Whoosh! Issue 16 - January 1998

AN INTERVIEW WITH KEVIN SMITH
Special to Whoosh!
By Danielle Walther
Copyright © 1997 held by author
2176 words



Author's Note: Kevin Smith graciously took time from his busy schedule during WarriorCon, September 14, 1997, to answer some of my questions about his experiences on the sets of Hercules and Xena, as well as a few questions about the characters of Ares and Iphicles.




The Two Sets (01-05)
Ares' Relationship to Hercules and Xena (06-07)
Iphicles (08-14)
Paternity and Ares (15-22)
Favorite Episodes (23-28)
Work on Hercules (29-34)
Other Plans? (35-36)
Biography



An Interview With Kevin Smith



When I said I'd take
requests, 'drop your pants' wasn't what I wanted to hear!


Kevin Smith at WarriorCon.
Photo courtesy Bret Rudnick.




The Two Sets


DANIELLE WALTHER:
[01] What would you say is the main difference between the sets of Hercules and Xena?

KEVIN SMITH:
[02] The difference between the two sets is quite often the mood of the piece. There's an inherent darkness in the mood on Xena, which is not to say it's a somber thing.

[03] [Also,] on both sets you really yuck it up. The crews on both are really good. They're really good at their job, but they like to have a laugh as well. So, it's actually good fun. I don't know how it is elsewhere, but in New Zealand, the actors normally hang with the crew a lot. So many of them are buddies. I've worked with many of them on other shows, as well.

[04] Sometimes the storyline is often, [especially] when Ares is involved with Xena, quite dark. But I noticed they changed one thing with the Hind trilogy [Hercules : ENCOUNTER (H50/313), WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN (51/314), JUDGEMENT DAY (52/315)], because it was Hercules dealing with some heavy stuff. It got intense in that as well. But I think that's the main difference.

[05] The nature of the shows really dictate what the set is like. The acting emphasizes this and not a day goes by on set when you're not laughing. It's cool.



Ares' Relationship to Hercules and Xena


WALTHER:
[06] With the Hind Trilogy, did you see any differences in the Hercules' Ares from the Xena one?

SMITH:
[07] Again, the differences come from Ares' attitude towards the protagonist on each show. His attitude towards Hercules is very different from his attitude towards Xena. He just plain-out wants to destroy Hercules, but he's not allowed to. He's stopped by the many rules which govern such behavior. Xena, he wants to win back. He's a jealous sibling on one show, and he's an obsessed stalker-god on the other one. He is the ultimate stalker on Xena and he's just a p*ss*d off-brother on Hercules.



Iphicles


And to think I get more
chicks with that fake beard & Village People leathers!


Iphicles makes his debut
in WHAT"S IN A NAME (H16/203).


WALTHER:
[08] When you started Iphicles way back when in WHAT'S IN A NAME (H16/203), you had Bruce Campbell as a director. How did he help you shape the character?

SMITH:
[09] It was cool. The accent was different for a start. When I was out in the States, I was with some guys who were native New Yorkers, so I picked up unwittingly, a kind of twang, so he [Bruce Campbell] said basically, being his brother, you need to sound more like Kevin [Sorbo], so they wanted to give Iphicles more of a mid-west sound.

[10] I have to say with Bruce Campbell, I remember when I was at college, we rented The Evil Dead [Sam Raimi, 1982], and went "this is so cool". We were really into it, so I was stoked when for my first day-job [with Hercules], Bruce Campbell was directing it. It was like a fan thing. I was so into the The Evil Dead. I'd just not long seen Army Of Darkness [Sam Raimi, 1993]. It was really, really a buzz to have him [Bruce Campbell] on my first Hercules .

[11] Yes, we talked about stuff, and it's nice that he's (Iphicles) more like Hercules. I have heard people say sometimes that they weren't aware that Ares and Iphicles were played by the same guy. That's because Iphicles is of nature kind of closer to Hercules. That was the big key that Bruce gave me, was just think you are brothers, so try and think of some similarities.

