Tim Kring and Zachary Quinto Are Back with Heroes
Tim Kring and Zachary Quinto talk about this immensely popular series returning for its third season
The time is almost here for the highly-anticipated third season of Heroes, which comes back with a three-hour event on Monday, September 22 starting at 8 PM ET. The event will kick off with an hour-long companion show that will serve as a countdown to the two-hour premiere at 9 PM ET. I was recently in on a conference call with series creator and executive producer Tim Kring and actor Zachary Quinto, who plays the villainous Sylar. Here's what these two had to say.
Zachary, when you signed on as Sylar, did you have any way of knowing how big this character would turn out to be, how the viewers would just love and hate him as much as - the way they do?
Zachary Quinto: Absolutely not. I don't think there's any way to sort of predict the way that things - as powerful as this show has been for all of us involved and then for our audience. When you get involved in it, it's something that sort of takes you by storm a little bit. And this is obviously the biggest example in my experience of that happening. But yeah, there's really no way to predict it. And obviously I'm most grateful that it did, but had no way of telling when I signed on.
I enjoy the understated efforts you put into Sylar as far as your theater training. You come at his character very quietly with a lot of menace. And I wonder if you could talk about your theater training and how it's helped you with this role, and other roles?
Zachary Quinto: Well actually I'm really grateful to come from a theater background because it's sort of solidified my relationship to the work from a different - a little bit of a different perspective than you see in Los Angeles sometimes. You know, I mean, there are a lot of actors and sort of more and more actors I think that come from a theater background. So many of my friends actually working in Los Angeles now got those jobs that are - that brought them to LA in New York, you know. So for me personally, I feel like my training has sort of - allows me to look at things from more than one perspective. It allows me to have a little bit more of an oversight and understand where a character lives in my body and understand where a character lives in my voice. And then you sort of modify those understandings to fit the format that you're working in. I remember when I was in school that teachers would, you know, always sort of constantly argue about whether there was a different technique applied to television and film than is applied to theater. And I think there definitely is, you know, and I think that coming from a theater background allows me to sort of bring things down. Like rather than going from a small/medium to a large venue, it's much easier if you can fill a 700-seat theater. It's much easier to fill a 34-inch proscenium or whatever the, you know, the size of the screen is that you're working on. So for me that training gave me a really great basis from which to work and I continue to learn about the technique and the tools that are necessary to work in television and film. And it's - you know, I feel really fortunate to continue to have the experiences that teach me those new lessons, you know.
The first hour answered a lot of questions but it also left some unanswered. And I'm wondering how deep in the season will we get an understanding of how Linderman's back from the dead and why Niki is called Tracy, and what did Sylar do with Claire's brain when he was fishing around in there?
Tim Kring: You know, some of those questions will linger a little bit but I think - actually, you know, by the end of the third hour of the show you have kind of most of those. I mean, the - one of the goals of this season was because we were - have been off the air for - will have been off the air for nine months, we didn't want to drag a lot of story behind us. We didn't want to feel like you had to have watched two years of this show to catch up. So we wanted to answer things really quickly so that you could move forward on this volume and have a kind of clean path in front of you. So there really are not a lot of lingering questions that you carry with you from before. So, you know, the questions - the goal for us from now on with these volumes is to try and answer - you know, literally 95% of the questions that are posed in the beginning of the volume will be answered by the end of the volume. This particular volume, Villains, is 13 episodes long.
So, Zachary, I actually wanted to know did you always think that you would have a place in kind of the sci-fi movie-making and TV shows or was this just something that came about?
Zachary Quinto: Yeah, you know, I never imagined that my experience would lead me so deeply into the comic book and science fiction world as it has. But again it's something that I'm incredibly grateful for. And I think sort of harkening back to the question that was asked earlier about my training, it makes sense when you look at it from that perspective because I think there's something very theatrical about those worlds. Obviously, you know, the world of Heroes is incredibly heightened and there's something very theatrical about it. So while I never really expected it, you know, it doesn't necessarily surprise me now that I'm ensconced in it. And it also is like -it's a really exciting group of fans, you know, and so I feel like that's something else that is an added bonus to the whole thing. It's like probably the most ardent group of people that you could ever be working for in terms of fans and their enthusiasm for the stories that you're telling. So I'm happy to be here, you know. I mean, now that I am, it's definitely something that I'm - I definitely look forward to sort of exploring other areas of storytelling. But I'm so grateful that this one has brought me to a point where I'll be able to do that.
