should come as no surprise that a "Masters of the
Universe" movie was made.
Ever since Mattel Toys gave birth to the well-muscled
Eternian warrior He-Man in 1982, sales of He-Man, Skeletor
and fellow dolls have risen over the billion dollar
mark. Worldwide, children have gobbled up more than
a thousand "Masters of the Universe" licensed
products while a daily animated cartoon show is watched
by millions of viewers in 32 countries. As any parent
who has every stepped on a He-Man doll in the middle
of the night will attest, the "Masters of the Universe"
characters are here to stay.
So, a big-budget, live-action FX extravaganza based
on the "Masters of the Universe" world seemed
the next logical step.
James Tolkan (Detective Lubic)
talks to Director Gary Goddard.
"Masters of the Universe," directed by Gary
Goddard from a script by David Odell, stars Dolph Lundgren
as He-Man, Frank Langella as Skeletor, Billy Barty as
the dwarf genius Gwildor, Meg Foster as Evil-Lyn, Jon
Cypher as Man-at-arms and Chelsea Field as his daughter
Teela. Making up the Earth contingent in the war against
Skeletor are Courteney Cox as Julie, Robert Duncan McNeill
as Kevin and James Tolkan as Detective Lubic.
Production Designer Bill Stout created the futuristic
sets as well as a number of first-time characters.
Michael Westmore handled makeup chores while
Richard Edund and Boss Films created the complex
The story unfolds in the mythical world of Eternia.
The gentle Sorceress of Grayskull Castle (Christina
Pickles) is captured by Skeletor and his assistant
Evil-Lyn and imprisoned in an energy field.
He-Man, fresh from battle, arrives on the scene
and, with Man-at-arms and Teela at his side,
is confronted by the fact that Skeletor is absorbing
his prisoner's power.
He-Man and Skeletor begin
their final battle.
The trio retreat to the hovel of Gwildor who informs
them that the only way to save the Sorceress is
a Cosmic Key. A stray bolt of lightning accidentally
sends the key into a time warp and present-day
Earth. He-Man and friends track the key to Earth,
where they are followed by Skeletor, Evil-Lyn
and a group of otherworldly bounty hunters.
The key has been discovered by a pair of teenagers
who are thrown into action-packed confrontations
with the denizens of Eternia before the entire
group is transported back to Castle Grayskull
for a final battle with Skeletor and the forces
The transformation of "Masters of the Universe"
from toy to movie began in 1982 when producer
Edward R. Pressman was attempting to sell the
merchandising rights to another of his sword and
sorcery epics, "Conan the Barbarian."
It was during a meeting on that matter that it
was suggested that a movie based on the enormously
popular "Masters" characters might be
a very viable idea. Pressman contacted screenwriter
David Odell with a storyline that would expand
the interest in a "Masters of the Universe"
film to a wider, adult audience.
"I had a reverse kind of 'Wizard of Oz' story
in mind that would take the 'Masters' characters
out of Eternia for a time and into our world,"
comments Pressman. "It seemed like a good
idea that could be made on a reasonable budget
and, most importantly, be interesting enough to
attract a non-child audience."
Odell began working on the script while Pressman
began the search for studio interest in "Masters"
and just the right directory to bring this epic
fantasy to life. Getting a studio to go for "Masters
of the Universe" was still four years away.
Pressman found his director two years up the road
in the person of Gary Goddard.
Goddard's background, prior to taking the "Masters"
helm, was in the area of staging and directing
live theater. He also created the concepts for
the Japan National Pavilion at EPCOT Center and
conceived and staged the "Conan the Barbarian"
show at Universal Studios.
Evil-Lyn and Skeletor look
on from Grayskull's throne.
The young directory spent the next two years in
limbo; polishing the script with Odell and waiting
for a firm commitment from a studio. Cannon Films
agreed to make "Masters of the Universe"
and production began late in 1985 on an immerse
soundstage at Laird Studios and at a number of
outdoor Southern California locations.
Goddard intended that the film avoid being a carbon
copy of the toys or the cartoon series. He also
took great pains to take the movie in a direction
that would play well to adults and to create a
sense of Eternia as a place where real people
"It was important to me that all the characters
in this film live and breathe," says Goddard.
"Which is why, rather than looking for superficial
muscle-bound types when it came to casting, we
deliberately set out to find actors and actresses
you don't normally associate with this type of
material. We deliberately went after people like
Dolph Lundgren, Frank Langella and Meg Foster.
They are actors with real talent who we knew could
bring something extra to their roles."
"Masters of the Universe" completed
filming in early 1987 and Goddard, looking back,
is quite happy with the results.
The good guys, from left:
Man-at-Arms (Jon Cypher), He-Man (Dolph Lundgren),
Teela (Chelsea Field), and the Sorceress (Christina
"What has always intrigued me was the essence
of what made the 'Masters' characters so popular.
What I found in making this film was that it was
the blend of sword and sorcery and science fiction
that struck the nerve. Those are the elements
that have made 'Masters' so successful in other
"And those are the elements that will make
the 'Masters of the Universe' film successful