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Chris Wood: 2021 'Masters of the Universe' series has wider appeal

Chris Wood's Masters of the Universe: Revelation is set to debut on Netflix on Friday. File Photo by Nina Prommer/EPA-EFE
Chris Wood's "Masters of the Universe: Revelation" is set to debut on Netflix on Friday. File Photo by Nina Prommer/EPA-EFE

NEW YORK, July 22 (UPI) -- Supergirl and The Vampire Diaries alum Chris Wood says he expects his new animated series, Masters of the Universe: Revelation, will appeal to a wider audience than the original 1980s cartoon.

"It starts with Kevin Smith and the writers and producers leading the direction of the show and bringing it into 2021, while staying true to the original and honoring everything that people love about the show," Wood, who voices Prince Adam/He-Man, told UPI in a recent Zoom interview.

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"This version is more accessible and it is for more people," he added. "It's not just catering to little boys. It's for young girls, adults who knew the show, adults who didn't. It is a great epic adventure story, but it also has a lot of heart. That's the challenge and that's the pleasure in doing it, too."

Set to debut on Netflix on Friday, the series is inspired by the popular Mattel line of action figures. It follows the conflicts of magical medieval warriors who live on the planet Eternia.

Dogma and Clerks filmmaker Kevin Smith is the showrunner and executive producer on Revelation, which is a sequel to the 1983-85 animated series, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.

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The new version features the voice talents of Sarah Michelle Gellar, Tiffany Smith, Tony Todd, Mark Hamill, Lena Headey, Liam Cunningham, Stephen Root, Diedrich Bader, Griffin Newman, Henry Rollins, Alan Oppenheimer, Susan Eisenberg, Alicia Silverstone, Justin Long, Jason Mewes, Phil LaMarr, Cree Summer, Kevin Michael Richardson and Kevin Conroy.

Kevin Smith hopes middle-aged viewers will feel a sense of nostalgia as they watch and enjoy the show with their children.

"I want their kids to see a version of their parents that they've never seen before -- the child who lives in that parent's heart," he said.

The filmmaker routinely works with many of the biggest stars in the world, but even he was surprised to find so many wanted to be part of Revelation.

"We got lucky, and I think that had a lot to do with the fact that we are playing with some characters that [actors] grew up with. And even if you didn't grow up with those characters, they had some connection to them," he said.

Smith gave as an example Hamill, who appeared in his 2001 live-action comedy, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, but was too busy filming Star Wars: The RIse of Skywalker to act in Smith's 2019 movie, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot.

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"We didn't know if Mark was going to be into [Masters of the Universe,]" Smith said, noting Hamill recently has been trying to move away from voice acting.

"Why Mark signed on, oddly enough, is No. 1 he was like, 'Skeletor? Oh my God! He's like one of the most famous bad guys in history!'

"But No. 2, more importantly, he was like, 'In December 1981 or '82, I called around to every Mattel person I could get a hold of to try to score a Castle Grayskull for my kid because I couldn't find it anywhere, so I am well familiar with this franchise.'"

Game of Thrones alum Headey watched the original show as a child and couldn't wait to sink her teeth into the role of the villainess, Evil-Lyn. Root signed on to play Cringer the battle cat after previously working with Smith on his films, Red State, Jersey Girl and Jay and Silent Bob Reboot.

Landing Buffy the Vampire Slayer icon Gellar for the role of heroine Teela was "an absolute score," Smith said.

"The kids in the writers' room were all Buffy kids. Even before we started talking about casting, in the writers room, they were like, 'What if Sarah Michelle Gellar played this?' So, we reached out to Sarah," the filmmaker said, explaining that Masters of the Universe wasn't a big part of Gellar's childhood, but she signed on to the new version because she loved the scripts.

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Gellar said it was easy to reinvent Teela, since the character wasn't as well developed as she could have been in the original animated series.

"I don't think Teela was very fleshed out," Gellar said. "It was definitely the story of He-Man and Skeletor and while [Teela] was in every episode, I don't think there was a true depth to her.

"Because the character's story was so rich in this, it was really easy to make my own."

Harry & Meghan: Becoming Royal actress Tiffany Smith looked to Kevin Smith and the writers -- not past episodes -- for direction as she recorded her lines for the Revelation character, Andra.

"When you are in the booth and you have them behind the window talking you through it, it is like, 'OK, we know where we are going.' I felt really confident," she said.

"Of course, you have the funny one-liners because that is what people are used to and a lot of stuff that is a love letter to the original series, but we get to broaden it even more and bring in characters like Andra."

Todd, who plays Scare Glow, said he appreciates that Smith clearly loves the source material and respects the characters who inhabit the mythical world of Eternia, even though they are animated.

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"[Smith] called me and said, 'You've got to do this!' He's the kind of guy who doesn't take 'no' for an answer. Once he has the voice and vision in his head, he ain't going to let it go," Todd said, joking that he promised Smith he would play the baddie only if the writer-director would stop scaring him.

Best known for playing the hook-handed, titular killer in the Candyman film franchise, Todd hopes to continue playing Scare Glow in future episodes of Masters of the Universe, should it be renewed. But, he also is on the lookout for a role that might change people's perception of him as the quintessential heavy.

"I want to play a character who is the enabler to a little girl as she goes on her journey through life," the actor said. "Whether he is a buffalo or a unicorn or a woolly mammoth, he's going to have her back. This would be in homage to my daughter. That's what I am looking for. He's got to be really big with a gentle spirit."

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