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CNN Larry King Live

Interview With The Cast of "Heroes"

Aired April 27, 2007 - 21:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our potential has no limit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As far as you know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The future is filled with promise; the present ripe with expectation.


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, secrets of TV's highest rated new series, "Heroes," the story of ordinary people with extraordinary powers equals an overnight sensation.

Who'll live? Who'll die? Who'll save the world and who will spill the beans about what's going to happen next?

We'll meet the amazing cast of "Heroes" and get the inside scoop on this international phenomenon, next on LARRY KING LIVE.

There has been an extraordinary success story in American network television this year. The show is "Heroes." It's on NBC. And it has taken off.

They've just come off a hiatus. They ran one show Monday night. There'll be another one coming up next Monday. This show airs this Friday, on this Friday night, as we air it. And we are here to salute this cast and to meet them all.

We'll meet them all in the first segment and then break it down by threes and fours in the segments ahead.

And we start with Hayden Panettiere. She plays Claire Bennet, an indescribable high school cheerleader.

When you saw the script in which this weird show was presented, what did you think?

HAYDEN PANETTIERE, PLAYS "CLAIRE BENNET": I thought it was incredible. I thought it was -- it was fantastic. I think my main concern was how are they going to continue this for as long as we have for potential seasons. And they've done it brilliantly. It was one of a kind.

KING: Jack Coleman plays Mr. Bennet, also known as HRG, or Horned Rim Glasses, who kidnaps people with superhuman ability. All right, when you read the script, did you say come on?

JACK COLEMAN, PLAYS "MR. BENNET": No. No. You don't judge scripts that way.

Does -- does it work?

And this script really worked. And it was very character driven as well as plot driven. There's so many amazing characters and amazing stories. So...

KING: Did you think it would click?

COLEMAN: I knew it would click. I knew...

KING: Knew...

COLEMAN: I didn't know it was going to be a hit. I knew it was going to get picked up. That's all I knew. I knew for sure it would be picked up. It was just too -- it's too interesting. It was too good.

KING: Adrian Pasdar plays Nathan Petrelli, the U.S. congressional candidate, who, in addition to many talents, can fly.

All right, what did you think when you saw the -- when they presented this to you?

ADRIAN PASDAR, PLAYS "NATHAN PETRELLI": I was just, you know, I think, as thrilled as all of us were to -- to finally read a script where the characters were combined in terms of reality and fantasy. I think it's -- it combined the best of what television has to offer and it redefined the landscape of what commercial and successful television can be.

KING: You are not surprised at its success?

PASDAR: No. I think everybody knew from the beginning that if it was handled correctly, it would be successful, it was so well written and so well put together.

KING: Masi Oka plays Hiro Nakamura, a giddy Japanese comic book geek who develops a way to stop time. He stops time through sheer will.

All right, wasn't -- all of you are very comfortable in all of this.

Didn't you, Masi, express any question of anybody saying what is this?

MASI OKA, PLAYS "HIRO NAKAMURA": No, I think when we read it, I mean it was a brilliant world that Tim Kring created and all the characters were so rich and deep that, you know, it -- we were just excited. I wasn't sure if this was going to click with the mainstream. I knew we had the genre audiences. But, you know, this became a phenomenon and we're so grateful, you know, for the audience's support.

KING: And the genre is?

OKA: Kind of like sci-fi, mystery. But it is -- at it's core, it's a character drama.

KING: Is it also young?

OKA: And it's young and -- well, but it's young, old. It's becoming a poignant family viewing.



KING: I'll get right to you, man.

Greg Grunberg plays Matt Parkman, a down on his luck Los Angeles beat cop who can hear people's thoughts.

Now, people who may not know anything about "Heroes" and hearing this kind of thing, how does this all wend together?

GREG GRUNBERG, PLAYS "MATT PARKMAN": Well, we're just a bunch of ordinary people who wake up one day and we each have an ability developing. And it -- and the show starts right at the beginning, which is a good thing. But more than anything else, I think it's -- it's working because it's a character drama. It's about real people and you can identify with all these people.

Because when I first saw the script, I was like what? Are you kidding me?

KING: Ah-ha! Finally someone...


GRUNBERG: I really was. I mean it was like -- it's all these superhero shows in one. But it's working.

