After attending last night’s HEROES panel at the 2007 Paley Festival, it’s quite clear that Tim Kring secretly gave each of our favourite HEROES a hidden secondary ability — the power of comedic timing. The audience of hundreds was puddy in the panels hand, laughing at every word that came out of Greg Grunberg’s (Matt Parkman) mouth and even more surprisingly Leonard Roberts (Seriously, who knew D.L. Hawkins was so funny? The guy was on fire). The following is theTVaddict’s best attempt to capture the energy and excitement of the event.
I’ll begin by saying that the night got off to a rocky start thanks to moderator Tony Potts (ACCESS HOLLYWOOD), Potts started off the evening with a pointless anecdote about losing his wedding ring on a recent trip to the Bahamas with his family. Someone needed to tell Tony — and fast — that even though he’s on TV, nobody was there to watch him talk. Thankfully, after screening the episode entitled “Homecoming” and watching a sneak peak at episode 19 Tony realized who we were all here to see an introduced the panel. The panel included creator Tim Kring, Santiago Cabrera (Isaac Mendez), Sendhil Ramamurthy (Mohinder Suresh), Jack Coleman (H.R.G), Greg Grunberg (Matt Parkman), Hayden Panettiere (Claire Bennet), Masi Oka (Hiro Nakamura), Milo Ventimiglia (Peter Petrelli), Adrian Pasdar (Nathan Petrelli), Ali Larter (Niki Sanders), Noah Gray-Cabey (Micah Sanders) and Leonard Roberts (D.L. Hawkins). Here’s what they had to say.
Tony Potts: The fans are obviously all dying to know what happens next after Monday’s fantastic episode. Are you all really nervous about what happens in the next script? Is it scary knowing Tim [KRING] holds the keys to your fate?
Tim Kring: As we speak we’re finishing writing the season finale, I know everyone’s fate.
Greg Grunberg: Tim survives.
Tim Kring: Yes, I’m doing nicely.
How hard is it not to know, people are dying, things happen?
Greg Grunberg: It’s exciting. I just read episode 22, which absolutely blew me away. I can honestly say that it’s going to blow everyone here away as well.
[Everyone looks at Milo….. (laughter)]
Greg Grunberg: It’s the nature of the show to know we’re all vulnerable, it’s exciting.
Jack Coleman: Unlike the rest of showbusiness which is so secure.
Tony Potts: In the last episode, people online are going crazy about your hair being cut off.
[Milo shows his hair, the bangs are still there]
Milo Ventimiglia: There’s a college drinking game that was started by our own prop guy. He went online and spread the word, so everytime I move my hair, or Hiro pushes his glasses up or whenever Mohinder Suresh says, “My Father’s Research…..” you take a drink. My hair is still fully here.
Tony Potts: Tim, you did PROVIDENCE and CROSSING JORDAN — you have a history with NBC. What was the origins of HEROES?
Tim Kring: I’ve had a long career of re-inventing myself, mainly due to my short attention span. When I did my last show, CROSSING JORDAN, it was before these serialized shows were making a comeback. There haven’t been serialized shows on TV since DYNASTY and DALLAS [the cast looks at Jack Coleman, star who starred in DYNASTY!]
Jack Coleman: Can we avoid the cheap shots!?
Tim Kring: At the time, I was looking around for what NBC didn’t have. They didn’t have one of these big ensemble serialized dramas. I was very interested to try and tell that kind of story, rather than the closed ended medical procedural. I wanted to tell a much longer story that unfolds slowly and allows you to dig a little deeper with the characters.
Tony Potts: How do you avoid the backlash LOST has faced, where it seems to take forever to get any answers?
We had the advantage of coming along after some of these shows and seeing the frustration level that the audience had. We were able to maneuver our show in a slightly different way. We also didn’t start with a single enclosed idea of being trapped on an island. Ours is a much bigger and broader premise.
ON GETTING CAST IN HEROES
Leonard Roberts (D.L. Hawkins): I remember turning the page and seeing ‘D.L. Hawkins: Big Big’. I got so into the possibilty of who this guy was and the loss and the pain of his character, not being able to provide for his family. I walked into the audition and I saw some of the biggest brothers I’ve ever seen. When I got the call I was so excited.
Noah Gray-Cabey (Micah Sanders):
In my case I was doing a guest appearance on another show and it just so happened that the trailer for the auditions was on the same lot. When I was supposed to be having a costume change I ran over to audition, I think I was one of the last people to audition and I got it.
Ali Larter (Niki Sanders): I remember reading Niki Sanders and it said ‘Stripper with a heart’ and I thought I’m in! This was a new process for me, I read the script and loved what a complicated woman she was. I hadn’t had the chance to play that kind of character before. I had the stomach flu and my mother had to drive me to the audition and the rest is history.
