January 20, 2014 - Interview with Kieren Hutchison

The YHU extends its deepest thanks to Kieren Hutchison for taking the time to grant us an interview.

      Young Hercules University: Does it surprise you that there are people talking about Young Hercules after all these years? Have you come across any other groups of diehard fans like us?

      Kieren Hutchison: It surprises me that 15/16 years have past since we made it! Time flies. I can see why people still enjoy it though, it was a lot of fun and when shows age they become like little time capsules, don't they?

      YHU: What is your favorite color?

      KH: Blue.

      YHU: What is your favorite food?

      KH: I like most things. I'm partial to Thai food and Indian food.

      YHU: What is your least favorite food?

      KH: Fried.

      YHU: How tall are you?

      KH: 5'9"

      YHU: You're a Libra, right? What do you think your sign says about you?

      KH: That's right. I tend to fit the profile, the good - see both sides of things and the bad - indecisive.

      YHU: Do you have any pets? If so, what type, and what are their names?

      KH: My son has a hermit crab called Herman.

      YHU: If you hadn't been born in this century, where and when would you like to have lived?

      KH: I think this is the best time to be alive, I wouldn't trade it.

      YHU: What favorite memories of your time working on Young Hercules would you share with us?

      KH: I had a great time working with my friend Dean O'Gorman, we'd previously worked on Shortland Street and William Tell together. As I recall we were sharing an apartment at the time, getting up to all kinds of mischief.

      YHU: What was your favorite scene during your time playing Orpheus?

      KH: Probably the concert scenes where Orpheus had realized his dream to be a rock star. All those extras may have been paid to scream and cheer for me, but it felt good all the same.

      YHU: What was the audition process like? You mentioned once in an interview that you auditioned for the lead role in Young Hercules - did you try for any other roles on the show before you were cast as Orpheus?

      KH: I'd just finished shooting a similar fantasy show called The Legend of William Tell when I heard they were going to make a series of Young Hercules. I knew Dean was going to return as Ioluas and that Ian Bowen wasn't going to play the lead role anymore. I auditioned for it on tape in NZ and was flown to LA to do my callbacks at Universal Studios. It was a fun trip, there were only four of us left, then two. Me and a young lad called Ryan Gosling. After missing out on the main gig, they called me up a few weeks later and offered me Orpheus, which I was very happy to do.

      YHU: Did you know about the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice before you got the role? If so, did it influence you in any way in how you played the character?

      KH: I did not, but I did a bit of reading once I was cast. It's fun to see the jump off point for where the writers went with it, but ultimately the rock star/hunger for fame elements were more relevant for this show.

      YHU: The character of Orpheus was played by Matthew Chamberlain in the Xena episode "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" a few years before Young Hercules aired. Did you see his portrayal, and if so, did it influence your version of Orpheus in any way?

      KH: You know, I never knew that. Matt's great, he was on one of our William Tell episodes and I just caught up with him again when I went back to Shortland Street for a stint, he's been on that show for a few years now.

      YHU: Did you ever develop a personal idea of what Orpheus's life was like before he met Bacchus, or what motivations drove him into serving Bacchus? What about what happened to him after the final face-off with Bacchus and Eurydice's death?

      KH: Not so much, I was pretty much working off the script and the given circumstances. The themes of ambition and the struggle against selfishness were easy to connect with.

      YHU: Did you have to learn any talents or do any special training for the role of Orpheus? Did you get any special instructions on how to play the part?

      KH: You know, it's actually pretty tough to make it look like you're playing a lyre when it's a prop whose strings don't make a sound! I remember I the music was played for me onset, but keeping up with it in a reasonable fashion took some doing.

      YHU: Do you remember what your thoughts were when you first read the script?

      KH: I was excited to do it. Once I knew I wasn't going to be doing the heroic Hercules stuff, I loved the idea of playing the selfish bastard. It was pretty audacious the way he would disregard his girl time and again for personal gain.

      YHU: What was it like to work with Kevin Smith?