KING: Sendhil Ramamurthy plays Mohinder Suresh, an Indian genetics professor turned New York City cabby.

How did -- did you just read for this part?

Did you know they wanted an Indian cabby?

SENDHIL RAMAMURTHY, PLAYS "MOHINDER SURESH": I knew they wanted an Indian character, but when I read it, it was a 55-year-old man that was this character that was, as Tim had written it earlier, originally, was -- was who I am now, that character's father, who you've seen in flashbacks in a couple of episodes.

So I thought it was great. But I -- I just wished there was a part in it for me. I was kind of bummed when I read it. I was like why did you send this to me? KING: Are you a native of India?

RAMAMURTHY: What's that?

KING: Are you from India?

RAMAMURTHY: No, I mean I was born and raised here. But my family is from Bangor, South India.

KING: All right.

Our next talent in this extraordinary show is Santiago Cabrera, who plays Isaac Mendez, a gifted painter and junkie who can predict the future.


KING: You know, if you keep doing this, you're going to think we're nuts.

Who can predict the future through painting.

SANTIAGO CABRERA, PLAYS "ISAAC MENDEZ": Yes. I think he reflects very much what this show is about.

It's people with flaws, you know?

And I think it's real people that, you know, I loved his self- destructive nature.

But it just stood out to me in that way because not only was it special people, but they were everyday people that, you know, you can identify with, you know, that have these problems and...

KING: And were they -- are they out to save the world?

CABRERA: They are. They are. I think at first that...

KING: Because the episodes I've seen, they're going that way.

CABRERA: Yes, they're definitely going that way.

I think at first they're dealing with this new ability that they're discovering, and, you know, what's going on with me? Is this a curse or is this a good thing?

And then a lot of characters -- especially Isaac -- is one case that takes it on and kind of assumes it to do -- to do good with it.

KING: Would you call it a meaty part?

CABRERA: Yes, definitely. There are many layers to the character, so that's what attracted me to it.

KING: Ali Larter plays Niki Sanders, a single mother who works as a lasv stripper to make ends meet, a Web cam stripper and the mother of Micah Sanders. She has a powerful and evil alter-ego named Jessica.


KING: You're both, right?


KING: Which one do you like better?

LARTER: Niki. Niki. She's more of a vulnerable character. She kind of is very emotional, it goes with her heart. And Jessica, who is my alter-ego, she is like the bad girl. She's fierce. She's take no prisoners. And it's actually just great that I get to play both.

KING: Did you like this right away?

LARTER: I did, actually. I mean, when you talk about the powers, that wasn't something that struck me in the script. It was the fact that it was like, for me, a really complicated woman that I don't usually see on television. And I think that for most of the cast, these are such kind of complex characters, you know?

KING: Yes.

LARTER: So the powers were kind of secondary to me.

KING: So it may be called comic book, but certainly it's not written that way?

LARTER: Not at all. Not at all.

KING: Leonard Roberts plays D.L. Hawkins, a fugitive who has escaped from jail who has the power of passing through solid objects.



KING: Was that typecast, Leonard? When you read this, did you say this is me?

ROBERTS: I would love to have -- I wish I could have done that to get into the room.


ROBERTS: When I read it, whatever possible to make this happen I wanted to do. From page one, I just knew it was something very special and just wanted to be a part of it.

KING: Did you have to read for it?

ROBERTS: Yes, a few times, and with some very, very large physically imposing gentlemen. But I made my way through it and it's been great.

KING: Are you surprised at its success?

ROBERTS: No. I think I had always hoped, with everyone else, that the audience would catch onto it and connect with it, because it was all on the page. And I knew it was something special and it was just a matter of the audience coming on board and taking the ride with us. And they have.

KING: And now, the last member we will talk to, and then we're going to break it down into segments, Noah Gray-Cabey. Noah plays Micah Sanders, the son of Niki Sanders and D.L. Hawkins. He has the power to alter technology.

You're 11?


KING: How did you get this part?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where have you been?

GRAY-CABEY: Well, the same way Leonard did, with the physically imposing men.


GRAY-CABEY: But, yes, we just read through it and I -- I've got to say, I was one of the last people in the first audition, which was really nerve-wracking. And I almost didn't make the audition. But I quickly ran over to the lot that it was on and I was just...

KING: Have you been a working child actor?