My question is for Zachary but, Tim, feel free to chime in. You know, as far as Sylar goes, obviously he was the main bad guy in Season 1. In Season 2 he spent a lot of time really sort of recovering on the DL. It looks like he's more (involved) this year. So Zachary, what was sort of your intention for this character coming into Season 3 and are you satisfied with the scripts you've seen to this point?
Zachary Quinto: I think that the scripts this season are just, you know, more exciting and more action-packed, and more dynamic than ever. I mean, I think it just keeps getting better and more - you know, every time I open a script it's truly a thrill. I mean, in terms of my - my approach is always the same in whatever I'm working on, is to serve the text, you know. And I think we're really fortunate to work with incredibly creative, imaginative, consistent writers that bring, you know, surprise. I can't - sometimes when I opened the script in Season 3, it's difficult to keep track of exactly where I'm going because there's so many different aspects of this character's experience this year that are drawn upon. So my approach really is just to sort of serve that and to keep track of it at the same time. But I think people will see what I mean as the season unfolds.
Tim Kring: Let me sort of - I wanted to kind of clarify something because it's been brought up a couple of times, this idea of Season 2 versus Season 3, versus Season 1. The truth is what you were referring as Season 2 was not really our Season 2. It was - it turned out to be Season 2 because of the writers' strike. It was really, you know, sort of like watching a movie and having the projector break 40 minutes into it. So what we're doing now on - for Season 3 was really going to be contained within the body of Season 2. So to the extent of a character like Sylar who spent the first volume of Season 2 without his powers, in the subsequent volumes he would've gotten those powers and all of - back and then gone on, you know, a series of adventures. So I just kind of wanted to clarify that, you know, what people are referring to as Season 2 was not by our design. It was really by the design of the fact that there was a writers' strike.
Just to follow-up quickly, Tim, on (unintelligible) - first of all, is there 13 episodes for the first (story) of this year and then 12 for this next one?
Tim Kring: Yes. So the first volume is 13 and the second is 12.
When you talked about it was like the projector broke, so weren't there some advantages to that long break, too?
Tim Kring: Yes, you know, obviously the break was very difficult for so many people. You know, lots of people that - the crew and the cast and writers that all were out of work and unemployed all that time, it was very difficult and also difficult for the audience not to be able to have the remaining half of - literally half - a little more than half of the season truncated that way. But the silver lining, as you said, was it allowed us a little bit of a break from the creative, you know, day-to-day of the show that had been pretty relentless for two years. And so, you know, with any creative endeavor you just - you absolutely need some time away to reassess and to think about, you know, what to do next and to sort of assess what you've done well, and what you want to improve on. So absolutely, I agree with that.
Mr. Kring, at what point - because when Heroes started, everybody was a protagonist. At what point did you realize that you needed a continuing antagonist like Sylar and that it would be a good idea for Sylar to carry through instead of having an arc and disappear?
Tim Kring: Well Sylar was always designed to stay as - you know, to stay around. And we knew that you really can't have heroes without villains and so I think it was kind of built into the premise. Also what was built into the premise is this idea that these are ordinary people so to the extent that they have - that they make decisions that are based on who they are and what circumstances they are or find themselves in, that determines whether they will be good or evil. If you are predisposed to be good and you have a superpower, then you'll use it for something good. If you're predisposed to be bad, then you may - you know, then you will use it for something evil. And so it was kind of always built into the premise that there would be - that our core group of people would be tempted by the circumstances they were in.
Tim, I wanted to ask you about any major changes you'll be making to the storytelling, maybe to help viewers follow the story. I mean, are you going to feature any characters more prominently than others?
