The critically acclaimed sci-fi series Heroes ended its run on NBC in 2010. Five years later, from the show’s creator/Executive Producer Tim Kring, comes Heroes Reborn, an epic 13-episode event which follows a new group of ordinary individuals who discover they possess extraordinary powers.
It’s been a year since a terrorist attack decimated Odessa, Texas, and those with extraordinary abilities have been blamed for the tragedy and are on the run, being hunted by individuals with nefarious motives. The vigilantes include Luke (Zachary Levi, Chuck) and Joanne (Judith Shekoni, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2) who are seeking to avenge a personal loss.
Tim Kring and Zachary Levi stopped by the TV Critics tour to discuss their new series, which premieres on NBC on September 24th 2015.
Tim, when did you first think you wanted to bring the franchise back?
Tim: When we went off the air we didn’t know we were going off the air so, in looking back at it, we left at an absolutely fantastic moment that set everything into motion for what we’re doing here.
For four seasons, the whole world had never known that there were people with powers in the world. We left at a time when Hayden Panettiere’s character (Claire Bennet), basically outs the idea that she has powers in front of news cameras and the whole world.
It was almost an obligatory hand-off baton pass to where we needed to go from there.
I know that this is a whole new story with a new cast and that some of the old cast members will be back. How did you choose who you wanted to return?
Tim: The truth about how and when we approached different actors was really about what the story dictated. If the story dictated that we wanted to see a certain character, we reached out to them.
Some of these didn’t happen until we were well into the writers’ room, and one of the writers would say, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if, when we open up the door, it was actually Matt Parkman, Greg Grunberg’s character, that was standing there?’ So we’d reach out to Greg and ask if he could join.
The show’s about an indeterminate number of people around the world who have powers. So I always thought it was a show that could repopulate itself.
I wanted to make it something that was easy for brand-new viewers to watch for the first time.
Can you talk about Masi Oka and Sendhill Ramamurthy? How often are they going to make appearances in this series?
Tim: They’re each in a couple of episodes, they fold in in ways that really move the story forward in a very big way.
Masi Oka’s character’s, Hiro, is a time traveler and that can be a very useful power for us.
I read that Hayden Panettiere’s character is dead in the narrative of this series, is that correct?
Tim: Yes. In the real world of the story, she died a year prior to our story starting. That sort of gets into some of the mythology that’s attached to the original show. Jack Coleman’s character (Noah Bennet) gets to uncover some of that mythology for us.
Any new viewer who watches the show will not have to feel that they had to have watched four seasons of the show. They’ll get to explore that back story through him and his character, and it will come out naturally.
Are the new heroes ambiguous? Is there a chance that they’re going to go to the dark side?
Tim: Yeah, in the trailer you see that Zach and Judi play characters that immediately, when you first meet them, seem to be on that path. You might want to speak a little on that.
Zachary: Yeah, we’re bad! We’re misunderstood. We’ve been given this really cool world to play characters that are ambiguous.
I think so much of what Heroes has been is about challenging people’s perceptions about where you’re coming from and why you came from that place. Look at Zachary Quinto’s character, Sylar.
As horrible as some of the things that he did, you could also relate to the pain that he was going through in his journey.
I think it’s very important that the world gets stories that are ambiguous, that are a bit gray, because if it’s constantly black and white, then you have these Machiavellian, ‘twisting their mustache’ type of villains. To me, that’s not interesting.
What is interesting is that there’s somebody who is doing really horrible things, but why are they doing those horrible things?
As far as Judi and I are concerned, you very quickly learn why they are on that journey. (But) will that journey ultimately pay off for their souls, for their psyche?
Why do you feel sci-fi has taken off on television the way it has since Heroes first premiered?
Zachary: I think ultimately, as human beings, we’re all looking for storytelling where, even if we don’t see ourselves doing what that person’s done, you can understand why they’ve gone down that route.
Sometimes that brings up very scary things in us. It allows us to experience grace and understanding.
Sci-fi, as a genre, has always allowed us to tackle very big social issues in ways that you can kind of get around it. You don’t have to hit it right on the head.
People go, ‘Oh, wow, that’s what that was about. That was bigger than even flying around and visiting other planets. We’re actually talking about other people.’
And in this scenario we’re talking about segregation, between the powered and the unpowered and the effects that that has on a population globally.