GRAY-CABEY: I've done a couple of things. But I really enjoy this because it is so dramatic.

KING: We're going to meet them all, individually, in groups.

Does that sound right?

I think I said that.

Coming up, we'll pare down this heroic parade of stars and find out things you might not know about them. One of them is a world class musician. Then there's the cast member who has an I.Q. of 180.

That and more when we come back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we deny our instinct and struggle against our deepest urges...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you on the list?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... uncertainty begins.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My dad obviously doesn't work in a paper factory. I don't know what he does.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where does this path lead?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no idea how you're pulling this off, but I swear to god I'm not going to stop until I figure it out, you understand me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this transformation a gift or a curse?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't know anything about power.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can we ever really change what we are?




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The camera is ready for whatever.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, I'm ready. Keep the camera on me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you doing?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh my god. Oh my god. Claire!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is Claire Bennet and as far as you know, that was a dirt number one (ph).


KING: The show is "Heroes," an enormous success for NBC and for the people in it.

And in this segment, our guests are Hayden Panettiere, who plays Claire Bennet; Jack Coleman, who plays Mr. Bennet; and Adrian Pasdar, who plays Nathan Petrelli.

All right, you are all going to tell us something that people don't know about your character.

PANETTIERE: People don't know that my character...

KING: What don't they know about yours, Hayden?

PANETTIERE: That I look good as a brunette. In episode 20 we go five years in the future if we don't save New York. And I've had a little -- a little change physically. But my character has gone through a big shift over this -- this season. She's found her footing and grown into her own and learned not to be so naive and -- and developed into a young woman. So...

KING: Do you like her? PANETTIERE: I do like her. She's very likeable. She's learned to be -- to be tough and stand up for herself. But she still has that sweet, naivete about a young teenager.

KING: Jack Coleman plays Mr. Bennet, also known as HRG or Horned Rim Glasses.

What don't we know about your character? Or what will we learned?

COLEMAN: Well, I think there's a -- there's been a huge transition coming from this guy, who was very much promoted as the face of evil early on and -- and eventually came into a situation...

PANETTIERE: Oh, oh, oh.

KING: Became good?

COLEMAN: Yes. After -- in a word, yes, because out of love for his daughter and trying to protect her and love and duty were colliding and he chooses his daughter over his company.

KING: And Claire is your adopted daughter, right?

COLEMAN: She's my adopted daughter, yes.

KING: And Adrian Pasdar, in real life there's a secret we ought to tell right away about you.

PASDAR: Which?

KING: Who are you married to?

PASDAR: My wife. Yes. Natalie Maines.

KING: And Natalie Maines is?

PASDAR: She has been known to sing with the little band called The Dixie Chicks from time to time.

KING: Is she a fan of this show?

PASDAR: A big fan, yes. When they were -- they were on tour in Australia at the very beginning when we first aired and I think they were -- she was downloading the episodes off the Internet and wanted me to see if I could talk to somebody at NBC and get them sent to her a little quicker than just downloading them.



KING: Your character is a congressional candidate...

PASDAR: That's correct.

KING: ... who can fly.

PASDAR: Um-hmm.

KING: He discovers this one day?

PASDAR: Yes. Yes. I had some shirts made that said "Vote Petrelli, he can fly." And it came actually (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

KING: And where is -- where is he going?

PASDAR: Well, you have an alpha male who's a little concerned with, I think, finding his place in the world and pleasing his -- his mother and his father. His father is passed away. Claire is my daughter in the show. I love Hayden, my biological daughter.


PASDAR: So I actually -- yes...

PANETTIERE: I love -- I love keeping in touch with the -- the Italian roots here. (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

PASDAR: We are -- my -- she's got a little show here called "My Two Dads" right here. We both play her father so...

COLEMAN: She gets two dads.

PASDAR: So what don't you know about -- he's got aspirations for -- for a little desk in the Oval Office.

KING: Is he -- oh, he does?


KING: Is he about to go bad, though?

PASDAR: You know, that's the thing about this show. I think you can...


PASDAR: Yes. There's so many ways to -- to interpret the -- the direction these characters may be going in. But there's always -- as this character was described to me, it's morally liquid. And I think we can all identify with politicians of that nature.

KING: Did you have to read for the part?

