I Love Heros, My favourite TV Show

 

 Heroes creator Tim Kring looks into the past, present and future of this season’s hottest new show

 

By Cindy White
When Heroes first premiered last fall, it was well received by critics and audience members alike, but no one anticipated the level of popularity it’s achieved in just 12 episodes. Thanks in part to a brilliant marketing campaign incorporating the slogan “Save the cheerleader, save the world,” each new episode has become instant water-cooler material.

On Jan. 21, the show returned from hiatus with an episode featuring former Doctor Who star Christopher Eccleston as an invisible man. This week Eccleson’s Claude returns, along with another big-name guest star, George Takei, who will be playing the father of Masi Oka’s Hiro Nakamura in a number of episodes.

With a full second-season pickup already announced, Heroes creator and executive producer Tim Kring is going into the end of the season with the promise that the coming episodes will resolve one storyline while leading to another via a major cliffhanger in the season finale. Kring talked with SCI FI Weekly about making the show and what fans have to look forward to in the future.

Is it easier to write the next few episodes knowing that you’ve got a full 22-episode pickup for season two?

Kring: Because we’re right at the end of the season right now in terms of where we’re breaking, it is forcing these discussions about season two, and [what’s] been actually one of the really fun things about this kind of storytelling is it seems to want to generate ahead far enough so that you’re never really in that much trouble. It’s amazing. I was sort of panicked by the idea of having to take a break at the end of this season and go off and think about season two. And it’s just naturally starting to come up in the writers’ room. We’re putting stuff up on the board that, while I had big tentpole ideas of where I wanted it to go, the meat is actually getting filled out, and every day I look at that board and I smile, because it’s one less thing I have to think about on my hiatus.

Are you planning a big cliffhanger for the end of the season?

Kring: Yes. Yeah. I mean, it’s not necessarily a cliffhanger in terms of what has been set up so far storywise. It’s more of a cliffhanger as to the welfare and well-being of several of our characters.

Will it launch the arc of the second season?

Kring: Yes. Obviously it plays into where we kick off at the end of season two.

So there will be a resolution of the apocalyptic story?

Kring: Yes. Absolutely. That will be resolved in the first season.

There’s a rumor that someone will be killed this season. Not to give anything away, but is that something you can talk about?

Kring: No, I can confirm that.

Is it difficult for you to write someone out?

Kring: Oh, yeah. And obviously, we’ve skated a little bit around it, but the truth is, it’s out there as an issue. On a show like this, characters have to come and go, and that’s how you keep it fresh. Partially, or mainly, because for me, the main theory was that this is happening all over the world, and it’s happening to people even as we speak. And if we don’t get to meet those people, it’s no fun. And you want to meet those people. Also, for me, the origin story still continues to be the most fascinating part of the show.

The truth is, we’ve tried to make characters click enough with the audience so that you really feel emotional. And clearly we did this with the waitress, Charlie. … She hit really big, and people were very upset by the idea. But the truth is, that was done for a very conscious reason. We needed to drive home for the audience in a very sort of profound way that time travel was not the answer to everything. So we needed to make something that hit really emotionally, with a real emotional punch to drive that point home.

How long do you expect Sylar to continue as the main villain?

Kring: I love Zach Quinto, and I love what he’s doing for the show. And the truth is, I would like to continue and have him in the second season.

Is there a reason why he hasn’t been killed already?

Kring: They really want something from him. The organization that Jack Coleman’s character works for is on some sort of obvious research-oriented—as we call it—tag-and-release program. So there are things that they are gleaning by getting each one of these people. And remember, he is a character who seems to be exhibiting more than one power, which is intriguing to them as to how and why.

How much do the special effects complicate the production?

Kring: A lot. That’s why you don’t see a lot of it. We’re trying to make a show every week, and special effects, while they’re cheaper than they were even two years ago or six months ago and people are more efficient and faster, they still are difficult to do on a television schedule.

Is there a lot of CGI in the finale?

Kring: I think there’ll be a little bit more in the season finale than in a normal episode. Although we’ve got a couple of doozies coming up that feel like anybody else’s season finale. [Episodes] 17 and 20 are both huge.

