Monday, May 31, 2021

Remembering Hercules


I drew this sketch for a friend many moons ago. Before production on the film began I struggled like crazy to try and set the design for Hercules. Gerald Scarfe was our inspiration for the overall visual design of the film. I think I was the last animator to get my character design approved. The Scarfe influence is more subtle than in most of the other characters. 
Tate Donavan gave a terrific vocal performance, I think he was just perfect for the role.
The crazy thing is that when Tate was a young aspiring actor, way before Hercules, we lived next door to each other for some time in a neighborhood near Lake Hollywood. He shared a big house with a few other acting students. During that time I ran into him occasionally, but who knew that we would work together in the future. 

When the movie premiered in New York in 1997 we both did press interviews together. A lot of fun.
Unfortunately at that time my dad passed away. So I had to stop my PR work and fly back to Germany for the funeral. But afterwards I did join directors Ron and John in South America to continue promoting the film.

One thing I want to say about Tate, he is a terrific actor, somewhat underrated. Just check him out in the TV drama Damages (2007 - 2012) next to Glen Close.


  1. I've always had a fondness for this movie (partly because it's almost exactly as old as I am), maybe the plot is a little convoluted but there are so many aspects that make up for it, especially the animation (I think yours, Nik Ranieri's and Ken Duncan's stand out) and the soundtrack. I can imagine it must not have been easy to apply Scarfe's very unique and exaggerated style to a character that had to be "the pretty protagonist" (maybe it was a little easier to achieve with Meg). I really like how this film and Mulan, among a few others, took some liberties from the "house style" and experimented with something a little different,visually speaking.

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  3. If you guys haven't seen this TV clip with Gerald Scarfe and the animators, definitely check it out

    1. I had never seen that one before. Very interesting. Thanks for linking it!

  4. 1997 I went with my ten years younger cousine to the cinema to watch "Hercules".
    When I heard the German voice of the adult Hercules I had a big image problem with the actor who speaks this character. Before his cooperation with Disney this German actor was very popular to play "The Fool". Because of this association I don't understand that Meg fell in love with Hercules. :D
    Years later I was so glad to hear Tate Donovans voice on DVD. :)

    I like the fresh style of this movie, the creatures, monsters and characters like Hades, the Three Fates and Pain an Panic...
    Now Hercules seems for me the grandson of "your Atlas" and a nephew in law of Mr. Scarfes first version of Hercules. ;)
    But the grandson version is the perfect boy for a though girl like Meg! :)

    Yes, Hercules is a perfect feel good movie! :)

  5. Hi!

    I really like this movie a lot! Hercules has so many qualities! It's a film that has an amazing art direction, the character design is unique, the whole atmosphere of the film is contagious and it comes from an era when Disney took a lot more risks in their animated films.

    It's one of my favorite movies and I see it constantly to this day.

    I really love 90s Disney. You guys made the best movies in Disney history.

  6. I went to see Hercules in Avignon, France in 1997 Christmas time. It electrified me, I though it was such a happy movie, thanks to the soundtrack, which I purchased a few weeks later. I love the artwork, the ancient Greece theme, the sacrificial theme as well. My favorite scene is when Hercules goes to the Zeus temple, and there this giant staue of Zeus is looking at him

    It's pretty touching, he finds a sense of identity at this point.

    One of my favorites animated movies.

    BTW: would it be possible, nowa days to create a nice looking film like Hercules using ToonBoom, or other animation programs? If yes, what is the best software outthere for top quality films, if DIsney was to re-open a hand drawn animation studio?