Hercules Actors of the Past Include Ryan Gosling, Kevin Sorbo, and More

Entertainment Jul. 25, 2014 AT 1:00PM
Dwayne Johnson as Hercules Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is the latest celeb to play Hercules, but check out the stars of '90s past who've played the powerful Greek demigod, including Ryan Gosling and Kevin Sorbo! Credit: courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Hellloooo, Hercules! Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is the latest Hollywood hunk to play Greek demigod Hercules in the film adaptation of the graphic novel Hercules: The Thracian Wars, but his predecessors in the heroic role include several industry heavyweights. Check out Us Weekly's top five picks of the greatest hunks to play the buff mythological man.

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1. Ryan Gosling

Just a friendly reminder! Before he bared his six-pack in Crazy, Stupid, Love and impregnated Eva Mendes in real life, the Notebook heartthrob was young. And he was Hercules. Gosling starred in 49 episodes of the short-lived spinoff of Kevin Sorbo's TV series, which aired on Fox from 1998 to 1999. A burgeoning actor at the time, the recent Mickey Mouse Club grad played the teen version of the Greek legend—loincloth and all.

Ryan Gosling in Young Hercules
Ryan Gosling in Young Hercules
Credit: MCA/Courtesy Everett Collection

And he's proud of his work on the show! In a 2013 interview with HuffPost, Gosling, now 33, said the most underappreciated performance of his career was his work on Young Hercules. "I had a fake tan, leather pants," he said laughing. "I was fighting imaginary monsters, they weren't really there, but I was acting like they were there. So…."

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2. Kevin Sorbo

Sorbo quite famously played the title role in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys from January 1995 to November 1999, and played the Greek mythological figure in several made-for-TV movies.

Sorbo, now 55, expressed his frustration about how producers did not even offer him a cameo in The Rock's new Hercules blockbuster. "We were sort of taken aback they wouldn't let me in that movie," Sorbo told Dish Nation. "I didn't do a cameo. I think it's kinda stupid, really… I'm still on all over America, on Netflix, on Hub, on Encore. I'm still in, like, 50 countries around the world. It was the most-watched show in the world in the '90s, passing Baywatch."

Kevin Sorbo As Hercules In The Legendary Journeys Of Hercules
Kevin Sorbo As Hercules In The Legendary Journeys Of Hercules"
Credit: Getty Images

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3. Arnold Schwarzenegger

Before Schwarzenegger became Conan the Barbarian or the Terminator, he starred in a cult favorite called Hercules in New York. The low-budget B-movie, released in 1970, was Schwarzenegger's first-ever feature film. It tells the story of Hercules, being sent down from Mount Olympus to the Big Apple, where he begins a career as a bodybuilder. Naturally, craziness ensues and a love story pans out.

The movie is still beloved for including one of Schwarzenegger's best movie quotes of all time. "Ha ha ha," his character declared in the film. "You have strucked Hercules."

Arnold Schwarzenegger in a scene from the Trimark Pictures movie 'Hercules In New York' in 1969.
Arnold Schwarzenegger in a scene from the Trimark Pictures movie 'Hercules In New York' in 1969.
Credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

4. Tate Donovan

The Damages star voiced the hero in Disney's 1997 animated musical fantasy rendition of Hercules. Donovan provided vocals for the film along with Susan Egan who played his onscreen love interest Meg, James Woods as the villainous Hades, and Danny DeVito as Philoctetes.

The feature film included the wildly popular smash song, "Go the Distance," which unfortunately was not performed in the movie by Donovan.

Tate Donovan as the voice of Hercules.
Tate Donovan as the voice of Hercules.
Credit: Buena Vista Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

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5. Kellan Lutz

Seven months before The Rock played demigod Hercules, Twilight actor Lutz played the same role in The Legend of Hercules.

"Myths are myths," Lutz told reporters at the January screening of the film. "To have that creative flow to make it your own—that’s why I loved working with Renny [Harlin]. He had a brilliant script. We have such a well layered movie with epic adventures. There's great action, romance, and a brilliant cast to work with."

Unfortunately, the movie was a box office flop (earning only $18 million in the U.S. and $61 million worldwide), but Lutz's shirtless scenes continue to live on.

Kellan Lutz stars in The Legend of Hercules.
Kellan Lutz stars in The Legend of Hercules.
Credit: Summit Entertainment

Tell Us: Which Hercules was your favorite?

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