Legend of the Seeker Official Site
Back in the mid and late ’90s, Hercules and Xena spawned a flurry of loincloth and sword and sorcery shows that were made on the cheap for syndication and usually not quite up to the quality of their two forebears. It got to be that you could just sit back on a Saturday and Sunday and watch them one right after the other, shows like Mortal Kombat: Conquest, Conan The Adventurer, The Beastmaster, Cleopatra 2525 and so on and so forth. In a lot of cases, scantily clad chicks (which is always acceptable, FYI), occasionally bad accents, and period humor with modern connotations and comedic winks to the audience were the norm. Eventually they died out by the early part of this decade and in several cases, it was for the better.
Now there’s a new show that’s just premiered in syndication this season that’s looking to make a return to true sword and sorcery stories with some substance: Legend of the Seeker. I recently had a chance to speak with the star, Australian Craig Horner, who plays a young man destined to fight evil and seek justice. Now to look at him, young, handsome and the star of his own show, one might think that he was just another vapid young hunk, more worried about his per diem and making with the outrageous craft service demands than producing a good product. But as it turns out I found him quite easygoing, laid back and willing to answer a couple of questions for which his PR people certainly wouldn’t have known to prepare him.
Legend of the Seeker just got picked up for a second season. Congratulations.
Thanks a lot, man, it’s exciting, huh?
The show’s based on The Sword of Truth novels by Terry Goodkind. Had you heard of them before?
I hadn’t read them before…I’d heard about it. So once I did my first audition and they were interested in me, I managed to go back and read up on it a bit more to re-audition for it and then when I got the role, then I really went back and [read them].
Goodkind initially said that he’d be heavily involved, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. Have you ever had a chance to consult with him and get his sense of how the show is going in his eyes?
No, no. You’re right and that has now been kind of handed off to…other hands have more control. I think he’s moved on now and he’s happy for it to have been turned into a show.
The show is executive produced by Sam Raimi & Rob Tapert, Joshua Donen, Ned Nalle and Kenneth Biller. But unlike Hercules and Xena, Seeker isn’t about the tongue in cheek humor and the nudge nudge, wink wink style of those shows. It’s more straight up storytelling. Did that appeal to you more or were you worried that the show was going to be like Hercules and Xena?
Yeah well, I’ll be honest. When I was doing the job…I didn’t know anything about Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi were doing it…but I knew “wow, put a fork in it, this should be fantastic.” And then…when I found out it was the makers of Hercules and Xena, I was a little bit…I didn’t want to be in spandex and sleeveless shirts and running around doing silly action scenes. Hercules and Xena were very great…but it just wasn’t what I wanted to do as an actor. But luckily it turned out not to be the case and I had a chance to do some really good drama with some really good actors.
Critical reception has said that the show borrows a bit too much from Star Wars, The Matrix, 300 and even the Bible, but that your and Bridget’s work is generally looked upon favorably. Do you think that’s a fair assessment?
Oh well, there’s so many departments when you make a show like this, I mean…gosh, there’s only so many things you can do in your own department. You might be in make-up and you might be heavily influenced by, you know, Lord of the Rings, which you’ve been working on for four years, so that’s what the make-up will turn out like. All I can do is just really try recreate that Richard Cypher character, who’s really established by Terry Goodkind in the books. So whatever scripts I’m thrown…all I can do is try to bring trueness to my character, you know?
In terms of your casting on the show, Rob Tapert said “absolutely thought he was the guy, instantly.” Raimi thought that although you’re older than the character you play, you were “very believable” and that you’ve “got enough good qualities in [you], in real life, and [you] will probably make the audience believe that [you’re] taking that ride towards making a responsible person and that growth of character that’s so important for me in the stories of Terry Goodkind.” That’s pretty high praise.
Wow, yeah, that’s really sweet. And I guess I’m at that age where I can take this character from boy to man. Which is what he needs to do, especially this first season. You know, for all he goes through, that’s how it’s written: he starts off with no idea of what magic is and the terrible war that’s raging on the other side of his world. He’s tossed upon it and he has to save it. I’ve got 22 episodes to take a boy and turn him into a man. It’s kind of exciting. You can’t really do that in a feature, you know what I mean? You’ve got 90 minutes and can do a true montage and all that stuff. But when you do actually have ten months of a shoot where you’re growing up as well, you can’t do it.
