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NYCC 2013: ‘Hercules: The Legend Begins’ Trailer Debuts, Cast Talks the “Original Superhero”

While Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has been busy at work on Brett Ratner‘s ‘Hercules: The Thracian Wars,’ director Renny Harlin (‘Die Hard 2,’ ‘Exorcist: The Beginning’) was already busy with his own take on the iconic grecian strongman. Along with ‘Twilight’ star Kellan Lutz (in the title role), Liam McIntyre (‘Spartacus’), Gaia Weiss (‘Mary Queen of Scotts’), Scott Adkins (‘The Bourne Ultimatum’) and co-producer Jonathan Yunger, Harlin came out to New York Comic-Con 2013 on Saturday to reveal the first trailer for ‘Hercules: The Legend Begins‘ and to give fans some idea of what to expect from this origin tale.

This ‘Hercules’ tells the story of a young man before he realizes his godly ancestry. Raised as the son of a king (Adkins, “one of the greatest martial artists in the world,” says Harlin), he’s betrayed and sent off to war and sold into slavery. But rather than sending things flying into the air with swords most of the time, the love story between Hercules and the Princess Hebe “was very much the heart of the movie,” says Harlin. The demigod must accept his newfound destiny and find his way back to his love. ‘Hercules: The Legend Begins’ marks Kellan Lutz’s first time as a leading man, in addition to the feature film debut of Liam McIntyre.

“Hercules really is the original superhero,” said Harlin, who believes the most commonly portrayed image of this figure is but a caricature of his actual self. Recalling what he told Lutz during production, he said, “let’s not create a stereotype of Hercules. Get cut, look great, but I don’t want you to be a giant.”

Although, fans of the Lutz man will be pleased to know that there is no shortage of shirtless moments. Every day the cast would stretch, and Harlin said jokingly he’d spot Lutz and rub Tiger balm on his muscles. “Huge oil budget.”

Directing a Hercules movie was “a childhood dream” for Harlin, having grown up with a love for greek mythology and appreciation for films like ‘Ben-Hur’ and the original ‘Spartacus.’ “There are two dreams every [director] has. One is to make a Western, and one is to make a historical epic.” Lutz, however, seemed to have a slightly different hope for the future growing up: “It’s every boy’s dream to ride horses and fight Spartacus with swords.”

When Harlin was first reading the script for ‘Hercules,’ he didn’t know he would incorporate 3D down the road, but soon found himseld designing every shot of the film for the format. “3D can be mind-blowingly beautiful,” he said, referencing Alfonso Cuaron’s ‘Gravity.’ “3D is about creating a world where you’re inside it.”

But one thing that needed to happen in order to adapt to the format was getting the male actors to shave their legs. “Hair in 3D is not pretty,” joked Lutz.

With Lutz and McIntyre on board the project and believing in Harlin’s overall vision, the main casting issue was finding the female lead, Hebe. Hundreds of actresses auditioned for the role, though none could achieve the right combination of looks, brawn and innocence. Meanwhile, Gaia Weiss, an unknown working out of London at the time, was running lines with a friend for his ‘Hercules’ audition. It wasn’t until days later that her French agent scored her her own audition, and after a read through and screen test, Harlin frantically phoned co-producer Jonathan Yunger to reveal the good news — they found their Hebe.

As for her chemistry with on-screen love interest, she had nothing but steamy things to say … about the sex scenes, anyway. “It was so good, I didn’t wanna rush it,” she said, while Lutz admitted they couldn’t stop giggling throughout. In fact, that line Weiss used was originated by Lutz and pertains to ice cream on which the two were chowing down during a break between an intimate moment.

‘Hercules: The Legend Begins’ is currently targeting a March 2014 release.

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