Here’s the extended cut of the interview with Dean Stefan, story editor for “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe,” following up on the story in Weekend Look. Several bits from the interview didn’t make it into the paper, so we’re including more information here for those interested, in several parts.
Matt Price: Was Skeletor’s backstory new for the 2002 series?
Dean Stefan: He was Randor’s brother, I don’t know if we ever said that explicitly in the series, but that was where we were going, or his half-brother. And we were actually, if we went further, we were going to go into that he actually had a rightful claim to the throne, because we were going to go into that he was the first born. We never got into it, but he would have rightfully been the king. So he had sort of a legitimate beef with his brother Randor. And that makes Adam his nephew, which is kind of interesting also, He-Man is Skeletor’s nephew. Again, we never got that far, but that was all in the mix. We showed how he got damaged by Randor in this battle, his looks got screwed up. And then in a later episode we showed how Hordak, we did another backstory between him getting the acid on his face and becoming Skeletor. He made a deal with the devil, Hordak, who made him into the bone creature, but also with the implicit promise that Skeletor was someday going to free Hordak, and that wouldn’t bode well for Skeletor when that happened.
The other thing we did in the early episodes, we had all these great characters, the Masters and the villains, but we wanted to solo them in some way to figure out their backstory. There were characters that we had no idea really what they were except we knew they had been used before or were a toy like Man E Faces or Mekanek. And we said well, these guys are goofy, maybe, but let’s figure out what they’re about. And the best way to figure out what they’re about, rather than ignore them, is to base a story on it, and then sort of force yourself to explore their foibles, their weaknesses, their fears . That always makes it richer, obviously when you can figure out the motivation and what makes the character tick. So they become real for you and for the audience. That was a very conscious decision to do early on.
And then all along, we were very intentionally trying to figure out, OK, what does Skeletor know about Castle Grayskull? He’s been in prison behind the Mystic Wall, so he’s basically been out of it for a while. So he gets that down. And then he goes to where the Hall of Wisdom used to be. Which is all he knows from his days in the pilot when he fought Randor. And it’s not there anymore. It’s been leveled, it’s a marketplace. And then he finds out that there’s something about Castle Grayskull, because it seems important to someone else. So he sort of through the first several episodes, he’s gaining knowledge about Castle Grayskull. That it exists, that there’s something there. … Later he learns what is there, the power of the elders, which is the big power in this universe. Then he tries various means to breach the castle. So that was the logic for that first number of episodes.