Kellan Lutz: From Vampire to Demi-God
By: Lynn Barker
When Kellan Lutz, who played Emmett Cullen in the “Twilight” film series, was a little guy, he loved to draw Greek heroes and imagine he lived their mythic adventures while avoiding the teasing of his older bros until he got old enough to fight back. If you are a “middle child”, you might identify with his boyhood problems.
Kellan has always seemed down-to-earth; a friendly, farmboy who knows how lucky he is. Nothing has changed as he talked about starring as the lead in The Legend of Hercules. Check out our latest chat with him. He walks into our interview room looking casual/hunky and with a more husky voice than usual.
Kellan: Pardon my voice, it’s from the ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement). There’s been a lot of screaming.
Kidzworld: Is that from the roar when Hercules brings the columns down?
- Kellan: Well, all that stuff is hard on the voice and I’ve been doing that and they’ve been laying it in. You can’t get that (while shooting), especially on horseback. You’re riding the horse, the rain is coming down, you’re trying to lead your men, the horse is going crazy, you’re trying to remember your lines, you have water in your eyes so it’s been a lot of fun re-doing the dialogue. The whole movie!
Kidzworld: Yikes! You are mega-buff in this film. What was your training process like and how did you keep your diet up?
- Kellan: I live quite an active lifestyle. I loved being active growing up in the household that I did. Going outdoors, not inside meant I was away from my brothers who would try to kill me every day! In preparing for The Legend of Hercules I had to learn how to ride a horse very quickly so that really works your legs. My legs had never been so big because you’re squeezing into the saddle but I enjoyed riding the horse. They’re beautiful animals. But, I’d rather snowboard or play basketball than be in the gym as far as working out.
- I also loved fighting with a sword. I had Liam McIntyre (from TV’s “Spartacus”) who is an amazing actor and an amazing man at heart. He already has two years under his belt of wielding the double swords. I came to him humbly and said, “Please teach me your ways” so we would just play fight. For sword-fighting, mostly I worked the arms. I would just do pushups. I love pushups and I ended up doing about a thousand a day. I ate a lot of proteins but it was really hard deleting the candy from my system because I love it.
Kidzworld: Hercules has a really mean half brother in this movie. Did you feel like you had to butt heads with your own brothers growing up?
- Kellan: I always did. It’s not like I tried to. They would lie to me, they would steal from me, they would tell me I was adopted. Three were the older ones. I was smack dab in the middle. I had twin younger brothers so, of course, they got all the attention because they’re the cute ones. They’re just punking on me, giving me swirlies.
- They really gave me tough skin. I’d always run to mom because everyone’s a little momma’s boy at times. They’d call me “baby baby baby”. That turned into “Krazy Kellan” at around age 12 or 13. That’s when my windmill fists came out. I remember I knocked my brother Brandon out, broke his nose. Then I started growing taller and then they stopped messing with me. I’m the tallest one in my family now.
Kidzworld: Did you know much about the mythology of Hercules? Were you interested at all?
- Kellan: 100 percent. Living on a farm and growing up without cable, we didn’t watch movies, we worked the land and I read my books and did my coloring books. One of my most iconic memories is coloring in the Nemean Lion (whom Hercules fights). I still have that picture of this massive lion on the rock and this hero with his spear. My grandma still has all my colorings, I was very much into art and I still am. I (finally) learned it was Hercules. I learned about the legend. That’s where my fascination with wild cats came from. They’re just so beautiful.
- So then I just started diving into that fantasy world of mythology. I read “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” before we had to in school. Everyone else is like, “Ehhh”. I was like “This is the sweetest test, I already know everything!” Also before I went away to do the film, (Director) Renny (Harlin) and I found that the Getty Villa up in Malibu has the Hercules exhibit. It was all fate and very serendipitous that it all came together like that.
- So my knowledge of Hercules was already there and it very much mimicked Renny’s passion for it and I think that’s what helped him decide that this kid loves this role and he’s going to work hard toward it. So yes, I am very knowledgeable but there’s always something new to learn. I was just in Rome and I learned something new about Hercules. There’s many tales.
Kidzworld: When you first enter the film on horseback, you have a big smile on your face. How did you get to that happy place?
