'Hercules' star Kellan Lutz re-lives childhood fantasies on screen

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Actor/model Kellan Lutz is not competing in the Olympics, but he’d feel right at home on the top of Mount Olympus. Lutz might look familiar for his roles as Emmett Cullen in the Twilight movies or as Poseidon in 2011’s Immortals. Or you might recognize him as one of the models featured in the 2010 Calvin Klein X underwear campaign.

The buff 28-year-old is currently on screen in The Legend of Hercules, in which he plays the title role. When he’s not playing gods, Lutz is supporting PETA and efforts to rebuild New Orleans. He also endorsed the documentary film The Paw Project, which discourages the cruelty of declawing cats.

Izumi Hasegawa: Let me remind you that after Immortals I told you that you would be resurrected and be immortal again.

Kevin Lutz: And look, here I am as another god.

You go from one god to being another god. Have you been able to distinguish all of the scars and injuries yet on your body?

I do, I do. They are my tattoos. I have no tattoos. I view my scars as my memories. I’m not a journalist, but my body tells a story. As people ask, “Where is that from?” there is a good story with it.

What is your best scar from this project?

Uh ... (Laughs.) You had to go there. Riding a horse, you get a lot of chaffing, which I learned, and it’s not quite fun when you’re wearing a skirt and you don’t have jeans on. So, I have, on my ass, two lines of scars (laughs) that I had to put a lot of bio-oil on to heal as fast as I could. So, there’s my most iconic scars.

You work out a lot, so what was going through your mind when you were working out for this film?

I live an active lifestyle. I really enjoy being outdoors, and I’d rather play basketball or snowboard. I have fun in the gym. I get creative. I compete against myself. As soon as it feels like work — I don’t like working. That’s why I choose these projects that are fun to me. As a little kid, I had middle-child syndrome. I grew up on a lot of land, with a lot of farm animals, and I had a lot of alone time. I was able to use my imagination and create the world of Tarzan, of He-Man, of Hercules, of Ninja Turtles. It was a lonely time that I filled with my fantasy world. Hercules was always that original hero for me, and now that I’m an actor — I never had the dream to be an actor — I found this passion that I get to re-live and fulfill this childhood dream of bringing this character to the big screen. I was very well prepared for it, because of my education and my knowledge of Greek mythology. I really loved The Iliad and The Odyssey. I read those before they were mandatory in school. With preparing to ride the horse and the sword fighting, I had Liam McIntyre, as my brother in arms, who played Spartacus. I love that show. Everyone on this film was family. I’m proud of everyone’s hard work. But Liam, being the fighter that he is — I came to him as humbly as I could and I was like, “Look. I don’t have time to really learn. Will you help me?” And he was like, “Yeah, brother.” You know, he’s Australian, and he’s all happy. We would just battle each other. I was living my childhood dream. I fully embraced it.

This is the most diverse, physically, that you’ve done in terms of the disciplines — with the battle sequences and the horse riding. How much did you work with your stunt coordinator in terms of training for the individual disciplines?

God, that man — he’s like Indiana Jones. He’s our main stunt coordinator and just such a great lad. You can either have a stunt coordinator who knows his stuff but doesn’t know how to work with actors, much like directors, and I was blessed on this movie because Renny (Harlin) is such a visually stunning director who knows how to work with actors. Raleigh (the stunt coordinator) is the same way. He’s done James Bond. He did Alexander, and was telling me stories about him riding a horse, and he lost control of the horse and had to bail and flew right into a tree. The rigorous hours that I had to learn how to ride a horse, as fast as I did within the scenes — he made me feel like an all-star. Toward the end of the movie, he was like, “I don’t know how you did it!”

How many of the stunts did you get to do yourself? Or did you have a stuntman do them for you?

I had a stuntman named Danko that looked like me and had the most boring time on the set because I did everything. There were a few times when, due to my rigorous schedule, I had Kurry, who was my horse rider, and Danko, who was my fight double. I was working double units, six-day weeks — whenever I couldn’t work, they would step in, because I was in every single shot, which I loved. A big difference from Twilight days where I wanted more, but script-wise this was all I was doing. I love working, I love being on set, and time goes by the fastest when you’re on set. Sixteen hours just fly by.

What’s it like for you watching the movie?

I’ve never felt such a sense of accomplishment. I’m so proud of the work that I did and for me, for the inner child that’s always in all of us.