When it came time for the 2006 drama series "Heroes" to be reborn, no one was more surprised about it coming to fruition than Jack Coleman.
For four years, Coleman played bad guy Noah Bennett on the series, until it was cancelled in 2010. For a while he lived in hope that the show might be ''reborn,'' however, given the time elapsed, that dream was fading.
"I hadn't even given that any thoughts in a really long time," Coleman told HNGN and a small group of reporters while promoting the show in July at the Annual Television Critics Association Press Tour. "The first year, maybe even 2 years, I thought it could happen, but it hadn't really occurred to me and I hadn't thought of it."
All that changed for the actor when NBC promoted the show during its airing of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
"All of a sudden I saw the clips and the 'Heroes' logo and 2015 I thought, I might be busy. When Tim called it was like, 'Oh good, I'm very happy to be a part of this,'" smiles Coleman.
It was that promo the actor reveals started a texting firestorm with his original series cast members, whom he'd remained close with since the series' cancellation.
"It was just a well-kept secret, there was no script yet, they didn't say when it was going to premiere; they just knew it would be in 2015," reveals Coleman. "They just dropped it and we were all kind of gob smacked. We lifted our chins off the floor and started texting each other. Everyone who's been on the show was on the group text."
For fans expecting more of the same original series "Heroes," the original "save the cheerleader, save the world" premise is no more. According to series creator, Tim Kring, cheerleader Claire Bennett (played by Hayden Panettiere), has long passed.
"In the real world of the story, she died a year prior to our story starting," Kring revealed. "That sort of gets into some of the mythology that's attached to the original and Jack Coleman's character gets to uncover some of that mythology for us. So any new viewer who watches the show will not have to feel that they had to have watched four [previous] seasons of the show."
For more of our conversation with Jack Colemen and how the actor felt about donning those infamous "glasses" again, continue our conversation with the actor below.
"Heroes Reborn" premieres tonight 8PM/7c on NBC.
You really found out this new series was happening watching TV?
I know, isn't that nuts?
Was it a group text?
It was, with everyone. Everyone who's been on the show was on the group text.
So there was no question for you, but if there had been some major character changes would you have not done it?
Well there have been major character changes, but to my character? I'm not sure how much sense it would've made to bring me back as a completely different human being, but they certainly bring me back under very different circumstances. I don't know what it would've taken for me to say no, but it would've taken something pretty extreme.
How much time passed between the commercial airing and the call from Tim?
That's a good question; I think it was like a month.
So he was not on that group text?
He was not - it was actors only. [Laughs] It was pretty funny. Everyone was weighing in from far-flung corners of the earth. I think Hayden may have been in Berlin at the time, I'm not sure though. You never know where she is.
So Hayden was in on that group text?
Oh yes, and everyone was busy doing other things, literally, everybody was working. It wasn't like we were all sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring, people on location for doing whatever they were doing, but there were about 8 or 10 of us and everyone was busy. Also, no one had a clue it was happening.
Did you guys keep in touch a lot, of the cast?
Remarkably yes. I'm in touch with everyone. I see a lot of them all the time, that's what I meant when I said lightning struck twice with this group. Given, we also had 4 years to build, so who knows what this will be as it could be 13 episodes and long gone. But this cast is also very close.
You could have played really hard to get at that moment?
I could have.
So you didn't reach out to him?
No, I just figured whatever is happening, I'm going to find out about it eventually. It may have only been a couple of weeks before he texted me, and maybe a month until we actually talked. But it was awhile; I was in Ohio doing a movie and I remember having a long conversation with him on the phone.
How different is it being on set this time?
It's so weird because two things; One, we are in Toronto and not at Sunset and Gower Studios. That's a big difference, but the good news about that in this case is that lightning really struck twice in that they are both really unbelievable groups of people. This new group is every bit as wonderful as the original group was. Being in Toronto, out of town, we have to really rely on each other, otherwise we're walking the streets alone. We have each other and we've all really hung together. We go out to dinner a lot and go to karaoke and all that stuff, we're really having a good time.
How fast-paced is this? As they said, they are really churning them out.
We are churning them out, but this is a very complicated show. There are some shows that shoot in seven or eight days, while we are shooting in a lot more than that. We will shoot for eight or nine days then go to second unit while the first unit starts the new episode. So a new episode starts every eight or nine days, but the previous episode is still being worked on. Also we are shooting them in blocks of two, so often you are working on two or three shows at a time.
