it will be successful and I’ll keep hacking away. This is my job, I love doing it, and I’ll do it until I can’t do it anymore.”

Even though some big stars have played Hercules in the past, Tefler didn’t find it daunting to take on such an iconic role. “This is kind of fresh ground, to do it like we’re doing it hasn’t really been done. With this massive myth, there’s plenty of room for every kind of version of it, but the straight story hasn’t been done before, so in a sense the only expectation was in trying to dispel all these associations. I just go in and do my take on it and that either will become people’s idea of what Hercules is or not.”

One big break with past interpretations of the role is that Tefler is playing it with his native English accent. “I heard about the job, and I really wanted to do it, so I got the sides and I sent a tape in an English accent,” Tefler comments. “I had no idea they wanted me to do it in an American accent. They liked the tape, sent it back to my representation in England, and asked them to have me come in again to the UK casting director for some other parts. I read for that, again nobody told me it was supposed to be American. I was sitting outside listening to the guy before me do this big speech as Zeus in an American accent, and I was snickering under my breath, thinking, ‘Why is he doing that, it’s absurd.’

Get the full interview in
Xposé #94

Photo © NBC
Feature © Visual Imagination 2005. Not for reproduction

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Xposé #94, see below for ordering options
Xposé #94
May 2005
ships from Apr 28 2005
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