Tim Kring: Well, this season we are not really introducing any new characters that have their own storylines. So we are concentrating very much on the core characters that we've had for, you know, two seasons now. But no, in - we have a certain style of storytelling that really is a kind of pastiche of storytelling where there are multiple characters and multiple stories going on at the same time. The difference in this volume, Villains, is they are all feeding one big, giant story. So no, we're not really planning anybody anymore than anybody else, I don't think. The audience may feel that way at times, but I think in the aggregate when they see it put together certain episodes may lean a little more heavily on one character or another. But by the end I think it'll kind of balance out.
Zachary Quinto: I'll add onto that by just saying I think our show does a remarkable job of tracking all the characters and then sort of bringing them back around to one another, and dovetailing the stories into each other. And, you know, for a cast as large as ours, I think all of my fellow actors would agree that each of us get a significant amount in all the episodes that we're in to chew on - you know, that there's never a feeling that one storyline is suffering in favor of another.
Tim Kring: Let me just sort of add to that. There's something that I sort of refer to as haiku storytelling. It's this idea of being able to - or the classic Name That Tune - I can name that tune in three story beats. So I can name that tune in four story beats. In other words, you take a story that would normally take ten beats to tell it and you try to find a way to tell it in five. And so it makes for a very exciting kind of storytelling where every scene is sort of - is very complete and very full.
Zach, this is obviously a big year for you with your first movie coming out and it's a doozy. Talk about your - what's been your career plan using Heroes to get movie roles and how did you choose Star Trek as your first hiatus movie project?
Zachary Quinto: Well, I hardly chose it, so to speak. I mean, you know, I - this whole year for me has been such a blur of good fortune that it's - very little of it was by design, you know. I feel like my experience on Heroes and the world in which it's rooted lends itself to the attention that led me to be a part of the movie. And, you know, I don't really think of it in terms of how I'll use Heroes to get movie roles or how I use, you know, Heroes to get other jobs. I feel like - I remain as grateful to be on Heroes now as I did when I first started. And it's so fulfilling creatively and professionally that I feel like as long as I keep - I think it's like, you know, you can't get ahead of yourself, you know, because no amount of success or exposure, or opportunity is going to really matter or be ultimately fulfilling unless you can be totally present in what you're doing right now. And that's sort of the way that I've gone from one thing to another. You know, I mean, the timing of the fact that the movie happened during the strike and there were so many sort of fortuitous elements that lined up almost in a magical way. You could never even being to conceive of that unless it was happening to you, you know. So I feel like I couldn't be in a better spot. I couldn't be happier to be where I am. And I have faith in the fact that that alone will lead me to whatever the next experience I'm meant to have is.
Tim Kring: You know, Zach, let me sort of add to that. I don't think I'm speaking out of school to sort of say this, but there are - you know, it's a small community in many ways. There's a real lineage of relationships between me and the people who do the television show, Lost, and the people who did the television show Lost are the ones who ended up doing Star Trek. And so, you know, there were - they're fans of my work and I'm fans of their work and we speak all the time. And so Zach's name obviously came up and conversations were had about making that possible. And so in some ways, it happened on a very kind of human level with friendships and behind-the-scenes.
Zachary Quinto: Yeah, that's true.
How much more of Sylar's past as Gabriel Grey would you be interested in learning about and how much darker/more evil would you like to see Sylar get?
Zachary Quinto: Well I'd certainly be interested in learning as much about his background as the writers see fit. I mean, we do go there again this year. At a certain point you'll sort of revisit that character and the shades of that character as you first saw him. As far as how evil I'd want him to get, you know, I feel like Sylar's evil is rooted in a great humanity and in a lot of smallness, and a feeling of sort of emptiness. And so I don't really look at it again as like how evil could he possibly get. I sort of look at it as like, what he has in front of him and the choices that he makes in order to seize his opportunities or to feel - you know, he's constantly, constantly wrestling with the desire to feel special, the desire to feel valid, the desire to feel viable. So I feel like those are the ways that I come at it more than the level of evil that he achieves because those are really just means to an end.
