In Claire's story line on "Heroes," her friend Zach has faded into the background along with the rest of her old life in Texas. Zach's absence might have eventually happened regardless, but a tension-filled snafu between actor Thomas Dekker's manager and the writers of "Heroes" certainly sped up his departure from the story.
According to "Heroes" writer Bryan Fuller, Zach was originally supposed to be a gay character, but when Dekker's manager caught wind of this, she believed it would ruin Dekker's chances at an upcoming audition if he played a gay character on TV. To see what else Fuller had to say about the issue,
In the interview with Popgurls.com, Fuller continues:
We were definitely going down a route of making [Zach] the gay character and having him have a big role in [Claire's] life and sort of teaching her to come out about her ability and embrace herself and actually using the coming out metaphor and the gay metaphor in that instance as a fun piece of storytelling.
I was very upset by it – I was not happy about it at all ... we didn't want to get hung up on the fact that one actor's management felt that it was a career killer for him to play a homosexual which, as a gay man, I found incredibly insulting.
We had episodes planned for him to be in, and she pulled him from the show altogether. So that's why he sort of disappeared.
Since characters get killed off or otherwise pushed aside (ahem, Mrs. Bennet) on the show with some frequency, it didn't strike me as particularly weird that Zach had disappeared, but the behind-the-scenes truth proves pretty shocking. It's surprising that this kind of attitude still prevails in Hollywood when it seems like these are the roles managers would jump at to "really stretch" their actors. It's a shame that this one manager's hangups so negatively affected the "Heroes" team, but maybe this just opens up the opportunity to write in a new gay character ... with superpowers.
Photo courtesy of NBC