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Old 11-10-2006, 12:05 PM   #1

by Daniel Robert Epstein

Venezuela-born actor Santiago Cabrera has been a rising television star for a number of years having appeared in both American and English television shows such as MI-5 and the miniseries Empire. But nothing could have prepared him for the role of the heroin addicted soothsayer/comic book artist Isaac Mendez in the NBC hit Heroes. In just a few episodes Isaac has become an integral part of the serialized drama because his paintings reveal what will bring all the main characters together to save New York City from a nuclear explosion.

Since Isaac’s paintings are rendered by comic book artist Tim Sale, Cabrera has spent a lot of time with the famed artist and has used his experiences to flesh out the character of Isaac.

Newsarama: Are you shooting this week?

Santiago Cabrera: Not this week, no.

NRAMA: Are they not shooting an episode or you’re just not in the episode?

SC: They are. I did my bit already. We’re on episode nine at the moment.

NRAMA: What can you tell about your character in episode nine?

SC: I can say very little, but there is a change in him wanting to do something about his addiction and wanting to do some good with the paintings. What we’ve seen until now is a very tortured relationship as a result of his ability to paint the future but not being able to control it and not knowing what’s happening. In a way, it is out of his hands. So we do see more of a want there to maybe make a difference and change.

NRAMA: By episode nine, has he met more of the other main characters?

SC: Yeah, that’s something that’s very interesting about this character. The fact that his paintings predict future events and that there’s clues in the paintings itself is a nucleus. It’s something that will bring characters together. There is that prophetic quality he’s able to put into a canvass. It’s like he has this vision of this Polaroid picture of what’s going to happen but he doesn’t know what’s going to happen beforehand or how it’s going to get to that or what the consequences would be after that. But that actual image is something very crucial that will bring characters together in the story because people will find these paintings and the paintings will have a lot of clues on where to go.

NRAMA: Are the paintings and the comics still done by Tim Sale?

SC: Yeah. He’s always there. We keep in touch a lot. He sends me email. Sometimes I ask him to send me the drawings beforehand. I met him very early on. I did the pilot and I asked to meet him and he was very nice. He has a studio in his home and he showed me around his studio and the way he works and how he approaches his projects. We’ve kept in touch and figured out the style of this character with where he’s coming from and what his style specifically is. It’s been a lot of fun to be able to have a relationship with the actual painter.

NRAMA: Do you feel interacting with Tim Sale gives you more insight into Isaac?

SC: It does. It’s been great. I’ll suggest bringing out details when it comes to having to paint and things like what brushes to use. Also as the series goes on, the more solid I am with things then the more things I’ll be able to bring to the table. But also it’s been great to define what Isaac’s style is. Tim has been very open to my suggestions. It’s amazing how he took it on because I see Isaac as a very tortured guy. He’s coming from very dark places that he’s creating. I had that image of Goya when he was in his dark paintings period. I mentioned that to Tim and he loved that period. He actually got himself a copy of one of Goya’s paintings and started to bring that into the character, so that’s been great. He started to bring that into the painting and it was such an immediate thing. I think he had it already started to do that already with his comic book background. But then he played around with them even more.

NRAMA: What was your audition for Heroes like?

SC: I pursued Heroes because it was like nothing I have ever read before. I had read a few pilots and this one just stood out to me. I rang my manager and said I really want to go up for this. They saw me eventually and it was in a room, everyone was there. [Heroes creator] Tim [Kring], the director, producers. I remember it was a pretty intense scene from the pilot where he’s getting back on heroin. When I read it, I was really in the zone there and I just really went for it and there was a silence in the room afterwards and they were like, “Well thank you very much for that. Maybe you would try it now not so on the effects of drugs.” I just lost myself and really went for it. So then I did a different version. I got a feeling it went well because they spent a lot of time with me. That’s always a good sign. We did a few different versions and afterwards we talked about the character so I could see they were already interested in me. Then they called me back for the network test and then I got the part so it was very exciting.

NRAMA: What made you pursue Heroes so much?

SC: I thought it was very universal. I’ve lived in different places. I’m from South America but I grew up in Europe mostly and I imagine that people from all over the world would like it. Also there were a lot of characters so different people would have their favorites and identify with each one in the story. I really liked that there were a few drawings already in the script, which you don’t normally see, like in the chapter pages and the introduction. They were simple drawings but it just gave it a feel and an atmosphere in a gritty adventurous way which really stood out for me.

NRAMA: Do you know people who have gone through what Isaac’s going through with the drugs?

SC: I went to a lot of rehab clinics and talked to a lot of heroin addicts which was very helpful. It’s very interesting to see everything from the case worker to some actual patients. They were telling me they get a lot of artists like musicians and writers that go through the same thing as Isaac without the premonitions of course. There’s something about Isaac that stems from insecurity. He’s a hypersensitive guy even though he feels disgusted and dangerous; he still has an affinity to be an artist. The drugs are maybe a way to deal with the outside world and with his ability. A lot of artists that are patients are people that are doing well, they’re creating great music and great writing but they think that they can only do it when they’re on drugs. They really don’t believe or they’re too scared to try it own their own. Eventually when they kick the habit, they all say that their work is even better. It will be very interesting to see what Isaac will paint when he’s off the drug. That’s definitely something that I think is in the works. We don’t know much about what’s going on too much because they don’t really give us much, but it’s definitely an interesting territory to get into with the character.