Tim Kring: You know, let me just sort of add that, you know, Zach has really provided us with - you can't do a character that's as sort of deep and complex as Sylar without having the actor who can play those colors and that depth. And Zach has really sort of provided us with the - you know, with the ability to explore this character in really, really deep ways. And I see Sylar as someone who is on a very deep, existential quest to find out the meaning of his own existence and where he came from, and what is driving him. And we will continue to peel the layers off of that onion as long as this character exists on the show.
Tim, I think we'll follow up on that - the audience is clearly meant to identify with Sylar even though he's clearly a villain. So are you going to continue to make him even more sympathetic? I mean, is he going to get friends or maybe even go so far as a love interest?
Tim Kring: You know, this - to be really honest, that is sort of a quest with this character, is to continue to play off of the duality of good and evil which I think has been at the core of a lot of characters in the show and will certainly become more and more thematic in the show this - in this volume, Villains, where so many of our characters will be faced with these choices of who are they really and what is their basic nature. And so yeah, we are going in places this particular volume with Sylar that will, I think, cause the audience to, you know, to be really torn as to how they feel about this guy. They know he is capable of tremendous evil and yet he has a kind of depth of pathos that, you know, makes you question your own, you know, your own sense of what's right and wrong.
So he will expand his relationships then?
Tim Kring: Oh absolutely. Yes, absolutely. He has a - he'll have a series of very human relationships in this volume alone.
Do you see any danger in losing a "normal" viewpoint by giving Dr. Suresh superpowers? Do you - are you in danger of losing that humanity?
Tim Kring: You know, I would say yes and no. And it's one of the great challenges of doing a serialized story, is to try to keep the audience guessing and to keep things fresh. So just - you know, what we've always sort of prided ourselves on is the ability to have the audience not be able to predict where we're going. And so hopefully with Sylar, just when you think that you have figured out what his role for the rest of the series, he'll change again and, you know, will reinvent where that character is. But yeah, somebody needs to be able to play the role of the outsider on this show and so I would just sort of say stay tuned to see who that is.
No hints? Just a hint, come on?
Tim Kring: Yeah, but it will be someone you know already.
Tim, I was at Comic-Con and watching Heroes fans watch the premiere was almost like watching a spectator sport. I'm wondering that - since there are so many ways to get feedback from fans these days, I'm wondering how much you pay attention to what fans are saying and if it ever affects what you do on the show?
Tim Kring: Well I would love to be able to say yes it does affect us. But the truth is - well let me give you an example, the truth is that when we premiere on September 22, we will be I think just starting to shoot Episode 13 of the - which is the finale of the volume. So to the extent that we could have any input from the audience after people have seen that, I think we would be - we're so far ahead that there really is nothing that we can do about it. So, you know, unfortunately the audience is very, very far behind where we are creatively on the show. So there's not much we can do about it.
Zachary Quinto: And that's kind of a double edged sword, I think, in a lot of ways, you know, because we are creating in a vacuum and so we are relying on each other and relying on our instincts creatively as actors, as well as writers. And I know from myself and my castmates being at Comic-Con and sharing that experience for the first time with this volume and, you know, 6500 people or however many people were in that hall was incredibly exhilarating to be a part of their response to it and to be a part of their reaction, because we all do really value that aspect of it, too - because we know that that's why we do what we do, you know, because people are responding as adamantly as those fans did.
Tim Kring: And you know, it's - the interesting thing is, is that we come at the show internally as the writers and producers of the show, and the actors of the show as real fans of this particular genre and real fans of this show. And so we have to use the - our own sort of internal, you know, critics to let us know where we're going. And we very often have made course changes, you know, midway through when we've looked at episodes internally and tried to feel what the audience would feel. And have said you know what, I think we need to go this direction now. We've used this device too many times. Let's start doing this. And so we very much are our own fan base while we're making the show.
Tim, how important does family play this season, in the grey area between Heroes and Villains?
Tim Kring: Well, it's interesting that you say that because the truth is it's all about family and at the core of this particular volume, we're exploring the idea - the nature of dysfunction among family. There are two families that are at the core of this show, the Bennett family and the Petrelli family. And both of them will be tested and tugged in ways that you haven't seen so far.