PASDAR: I did, very briefly. And I think they were -- their back was up against the wall, so to speak. They were already filming when I was cast, so I had a very quick reading with Dennis Hammer, a producer. And I was prepared to jump through the proverbial hoops that we were asked to do at -- I wasn't asked to that, ultimately. They just offered this.

KING: How did you get it, Hayden? PANETTIERE: How did I get it?

I went in -- I'm from New York, born and raised. So I was out here and they asked me -- they tossed me the script during a meeting, a general meeting at NBC. And I went in and I was actually auditioning with the people who were auditioning for Isaac, who is the painter, who's Santiago's character.

And they were all -- had this like -- this, this scene in the beginning where he's painting and he's trying to sell Simone that he's painted the future and explains to him. And he's -- it's sort of a nutty scene and I remember walking in and seeing like various people just kind of -- one was huddled in the corner shaking with no shoes on. Like, I guess he was getting really into the character. But it freaked me out.

But I went in, had a reading with -- with all the producers. And then we all -- or not all of us, but some of us met at the same time during the screen test, so. (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: How did you get it?

COLEMAN: Mine was very different. But auditions, like making sausage, is something that should not really be seen by the general public.

Mine was -- mine was a guest star in the pilot, which -- and -- I was...

KING: Oh, you were just supposed to be in one show?



COLEMAN: And that was -- so I just started recurring. And then about halfway through the season -- actually, exactly halfway through the season -- episode 11 -- I became a (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: They liked you?

COLEMAN: They liked me.

KING: We'll be back with more of Hayden, Jack and Adrian, all of the cast of the enormously successful "Heroes." I think they've got four more episodes to wind up the season.

We'll be right back.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Leave her alone. She didn't do anything.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Claire, sit down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shoot me if you're going to shoot someone. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE). You have to trust me. Shoot Claire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm telling you, someone's going to die.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry, Mrs. Bennet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shoot Claire now. She can heal.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You brought this on yourself.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I took his power Nathan. I can't control it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me help you, peter.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not leaving you.



KING: We're back.

Adrian, is it difficult in a show business marriage?

PASDAR: You know, I think it's as difficult as you make it. We don't -- I don't make it a big point of keeping a public image in terms of our marriage. We -- we don't go out to premiers very often together.

KING: But they travel a lot?

PASDAR: They travel a lot, yes. And I travel with them when I can. The kids...

KING: Do you have children?

PASDAR: Yes, I have two, Jackson Slade and Beckett Finn, six and two-and-a-half. And it was a little easier to travel with them when they were younger, but now that they're older, especially the eldest one being in school, it's -- it's not as easy.

KING: Yes.

Jack, you were in "Dynasty?"

COLEMAN: I was on "Dynasty."

KING: How was -- you don't look that old.

COLEMAN: It's remarkable. It's...

PASDAR: Stephen Kent.

COLEMAN: It's just a permanent wind tunnel that I sleep in.

PASDAR: Is that right?

KING: How long...


COLEMAN: I was Steven Carrington.

KING: How long were you on "Dynasty?"

COLEMAN: Six years.

Yes, from 1948 to -- I'm sorry, '82 to '88, I believe it was.

KING: Who did you play?

COLEMAN: I played Steven Carrington. I was the troubled son of Joan Collins and John Forsythe.

KING: What's it like for you, Hayden, to be part of a hit?

PANETTIERE: It's incredible. It changes your life. You know, I've been doing this for a long time and I feel like I've stepped into something completely different. It's -- it's amazing to be on a show, though, that I really -- I really love my cast and I've just created -- we've created the most incredible family.

And I don't know what I'd do without them. It's -- it's great, though. The show really gives you a chance to -- to spread your wings as an actor. It doesn't keep you confined in one area and I'm playing a character that I love to play, who I think a lot of people can relate to.

And, you know, being on a show that has become kind of a metaphor for people is just a really great feeling.

KING: What's the toughest part, Adrian, about your playing a character?

PASDAR: You know, I -- I have a less than admirable, I think, attitude toward my brother, at times, in the show. And, you know, it -- physically, it's somewhat demanding, as well. We have to be strapped up in these harnesses to look like we're flying. But it's really the -- it's antithetical. I mean you're hanging and the camera and everything else is moving past you.

KING: But obviously it must be difficult since you can't fly.