I read that in the casting of Bridget Regan as Kahlan, you guys did one “chemistry reading” and the producers knew immediately that they had found their stars, correct?
Wow. Wow, that’s cool. Yeah, I remember that room [laughs]. You know she was the only actress who physically grabbed me and threw me against the wall so, maybe that’s why she got the part.
Speaking of that, she gets to kick as much butt as you do.
Yeah, oh yeah, she can look out for herself, that’s for sure.
The bad thing (or maybe the good thing depending on how you look at it) is that Richard and Kahlan can’t have sex or they lose their magic.
Yeah, there’s a lot of mystery behind that and it’s very tough situation. It’s the whole Romeo and Juliet, you know? Montague and Capulet chemistry. Two lovers who cannot be. It makes for exciting drama, huh?
The show is shot in New Zealand on hi-def. Do you prefer shooting the show so close to home and also using digital cameras as opposed to film?
We are trying to do a film in fast turnaround TV time, you know? And we just can’t afford shooting on film I mean, we just don’t have the budget. What we want to recreate in other areas, set designs, visual effects and make-up, you know, by doing this great HD technology, we’re afforded [to be able to] keep rolling, keep going with fast turnarounds and a lot of the time we’ll keep the camera rolling for new ideas, keep it going, pick it up, just to get through it. ‘Cause if we had film we wouldn’t have time to do that. You’d need a lot more rehearsal time and we don’t have a lot of time for rehearsal to be honest actually.
I’m going to go off topic a bit here for a moment. Did you watch the sitcom Friends? Because I read that you enjoy playing soccer, volleyball, tennis, swimming, skiing, snowboarding and kayaking. Now is this actually true or are any these resume fillers like Joey had on that show?
[Laughs] That’s hilarious! Yeah, yeah, look, I’ll admit, I did the old “resume inflation.” I kind of embellished a bit but look, I’d say about 80% of that is true. I have actually been kayaking and snowboarding.
A couple of years ago, you had a part in the film See No Evil with the wrestler Kane. How was it working with a guy that big and do you like horror films and do you see more horror films in your future?
Hey, man I’m really really happy I finally got to do a horror movie and put that under my belt…and die in it, you know? You don’t want to be a hero…who wants to be a hero at the end of a horror movie? So I actually really enjoyed that whole process. And personally, Kane is a really really sweet, humble kind of guy. He’s just a big friendly kind of giant you know, literally.
Bruce Spence plays Zeddicus Zu’l Zorander, a wizard and mentor to Richard. Here’s a guy with genre credits second to none as he’s had roles in two Mad Max films, The Lord of the Rings, The Matrix Revolutions and Revenge of the Sith. Does he have any good stories to tell in between takes?
You know what, I try to pick his brain here and there, ‘cause I’m a huge Mad Max fan and all that stuff. So I’d ask him about Mel Gibson and the early days and get a little inside story here and there. But he’s quite reluctant to talk about it. Bruce is a really chill kind of guy you know and it’s just so great and it really rings true. He’d much prefer to talk about the cup of tea that he just had five minutes ago and how nice it is compared to some other brand of tea. [When asked about The Matrix Revolutions] he’d be like “Oh, yeah, it was alright, blah blah blah.” So he’s actually reluctant to get anything out of him to be honest. But that’s what makes him who he is. He’s really humble and I admire him. I really look up to him.
The bad guy, Darken Rahl (Craig Parker) was also in Lord of the Rings (as Haldir of Lorien). How many guys from that production did you steal?
Yeah, you know, right? There’s actually quite a few and a few guests that have come onto our show have also been on Lord of the Rings. And we’ve got the bloody wardrobe department, a couple of the make-up girls, the prosthetics people, the armory, the props people and all that. So yeah, we do have a lot of Lord of the Rings people floating around.
Alright, I’m wrapping up here, but I’ve got to ask you, a couple of your guys, David de Lautour who plays your brother, Michael, and Craig Parker, have worked on Power Rangers. You ever get on them about that? Is there ever any kidding around on that subject?
Are they really…who’s in the Power Rangers?
Craig and David.
Aw man, they never told me that! Aw, dude, thanks for telling me that. I’m going to give them hell about that! Great! [Laughs]
So what’s on the horizon for you? What have you got lined up since I guess production is wrapped for the season?
Well I wrap production in early April and then I’ll be in the States in April, May, a bit of June and all that. Probably just hang out, see some people I want to see, you know.