OK, Heroes fans, we're officially in countdown mode for the premiere of the third "volume," "Villains." I took part in a conference call recently with Heroes creator Tim Kring (who is so lovely and smart in interviews, as I've now gotten to experience twice) and the guy who brings creepy Sylar into our living rooms every week, Zachary Quinto.
The two shed some light on what was lost — and what was gained — from the hiatus caused by the writers strike, and what their take is on the Heroes fandom out there, which we all three witnessed at the show's panel at Comic-Con. Quinto also talked about what it's like to play Sylar while Kring touched on his thoughts about the show's parallels to The X-Men. It's all below, so check it out.
The writers strike clearly created an interruption in the show, but were there any advantages to taking that break?
Tim Kring: Yes, obviously the break was very difficult for so many people. . . but the silver lining was it allowed us a little bit of a break from the creative day-to-day of the show that had been pretty relentless for two years. And so, you know, with any creative endeavor you absolutely need some time away to reassess and to think about what to do next and to sort of assess what you’ve done well, and what you want to improve on.
There's more after the break, though tread carefully if you're not up to speed on the series. Otherwise,
What was lost due to the writers strike? Will the virus storyline will come back, and will we find out what happened to Caitlin, for example?
Tim: The virus story was really the casualty of the strike. We re-jiggered literally the last couple minutes of that volume when we knew the strike was imminent and changed the ending so that that virus never broke out. The second volume of Season Two was going to be an outbreak story that would last eight episodes and it was all avoided by Peter Petrelli catching this vile of a virus and so it did not break, and therefore, did not get out into the community. And so, three episodes into that volume we would have found out what happened to Caitlin, and as a result of the writers strike that has been sort of a lost part of the mythology of the show that may never return.
Tim, during the second volume you introduced the group of 12, and then Hiro's dad said there were eight of them left, and then Matt said that they were all dead. Are we going to see any more of the group of 12, or are they all dead?
Tim: You actually will see more, you will see a few of them. The second volume of the show was called "Generations" and explored the idea that there was a whole series of people who came before our characters. . . it’s basically the idea of the sins of the parents had been visited upon their children. And we will see that some of those people survive in very interesting and curious ways in Volume Three.
Zachary, you come at this character very quietly with a lot of menace. Has your theater training helped you with this role?
Zachary Quinto: I feel like my training allows me to have a little bit more of an oversight and understand where a character lives in my body and understand where a character lives in my voice. So, for me that training gave me a really great basis from which to work and I continue to learn about the technique and the tools that are necessary to work in television and film.
The audience is clearly meant to identify with Sylar even though he's a villain. Are you going to continue to make him even more sympathetic? Is he going to get friends or maybe even go so far as a love interest?
Tim: To be really honest, that is sort of a quest with this character, to continue to play off of the duality of good and evil which I think has been at the core of a lot of characters in the show and will certainly become more and more thematic in the show, in this volume, "Villains." So yeah, we are going places this particular volume with Sylar that will, I think, cause the audience to be really torn as to how they feel about this guy. They know he is capable of tremendous evil and yet he has a kind of depth of pathos that makes you question your own sense of what's right and wrong.
So he will expand his relationships then?
Tim: Oh absolutely. Yes, absolutely. He'll have a series of very human relationships in this volume alone.
Watching Heroes fans watch the premiere at Comic-Con this year was almost like watching a spectator sport. How much attention do you pay to what fans are saying and does it affect what you do on the show?
Tim: I would love to be able to say yes, it does affect us. But the truth is. . . that when we premiere on September 22, we will be I think just starting to shoot Episode 13, which is the finale of the volume. We're so far ahead that there really is nothing that we can do about it. . . We have to use our own sort of internal critics to let us know where we’re going. And we very often have made course changes midway through when we've looked at episodes internally and tried to feel what the audience would feel.
A lot of your fans at Comic-Con had concerns that in the latest volume there were a lot of parallels to X-Men. Could you talk about that?
Tim: I kind of can't because I don't really know anything about X-Men and I have no real knowledge of it, I don't read X-Men comics. So I'm not really familiar with it. And, you know, from my standpoint there’s clearly a kind of reinvention of the wheel that happens in this kind of storytelling when you’re dealing with really archetypical storytelling of good and evil, and characters that have powers. I don't know that there's any way to avoid things that have been done before. So to the extent there are similarities, it's not by design. It's just by telling an archetypical story that has characters facing big epic battles between good and evil, and trying to live normal lives at the same time.
So you never saw any of the X-Men films?
Tim: I saw the third one. . . Or was it the second one? I saw it on DVD about a year ago. . . It's certainly the same general arena of superpowers. But I didn’t think that it felt much like Heroes.