This past Tuesday, also known as Halloween, the TV Addict had the chance to talk to HEROES stars Adrian Pasdar (Nathan Petrelli) and Milo Ventimiglia (Peter Petrelli). Not surprisingly, both actors who play ‘make-believe’ for a living didn’t dress up for Halloween. But they did have some very interesting things to say about being part of the fall’s newest hit show.
Did you ever imagine HEROES would become the hit it has?
Milo Ventimiglia: The pilot script was different then anything I’d read in a long time. It was a huge departure from the misfit younger characters I’ve been playing [GILMORE GIRLS, AMERICAN DREAM] which I was definitely excited about.
Adrian Pasdar: The moment I had an idea [that the show would become a hit] was at July’s San Diego Comic Con. The fire marshall came over to Jeff Leob (HEROES Executive Producer) and told us that we have too many people in the hall and we’d have to shut down. Jeff said, “You go tell them they can’t watch the show.” At that moment, I realized we’d have an initial shot at a large audience and it was up to us to deliver.
Milo Ventimiglia: The overall response has been positive. I’m starting to hear things from people on the street or my friends, asking about Nathan. It’s nice to know that hopefully we’re doing our jobs well enough that people are talking about the show.
Adrian Pasdar: It’s nice to be a part of the water-cooler conversation.
Is there any concern that the show is too complicated for the casual viewer?
AP: I think network television has underestimated the intelligence of viewers for many years. I think the average viewer is much more intelligent than executives give them credit for. They crave intensity and are willing to sit down and watch a quality show.
Why do you think audiences of all ages and demographics are getting into the show
MV: I think it’s just the subject matter and the state of the world. My best friend and his grandmother who is 88 watches the show. I don’t think there’s one storyline that plays to a younger audience and one to an older audience. There’s something for everybody.
AP: I think people want to watch a show like this. Especially in the world we live in, where Terrorism is a fact of live. Audiences want to see ordinary people take extraordinary steps to make the world a better place.
It’s a great time for Science Fiction on television.
AP: When times are dire around the world — every corner of the globe seems to be under some imminent or immediate threat. This kind of escapism grows wings faster in times of trouble. After WWII, heroes were created and the same thing is happening now. This kind of show speaks to peoples fantasy.
The series is also more rooted in reality, with no capes. I hate to say reality TV, but it’s tapping into that sense of reality television, drawing you in on a weekly basis. It’s more rooted in reality then any other super hero show that’s come on TV.
Can you comment on the excitement you’re feeling as a result of the shows success?
AP: Well to be honest, we’ve got our son out of diapers (Adrian Pasdar is married to Dixie Chick Natalie Maines) and that is really a big moment. The excitement around our house is never focused on success outside of it. We both realize that success comes and goes and is fleeting. Ultimately I think the union that we share with our family is a much more powerful influence. Having said that, sure we’re really excited. She’s on tour and the documentary is doing well. Success is not accompanied by a loud bang, it kind of creeps in the door and sits down quietly.
Does Natalie watch the show?
AP: She watches it in Australia on tour. She loves it and wants to know why she has to download it from iTunes and not get sent the DVDs.
How do you feel about the same network that your show is on [NBC] not wanting to air commercials for your wife’s documentary film SHUT UP AND SING?
AP: That’s a touchy issue, but I can’t say I condone the behaviour by NBC. I think it’s cowardly. Television is free for the people and the network should not take it upon themselves to be a sieve for what’s acceptable. It’s a documentary for heavens sake — It’s not a fictionalized account [the movie]. I think it’s a sad commentary and I’d be a liar if I didn’t say I was extremely disapointed.
Let’s talk character specifics. Milo, how quickly did you discover your power?
MV: Going into the pilot, I had no idea. I simply thought that there was a dynamic relationship between Nathan and Peter. it wasn’t until a couple of months later, at the May Upfronts [in New York], that Tim walked up to me and said I think we figured out Peter… then he delved into his explanation.
Does ‘Save the Cheerleader’ include hooking up with the cheerleader?
MV: She’s 17, so that’s a story that will never happen. But there is a definite connection that Claire develops with Peter, from Peter’s perspective, it’s more of a big brother thing with her. But Peter has a connection with every character because of his power.
We’ve seen you take on powers of other characters when you’re in a room. Are we going to see you in a room with two super heroes?
MV: The physical pressure that Peter feels in a room with two super heroes could be mentally overwhelming. We do get into it in future episodes. Potentially, Peter could be the most powerful super hero.
Two weeks ago, we watched as Nathan rocketed through the sky. In a political climate, how long until someone discovers your superpower?
AP: It’s TV, so they can keep it under wraps for as long as they need to. When it serves the story, they’ll dole it out in pieces. Of course there will probably be someone who finds out about Nathan’s secret and has to be dealt with.
Is you character good or bad?