WALTHER:
[12] Why do you think there is so much animosity between Hercules and Iphicles? That always seems to come through, especially in SURPRISE (H49/312).

SMITH:
[13] Yes, that stuff. They [Hercules and Iphicles] resolved it in WHAT'S IN A NAME (H16/203). They got past all that stuff. You know what it's like if your brother is the high school football star, and you'll always be so-and-so's brother. You're Hercules' brother. I've got a name. And screw it, I'll call myself Hercules. That's the source of it. It's interesting that both brothers are jealous. But for different reasons.

[14] What happened in SURPRISE (H49/312), is that the drug that Callisto gave [Iphicles, allowed] his particular demon [to come out], and there was some baggage that was very deeply submerged. In THE WEDDING OF ALCMENE (H34/221), it was like all that stuff was buried.



Paternity and Ares


Luke, I mean Xena, I
am..no, wait, I mean..I am *not*..your father. Well, maybe  not.


Ares tries to deal with a "Furie-ous" Xena
in THE FURIES (47/301).


WALTHER:
[15] In the first draft of THE FURIES (47/301), Ares was shown to be the father of Xena. What did you think about that when you first read it?

SMITH:
[16] It was one of those things that had been mentioned. It had been mentioned as early as TIES THAT BIND (20/120), obviously, because that father thing was in there. Each time it came close to making that final step, we sort of swerved away. So again it was yes, it looks like he might be, but he won't give her the satisfaction of confirming or denying it. If he [is Xena's] father, he's not letting on, but that has been alluded to from an early time.

[17] What do I think about that? One of the first things we did when we were doing THE RECKONING (06/106), with Charles Siebert [as director], we sat down and Lucy [Lawless] and I had a good bit of a start on what they wanted, because we had a lot of one-on-one scenes together. It's all about a seduction, so we tried to get a bit of sexual chemistry going on that. Each time we did a scene together it was all about a seduction back to the dark side. That is the way we had been working. Now the father thing makes it kind of weird. Then it's up to us to go, take that energy, and turn it into something that is not yucky. You know what I mean?

WALTHER:
[18] Especially after INTIMATE STRANGER (31/207).

SMITH:
[19] INTIMATE STRANGER (31/207), exactly. I know Xena wasn't home at the time, but it's still a pretty sick thing to do.

WALTHER:
[20] Many people have pointed out that in Greek mythology that was common, incest between the gods.

SMITH:
[21] Yes, in it's [original] context, people are hip with it, but [XWP is is different]. There's many anachronisms in there, and basically [XWP actors] speak in a contemporary way, therefore it's like people [speak normally]. If they did this with Shakespeare, something like "Taming of the Shrew", and [put it into] modern context, it would be appalling, you know? Then people would start judging a 400 year old piece by today's standards, and [notice] it's terrible that they should do that to this woman. But that's the thing, you sit and look at it in the time it's in, and it's proper historical context, then it's fine. But I think that people seeing in their living rooms, you know what I mean, it's just "ew", and kids watch it.

[22] That's another thing too, you gotta be ever mindful [about kids]. We had a great time doing it, and there's a knowingness which I think makes the show fun. You know you're saying stuff, but there's this feeling that we're not sending it up. There is a certain knowingness, and a certain tongue in cheek in certain parts of the show. That's fine, because the kids can enjoy it on one level and the adults can enjoy it on another. But seeing the yucky stuff, you've always got to be aware that kids are watching.



Favorite Episodes


And without a net!


Don't try at home what Xena and Ares do
in THE FURIES (47/301).


WALTHER:
[23] So far, what has been your favorite Xena episode to shoot?

SMITH:
[24] There are bits of some shows I really really dig. TEN LITTLE WARLORDS (32/208), people like watching it and I loved doing it. But, I enjoy doing stuff with Lucy as well. I love some of the stuff we did in THE FURIES (47/301) together.

