Interview with 'Heroes Reborn' creator Tim Kring: On casting, X-Men comparisons, and more

Also set 5 years following the conclusion of the first Heroes series,‘Heroes Reborn introduces new cast members with different sets of powers while a few familiar faces such as Hiro Nakamura, Matt Parkman, and Mohinder Suresh also return to the series.

One episode has already come out, and so far this is what we know: the relationship of evos to the rest of the human world was tainted following an attack in Odessa, Texas, which takes place one year before the starting events of Heroes Reborn.

What’s coming will change everything. #HeroesReborn A photo posted by Heroes Reborn (@nbcheroesreborn) on Sep 14, 2015 at 11:12am PDT

 

Obviously, the lives of evos changed after that, with the government clamping down on them while some mercenaries hunt them down.

Rappler was able to ask Tim Kring about more on Heroes Reborn via email. 

Rappler: As the creator, what do you feel were the major differences between producing the first Heroes series versus this one?

Kring: Both required a very robust writers room and a great deal of preplanning.  Although the original series had a pilot that was written and produced before the writers room was hired,  Heroes Reborn, however, was direct to series, with 13 episodes to tell our story, and that’s it. 

So, in many ways that is the real big difference. We are able to write and produce for a contained number of episodes, which allows us to do a very “aggressive” form of storytelling – meaning lots of story crammed into each episode with tons of twists and turns. 

Without an open road in front of us, the 13 episode order allows us to avoid what I would call the “art of the stall” that plagues most stories that have to spread out to an indeterminate number of episodes. 

We have the luxury of making a contract with our audience that they are guaranteed to see a beginning, a middle and an end to this story within the 13 episodes.

 

Rappler: Was making Reborn more exciting because of the time jump and because it’s more of an origin story?

Kring: It was very exciting to craft a story that takes place exactly the same amount of time that has transpired since the audience last saw Heroes

In the last scene, or our last episode of the original series, Claire Bennet (the Cheerleader) basically “outs” her powers to the entire world by jumping off the top of a giant Ferris wheel in front of news cameras. 

So the world has now had 5 years to live with the reality of people with powers. In this new world, it hasn’t gone well for the “evos.” The way we approached this time gap was to say that, rather than this being a “5th” season of the show, it’s really more like season 10 of the original series, with 5 seasons missing. 

So this intervening 5 seasons is filled with mystery that is unpacked in many ways during the 13 episodes of Heroes Reborn. 

Listen to Tim talk more about the timeline here:

 

Rappler: How did you decide on which characters to bring back?

Kring: I wanted to start with Noah Bennet - aka H.R.G - (Jack Coleman) as a kind of bridge character between the original series and Heroes Reborn. 

Discover the fate of the universe with @nbcheroesreborn. Epic adventures are coming Thursdays this Fall on @nbctv. #HeroesReborn A photo posted by Heroes Reborn (@nbcheroesreborn) on May 10, 2015 at 10:17am PDT

 

By making it his story that delves into the past events, it allows new viewers a way to discover much of the deep mythology of the show without feeling like they needed to have watched every episode of the original show.

Rappler: Speaking of flashback scenes, will there be a lot of them in this season to explain the happenings during the five-year gap in between Heroes and Heroes Reborn?

Kring: I can’t really spoil that, but suffice it to say we have devised a way for us to see and experience some of that backstory.  

 

Rappler: Since the evos are being hunted in Heroes Reborn, is the show going to have similarities to how Mutants are hunted down in the X-Men movies?

Kring: In the original series, we were indeed able to avoid the comparison because our heroes’ powers were not known by the greater public. However, now that they are known by everyone, there is an almost obligatory aspect to this premise that is difficult to avoid. 

If you start with the premise that people with powers live among us, then you are really left with two choices, they are either revered as celebrities, or they are discriminated again, or exploited or hunted. 

The latter has built-in drama and allows our protagonists to be underdogs, and that became our only real choice. So, we really can’t avoid people making the comparisons. I have always felt that whenever you venture into the superhero genre you run smack into these large, beloved story worlds, with characters who have similar powers.  It is just unavoidable. 

Someone having super strength or being able to fly just gets you into territory that has been well traveled. Justified or not, we always felt that it was similar to a western having a gunslinger, or a detective having an angry Captain trying to rein him in.  There are tropes that work for a reason. 

On casting

Now it's a party. #HeroesReborn #SDCC A photo posted by Heroes Reborn (@nbcheroesreborn) on Jul 11, 2015 at 3:21pm PDT

 

Moving on to the the cast, the hiring of Zach Levi as (spoiler alert) an antagonist in Luke was surprising, considering the actor’s past good-guy characters – particularly playing the lead role in Chuck.

Casting for other new characters of the series also seem to be well-selected based on the first episode, while Dylan Bruce (Arrow, Orphan Black) is also expected to have a recurring role.

Rappler: Can you tell us more about the casting of Zach Levi as Luke? 

Avenge what you lost. #HeroesReborn A video posted by Heroes Reborn (@nbcheroesreborn) on Jul 8, 2015 at 6:01pm PDT

 

Kring: Zach and I spoke very early on about what he wanted to play. It was before we started a writer’s room, so he was involved in the earliest discussions about the character. 

Zach was very interested in playing a character very different from his character, Chuck from his previous series.  He wanted to play someone complicated and dark and flawed. So the character of Luke was hatched from those early conversations.

 

Rappler: How did you know you found the right actor and actress to play Tommy (Robbie A. Kay, Once Upon a Time) and Emily? (Gatlin Green, Criminal Minds)

Kring: Both were found in the usual casting process.  They came in to read for these parts along with many other actors.  The casting process usually narrows down to a handful of choices, then the producers, the studio and the network make the final decisions.  You always hope that you get it right, and in this case I believe we did.

Rappler: Can you tell us more about the role that Dylan Bruce will play, seeing as it’s still a bit of a mystery?

Kring: Dylan plays a dirty cop who has made a bit of a side business out of finding evos and turning them in for money. So he’s a bad guy.  

More in store?

Does Kring already have plans for the series past the original plan? Right now, they're most focused on the upcoming 13 episodes.

Rappler: What are the chances this season goes beyond 13 episodes? 

Kring: There is no version of this particular story going any further. We have promised that Heroes Reborn will be 13 episodes long, with a beginning, middle and hopefully satisfying end. 

That said, the Heroes universe is a deep one. We have created dozens and dozens of character between the two series. So our feeling is that it is an elastic enough brand to create an entire new story with many new characters. 

So, in success we feel we can continue to push the Heroes brand in new directions.

The latest episodes of Heroes Reborn are televised every Friday on Jack TV via satellite at 11 am, an afternoon telecast at 2:30 pm, and a primetime telecast at 8pm– Rappler.com