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When Heroes went dark in 2010, an entire cast of actors said farewell to characters they played for nearly half a decade, never expecting to resume those roles again. Until a commercial during last year’s Super Bowl announced what many Heroes fans didn’t know they were waiting for: the return of the show via a 13-part NBC miniseries, Heroes Reborn.
Although the new series is very much about a new generation of heroes, that doesn’t mean audiences won’t be treated to familiar faces from the original Tim Kring drama when it bows on Sept. 24.
“Their return was really determined by the story we were telling as we were breaking them,” Kring tells THR. “There were only a couple that we would have wanted to get that were unavailable because they were involved in other things.”
Kring wouldn’t confirm whether that included Nashville star Hayden Panettiere to reprise her iconic role as cheerleader Claire (who has since been confirmed as dead when Heroes returns). While the cheerleader didn’t survive for Reborn, the man who played her father Noah, Jack Coleman, is among the returning characters. Here, Coleman and returning stars Masi Oka (Hiro), Jimmy Jean-Louis (The Haitian, René), Greg Grunberg (Matt), Sendhil Ramamurthy (Mohinder) and Noah Gray-Cabey (Micah) talk with THR about reprising the roles and what to expect from their returns in Reborn.
Jack Coleman as Noah Bennet (aka Horn-Rimmed Glasses)
Where he left off: Watching his daughter Claire leap from a Ferris wheel in order to show the world her powers, despite his insistence she stay hidden.
When he returns: Episode 1. This is very much a story following his experience among new heroes and it is about the new heroes themselves.
On reprising the role: “The really good news is they picked up five years later as opposed to a prequel where I’d have to be five years younger. So that’s one of the comfortable things about it, to be in your skin as you are as opposed to putting on a hair piece and sucking in my gut,” he says. “At first it was a little like, ‘OK wait, what are we doing?’ And then after about an hour or two I’m like. ‘Oh yeah I know this guy.’ It was really fun to get back into it.”
On the impact Claire’s death will have on him: “She casts a very long shadow — everything Noah does is based on her and trying to figure out what happened. He needs to justify how her death makes sense and to make something good of it. Noah will always be tied to her.”
On what’s changed: “The kind of stories you can tell, the effects you can do and the kinds of stunts you can do. All that stuff is next generation. But the show itself is true to ordinary people with extraordinary abilities. But it’s five years later and it’s a very dark and different world for them now. It’s a dangerous place to be an evo. The stakes are higher.”
Noah Gray-Cabey as Micah Sanders
Where he left off: In season three, he helped establish an underground railroad for evos to escape and find safe haven.
When he returns: Unknown, but he can be seen in NBC’s online prequel to Heroes Reborn: Dark Matters.
On being a fan favorite: “One of the reasons Micah was a fan favorite was because Heroes is a big show for sci-fi fans. Micah was very much a sci-fi fan himself. He liked to tinker with machines and stuff, and read his comic books. That’s why a lot of the audience identified with him,” he says.
On growing up with the character: “Being able to bring that character from a child to a young man, hopefully the audience can still identify with him. It’s been an amazing journey for me.”
Sendhil Ramamurthy as Mohinder Suresh
Where he left off: After using a scientific discovery to become a “hero” himself, Suresh took off in hopes of forgetting about all he knew.
When he returns: The actor isn’t present in the first episode back, but his pictures are everywhere.
On what Dr. Suresh has been up to: “He left the show feeling like he had lost his direction and purpose in life. When we pick up with the character, he has ostensibly found his way back to being a scientist and doing research into helping people with abilities. Of course, because this is Heroes, things get very complicated, very fast, when he receives a call from someone in his past … “
On playing the character again: “It was hard to find my groove coming back. I never got a real run at it. I am shooting a new series in London called Lucky Man for Carnival which meant I only had a couple of days at a time to do Heroes Reborn. I would fly in for quick one- or two-day stints on Reborn and then head straight back to London to another set and another character which made it difficult to settle in. Where it felt much more comfortable, was when I was in the voice-over booth doing the narration for the show. Stephen Grubbs, our sound editor from the original series, is working on Reborn, and having him in my earpiece directing me as I did the narration made it feel like old times.”
Jimmy Jean-Louis as The Haitian, René
Where he left off: His story never really wrapped, but the mind-erasing hero had solidified a strong bond with Claire.
When he returns: Unknown.
On when the show picks back up: “We have a lot more heroes coming forward than before, but they’re being chased. I am among some of the original ones who are still around. My powers are still the same. Let’s say I still walk with some of the guys from the past.”
On what’s different: “At the end of the day we just have to reinvent ourselves. And this is the era when people can reinvent themselves.”
Greg Grunberg as Matt Parkman
Where he left off: By the end of the fourth season he had fully realized his telepathic and mind-controlling powers.
When he returns: Not until later in the series.
On how his character has changed: “The characters are the same, it’s just how they’re dealing with the world and how the world’s looking at them. Our characters are just as powerful if not more.”
On what to expect from Parkman: “I’m a badass. There’s no question about it. I’m doing stuff now that I never did before. Both of us.”
Masi Oka as Hiro Nakamura
Where he left off: His brain tumor was removed, allowing Hiro to full recognize his powers and save dozens from the Carnival.
When he returns: Unknown, but his presence is felt early on.
On what he’s been up to: “He runs his late father’s company. He has more responsibility and has, practically speaking, retired from being a hero.”
On playing Hiro for a second time: “It was bittersweet. It was easy to go back into character as his characteristics is still a big part of me, but as a guest star, I knew I wanted to pass on the torch to the next generation. It was also bittersweet because I didn’t get to play much of the innocent Hiro, which I loved and afforded me the opportunity to infuse humor. The ‘Future Hiro‘ was cool and I had a blast doing the action sequences, but not being able to add the humor and levity into Hiro was a little sad. I guess even a man-child has to grow up sometime.
Heroes Reborn debuts Thursday, Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. on NBC. Who are you excited to see return? Sound off in the comments below.
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