COLEMAN: Well, that was part of the audition.

PASDAR: Right. I had to fly.



PASDAR: No. It would -- it's -- it is -- it's a lot of fun but it's arduous at times. But it is rewarding.

KING: The toughest thing for you, Jack, about your character?

COLEMAN: Oh, when I'm -- when I have to be mean to Hayden...


COLEMAN: ... from time to time, you know, I have to...

PANETTIERE: He's lying. That's his favorite part.

COLEMAN: That's -- that's the part that both comes easiest and is the most difficult all in one.

No, it -- you know what?

It -- it's -- it's -- I don't know, there's not -- I'm just enjoying it so much. I don't think (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

KING: Obviously everyone in this cast seems to be having...


KING: ... a good time doing it.


KING: That's not necessarily true of all shows.

COLEMAN: It's not necessarily true and it's also -- it is also true that we all really get along, which is rare.

KING: Do you see it as a comic book, Adrian?

PASDAR: You know, I think it's a -- it's a good combination of fantasy and reality. I'm -- it's hard to say, it's genre based in comic books. I know that the comic book crowd really appreciates the endeavors that the writers -- the lengths they've gone to to make things consistent with that genre.

KING: Hayden Panettiere, Jack Coleman and Adrian Pasdar.

They'll be with us in the last segment. Congratulations to all of you.

COLEMAN: Thank you so much.


PASDAR: Thank you.

KING: Up next, the "Heroes" star who's a genuine genius in real life and the actor whose character paints the future.

Don't go away.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Saved a cheerleader, saves the world.


KING: We're back examinating (ph) the extraordinary success of the NBC series "Heroes."

With us in this segment, Masi Oka, who plays Hiro Nakamura, a giddy Japanese comic book geek who develops a way to stop time through sheer will.

By the way, he was recently nominated for a Golden Globe Award for best supporting actor in a TV series.

Greg Grunberg plays Matt Parkman, a down on his luck Los Angeles beat cop who can hear people's thoughts. He's on the trail of an elusive serial killer.


KING: Sendhil Ramamurthy plays Mohinder Suresh, an Indian genetics professor turned New York City cabby who's on a quest to uncover a secret theory by finishing the work of his murdered father. He's being pursued by a mysterious -- by mysterious forces for his knowledge.

And, finally, Santiago Cabrera, who plays Isaac Mendez, gifted painter, the junkie who can predict the future through prophetic paintings and comic books, which help link the super powered individuals. His drug addiction is destroying his life and relationship with his girlfriend, whom he recently shot and killed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are we laughing at that? KING: Other than that...


KING: Other than that, it's another glorious day on "Heroes."

GRUNBERG: But, Larry, it's a comedy.


GRUNBERG: That's what it is, at heart.

KING: OK. You, Masi, have 180 I.Q.?

OKA: Yes. It's all numbers, though. It's all numbers. I had a good day of test taking that day, so.

KING: What is it like to be smarter than most? I mean what's it like?

OKA: You know, it's great. At the same time, it's kind of a curse because people's expectations are so high. I'd rather be dumb and like kind of exceed people's expectations...


Right here.

OKA: ... rather than like set their bars up so high, because I keep on under shooting it, you know?

KING: Greg, what do you think of Masi?

GRUNBERG: I think...


KING: Being -- being dumb, what do you think?

GRUNBERG: I think what he lacks in sense of humor he makes up for it. No, I'm kidding. Masi, he's the greatest. And what's great about it is like Masi is -- is very accomplished. He worked at ILM and -- doing a post-production and computer generated, you know, for -- he worked on Star Wars and everything. And what's great is that character is very similar to Masi, a very smart guy who suddenly wakes up and has these powers that he always dreamed about.

LARRY KING, HOST: He was on the front cover of "Time," right?


KING: When you were 12. How did you get this part?

OKA: This part, I went through a series of auditions, four rounds of auditions and I did all of my lines in Japanese. And I figured they're looking for someone who speaks fluent Japanese and has dappled in comedy and ample TV experience. If not this, what else? It's the right time.

KING: Greg, how did you get it?

GRUNBERG: I had a deal with NBC. I just came off of "Alias" and I did a pilot for ABC, which didn't get picked up with Don Rickles and a few other people.

But I really want to do a comedy and then at the last minute they sent me this script and I read it and it came with...