NRAMA: What’s everyone feeling now that the show is a hit?

SC: Everyone is very excited and the fact that the network already picked it up for more episodes is gratifying. It’s very motivating to be in a show that the network is pushing. From the beginning the network was behind it, promoting it and getting it out there to the people. But I’m not surprised because I just thought it was so unique but then you never know. Though deep down I really had a good feeling about it because I really thought it was something very different from the other shows that they’re putting out there. It’s so advanced from anything else in the world, especially American television, and the more you watch it, the more you realize why.

NRAMA: Are people more relaxed now?

SC: Yeah, they are. There’s a happy vibe. Yesterday we went to a TV Guide photo shoot and everyone was there. It’s a good feeling. People really feel good about what they’re doing and they feel like they’re involved in something special.

NRAMA: Does working with Tim Sale and [Heroes writer/producer] Jeff Loeb, make you want to check out their comic books?

SC: Yeah and I have. After I met Tim, he gave me a few of his comics. Since I’m playing a guy who actually does comics himself I’ve been reading more comic books and trying to get more into it. Comics are much grittier than I thought.

NRAMA: What comics did Tim give you?

SC: He gave me a few issues of his and Jeph’s Daredevil: Yellow. He gave me a collection of different kinds of drawings which were things that weren’t necessarily out in the stands. He gave me a Batman as well. Daredevil is something I really love. I didn’t really know Daredevil before. I just find it fascinating so I’ve been buying my own lately.

NRAMA: You’re the first person I’ve spoken to that has said they’ve actually gone and gotten some comics because of the show.

SC: Yeah but I’ve got more of a reason in a way, playing a guy who actually does it himself. I’ve been copying a few drawings and stuff, so I’m having fun with that as well.

NRAMA: Are you in the rest of this season?

SC: Well you never know. Isaac is a very crucial character and what I loved about this part is that he’s still full of surprises. He’s someone that can go anywhere and you never know what direction he’s going to go. You can take him different places. There’s a lot of depth to him and a lot of layers to this part so I’m thinking yes, but there’s no guarantee for anybody.

NRAMA: That’s scary.

SC: It is scary but you just have to know that when it’s done, it’s for the best. Things are going fantastic now. You’ve just got to be positive and it’s all for the best of the show. But I think already it’s been a positive experience for everyone, so whatever happens to anyone, I think it’s going to be nothing but good for everyone involved in this project.

Heroes airs Mondays at 9 pm EST on NBC
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Old 11-10-2006, 12:12 PM   #2
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Old 11-10-2006, 12:15 PM   #3
Great Show

This show is great, it's actually made me give up wrestling on Monday (which is really saying something). Also, there was a really intense episode that Jeph Loeb wrote that gave me faith that he can write the Ultimates the way they are supposed to be written.
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Old 11-10-2006, 12:15 PM   #4
So many people DO...

Originally Posted by Bearpod91

...but I've yet to be totally "sold."

Seems that's there ALOT of great T.V. out there to choose from (we may be finally surfacing from the "Reality T.V." swamp we've been drowning in) these days.

But with my plate already heaping with
UGLY BETTY (which looks to have jumped-the-shark with Salma Hayek's intrusion)
and a great many others, I'm having a hard time keeping up with my TiVo.

Last edited by SeamusMcClernan : 11-10-2006 at 12:20 PM.
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Old 11-10-2006, 12:23 PM   #5
Is Jim Lee still supposed to be doing art for the online comic?..sorry I mean "graphic novel," I guess NBC thinks the term comic book is too childish to use on the website.
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Old 11-10-2006, 12:25 PM   #6
Save the cheerleader...

Save the world
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Old 11-10-2006, 12:25 PM   #7
I think it's great that he's enjoying comics and noticing that there can be depth in them.
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Old 11-10-2006, 12:28 PM   #8
Wow, he's got a really great attitude.
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Old 11-10-2006, 12:31 PM   #9
I've heard a lot about this show, but haven't watched it yet. I'll have to start watching...
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Old 11-10-2006, 12:40 PM   #10
Looking forward to finding out more about this character.



THE MIGHTY ISIS #1 and #2 for sale on EBAY! VINTAGE 70's comic book. OUT OF PRINT. RARE.
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Old 11-10-2006, 12:46 PM   #11
I tried watching this show because of all the hype and I thought it was really cheap and stupid, and it just stunk of "oh, I REALLY want to be the new 'Lost',"

Which is sad, because Lost is pretty lousy and pointless, too.
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Old 11-10-2006, 12:53 PM   #12
"NRAMA: You?re the first person I?ve spoken to that has said they?ve actually gone and gotten some comics because of the show."