Adrian Pasdar (Nathan Petrelli): When I signed on for this I thought the show was HEROES but through the course of the season it’s turned into SURVIVOR. I was actually late for another audition, I asked these two guys in front of me if I could go before them. I just had a feeling that whoever walked through the door next was going to get the job. I didn’t have to jump through a whole lot of hoops, they were backed up against the wall and they had to pull the trigger on this character.
Adds Tim Kring: Both Milo and Adrian were late to the process. The particular pairing of brothers were the most difficult parts to cast. The chemistry and dynamics had to be just right.
Milo Ventimiglia (Peter Petrelli): I was working on a movie on the east coast in Philadelphia (ROCKY), I was also locked into another tv show (BEDFORD DIARIES) but they said just let us just send you the script. Like Leonard was saying, I wanted to be a part of it and I was the last actor, they had nobody else.
Masi Oka (Hiro Nakamura): Hiro Nakamura, this is a guy i could totally relate to. Fluent in Japanese, comedic, ample experience in pop culture. I thought if not this, what else am I going to get?
Greg Grunberg (Matt Parkman): I had just done a pilot for NBC that I thought was really funny but didn’t get picked up. I was looking at doing a half hour because of my family. When I got the HEROES script, it came with a map, all these drawings, which usually means the writing sucks — anything to take the attention away from the writing. But this captivated me from the minute I read it, my wife read it, we freaked out. It was only an hour long and my character didn’t really exist. I said, I’m the perfect Peter Petrelli. I had recently worked with David Semel on HOUSE (a director). I called him up and said, David, I’m going to see you tomorrow and I’m going to read. I’m going to be Peter and it’s going to be great. He said I couldn’t be less right for this role. Sure enough I came in and Tim, Dennis and David were there. Tim was up on his chair, loking at me, watching. As I was driving home, they called up and said good news, bad nes. You were terrible for that role, but there’s another role in the second episode and if NBC gets behind it, would you consider playing this cop. I love the show and think my power’s really cool. It’s an emotional power and relatable. I get people coming up all the time to me now saying, “What am I thinking?” [Sadly, this write-up can’t translate the fantastic Greg Grunberg delivery — you had to be there!]
Adds Tim Kring: Greg didn’t realize that I was writing this other part when he walked in. I got this immediate hit off him. That’s what’s fascinating about the whole casting process. It’s very organic and sometimes someone walks into the room and changes the way I was thinking about a role.
Greg Grunberg: You were thinking about a Matt Dillon character for this. I mean seriously he was, then you decided, let’s go better looking.
Jack Coleman (HRG): My character was the only one that didn’t warrant a multi-layered audition. I had a one page audition for a guest spot.
Tim Kring: It’s a testmant to Jack that the part started out as not the biggest part in the show. But there was just something really exciting for all of the writers to have an actor really show up and give you more possibilities.
Sendhil Ramamurthy (Mohinder Suresh): I knew that the part was going to be for a much older man and I had no chance, so there was no pressure, as I felt I was just wrong for it. Yet I just kept going in and kept reading and Tim was changing things up in his mind and saw the potential for the mythology angle with Mohinder trying to discover who killed his father and why.
Tim Kring: What it ended up doing was allow us to have a much more interesting trajectory for the character. Having Mohinder avenge his father’s deah and uncovering this mythology baisically was a fluke, the wrong guy walking into an audition at the wrong time.
Jack Coleman: Say it once, ‘My father’s research’
[Sendhil obligies, audience goes nuts, cast takes a drink!]
Santiago Cabrera (Isaac Mendez): I just arrived in LA, one of the lucky people who arrive in LA and gets HEROES. I bought a car the day before for $900 from an auction. Down the freeway after five miles smoke started to billow out, the car broke down. I got home at 3:30 in the morning, i arrived the next day to the audition. I didn’t care I was so relaxed. There was no pressure.
Did you worry about the second and third episodes not living up to the hype and quality of the pilot?
Hayden Panettiere (Claire Bennet): I don’t remember episode two.
Jack Coleman (HRG): So you should speak.
Hayden Panettiere: He’s so mean, he picks on me.
Greg Grunberg: I believe there was a character revealed in episode two… [audience laughs again, can Greg do anything wrong!] I remember watching the pilot with Leonard, the two of us on the edge of our seat… okay… (waiting for our characters to appear!). You do a pilot, it’s nerve-wracking. We thought we were cut out of the show.
Leonard Roberts: I think out of the twelve of us, D.L. took a different trajectory from the pilot. I was trying to figure out what was going on. Your acting sensibility kick in and I couldn’t help but think I must have doing something really really wrong. But we started to build momentum, people were coming up to me on the street and you could just tell the show was going to be big.
Jack Coleman: Pilots are so weird. They’re often not the best episode even though the most time and money are spent on them. The actors often don’t find their legs until the third or fourth episode, where you sort of stop auditioning and just play the part. Go back to any pilot you can think of and you’ll find a bunch of nervous actors just trying not to get fired.
