Much of the NBC sequel “Heroes Reborn” is shrouded in secrecy, but one of the few things we do know is that Jack Coleman’s Noah Bennet (aka the Man with the Horn-Rimmed Glasses or simply HRG to fans) is again at the center of it all.
Ahead of the 13-episode miniseries’ two-hour premiere on Sept. 24, Coleman spoke to Variety about returning to HRG, TV reboots and why now is a good time for another look at his much-beloved mid-2000’s TV series.
How did creator Tim Kring approach you about this project?
How it unfolded was a bunch of us were watching the Winter Olympics last year and all of a sudden there was an ad: “Heroes Reborn 2015.” All of a sudden, all of the actors were on this group chat instantly asking if anyone had heard about it. Nobody had. It was a very well-kept secret.
I didn’t know it existed and after awhile I got a call from Tim and he wanted me to come back. He said I think of you of the spine of this whole thing. The character of HRG had always been well-connected.
Where you always meant to be the focus of “Heroes Reborn” or did they go to someone else first?
I think I was one of the first, if not the first. Because I think he knew that this was always the character who was a good entree into these other worlds and these other characters and stories. That’s sort of how HRG functioned in the first go-around.
Did you have to refresh your memory of what happened in “Heroes”?
Not really, but there are moments along the way [where I had to remember what happened]. The stories are all new, but there definitely was some refreshing of some things that were long-gone from my memory.
It was a lot to take on, but the show is so reborn. It is so new. It is “Heroes.” No one’s going to look at it and I go I don’t recognize this show, this world. But with new sets of circumstances and new characters, it’s pretty cool how it’s been rethought.
What do you think about the fact that TV is doing so many reboots, sequels and prequels?
It seems like television is actually a little bit late to this game because they’ve been doing it on Broadway for 20 years now. Everything that’s old is new again.
Movie source material used to be plays or novels and then they became reboots of movies and then they became movies made from television shows or movies made from comics. The source material has been adjusting along the way.
Five years is really a good amount of time, in my opinion, because it’s long enough where the dust has settled, the air has cleared and everyone’s gotten some distance from it. But there’s still a really strong fan base. There always has been. I’m just amazed at how much buzz there is from the far-flung places of the world, for whom “Heroes” never really went away.
Where you surprised about who they brought back and who they didn’t?
I can tell you who’s been back because they’ve all been announced …
But I feel a tremendous responsibility to this part, to this show, to these fans. There is a weight to bringing back something as opposed to creating something new. This has to live up to something.
Someone asked if we thought this show was redemption. That’s kind of a strong word. This show is going to rise and fall on its own merits even though you can’t deny its connection to the old show.
Well, we have been told that Hayden Panettiere’s character Claire, who was your character’s adopted daughter, is dead.
Claire looms large over all these proceedings. [Her Hero ability of cell regeneration] factors in prominently. I’m not trying to be spoilery, but Claire Bennet is a very important part of this whole storytelling.
When “Heroes” premiered in 2006, the only other superhero show on broadcast was “Smallville.” Now these shows are everywhere. How will “Heroes Reborn” be able to stand out?
The thing I always liked and appreciated about “Heroes” was that it was a drama that had super abilities. I always thought that, when the show was at its best, it was a tale of two families: The Bennets and the Petrellis. I think the show does that well and that’s when it’s in its sweet spot. These powers are very much a part of the entertainment value of the show, but they’re also a metaphor for what it means to be different.
Do you avoid getting horn-rimmed glasses when you go to the optometrist?
Yeah. I can’t really wear horn-rimmed glasses out in the world. It’s kind of like wearing a giant cast jacket in a public place. Like please, somebody notice me.