- Kellan: Did you see my love interest? I mean Gaia (Weiss) is stunning! Renny would say, “Kellan, stop smiling”. Even in battles, I would take the helmet off, I was just a kid. I really felt little Kellan come out because I was fulfilling this childhood dream. Every day I was just excited to be on set, to put the clothes on which weren’t functional by the way. You are doing these scenes and your skirt is just riding up (laughter).
Kidzworld: When you were wrestling the lion, was that CGI or what?
- Kellan: That sucked! They spent all this money building this animatronic lion head. I haven’t seen it since. I watched it on my computer and it wasn’t even close to being done. They had one guy in the head moving it around and another guy on a joystick opening the mouth and moving the eyes and another guy being a paw and another being a claw. So I’m wrestling kind of four people on real rocks and they are eating the crap out of my shoulder. Renny is such an in depth director that he’s watching the monitor (intently) and I’m over wrestling this thing that will never die. I really strangling this thing and the blood is going to my head and I’m like “Renny, he’s dead! Cut!”
Kidzworld: Hilarious! Did you get to keep anything? Props, costumes?
- Kellan: Yeah. I kept my sword. It’s kind of nice being number one on the call sheet, I’ve gotta say. I kept the queen’s knife. I kept my amulet that symbolizes my love for Hebe. I kept part of my fighting gear. We added a little more red (to the costume) from all the battles to show the pain and suffering he goes through. One day, when I start a family, I want to have these things showcased.
Kidzworld: How much green screen was used and how much was actually there? I know in T.V.s “Spartacus” almost nothing is actually there.
- Kellan: I love “Spartacus” but there were a lot of practical sets. Mostly all the shots had practical sets. The amphitheater was all built there and the mud pit. No CGI there. Only the spikes where the snakes are, is CGI. We had that whole arena. In the other (fighting) arena, we had it but maybe only up three stories so when you see me fighting the six gladiators, it goes up like maybe twenty-fire stories. It was only half an arena so we could just flip it and shoot all one way. So, it was nice having all these physical buildings to play off of.
Kidzworld: You played Poseidon (in Immortals) and now Hercules and you are fascinated by mythology. Is there another Greek God or Demigod you would like to play?
- Kellan: I love Ares. I just love the story of the God of War and I haven’t really played a bad God yet. It would be kind of fun to do that. Hades is too dark for me but it seems like Ares had a lot of fun.
Hercules in chains
Kidzworld: Was there a most difficult scene for you to do?
- Kellan: No. I was so well-prepared for this movie. But, I think the funniest part was wearing the skirt. I was very comfortable. I’d done modeling and Calvin Klein. But, (things kept showing that weren’t supposed to).
Kidzworld: You are so funny. We’ve seen you on “30 Rock”. Do you want to do more comedy?
- Kellan: I love comedy. I started doing comedy. I love Stick It and The Comeback. I just love Matt Damon’s career where he plays these Jason Bourne superheroes and also he’s hilarious in “Oceans” movies and does family movies like We Bought a Zoo. I really want to emulate his career. I think he’s a stand-up guy who shows vulnerability quite well. I just watched The Departed and he was brilliant in it. Hats off to him. I can’t wait to work with him.
Kidzworld: Can you tell us about your charity work with Saving Innocence?
- Kellan: I’m all about giving back. My mother instilled that quality and it keeps my feet on solid ground as I live this fantasy life I find these charities. Like in Bulgaria saving the dogs. There are a lot of stray dogs so we got in touch with an animal rescue to work with them and give them food and water and shelter.
- But Saving Innocence, when my friend Kim Biddle started her organization here in L.A. it really opened my eyes to the fact that young girls are being trafficked (sold) right in my own backyard. When I went on these ride-alongs with sheriffs, I saw this little girl standing on the corner. I see these girls all the time and I have a little sister who lives here. In L.A. you think they are wearing this (suggestive) stuff because it’s fashion. There are little boys as well. It’s both genders. The average age is 12.
- These kids should be in 6th grade, playing on the playground. So that is near and dear to my heart. We are beginning to see change. We are building a hope house to rescue them and give them their own apartment. A lot people come to Hollywood to follow their dream and when they run out of resources, they’re too afraid to go home or ask for help. They fall victims to these horrible men.
The Legend of Hercules is in theaters now!