As part of the promotional tour for the third season of Heroes – which is on DVD and Blu-ray now – we managed to snatch ten minutes with one of the stars of the show: it’s Mr Greg Grunberg.
[Note that this interview took place before Bryan Fuller left Heroes again.]
Starting with Heroes season three: do you have any particular favourite moment or highlight?
You know, season three for me has been incredible, because my character’s become incredibly more important to the show, which is great for me. Season one, I kept hearing from people – and it’s a nice thing to hear – when are they going to develop your character more? When are you going to have more to do with the law of the show and the whole story and everything? Now, at the end of the season, to have everybody kind of saying Angela Petrelli, we have to find Parkman, and Hiro and Ando going we have to find Parkman. It’s great. And then the fact that my character took down our biggest villain was just so cool, and it shows how powerful mind reading and mind control can be on the show.
One of my favourite parts though I have to say is how they played out the end of Daphne’s character, and being able to take her in her mind and fulfil her fantasy and take her to Paris. It was so sweet, so wonderfully done, I loved it.
For your character in particular, you seem to have been crossing over more characters and plotlines than anyone else. Presumably that has challenges as well as rewards?
It does. The only drawback I see is just scheduling. For me suddenly I’m working like crazy. I’m like what happened to four days out of the eight?! But I love working with everybody on the show. Like when I got to work with Adrian [Pasdar, Nathan Petrelli]. I loved that. The two of us together I thought was great. And then also HRG [Noah Bennet], and also Milo and I when we worked together was great. And Hiro! I think the key to the show is me! [laughs]
No, I’m just lucky to be on this thing and I love the direction that they’re taking my character.
It’s taking you out of your comfort zone, though, being paired up with lots of other people?
It doesn’t take me out of my comfort zone so much, but it does keep me on my toes. We have a really great cast and it’s exciting to work with each one of them, and they’re all so different. What’s interesting when you work with them is it raises you to a new level. Hayden [Panettiere] is unbelievable. She’s UNBELIEVABLE! So when I work with her it’s like okay, here we go, it’s like working with Ron Rifkin or Victor Garber on Alias. These guys, they bring their A game. She and I goof off more than anybody else together. I’ve never had more fun working with anyone else. And yet when it’s time to say action, we both just bring it. I love everyone on the show!
What are your views on the nature of good and evil as depicted in Heroes, given that so many of the characters change allegiances as the story unfolds? It’s not as consistent a narrative as you get on other shows?
That’s very true. I mean especially like mine, I do get to work with so many of the other characters, and there are times when I’m like wait a minute, this guy – Peter Petrelli – he’s sent me out to the desert with one touch of my shoulder and now I’m paired up with him!
So there were moments when we were shooting – and there a lot of characters to keep track of and interactions to keep track of – one of the things that was interesting was when I first see Peter in the episodes after I’ve been sent off to the desert by him, we have this kind of meeting in the hallway at the hospital. And both Milo and I said last time we saw each other we were just absolutely at each other’s throats!
So Milo said we gotta do something about that. It was supposed to just be the two of us walking up there saying your mom’s in there, she’s not doing well. And instead Milo just grabs me and slams me up against the wall. And it made for a better scene, it drove the scene. And it’s nothing to do with the writers, it’s just hard to keep track of it. It’s one of the things that the actors have to do. Just remember where they were last with these characters. And it gets confusing.
My sort of changing of allegiances has been more consistent than other characters. I do it out of necessity. I have one goal, and that is to protect my family, and I’ll do anything to do that. And that’s why I’m excited about season four, because now I’ve got the family that I’ve always dreamed about, as contentious a relationship as that is. My wife cheated on me, but she came back and looking hot. So you know what? I forgive her!
But it’s one of those things where when pushed and shoved into a corner I’d do anything it takes to protect them.
You mentioned season four, and there was a lot of publicity about Bryan Fuller’s return to the show. From your perspective, what kind of impact does that have when someone like Bryan comes back?
To be able to get Bryan Fuller back is a huge plus for us. I hated to see Pushing Daisies go, I was a big fan of that show. But at the same time, Bryan writes to character. He brings a real humanity to the show that I don’t think we’re necessarily missing, but he was a big part of the success of season one and really showing relatable characters in real situations.
The impetus of the show for Tim Kring, and he admits to this, was seeing The Incredibles. When he saw The Incredibles and saw those characters just trying to live normal lives. But because of their powers being pulled back in, that is something that we kind of lost in season two in that everybody had their chest puffed out, and all these superheroes fighting superheroes, and it wasn’t as relatable. Having Bryan back and also just the nature of where the story has come to is a great thing.
On Lost: do you have any regrets about not surviving the opening two parter?!
There’s always regrets throughout your career as an actor! Not that I regretted it, but JJ when they started Lost, he’s a really good friend of mine, and he said hey I’m doing a show, it’s called Lost, read the pilot. I read it and was like this is unbelievable. And he said pick your role. Who do you want to play? And I didn’t want to move my family to Hawaii because Hawaii is so terrible! [laughs] What kind of a decision was that?!
No, my kids, we have three boys and they have their friends, so we didn’t want to move. And I knew how successful the show would be. I can’t imagine anybody playing the roles on that show other than the actors who have, they’ve just done such a great job. But it’s one of those things where I always regret not working with JJ. He’s my best friend first and the greatest guy, and he’s a creative genius. So any opportunity I get I say yes without checking my schedule!
It’s a matter of scheduling, though. We’ll up working together on something long term again I’m sure.
You’re a very keen Twitterer and you’re very close to your fanbase as a result of that. We saw earlier this year how one Twitter update can spark news stories across the globe. Are you conscious of that?
Yeah. I love Twitter. Twitter for me is twofold. I can use it to get out important information about charity stuff and where I’m going to be, and I can get feedback from the audience which I love. An episode airs, I get an immediate reaction. And granted, these are people that want to follow me, or are fans of the show. But I hear stuff like I don’t particularly like the way this was handled or whatever, and it’s just interesting to get that feedback, and there’s a level of being comfortable that fans – I hate calling them fans, I call them peeps! – feel able to send messages back and forth.
But there’s another side to Twitter that I love. I look at it like it’s an airport bar. There’s a bunch of salesmen at the airport, and I met these two guys and I started this company called Yowza in the States. I would never had met these guys – one’s in Canada, one’s in Indiana, and now we’re in LA and have a company together – if it wasn’t for Twitter. It’s just great to be able to make the world that much smaller.
Greg Grunberg, thank you very much!
With thanks to James Hunt, Janey Goulding, Daniel Bettridge and Holger Haase.