WALTHER:
[25] That's real soon. We'll see it in a couple of weeks.

SMITH:
[26] Is that when the new season starts?

WALTHER:
[27] Yes, that is the season opener for Xena.

SMITH:
[28] I don't know. THE FURIES (47/301). Some stuff [in that] I really love between me and Lucy, so I'm glad that's coming up. She's great. She does a great job in this one. All the scenes we had together flow, so it's pretty extraordinary. There's [also] a desperation in all that. I kind of like that. I like the edginess, you know?



Work on Hercules


WALTHER:
[29] What about with the Hercules episodes -- between the Iphicles episodes and the Ares episodes so far?

SMITH:
[30] I really dug doing the Hind trilogy [ENCOUNTER (H50/313), WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN (51/314), JUDGEMENT DAY (52/315)]. Having Strife there was a different energy too. So, I'm liking it. Yes, there's this little punk (imitates Strife). "Yes, what he said" (being Ares). "Shut up. I'm handling this all right?"

WALTHER:
[31] There were so many good expressions.

SMITH:
[32] Yes, that was fun. Gus Trikonis [directed] JUDGEMENT DAY (52/315). There was this scene where we had the threads of the fates. We were just joking around, being a pain in the ass. This was Hercules' thread (Kevin is whispering) and I had it pulled tight. Then Joel went hmmm (humming). Gus goes "I love that! Put it in!"

Sewing is *not* a sissy thing!


Strife and Ares strike a chord
in JUDGEMENT DAY (H52/315).


[33] There was another scene where Strife played by Joel Tobek, had a knife. We were trying to do this thing, so we were tying this thread, this is Hercules' thread, and he goes swish. This thing he did was a one take. He was getting really cool with a knife, and he nearly cut his nipple off. Switcha (Kevin making sound effects). Well, we just all broke up. We just couldn't shift for like five minutes, and we were crying, just crying. Gus is behind the monitor just doubled over. He's just pounding the table. Now it seems a silly thing, but at the time we were inside in a studio shoot, with long days and oxygen deprivation, but, you know, when you laugh, you just go. We were just crying.

[34] The Hind trilogy, I really dug doing that. It's not that I don't have a good time doing Iphicles. The difficulty there, as I've said, is it's more fun playing bad guys. It's a bigger challenge to make a good guy interesting, so I enjoy that. I try and give him, as an actor, you know, that's more of a challenge. But it's more fun playing Ares, you know?



Other Plans?


WALTHER:
[35] Do you think you will ever go into directing?

SMITH:
[36] No way man. I don't analyze too much for fear that once I know the mechanism, it may break down on me. No, I take responsibility for myself as an actor and also I can help other actors. Through my performance, I can give them what they need emotionally. I'm happy to take that responsibility, but I've never, and who knows I may be all right with it, but no, I've never had any ambition to direct.



Biography

Danielle Walther Danielle Walther
Danielle is an avid fan of most science-fiction/fantasy-type shows. She is a voracious reader and has found her perfect work - working in a book store. In her spare time (what's that? LOL) she works with the Kevin Smith fan club or can be found online at her Kevin Smith page. She is working on her first fanfiction with several fellow HerKuleans and recently moved to Atlanta, Georgia.
Favorite episode: TIES THAT BIND (20/120), THE FURIES (47/301)
Favorite line: Ares to Xena: "Now tell me, are you really having more fun these days?" THE RECKONING (06/106); Ares: "I've been hanged, swung over a fire, and nearly shishkabobed on razor-sharp spikes. Yeah. How do you mortals get from day to day, ya know?" TEN LITTLE WARLORDS (32/208); Gabrielle: "Does an Amazon Queen beat a Warrior Princess?" Xena: "Do you really want to find out?" A NECESSARY EVIL (38/214)
First episode seen: TIES THAT BIND (20/120)
Least favorite episode: GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN (28/204)