      KH: So much fun. That dude was halirious. I was only just getting to know him around that time and bagan to socialize with him a couple of years later in Australia but we always had a lot of friends in common and I always enjoyed his performances. He would be doing great things right now, had he lived.

      YHU: What was it like to work with Ryan Gosling?

      KH: Loved it. He was only 17 at the time, falling in love with New Zealand and throwing himself into that tough schedule. He was and remains a lovely guy, playful and inventive. I felt like I learned a lot watching him and Dean develop their onscreen banter, they had a good thing going there. When I moved to LA a few years later, it was Ryan's couch that I slept on while I found my footing, he was at my wedding a few years after that, he became a good friend.

      YHU: Are you still in contact with anyone you worked with on Young Hercules?

      KH: I still count Dean and Ryan among my friends, though we all live in different places now so we don't hang out that much.

      YHU: Orpheus let his fame go to his head and made several bad decisions because of it. Have you ever been guilty of letting your ego get you into trouble?

      KH: Oh sure! Less so as I get older, thankfully.

      YHU: Like Orpheus, have you ever made sacrifices you later regretted to further your career?

      KH: No, nothing like that. My life decisions and career decisions have been fairly in sync. Maybe there are some things I should have done to further my career and didn't, but that's a different story!

      YHU: In "Lyre, Liar", Orpheus gets recognized by fangirls in the marketplace before being attacked by Bacchae. Do you have any interesting stories of being recognized by fans in public?

      KH: Being recognized can often be a strange experience. The most famous I've ever been is when I was on Shortland Street in NZ, 'cos it's a small country and lots of people watch that show. Or sometimes they say they don't, but then still know who you are. The rest of the time I get surprised if someone has seen something I'm in. I remember going on a date back in the day and the girl kept calling me by the wrong name by mistake - a character I'd played in a show. She was kind of embarrassed.

      YHU: In "Lyre, Liar", Orpheus ran into a burning cave to rescue the lyre. Do you have any possessions you would risk fire to save?

      KH: The hardrive for my computer. Has all my family photos on it.

      YHU: Do you ever get stage fright?

      KH: Yeah, usually when I'm focusing on the wrong stuff. If you're concentrating on where your character's coming from and want his wants and needs are, it doesn't occur to you to get frightened. But the mind does wander....

      YHU: Do you know how to play any musical instruments?

      KH: No, I have always wished I was more musical. I've toyed around on a guitar over the years and get quite a thrill when something sounding like a song comes out of it. Doesn't come easily though.

      YHU: What kind of music do you prefer to listen to? Any favorite artists or songs?

      KH: I'm a little old school, Elvis Presley has always been a favorite. I'm pretty fascinated by all the Sun Records guys from the fifties, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis. The Beatles impress the hell out of me. More recently, Bruno Mars.

      YHU: What languages can you read/speak? According to an interview in 2001 you were "dabbling" in German - have you grown any more fluent since then?

      KH: Dabbling's as far as it went! I'm only fluent in English. Though I can count in Maori.

      YHU: Speaking of German, around half of the Young Hercules episodes have recently been released on DVD in Germany under the title Der Junge Hercules - have you seen the episodes you were in with the German dubbing? If so, what did you think of seeing yourself speaking in another language?

      KH: I have seen some dubbed scenes on youtube, in German and Japenese. It is pretty surreal.

      YHU: What is currently your favorite author/book?

      KH: Big fan of the Ian Fleming Bond books. Elmore Leonard. I loved Erik Larson's In The Garden of Beasts.

      YHU: Do you have a favorite saying - something you use as a motto?

      KH: "It is what it is." Or "Everything in moderation, including moderation."

      YHU: Who are your heroes?

      KH: Don't really believe in having heroes. Everyone's flawed and capable of beautiful things and awful things. I admire fortitude and wisedom where ever I see it.