I was wondering what was lost due to the writers' strike - if the virus storyline will come back and if we'll find out what happened to Caitlin?
Tim Kring: Well, the virus story was really the casualty of the strike and I think a lot of people have already heard this story. We re-jiggered literally the last couple minutes of that volume when we knew the strike was imminent and changed the ending so that that virus never broke out. The second volume of Season 2 was going to be an outbreak story that would last eight episodes and it was all avoided by Peter Petrelli catching this vile of a virus and so it did not break; and therefore, did not get out into the community. And so, you know, three episodes into that volume we would have found out what happened to Caitlin, and as a result of the writers' strike that has been sort of a lost part of the mythology of the show that may never return.
The show was so embraced by critics and fans in the first season. Do you think it was judged too harshly in the Season 2, and is that something that you worry about moving on? Are you always going to be held to a higher standard just because it was such a hit critically and with fans early?
Tim Kring: Yeah, I think we - you know, that is always the nature of something that hits in a big way, in a very zeitgeist kind of way. It's very hard to be shiny and new all the time. And so of course that's something that, you know, that always concerns us but there's not a whole lot we can do. We just make the story that we make. And as for how the season was judged, I think, you know, the fans that really stuck with the show saw what ended up being, you know, the second - especially the second half of that volume, you know, finally came together in the way that the first season did. In the first season, we took about eight or nine episodes before the characters even crossed paths with one another. And if you stuck with it, you were rewarded to see where that story went. In the second season, as I said, there were 13 episodes that will never be seen. And so I think it was obviously very hard to judge it as a whole without literally over half of it never being seen. So, you know, that's kind of all I can say about it.
Tim, I had a question for you about Kristen Bell. I thought she was such a great addition to Season 2 and I know she's coming back. When can we expect to see her and can you tell us anything about how she'll kind of be into the story?
Tim Kring: Well, you will see her in the second hour of the first night back. And she is integral and plays a very large part in the entire volume. So yeah, you'll see plenty of Kristen. And what's interesting is you - we get to sort of - you know, one of the fun things of this - doing this kind of show with this big of a cast is that you - I think the audience will be really surprised at how many kind of pairings up of people that will be new. Characters that have never really even crossed paths with one another will cross - will actually have some very unique pairings of characters. And for the cast it was really a lot of fun because while they all know one another and get along with one another, and enjoy one another, there are several of the actors on the show that have literally never been in scenes with one another. And so finding those combinations, I think, keeps it really fresh and, you know, not only behind the scenes but for the audience as well.
Zachary, I wanted to find out if you could maybe tell me in your eyes, in the third season episodes you've shot so far how Sylar has further grown and developed as a character? And along with that, some of the acting challenges for you?
Zachary Quinto: Ah, great. Well, you know, this is the longest time I've ever spent playing one character on a show and I think there are unique challenges that come along with that - the idea of just being on a show and playing a character in an open ended kind of way, especially in the serialized nature of the way that we tell our stories. So for me, this character grows and evolves in so many ways this season. I mean, primarily I think he's put in situations and he is, I think in some ways, manipulated to employ a kind of restraint against his instincts and his impulses that we've never seen him have to employ before. And that's really a fascinating - been a fascinating journey for me and also, equally challenging. When you come to settle into a character and, you know, there are certain aspects of this character in particular that people respond to and people come to sort of expect. And there's a lot of unexpected turns this year for my character and it's been - you know, every time I open a script there's just a different kind of challenge, you know, whether it's a either physical challenge in terms of a fight sequence or a stunt sequence that we're doing, or a special effects sequence that we're doing, or emotional challenge in terms of what he's coming up against in himself, and what he's coming up against outside of himself with the people that he's interacting with. I think the tapestry of that has been incredibly rich this year for my character, in particular. So it's been really - it's been a ride for sure.
Zachary, could you ever see Sylar becoming a good guy? And would that be any fun for you? And what do you think would have to happen for that to occur?