Do you make use of the fact that you have Masi Oka in the cast, who also has experience in special effects?

Kring: We haven’t yet, but he has offered and we really want to take him up on letting him do a couple of special effects for us. And the truth is, it’s gotten to the point where guys could do things on laptops that used to take a mainframe to do. So Masi, I’m sure, could do some unbelievable stuff for us.

We’ve seen that Isaac’s paintings always come true. Are you saying that the future is predetermined? Or is there a possibility that they can change it?

Kring: As storytellers, we are locked into the idea that the future can be changed, given the right circumstances. It’s how those circumstances line up. And clearly, the “save the cheerleader, save the world” is going to have something to do [with that], when you look back at the end of the season. “‘Oh, I get it. That’s why they had to do that. I get it. It all makes sense.” So it’s been really fun to tell the story in that way, so that these payoffs several episodes later hit people with a real “Ah, I get it. That’s why we had to save the cheerleader.”

How do you feel about Heroes going international?

Kring: They are just absolutely over the moon for this show. And I think people really are feeling like the show has the ability to speak to people in very varied markets. I just feel like it was something that was very intentional. I set out to do something that I wanted to have a hopeful, healing kind of message for the world. And I wanted it to be something that felt global, that was happening everywhere. And because of the logistics of working in L.A., it is a bit centric to America and American actors and all of that. Next season, we are going to open it up even more to the idea of going international.

How did you come to cast Christopher Eccleston on the show?

Kring: I had seen his work. I’d seen him in Elizabeth, and I’d seen him in 28 Days Later, and I knew who he was. I wanted a British guy. I saw the character as a kind of Fagin character. I wanted a big sort of sloppy Brit with a working-class accent who is this curmudgeonly invisible guy. A real misanthrope. And so the casting people said, “Well, Christopher Eccleston is actually living here now, in America. He’s just moved here and is trying to get work here.” So it was one of those fortuitous things, where I was like, “I love that guy. Let’s go after him.” So by the time we finally had a part for him he was really a fan of the show and wanted to do it.

Seems like every show comes to a point where they start alienating fans. Are you worried about that?

Kring: These kinds of fans are very fickle. I mean, the real hardcore fans. So yes, you do worry about that. And again, the multiple storylines help that, because you can always counterbalance things. If you didn’t quite hit it out of the park on one story, another one will. And there are certainly cautionary tales. I mean, those of use who remember Twin Peaks going from the number one or two or three show on the network to four episodes later being canceled because of revealing who killed Laura Palmer … So that’s a cautionary tale for all of us.

You’ve said you were never a comic-book reader. So what inspired you to do a show about superheroes?

Kring: I didn’t know that it wasn’t available to outsiders at the time. And it was sort of shocking when there was that reaction from people who are real comic-book fans. I have small kids who, when you go to the movies in the summertime, it’s all you see. You’re surrounded by it. We live in a pop culture where it’s just dominating everything. DC and Marvel are making huge deals in Hollywood, and that’s all that anybody wants to see. So I live in that world, and I’m surrounded by it. I love the movie The Incredibles. But, really, it came out of the idea that I wanted to do a show about heroes and people that could possibly change the world. When I was thinking about my kids growing up in a world that was as complicated as it was without a lot of people to look up to, and just the normal doctor in a hospital or a cop—while those are wonderful heroes, they didn’t seem to be big enough to embody these larger issues, which led me towards the idea of superpowers.

Which hero do you identify with most?

Kring: I’d have to say Peter, the sort of dreamer. I was certainly a late bloomer and trying to figure out who I was and what the meaning of my life was. And so I definitely relate to that character. The empathy.

The creators of Lost just announced that they have the end of the show in mind. Are you also thinking about an end?

Kring: We don’t have an end date set. I just don’t feel like doing it.

So you’ll ride this as long as you can.

Kring: Obviously, you want to ride something as long as it’s creatively and artistically challenging and working for you. As soon as it becomes an albatross, then it’s terrible. There’s nothing worse than trying to breathe life into something that doesn’t want to have life in it. But you’re getting me obviously at a time when this is all still very new. And I right now can’t muster up enough negativity about where it’s going to end.

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