Saturday, May 21, 2011

Who Yearns for Adonis?

One of the most famous episodes of the original Star Trek series begins with the Enterprise stopped dead in it tracks, held up in space by a giant ghostly hand - a hand which, it turns out, belongs to the god Apollo (although for some reason the episode is titled "Who Mourns for Adonais?"). Long ago exiled from Earth, Apollo is now the last of his kind - a race of aliens who visited our planet 5000 years earlier, where they were worshipped as gods. Having a fresh bunch of humans literally in hand, he decides they can become his slaves and worship him again.

Of course, this being Star Trek, the super-powerful alien is eventually outwitted and defeated by Captain Kirk and his crew.

All in all, this is a pretty worn-out sci-fi premise - but fortunately the character of Apollo was well played and the episode, instead of just being silly, actually manages to be both moving and marginally thought-provoking. But much more importantly, Michael Forest, the talented actor who plays Apollo, is appropriately hot enough to be worthy of sun god worship.

Michael Forest as Atlas in Roger Corman's film of the same title.

For Michael Forest, Apollo was not entirely foreign territory. A few years earlier, he'd played Atlas in the Roger Corman sword 'n' sandal flick of the same name. At 6'3", well muscled, hairy-chested, and athletic, with curly black hair and piercing eyes, he looked every bit like a Greek god/hero. Apollo, Atlas, whatever. Adonis was certainly an appropriate label for this stud, too.

Cowboys and Indians, Good Guys and Bad Men - Forest played them all.

Forest plays an Indian (again) as he co-stars alongside
Racquel Welch, Jim Brown, and Burt Reynolds in 100 Rifles.

Forest plays a resistance fighter in Combat!

Forest never made it big in films or TV, but he has had a long, varied, and interesting career that saw him alternate guest roles on dozens of American TV shows, especially westerns (where he played cowboys and Indians, heroes and villains) with supporting roles in movies, starring in a number of European films, doing voiceover work for anime, and even having sex with Madonna in Body of Evidence. Possibly his most unusual role was playing alongside Star Trek's Leonard Nimoy in Genet's Deathwatch, a year before his appearance as Apollo on Star Trek, where he plays a bizarrely tatooed prison inmate on whom Nimoy's character develops a dangerous crush. Radical stuff in 1966, the tag lines for this flick are hilarious today: Homosexual outlaws on a rampage! The strangest love triangle ever filmed!

Forest with Leonard Nimoy in Deathwatch.
Yet another role for which Forest has achieved cult sci-fi fame -
as the leader of the biker aliens in the Twilight Zone episode,
"Black Leather Jackets."

As Zarko, the whip-wielding wench wrangler in
The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent.

Starring as the ski instructor hero in
The Beast from Haunted Cave.

As Nick Andropoulos on As the World Turns.
As Madonna's murder-victim husband in Body of Evidence.

Through it all, Forest seems to have totally enjoyed himself. In interviews he always comes across as funny, humble, very intelligent, and thankful for the opportunities that the acting profession has provided him.