OKA: It was hilarious.

GRUNBERG: You laughed your head off. I laughed through the whole thing. Now, it came with maps and, you know, drawings, which usually means that the writing is not that great and they're making up for it in other ways. But it really felt like something that my old boss and one of my best friends, J.J. Abrahams, said that, you know, it felt like "Alias" and "Lost," a show that has history and a past. And really Tim Kring has written, like I said before, a character drama more than anything else. So I thought if people are going to take this ride, you know, it could be a monster.

KING: Sendhil, how did you get this unusual part? You're your own grandpa.

SEDNHIL RAMAMURTHY, PLAYS "MOHINDER SURESH" ON "HEROES": Yeah, I'm playing my father. No, it was the same -- you know I just auditioned. I auditioned a lot. I came in the first round of auditions and was just in the room with a bunch of older gentlemen, you know. I just didn't feel like I should be there because it was, you know, a bunch of 55-year-old guys and me reading for this part. And they just kept bringing me in. I just kept reading for them. And I guess Tim was kind of refashioning the character in his head and it worked out for me that they decided to go younger.

KING: Santiago, how did you get it?

SANTIAGO CABRERA, PLAYS "ISAAC MENDEZ" ON "HEROES": Yes, I was in L.A. for the pilot season. And I remember when I read it; it just struck me as something very unique. I thought...

KING: When you're in L.A. for pilot season, that means you go around and around?

CABREREA: No, I moved from London so I...

KING: But I mean you try for lot of parts?

CABRERA: Well, you read a lot of pilots and you know there's a lot of those things around. And I read a lot of pilots and this one just one stood out for me from the beginning. I thought I've never seen a show like this on TV.

KING: Did they like you right way?

CABRERA: I think so because they called me back. But I remember it was a scene a bit like Hayden described, you know, Isaac is meant to be high on drugs and he's painting the future, just discovers it. So I went in there, I remember, and I really went for it and I did it and there was 10 people in the room and then there was a silence afterwards. And the director was David So and he looks at me and he goes, "Thank you. Now could you maybe do it as if he wasn't high?" And you know I did it like in three or four versions. But I think when they spend a lot of time with you in a room you can tell that they're interested and then they called me back.

GRUNBERG: It's really nerve wracking.

KING: We'll be right back with more of this great group. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess that you want to see my ability.

RAMAMURTHY: Yes, I mean I'm quite anxious to document it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You might want to step back. That looks like a nice jacket.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want to see it again?




OKA: What is he talking about?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five years ago I asked Peter to stay clear from Sylar at homecoming. My friend tells me he did it. Claire is alive, isn't she?

OKA: Just sit tight; I'll see what I can do.


KING: Masi Oka, why is someone with 180 I.Q., who can design computers, who's on the front page of "Time" at age 12, acting?

OKA: I just love it. I get to meet wonderful people, you know, like Greg...

GRUNBERG: Masi, Masi, just say the chicks. Come on!

OKA: Well, that's where it started from but no, it's great. You know, it's learning about the human condition and meeting a lot of great people.

KING: What do you think of "Heroes," Greg? Are you surprised at it?

GRUNBERG: I am not...

KING: You said you were glad you weren't in the pilot.

GRUNBERG: Yes. Well, actually, it's funny because when I read, I read for the role of Peter Petrelli and I didn't even know that this part existed. And I just worked with the director and he, the night before, said, "You know what, you're so wrong for this." And I said, "I'm coming in anyway." I read and Tim King and Dennis Hammer, our executive producers, they saw something in me that -- and I didn't know they were giddy. I was -- they sitting their seats. I could see that something was going on.

And as I was driving home, they called and said there's another role and if you want it, it's yours. And when I read that second hour, I couldn't wait to read the third, fourth and fifth. And that's the sign of a good show.

KING: Now, Santiago, you're dead.



KING: See, we taped this on Monday. It airs on Friday, but you die tonight. It's Monday.


KING: Why? What happened?

CABRERA: Well, it's like a natural end to the story, I suppose. I mean Isaac -- as soon as the show got picked up, the first thing I had to do was go and get a cast done for my head because in the second episode, my character was lying floor with his head open and brain taken out. So he was always on kind of one extreme cases and on tricky grounds. But...

KING: So you're done?