Zachary Quinto: Well again, I think it goes back to a little bit of what Tim was saying before and what I was sort of saying about this character. I mean, I don't really look at him as, you know, absolutely good or bad. I think that he is constantly walking a line of ambiguity within himself and uncertainty within himself that defines the way he acts - the way he behaves. And so I feel like there are colors of this character that are possible, that are maybe a little less violent and a little less dark than we've seen him in the past. But as long as it's rooted in a connection to the character's psychology, then that's what's fun for me. So I have nothing but faith in the fact that that would always be the case no matter where this character is taken on the show. And that's certainly held true so far this season.
This is for Tim. You know, when you had talked about some of the casualties of the strike and knowing at that time there might have been a conflict with Zach's schedule with Star Trek, did a lot of the ideas for this season come out of having to kind of (take on the case) with what you'd do with Sylar or was it really - this (season) was the story you wanted to tell and you finally could because everything was calmed down?
Tim Kring: You know, the truth is we would've had to lose the character of Sylar for the better part of the season had the strike not hit. And so one of the upsides of it is that there will be a real sense of continuity for the audience when they pick up the show. You know, it won't - they won't have that sense that when one of the major character dropped away for awhile. So in that respect, it was a huge - you know, sort of a huge advantage to have had the strike fall where it did in the whole thing.
Did it change your storytelling at all in terms of what he's doing this season or was this still the story you wanted to tell?
Tim Kring: Oh the - no, I'm sorry. This was the story that we wanted to tell. This was - this particular volume called Villains was going to be originally the third volume of the second season and we were going to be able to fold Sylar's character in, you know, probably not in as big a way had we had to shoot it during Season 2. But we would've found a way to have incorporated, you know, Zach into the - we very often, because of the modular way that we shoot the show, we're able to drop a certain character's storyline in, you know, afterwards. In other words, we can shoot all of, you know, someone like Zach's scenes and then - for multiple episodes and then drop them in. It's one of the advantages of shooting a kind of, you know, big multi storyline show.
Tim, this one's for you. During Season 2 you introduced the group of 12 and in one episode Hiro's dad said there were 8 of them left. And then a couple later Matt said that they were all dead. So are we going to see any more of group of 12, or are they all dead?
Tim Kring: You actually will see more - yes, you will see a few of them. And that was referring to the idea of the kind of previous generation. The second volume of the show was called Generations and explored the idea that there was a whole series of people who came before our characters and acted in ways that our characters then had to go and, you know, it's basically the idea of the sins of the parents had been visited upon their children. And we will see that some of those people survive in very interesting and curious ways in Volume 3. There's still some remnants of that previous generation.
We just mentioned Kristen Bell and she was a famous guest on the series. Do you have any other plans to bring any other famous faces on for an episode or two? And Zachary, if you could throw in your two cents, who would you like to work against on the screen?
Tim Kring: As of right now, we really - this particular volume really does focus very much on the core characters. And so in this particular volume it's really not about bringing in a kind of stunt-casting idea. And in many ways in the show, it's never really been about that. To the - you know, with people like George Takei that came in, they genuinely were the right person for the part and it was really never about a stunt cast idea. And Kristen Bell - well I guess that was sort of a stunt-casting thing, but that was a series of events that led to her coming on the show. She was available. She was friends with several of the cast members on the show. And so it was really not a matter of us trying to go out and find that. It, in an odd way, sort of came to us.
Zachary Quinto: And as far as my end of that goes, I feel like I've always been, you know, more than satisfied with the guests that have been on the show. And I feel like - you know, I'm more interested in working with good actors than working with someone that gets a job because of, you know, because of that stunt thing.
Zachary, there's this battle coming up in the second part of the opener with Elle. It says epic battle in the notes. And is this going to be a Sci-Fi extravaganza, you know, huge effects battle or is it more of a personal battle? And how much did you and Kristen enjoy shooting it?
Zachary Quinto: Well I just love Kristen all around. I love working with her. I love hanging out with her. I think she has a really great energy and a novel actress. So any time I get to work with her is a good time. Yeah, it's a pretty epic battle. You know, some things go down. There's definitely some special effects elements to it. There's some stunt elements to it. And it's both personal and epic.
