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 Home > Television > Heroes
TV Q&A: HEROES - JACK COLEMAN
The actor clues us in on upcoming episodes and why horn-rimmed glasses are all the rage

By Mel Caylo

Posted January 13, 2007  2:50 PM

After 11 episodes, “Heroes” is just getting started.

The NBC show about ordinary people who suddenly gain superhuman abilities is a phenomenal success, but according to the program’s cast and writers, there’s a lot more in store when the winter season starts up on Monday, Jan. 22 at 9 p.m. And with a showdown against the new season of Fox’s “24” looming, they know to bring their A-game!

In early December, Wizard visited the program’s Hollywood set and interviewed several of the show’s cast members and writers, including creator Tim Kring. Starting today, we will be posting one of these interviews every day, followed by a set visit story, to get you pumped up for the show’s Jan. 22 return.

Our first interview is with veteran actor Jack Coleman, who plays Mr. Bennet, a character who has been nicknamed Horn-Rimmed Glasses, or HRG, because of the obvious accessory he wears. His character is one of the new non-superpowered characters on the show, and while he has been portrayed as a shady official with an agenda, he’s also been portrayed as a loving father who is fiercely protective of his adopted daughter, Claire (Hayden Panettiere).

We sat down with him in a booth on the set of the Burnt Toast Diner, the Texas eatery in the show where Hiro (Masi Oka) befriends waitress Charlie (Jayma Mays). Coleman did not have his trademark glasses on, but was wearing a nice, crisp three-piece suit while waiting to film his scene that day.

WIZARD: I’ve always wondered: We know you as HRG, but does your character, Mr. Bennet, have a first name?

COLEMAN: Mr. Bennet does not have a first name that’s been identified yet. That’s kind of an ongoing joke, I think.

So it’s purposeful?

COLEMAN: Yeah. I’m hoping maybe it’ll be Anthony so that I’ll be “Tony Bennet.” [Chuckles]

His wife doesn’t even call him by his first name. I just realized that.

COLEMAN: No. There is actually a very funny scene where at one point she says to someone, “It’s so funny that you all call him Mr. Bennet, because I’ve always just known him as…” and then she starts yelling at Mr. Muggles. The audience is like, “Ooh!” So it’s not going to be revealed, or not for a while, anyway.

It’s only been two short months and “Heroes” has become such a phenomenon. How has that been for you so far?

COLEMAN: It’s great. It’s lightning in a bottle. I mean, I’ve been around this town a long time. I’ve been in this business a long time. I know how hard it is. For an actor it’s really hard just to get a pilot. It’s very rare and hard for a pilot to get picked up and that you stay with and aren’t fired or replaced, then the show becomes a hit. I mean, there are so many improbable, against-the-odds events that have to happen.

And especially with you, because HRG was initially just a recurring character, correct?

COLEMAN: Exactly, yeah. It was a one-page audition that was a small part, but even in its original incarnation it was still a very interesting character, and then when he’s revealed to be Claire’s father it was great. So there were like three scenes that he was in on the pilot and they were all pretty small and shadowy, but it was setting up this sort of mysterious figure, and then when he turns out to be Claire’s father you think, “Okay, there’s got to be some kind of life here.” But for it to go from what it was originally to what it is now for me is really unbelievable, and I’m incredibly thankful.

It’s funny that you mention shadowy, because in episode 11, the midseason cliffhanger, it’s alluded to that HRG answers to a higher authority, a shadowy person or organization, if you will. There are a lot of theories on the Web. I know you probably don’t know what it is and even if you did you probably couldn’t tell me about it, but do you have any personal theories?

COLEMAN: No. It’s funny, because sometimes I go online and I read some of these things and I go, “Oh, that’s an interesting one.” They really do know about as much as I do. I mean, I’m obviously a few episodes ahead of them. I can tell you that a few episodes ahead, it’s certainly not been revealed yet who I am answering to, but you see more and more of me answering to someone and usually not getting my way. So it’s going to be interesting, and my guess is that it’s not going to be a quick reveal because the show is, after all, a mystery. Although people are always dying to know if you’re good or bad, if it’s this or that, who is it—ultimately when all questions are answered, what do you have left? It’s a never-ending series of questions, of which some get answered and the new ones arrive, but at the heart of a mystery you have to have a mystery.

Right. Like you said, is HRG a good guy or a bad guy?

COLEMAN: Right, and I kind of hope that’s never answered.

Really?

COLEMAN: Yeah, or never definitively answered, because then who is he except some guy on one side or the other? I love the fact that he could be playing any side at any time. That just makes it more fun to play. I think that it makes it more fun to watch even though people feel like, “I need to know!” You don’t need to know really, in a way, and it’s kind of cool to see that like any human being, you can be good and bad. I think that’s also kind of more fun anyway.
 

 
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