SAN DIEGO – Thanks to the power of Grayskull – and a whole lot of childish ’80s nostalgia – He-Man turns 40.
The birthday of the character popularized in movies, TV, toys, comics and novels was celebrated in style by Mattel at San Diego Comic-Con Thursday. Dolph Lundgrenwho played He-Man in the 1987 ‘Masters of the Universe’ film, showed up to reminisce about a panel that also included a surprise appearance from the ‘Star Trek’ icon William Shatner and was hosted by Kevin Smithwriter and executive producer of Netflix’s “Masters of the Universe: Revelation” series and upcoming sequel “Revolution.”
Smith has spoken personally about his relationship with He-Man (whose official birthday is October 12) and grew up watching cartoons. “Every afternoon, I could count on the presence of this same show as a friend or a member of the family.” But when he tackled “Revelation,” he centered it more on He-Man’s alter ego, Prince Adam, than the muscular hero.
The people around Adam “already know how they feel about him. They put him in a box,” Smith explained. “But Prince Adam knows that deep down he’s the most powerful person in the universe. For someone who grew up chubby like me, that meant something, because sometimes you’re relegated to being ‘less. that “.
“I like any guy in a loincloth. I’m fine with that. But at the end of the day, Prince Adam is my hero.”
Stepping out in front of the Comic-Con crowd, Lundgren said he returned in 1986, when he was announced to play the role in front of a group of 5-year-olds with swords and their parents.
“I was on stage as they clapped and shouted, ‘I have the power’, wondering if it was a good idea to make this film,” says the Swedish actor, who not only played the role of a Master of the Universe, but also has a Masters in Chemical Engineering. “Playing a toy in those days was maybe kind of the end of your career. But the fact that we’re still here and these wonderful people are still in this character and this universe means the franchise is still very relevant.”
Lundgren landed the role after a stint as Bond’s underage henchman in 1985’s ‘A View to a Kill’ and caught pop culture attention as Russian boxing villain Ivan Drago in ‘Rocky III. ” the same year. With He-Man, “I had to play this American hero, this real good guy”, and he felt “a lot of pressure” to do a good job.
Smith asked Lundgren about his He-Man outfit, which left little to the imagination. “I used to say my costume was the size of a postage stamp, with suspenders,” he said. And while filming 54 Cold Nights in a Row, “everything was very, very small,” Lundgren joked.
In honor of He-Man’s big birthday, a slew of new action figures and books will be released in the fall, including a first-person “autobiography” of the protagonist’s nemesis called “I, Skeletor”. Season 3 of Netflix’s kid-friendly cartoon “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” premieres Aug. 18, and Smith was joined by cast members Stephen Root (who voices Cringer/Battle Cat) and Tiffany Smith (Andra) to preview the upcoming animated sequel “Revelation.”
“When we were doing ‘Revelation,’ I thought it would be cool to do a ‘world without Superman’ story,” Smith said. “This time we figured out how to tell a He-Man (story) with He-Man in every episode.”
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Smith also revealed Shatner was going to guest star on “Revelation,” but made the legend swear he wouldn’t announce his character. “To be able to say that I witnessed the birth of a performance by a legend like this was quite meaningful. It ticked a lot of boxes,” Smith said.
He also shared what happened during a recent Zoom recording session with Shatner, where “at one point I jumped forward and tried to give him some direction on where we’re going. with the character and he gave me some of the best counter direction I’ve ever heard in my life. He interrupts me and says, ‘Kevin, Kevin, Kevin. In a moment, you’ll have the honor to lead me.’ “
Shatner replied with a laugh, “What a terrible story!” He said doing voice acting is sometimes “flying blind”. “You turn to them for advice. We don’t know anything. So you try everything, and whatever works.”
Smith’s wife, Jennifer Schwalbach, heard Shatner’s nerve. “She immediately put her book down and looked at me in shock,” Smith said. “And when we were done, she said, ‘Well. It took (expletive) Captain Kirk to silence Silent Bob. “
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: William Shatner and Dolph Lundgren celebrate 40 years of He-Man at Comic-Con