Tim, I was wondering what the biggest challenge you've faced in making the third season was?
Tim Kring: Well, in many ways, you know, there's a continuum on this show for us that the audience doesn't experience. The audience experiences it in seasons; we haven't. We have sort of experienced it as one long production. So in many ways it's the same challenges. We're making a very big, logistically complicated show by all accounts - maybe the biggest, most complicated show that there is. So the, you know, the challenges are, you know, are many fold. And for me as a writer, it's keeping it fresh and keeping the - we have set a kind of bar for the audience of expectations of surprise and unpredictable storytelling. And that bar gets raised, you know, often by our own - we sort of raise the bar ourselves. In other words, we'll do an episode that is filled with twists and turns, and we'll really, you know, blow people away. And then the next week we have to find some way to top ourselves. And in many ways it's a very challenging game to play to keep topping yourself. You sometimes you get in a situation where you just simply can't do - you know, top an episode from the week before. And so that for us is a continuing challenge to be fresh and new.
Tim, I wanted to go back to the question about having to sort of abandoning what you were originally planning for Volume 3. What sort of - in doing that, what sort of other opportunities opened up for you and what, if anything, kind of stayed intact for it at the start of the season?
Tim Kring: Well, you know, it's interesting. I mean, I don't know that I've had a lot of time to really think about what opportunities it opened for us. We closed some doors that we would have obviously had to, you know, explore and that's always, you know, complicated. We had actually shot a fair amount of content already and that lives on as DVD extras in the second season that people can actually watch and see where we were planning to go with the next volume. You know, again, what it - what the truncated year did for us was allow us to do a kind of reassessment of how to, you know, tell a story in a very adrenalized way. I mean, clearly the audience is really not very interested in a very - you know, in a slow build on this show. They want to hit the ground running. And so it gave us a little time to figure out just how to do that and in many ways how to do a - how to tell a story without an act one - to start basically in act two. And we think with Volume 3, Villains, that we sort of we figured that out, how to hit the ground running in a really quick way that has a tremendous amount of adrenalin. We had a lot of concern in Season 1, I know, when you know, I actually went online just to sort of see audience reaction in Season 1 about eight episodes in. And it was just very eye-opening. The audience was very frustrated with the show and had no idea where it was going, and no confidence in us to be able to figure it out. And three of four episodes later when I logged on, suddenly they were all hooked. And so clearly we experienced that same idea in the second season as well. And so this third season we've sort of figured out a way to hopefully avoid that initial frustration that the audience has. It's something that the audience, I don't think, has really figured out because of the nature of the way we've aired. The first season just happened to be - the first volume just happened to be one season long. The second season, the audience would have figured this out, that we were - that we air in these volumes. They would've been very familiar with it by the time the season ended. This year they will hopefully really catch on that we air in volumes. So - and it's a very important thing for us to do because we want to figure out a way to not get caught in a lot of the problems that most serialized storytelling has where you become impenetrable to the audience after years and years of one continuous story. We're now trying to do this - you know, we created this paradigm where you can create a volume, answer 95% of questions in that volume, and move on to another storyline for the audience so that we can keep energizing the story and potentially get new viewers.
This is a show that's clearly not afraid to kill off key characters which can be kind of tough on fans. But I'm wondering what the benefits are for your in terms of dramatic possibility and if you regret killing anyone off? And is it possible for any character to feel safe?
Tim Kring: You know, the truth is when you do a story that has any kind of stakes involved -- and stakes of life and death -- you, you know, you absolutely have to have some casualties along the way, otherwise the audience begins to really become very suspicious of whether you ever really mean it when you raise these stakes. So, you know, fortunately or unfortunately, we exist in a world where we actually have to do that in order to maintain some authenticity. You know, the good thing about Heroes is that nobody is - nobody is ever really as dead as they seem to be on our show because of the ability to time travel, to go back in time because of the flashback nature of the show. We've been able to find characters that, you know, return in interesting and new ways. And so in terms of people that you regrets, we have found ways of - when we have regretted it, we have found ways to bring those characters back in these sort of new and interesting ways.