      YHU: At the end of "Lure of the Lyre", Orpheus and Eurydice are seen walking away from the Academy. But we never see Orpheus and Eurydice's faces in the final scene, and this Orpheus seems to have slightly shorter hair and less upper arm definition than you did in other scenes in the same episode. Can you confirm or deny that you were in that scene? (see image)

      KH: Good spotting! Neither one is me. A stand in was walking away with Eurydice at the academy. I was already finished shooting and second unit probably didn't think it was worth calling me in for that. Though I guess your question shows they didn't get away with it! I've never seen the other shot, but I can see why you thought it was me. He looks pretty similar huh?

      YHU: We believe we spotted you playing the role of an uncredited waiter in the episode "The Prize" - can you confirm this is you? (see image) Were there any other episodes you were in that you weren't credited for?

      KH: No, that isn't me either. All I ever did on Young Herc was play Orpheus. I guess I had a bunch of dopplegangers on set though!

      YHU: According to your biography, when you were around 7 yrs old you saw "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and wanted to be an actor ever since. Was there ever anything else you want to be when you grew up?

      KH: Ironically, a rock star. So this role was fun.

      YHU: Does your son have any aspirations to go into acting like his parents?

      KH: Not right now. We think he's cute as all hell though. We'd pay to see him in a movie!

      YHU: How did you get started in acting?

      KH: My first professional experience was on the set of Vincent Ward's movie The Navigator when I was 13 years old. I'd come close to getting the lead (There's a theme developing here...) but got called in to stand in for him so he could have some nights off. I fell in love with it. I did every school play I could and booked Shortland Street when I left school.

      YHU: How much do you draw on your own experiences when you act?

      KH: As much as I can, but often times I find my imagination is more powerful than my memories. Whatever gets you to the right place!

      YHU: What was your favorite role to play out of all the projects you've been in?

      KH: I really enjoyed playing Andy Hargrove on One Tree Hill.

      YHU: What were some of the biggest challenges you’ve had as an actor?

      KH: It can be easy to fall into cliches and play it safe if you have trouble connecting with a character. It's always more satisfying to have a fresh take and find a way to breath life into it.

      YHU: You've had roles in both fantasy/sci-fi and more realistic fiction. Is there one genre that you prefer over the other? Is one easier than the other?

      KH: I don't prefer one over the other. I would say that more realistic settings are easier to connect with and bring your own experiences into play and it's harder to avoid cliches in fantasy/sci fi. But dressing up and playing with swords is always fun.

      YHU: Do you have dream role(s) to play?

      KH: Oh sure, I have plenty of them. I like growing older as an actor and moving into new categories.

      YHU: Do you have any movies or projects coming up?

      KH: I just finished shooting a movie for the Hallmark Channel called "On Paper" which should be out in a few months. I play a rich lawyer called Bob Lewis.

      YHU: What do you do in your free time? Any other outlets or hobbies?

      KH: I love doing anything creative. I draw, paint, write. I've recently started throwing myself into writing a sci fi adventure novel called "Worlds of Man" that I hope to get publish sometime this year. When I want to unwind, I enjoy jogging.

      YHU: Is there something that people would be surprised to know about you?

      KH: Two fingers on my right hand were almost severed in an accident when I was two years old. I have some pretty great scars were they were reattached.

      YHU: How do you try to improve on your acting skills?

      KH: I take acting classes out here in LA whenever I can, that's always great exercise. My love of movies sustains me too, I try to see a lot of the new stuff and go back to study the old classics too. You can learn a lot by watching the masters.

      YHU: What advice would you give to an aspiring actor or actress?

      KH: Be curious and look into the history of acting techniques. There are so many amazing approaches, from Stanislavski and Meisner to more traditional "outside in" techniques. Find what works for you and don't be afraid to cherry pick. I read somewhere that Bruce Lee said "Keep what works and discard the rest" when talking about martial arts. I think the same applies. Also, know why you're pursuing it. If your reasons are pure, it will see you through the lean times.

      YHU: You starred in the show The Legend of William Tell, which aired around the same time Young Hercules was airing. Did you have any struggles finding time to film both shows?

      KH: No, we were all done with William Tell by the time Young Hercules got going, so there were no conflicts.

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