AP: My take on the character is that of playing Richard III. All I need is a physical malady to get really Shakespearean. Is he good or bad? I don’t think there’s an absolute. I do think there’s a dark side that has to be dealt with though. On the show in general, people who you think are good will probably turn bad so it wouldn’t do me any good to speculate. I think there is a whole lot of both. Hopefully it’s just interesting to wtach. I’m as much a fan and along for the ride as the public is.
In comparison to actors on say LOST, you seem to know a little more about your characters. How much do you want to know?
MV: We approach it like everyday life. There are hopes and ideals of where you might be and where the character goes. The scripts can come out, you have a couple of conversations with the writers, but for me, I like to have a vague idea of what’s coming up and focus on the page.
AP: We’re six episodes ahead of what aired last night [Chapter Six]. We’ve all had conversations individually and they’re [the writers] very open to hearing our thoughts about what’s been written so far and possible directions. But they do have bigger and brighter plans of where we’re going. They have a pretty good idea through the rest of season one where it’s going and how it’s going to end up.
MV: One or two writers will often sneak to the set and say, “Dude, you’ve got some cool stuff coming up.” Unfortunately they won’t elaborate.
Is there any truth to the rumour that the major story arcs will be concluded halfway through the season?
AP: From all of our perspectives, there can’t be an end to the story. One door closes and another door will open. There may be periodic endings to subplots, but the overall arch to the story is never-ending.
Can you guys elaborate on Nathan and Peter’s relationship, and perhaps the challenges of playing it out on screen.
AP: I have a lot of respect for Milo as an actor and a human being. There’s an adversarial alpha male tone to the relationship. I don’t always treat Peter onscreen with the respect that one would hope for. So that’s somewhat of a challenge — to understand it’s real on screen but doesn’t reflect the respect that we share for eachother off screen. Of course that’s the nature of acting.
Can you sum up your take on Nathan’s perspective relationships with both Nikki and his wife?
AP: My wife understood coming into the relationship what it would take to be a politicians wife. There’s a sense of guilt that’s permeated. [It's] an accident that Nathan feels guilty for…. [in episode #9 or #10] we get information from this accident on a few fronts, not just this one that explains why she’s [Nathan's Wife] in a wheel chair.
In terms of Nikki, there’s a classic attraction between the two of them – based on the fact that he’s a politician and she’s a stripper. In terms of my character, it’s great that they put my character with the person who would be the biggest liability. In terms of the attraction, I could go on…. but she’s hot, and he’s powerful.
We’re starting to see more connections between characters.
MV: In the beginning, we asked Tim when we’d start connecting, as there are so many actors. Timm said we’d weave in and out of stories. Some characters will meet up right away, others will take longer depending on their circumstances.
Do you guys find yourself fans of the other stories?
Tim Kring has made a point to say that the show is really about the relatinoships between characters, no the superpowers. Milo, can you comment on Peter’s relationship with Simone?
MV: It’s one of those relationships like many on the show that’s kind of the foundation of where we are all going. Peter has a big heart and is a caregiver and naturally falls in love with Simone who’s of course attached to someone else. It’s just one of those complicated things that add drama to the show. In future episodes, Simone will actually help him along in understanding he’s going through.
AP: The Petrelli family dynamic is an interesting one. Seeing that Nathan is in the game of politics, the White House is the ultimate destination. The combination of family dynamics and politics will no doubt be very interesting in future episodes.
Would the series work without the comic relief of Hiro and Ando?
MV: I think there has to be a balance to the dramatic element. Just as something heavy and forlorn is happening, it’s nice to go to a lighter place with Hiro or Ando.
AP: I would agree with Milo. With the density of the story-lines, you need an optimistic hero like Hiro to be a key element to the success and failure of the show. Masi Oka (Hiro) is fearless and wonderfully suited for the job.
With the popularity of the show, are you concerned with being typecast as a ‘Hero’ for the rest of your career?
AP: We’re not specific superheroes (ie. Superman). So if we do our jobs well, I don’t think there’s a danger of being typecast.
MV: At the foundation of the show, it’s a character drama.
What’s been the most surprising aspect of your HEROES experience thus far?
AP: It all seems to have been so well mapped out. There have been no accidents. Everything here has been very well thought out and a lot of work has gone into the crafting of it. For me it’s all gone off without a hitch, according to the plan. The goal was to do quality TV with good special effects and well drawn characters. Those goals have been met. You can never predict what audiences want, but all you can do is deliver your best. And everyone realizes the potential and we’ve done our best to deliver that.
MV: The execution and the collective talent of everyone involved. We have so many talented people working well together.
AP: On Friday we generally screen the episode at lunch for everyone before it airs on Monday. Everybody grabs their plates and sits down and waits for the screening. At every commercial break, people scream. People that work on the show are as big, if not bigger fans than the people who watch it. They’re just so happy to be apart of it and it shows. The cast and crew can’t wait to see the show. We’re all working in different works, acting, crew, special effects. To see it all come together on Friday afternoon is so rewarding and so exciting.