Priceless. Let's hope, like Cabrera, fans of the show check out a comic and find it different to the "for kids stereotype". I think Heroes is probably the best chance comic stores have of getting new readers- stores should have "if you like heroes-check these titles out" in shop windows with some quality hero titles in there eg Daredevil (or any brubaker titles). If this show, along with all the films we've had, cant bring newbies in i think we just have to admit that superheroes have evolved past the comics medium and now enjoy success on the small/big screen.
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Old 11-10-2006, 12:58 PM   #13
Charlie Hustle
this show is great, i wish comic companiess would advertise during the show the way marvel is advertising using newspapers...
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Old 11-10-2006, 01:05 PM   #14
Big fan of the show. I'm was skeptical about people using powers, like flight or whatnot, in a TV show because it definitely had the possiblity for being lame. But the way they do it is pretty damn good. So far they haven't been over the top with the powers, and i think that's a good thing. I am, however, looking forward to a good ol' fashioned brawl...with super powers.

Last edited by durkadurka : 11-10-2006 at 01:07 PM.
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Old 11-10-2006, 01:06 PM   #15
I was 5 episodes behind and never thought I would catch up, just couldnt really get into it, then one night I started watching and the next thing I knew I was all caught up within 2 days

This show is soooooooooooo good, to hell with the naysayers. ( I also LOVE Lost), but seriously this and Studio 60 are by far the best 2 new shows to come out this year.

I can't wait for Ep 9 - Homecoming, they better save the cheerleader (she's gotta fight the Radioactive man!!!)
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Old 11-10-2006, 01:07 PM   #16
Paul Sizer
I've tried following this show and all I get is "Eh, I've read and seen ideas like these done better and with more complexity (which is different from being complicated)" which I realize is easy to say given the format of a network TV show, but still... It may be that I don't watch much network TV, and have lost what's left of my tolerance for commerical interruptions, but the show moves at a glacial pace for me.

There's great little "fanboy" moments, but they are few and far between, and I find myself saying "c'mon, let's wrap this up and get to some more plot and character advancement". I loved how much Joss Whedon could shoehorn into an episode of FIREFLY (which is also the yardstick I'm holding HEROES up to) and I never felt like I was being jerked along or held at arms length. I'd almost rather have the show give me a "keep up, slowpoke!" approach and force me to move at it's pace.

I also find it strange that a show so obviously inspired by comic book storytelling doesn't take advantage of what makes good comics move fast and efficiently as storytelling devices. I'm all for spending time getting to know characters, and getting the foundation of the story laid. Just not my cup of tea, I guess, which is weird because it should be.
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Old 11-10-2006, 01:13 PM   #17
I dig Heroes, but I have a feeling it's going to be one of those shows that's great the first season, decent the second and awful the third. I hope not, though.
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Old 11-10-2006, 01:54 PM   #18
This is the show that I've been waiting all my life... It's great and the best TV Show out there...
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Old 11-10-2006, 02:01 PM   #19
I like the show and all, but the writing is erratic. One episode it'll be great, the next it's lousy. I think that's the fault of having what seems like a different writer on EACH EPISODE! Can you imagine how quickly a comic book would fail if you did that?

Anyway, it's funny to me, because the whole show is basically a rehash of a bunch of 'been there done that' comic book stories that have been told a thousand times, and yet... to an audience that's probably never picked up an issue of X-Men, it's all fresh and new.

Not talking smack. I watch the show religiously, and will continue to do so until there are 3 episodes in a row with bad writing. lol.

Save the Cheerleader. She's cute.
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Old 11-10-2006, 02:02 PM   #20
Originally Posted by Redeem
This is the show that I've been waiting all my life... It's great and the best TV Show out there...

Dude, Battlestar is the best TV show out there. Come on.
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Old 11-10-2006, 02:12 PM   #21
Best show on TV right now. Thank you, Santiago Cabrera, for speaking with us!
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Old 11-10-2006, 02:22 PM   #22
Originally Posted by CodeGuy
Wow, he's got a really great attitude.

Agreed. Contagiously positive.
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Old 11-10-2006, 02:24 PM   #23
Originally Posted by michaelman9
I think it's great that he's enjoying comics and noticing that there can be depth in them.

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Old 11-10-2006, 02:30 PM   #24

Originally Posted by AbacusComics
Dude, Battlestar is the best TV show out there. Come on.

Sledge Hammer would so kick their collective ass.

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Old 11-10-2006, 02:38 PM   #25
The show has some serious pacing issues for my taste and just doesn't seem to want to get off the ground. I've been waiting for the characters to become less like stick figures and make me care about them for a long time now (or at least what seems like a long time) and I think I'm going to be kept waiting for a while. It also has an air of taking itself way too seriously and oftentimes repeats itself (a pitfall of the medium to be sure but one can argue that it's an unavoidable one) in terms of reminding us that, Duh, the cheerleader can heal herself (its almost as if every ep must have her being impaled, sliced, chopped up, etc.) or that, Well gosh, Isaac is a druggie that sees the future but can't tell anyone else more than that (everyone seems to have to ask him to tell them more but not realizing that he seriously doesn't know what more he can tell them).

I remain on the fence but feel like sometime soon I might jump off and try to catch up on other shows like 'The Nine" or "Dexter." My complaints about the show aren't limitted to the above but for the sake of not boring everyone to death the above are the first that came to mind.
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