Hayden Panettiere: The hard thing about the pilot was that it was forced to set up a large story with a large map of characters. When we first read it, I thought how are they going to continue on this pace for potentially six seasons. It’s an X-MEN movie twenty times a season. But they [the writers] all did it and blew us away and we still have no idea what’s going to happen next.
This show is always compared to LOST in terms of the serialized nature. The big worry for LOST fans is that the show’s ratings will go down and the show will be cancelled before the big mystery is revealed. If that should happen, do you have an endgame in case things go south.
Milo Ventimiglia: The realism about television is that every show will be cancelled eventually.
Greg Grunberg: LOST also made a huge mistake… they killed (referrering to his own death in the pilot!). Take notes Tim [Kring]… take notes.
Tim Kring: The shape of the show and structure of the show is fairly different from LOST. We set up this central dilemma and we will wrap up that story and move on to volume two next season. Volume two will have its own set of dilemmas, questions and bad guys. There is a sense that you can jump on and off after each volume. Obviously we’ll be continuing with some of the same characters and themes, but the central theme and story-line will be wrapped up within each volume.
Mr. Bennet, what’s your first name?
Jack Coleman: At one point, HRG had a name, but it stopped the scene dead in its tracks. Everybody was like, that’s his name? It’s better that HRG remains an acronym. I of course have lots of ideas… Anthony so that I could be Tony Bennet.
What would you say has been the most physically challenging scene?
Milo Ventimiglia: Flying is not necessarily fun, but it looks cool. You’re wearing a harness that’s about three times too small. They take a white tshirt and duct tape around you so you pretty much can’t breath. It’s terribly uncomfortable.
Hayden Panettiere: I die often.
Greg Grunberg: Don’t mess with Ali, I got thrown out of a window.
Hayden Panettiere: They had to make a body cast for me because I break a lot of limbs. I walk in and they tell me to get in my bra and underwear. A 300 pound guy with a pony tail and long beard comes over and straps on white gloves. They layer me in goo and basically mummify me without taking my organs. They then saw you out of a cast. It’s very interesting.
Ali Larter: They’re all talking, but until you have to strip on a pole… I know hard work.
Jack Coleman: He stays elusive.
Greg Grunberg: He’s out there among you.
Hayden Panettiere: He’s actually moving.
Milo Ventimiglia: Sure, make people hate him even more.
Greg Grunberg: He asked us all for help, but we were like, we’ve got a panel (shrugs!).
Will we see all the HEROES come together this year?
Jack Coleman: Take a picture.
Tim Kring: If you’re watching closely you’ll have noticed that they’re all meeting up in interesting and unexpected ways. All I’ll say is that you can expect that to continue.
If you could have one super power what would you choose [Audience and cast groans, as any HEROES fan has heard this answer a million times.] Luckily, the cast has a sense of humor.
Leonard Roberts: I would enjoy flying, that would be cool.
Noah Gray-Cabey: I’ve got three animals, so I’d like to know what they’re thinking.
Ali Larter: I’d want to get my boyfriend to do the dishes.
Jack Coleman: That is so unrealistic.
Tony Potts (moderator): Maybe if you put a pole in the kitchen…
Adrian Pasdar: The ability to dodge that question. That’s the one question we’ve all been asked more than any other and we’ve made up so many answers.
Milo Ventimiglia: The power of persuasion. Same as Ali’s really… do the dishes.
Hayden Panettiere: He’s got a non-self centred one, makes us look so…
Milo Ventimiglia: I always saw the power of persuasion as something that’s a little more serving of the community [Greg Yawns, Audience Laughs!]
Masi Oka: The power to have the same… to pick out clothes like Milo.
Hayden Panettiere: I love you all but I’d be on the beach in Fiji right now. I told you, self-centered.
Greg Grunberg: Super metabolism.
Hayden Panettiere: Why are you on a drama?
Jack Coleman: I always thought being invisible would be cool, but I was invisible for most of the nineties — so now just world peace.
Sendhil Ramamurthy (Mohinder Suresh): Flying.
Santiago Cabrera: Flying faster than the speed of light so I could teleport as well.
Tim Kring: I’ve never been asked the question. I’d like the power to break an entire season of stories very quickly and painlessly.
Unfortunatley, this TV Addict didn’t have the power to stop time, thus the panel came to an end. As fans rushed towards the stage, the cast was kind enough to sign autographs and pose for photos. I of course not having Claire’s healing ability was not willing to risk life and limb for a photo, even though I really wanted a photo of myself and Greg Grunberg. We at theTVaddict.com hope you enjoyed this recap.
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Click below for our other Paley Festival ReCaps (Still to come, NIP/TUCK and UGLY BETTY)