And what would be an example?
Tim Kring: And I don't know that it's regret, but it's - some of it was just, you know, planned or actors' availability, that sort of thing. You know, someone like Malcolm McDowell, who, you know, we loved working with and found a way to figure out how to have that character return in an interesting way this season.
I'd just like to ask about Angela Petrelli. She started sort of a recurring character and she's now become a main cast member. I was wondering if you'd just be happy to discuss how the characters developed over the season and what we can expect from her this season? And secondly, on the Heroes Series 2 DVD there's a deleted scene with Kaito Nakamura's powers being revealed. And my question is what's the show's attitude to things revealed in these things?
Tim Kring: Well, no that was, you know, very much by our design to be able to have a - to show that and then I think the audience will sort of be waiting for when that shows up on the - in the show now. So I think that's something that doesn't really concern us. I think it's actually sort of an additive to the whole idea. As for Angela Petrelli, this is another example of what happens when an actor - it's a sort of dream come true to have an actor that meets the writers kind of halfway on a character. You create something that is only intended to play a certain part on the show and then the actor brings - an actor like Cristine brings so much to the character that we begin to see all the potentials of that character and new potentials of that character. And that's just sort of a classic example of that. She really has now become a very integral part of the storyline. And in many ways it was because of Cristine's ability to bring all of these colors and flavors to that character that made that possible.
I had a question about the symbols - (symbology) in Heroes. So the helix, the eclipse, the double helix of the (Pinehurst company) is going to be introduced in this Volume 3. I was wondering how much of that is going to be explained and explored in the upcoming volume?
Tim Kring: Again, some of these symbols, you know, they morph their meaning as we go a little bit. The helix is an example of that and clearly it's been revealed now as the - as a part of the double helix of a DNA strand which plays into the themes of the show and was always intended to be revealed as that. But there are deeper meanings to these - to both of the symbols of the eclipse and the helix that we have plans to reveal along the way. Its one of the very few things that we wanted to have as question marks that carried you through the series. We wanted - we set out to be a show that answered questions along the way in a very, kind of regular and quick way but we always wanted to have a few mysteries that carried through the length of the series that would change and morph just enough to keep you guessing as to what the new meanings would be. And both eclipse and the helix are both, you know, the two real major examples of that.
Most of your fans are pretty hardcore and love the extended content, so what are the tie-ins with the graphic novel and do you think the average viewer will be a little bit less behind if they just watch the series?
Tim Kring: Well the whole idea of the online extensions of the show was always to be additive to the show. In other words, if you just watched the show you would never have any - you could have a terrific experience and not really need to find out more. But if you are inclined to dig a little deeper and to dive a little deeper into the mythology of the show, we have all of these various ways that you can do that on NBC.com. And it becomes additive to your experience. It's literally just - is the one or two, or three, or four more things that you will know that someone else may not know. And it just deepens your experience and your sense of fandom to the show. This year we have all of the same, you know, the same - many of the same ideas that we've had for the last couple years in terms of the comic book and various online. But we are adding a very exciting new element of these - of a web series that's going to run concurrently with the show. We've done three of them so far. We have another pod of, I believe, six that's going to come up in the fall, and then another pod of six or seven in the spring. And they will be storylines that run concurrently with these volumes that we'll add to and fill out the whole idea of the mythology, and everything feeding the cannon of the show. So I think it's a very exciting way for you to add to your experience as a fan.
Tim, correct me if I'm wrong, isn't the next volume of the graphic - the second graphic novel coming out this fall?
Tim Kring: Yes, exactly. I'm not sure what that date is. I don't know. Yes, we've - you know, we compiled the first volume and, you know, made a very exciting, you know, compilation of the comics with terrific cover art by (Jim Lee) and (Alex Roth). And so, you know, that turned out to be a, you know, a huge success in the comic book world. And so we're planning the second volume of that to be released in the fall. I'm not sure when.
Be sure to catch all of the excitement of the three-hour Season 3 premiere of Heroes when it airs on Monday, September 22 at 8 PM ET on NBC.