It does get a little complicated, but we are shooting it like a movie. One of the reasons there isn't a pilot episode is because we didn't shoot it like a pilot. This whole thing has been storyboarded like one big movie. There were sets, for instance, in this first episode that we won't even build until July because we knew that would all be shot at one time. So, scenes from episode seven or eight, we shot the same time as scenes from episode one. So the first episode was literally just finished recently.
So we are going to have to take your word for it that is awesome?
You can't even take my word because I haven't seen anything [laughs]. I can't see the forest for the trees, I can only tell you what I hear from the directors, producers, editors and network and they are all very excited. Greg Beeman, who directed episodes two and three, he's a salty old veteran and not one given to hyperbole or overly rosy scenarios. When he finished directing, and before he left, he said, "I don't know what the other episodes look like but mine are good."
How often are you approached by fans wanting to talk about 'Heroes'?
Every day. What's interesting is that is I was put on a holding contract since last June. So it doesn't shock me that we are back, it's just shocking that it happened when it happened. It's like you're thinking, ''maybe this could happen.'' You look the other way and stop thinking about it, and it comes out of the blue. Everywhere I go, people are always interested in "Heroes." It's all over the world, it's one of those shows that really translates everywhere. It's a multiracial, multinational cast so we will be all over the world, just like the original 'Heroes'.
Since the show went off the air there's been an invasion of superhero shows. You feel like you set the stage for that, and how does the show fit in the current landscape?
I think it fits in the current landscape that has its own individual, character-driven show about people with special abilities. It was never Superman, never Batman; it's about the powers and the people. It's entertainment, so the powers are certainly important then, but they are not the be-all end-all. It really is about the people and their relationships, their aspirations and fears. Ryan plays a decorated Afghan vet who doesn't feel worthy of his accolades, so it's about people wrestling with all sorts of real issues. He put a little helping of science fiction on top of that, and in the great tradition of science fiction, you can tell all these other stories while telling a story about people who have abilities.
Who would have thought a pair of glasses would be so valuable to your character?
You know, after "The Upfronts's" Charlie Robinson came up to me and said, "I didn't realize until today that your entire show was about your glasses?"
Did you keep them after the show finished?
I did keep a pair. And it was a good thing because I have to wear them in the Super Bowl promo because production didn't have them. Well they couldn't find them; they've since come up with a whole new batch, some of which are actually prescription, which is great because I am blind. So I did keep a pair and I wore them in the Super Bowl promo. When they called asking, "Do you have a pair..."
They were just happy to hear me say yes.
Can you talk about putting them back on for the first time?
I haven't put them on since the show ended and they just sat on the shelf in my living room, so putting them back on for the first time was for that promo. It really felt like dress up, like Halloween, it was like, "Oh this is weird." In the promo I didn't know exactly what was happening, and you can see it definitely ties into the show, but I didn't know exactly how yet. It was definitely a "try them on and see how they fit" thing. Even the first time when we started shooting it, took like an hour before I felt I was back in my skin again.
Will we find out how the other members of the Bennett family react to Claire's death?
I'm not sure, probably not right away. It could come to that. I will tell you that Claire figures very prominently throughout the show. Whatever form she takes, she is not forgotten - ever.
How much would you like to see this go on for another 4 years?
I'd love to see it go on. But I also understand if it doesn't, and I won't be gutted if it doesn't because to be able to put the glasses back on and revisit it... He's certainly the coolest character I've played on television I am just thrilled to get the opportunity to go back.
You are also appearing on 'Castle', so what can you tease about Bracken's return?
Here's where you get into trouble, [laughs] when you haven't been given the talking points. I know he's a link to a deep, dark story that's about to be unveiled. He's also not in a great place when we revisit Sen. Bracken; he's a long way from the smug guy in a nice suit and coat.
Always involving Beckett because that's the mythology and story, I've had such a great time working with Stana [Katic], she's a doll and Nathan [Fillion] is great. They whole case and crew but Bracken and Beckett are intrinsically linked.
And you and Stana first worked together on 'Heroes'?
Yes we did, we both got killed at the same time in what was, I think, five years gone in the first season, at the hand Matt Parkman when he was the director of Homeland Security and the world was a very, very, dark place. Which is actually not that far off from where we pick up 'Heroes' now. It's not that same reality, but it's not a dissimilar kind of environment.
(Reporting By Steve Gidlow)