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In the original ‘80s He-Man and the Masters of the Universe animated series, one of the charms of the show was that He-Man had a pretty cool posse of friends and cohorts helping him thwart Skeletor and his bad guy brigade. There was Man-At-Arms and his adopted daughter, Teela, Cringer (aka Battle Cat), and Orko the magician — He-Man’s inner circle were worthy ride or dies.
Because of that, Mattel TV and Kevin Smith weren't interested in fixing what wasn't broken, so they decided to approach Netflix’s Masters of the Universe: Revelation as a continuation of the mythology with the already established relationships remaining intact from the original series. Thus, He-Man’s inner circle is comprised of all the familiar faces, along with the addition of one new character, Andra (voiced by Tiffany Smith).
In a recent Zoom call, SYFY WIRE connected with the core trio — He-Man (Chris Wood), Teela (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Andra (Smith) — for a non-spoilery conversation about what exactly wooed each of them to the project.
When you were first asked about participating Masters of the Universe: Revelation, was it a no-brainer or did the legacy of the property loom large in your decision making?
Sarah Michelle Gellar: I was fortunate enough to get to read the first five [scripts] before I signed on. And I had a long talk with Kevin about what he wanted to do and what he wanted to say. The scripts were so beautifully written, so it's such an elevated project in that sense. And I mean that, honestly. I was so emotionally connected with these characters, so quickly. I wanted to know what was going to happen.
Chris Wood: Yeah, I love Kevin and I will work with him on whatever he wants just because I think he's just a great human and has just contagious, positive energy to be around. And he creates a really fun work environment. And so, I would say yes to anything first and foremost, but also, it's He-Man! He was like, "Do you want to play He-Man?" And I was like, "Yes!"
Tiffany Smith: I didn't know what Andra's journey was going to be. I had no idea who she was or what she was going to be because she's pretty much a brand-new character. The name was used in Masters of the Universe and there was one glimpse of her in the past, but I didn't know where her arc was going to go. But as soon as I talked to Kevin, knew it was Kevin working on it, and some of the other wonderful writers, I just knew that it was going to be a project where I was like, "I don't care what she does. I'm on board for it." And being a huge geek, it feels like Andra and Teela, are kind of the Sam and Frodo of the show. And I love that. [Laughs.]
Without giving anything away, this new series doesn’t mess around with upending the status quo with huge surprises, even touching on that much-maligned logic flaw of He-Man and Prince Adam looking really similar. Can you talk about what you each found compelling about the new show?
Wood: Yeah, that was something that I really loved in reading the scripts before we started recording was just how the weight of that deception ripples through all the character’s lives. In how his parents react, how his friend who he's been hiding this from reacts to the truth, and what that betrayal feels like. I think that's something that's super relatable to everybody in some capacity, about how much you reveal to people you love and people you're close to. It's an animated show, but it makes you feel things. Watching it, I was actually able — I think for the first time in anything I've worked on — to step outside and actually forget that I was the voice. I was just taking it in. It was insane that Powerhouse and the producers and the writers were able to achieve this effect where you literally are transported when you watch it. I don't know if Sarah and Tiffany felt the same way that, but was just enjoying it as a fan, which is amazing.
Gellar: Yeah, I was too and I got to watch it with my kids too, which is really exciting. I turned on the first episode and then it was shower time. And they both came back downstairs and I was like, "What's up?" And they're like, "We're ready to watch the rest!" They were so excited and most of my projects are not things that my kids can see, so it was really special to be able to share that with them.
Smith: Being the little girl watching cartoons, there wasn't a ton of characters that I could watch on the TV that I could relate to and connect with, or see myself in. But, having a character who is diverse and opens up the world even more in Masters of the Universe — I love that aspect of it. There's going to be people who get to watch and have a character on the show that they can see themselves in, and that was really important for me.
And Sarah and Chris both said this, but the scripts are written so well. And you do have stories for every character that fleshes out the world so much more. That's the adult aspect of the show that you get, that these people actually have heartfelt things going on. And then you just layer on top of it the one liners you're used to seeing in Masters of the Universe, and the action and the bright colors and the Skeletor laugh and all that stuff. It's a love letter to the original series, but obviously a cool new one for old fans and for new ones like Sarah's kids.
Part 1 (five episodes) of Masters of the Universe: Revelation will premiere on Friday, July 23, 2021