CABRERA: Well, that's the thing. I mean the mystery always remains on a show like this. You know...

KING: Meaning you might come back?

CABRERA: Well, his character jumps time. He has flash backs. So you never know. I mean rumors have been said, things have been insinuated. But for now, for this season, yes, this is kind of a natural...

KING: Because all scripts are done. You're done now.

CABRERA: Yes, yes.

KING: You had the wrap party. You're done. CABRERA: Oh, yes, yes.

KING: When do you come back? When do you start shooting again?

GRUNBERG: June 29, I believe.

RAMAMURTHY: Somewhere in mid to late June.

GRUNBERG: Yes, for the fall season.

KING: Do you all get raises?

RAMAMURTHY: You know it's funny you brought that up.

GRUNBERG: We'd like you to renegotiate for us, Larry.

KING: I can ask. Nobody mentioned it or was it in the contracts?


GRUNBERG: I don't think we get -- in our contract, we get a little bump. But you don't really get a raise until after the second year, usually.

CABRERA: I was the only one that was meant to get a raise but I got killed off.


GRUNBERG: He went in and fought and look what happened.

KING: Is it rewarding, Masi?

OKA: It is. I mean it's just great to be on an amazing show and just be able to connect with the audience that we have been able to, and just work with them, you know, like we miss Santiago already. You know he's part of our family. And anytime someone does, unfortunately, go away, because of the storyline, it's sad.

KING: Do you think the characters are developed well?

GRUNBERG: Absolutely.

KING: You know it's called comic book but if they are developed well, it wouldn't be comic book.

GRUNBERG: Right. I think from the onset, everyone wanted to see these characters come together sort of like a Justice League because they are superheroes. But no one is wearing a cape. You know they're not really superheroes. I play a cop who's a hero by nature and gets the one ability he needs to do the best job he can but it's a be careful what you wish for kind of thing because you don't want to know what everybody is thinking of you all the time. And it's a complicated thing. It's an emotional thing and it affects his home life. And all of these characters are multi-layers. It's interesting.

KING: Do you feel well that -- when you read your scripts, are you happy with them?

RAMAMURTHY: Absolutely. I mean I think that -- I mean I've never really seen a character like this written for an Indian actor, first of all. But I think it's just a great character no matter what you are. I think it's just a really well written character. I think all of the characters are.

KING: Do you make a face as you go from time to time?

OKA: Yes, I do. I've been quoted as a "hamster in labor."

KING: Do you want to do it?

OKA: Do I want to do it? Sure.

GRUNBERG: I know what he's thinking.

OKA: What am I thinking?

GRUNBERG: He's got to go to the bathroom.

OKA: Oh, so close, so close.

KING: They'll be back with all the rest of the cast toward the end of the show.

Just ahead, the actress who's beating blues with even a bigger role than she had on the big screen; plus the young actor whose piano playing first put him in the spotlight at age 4; and the performance whose character has literally, literally, been through a lot.


CABRERA: It's all right. I finally know my part in all of this, to die here with you, but not before I show them how to kill you and stop the bomb. I finally get to be a hero.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mom? I know it's not our game night but can we play a game of Scrabble since you just got home?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely, I owe you like a dozen. Just give me a minute, OK?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you so mad about Niki? You're the one who wanted to be locked up.



KING: We're back. The cast of "Heroes," in this segment, Ali Larter, who plays Niki Sanders, a single mother who works as a Las Vegas stripper to make ends meet, webcam stripper and the mother of Micah Sanders. She has a powerful and evil alter ego named Jessica that displays super-human strength and amoral tendencies.

Leonard Roberts plays D.L. Hawkins, a fugitive escaped from jail who has the power of passing through solid objects or phasing. He's accused of stealing $2 million and murdering his own gang yet continues to baffle authorities who twice have been unable to contain him. He plays the father of Micah Sanders and the estranged husband of Niki Sanders. And Noah Gray-Cabey, who plays Micah Sanders, the son of Niki Sanders and D.L. Hawkins. I'm starting to -- they're all a family! And he has the power to alter technology.

Ali, you had "Varsity Blues"? You had that movie, right?


KING: What happened? Where have you gone since then to this?

LARTER: For about five years, I did a lot of teen comedies, a lot of kind of genre, different movies. And you know about four years ago I decided I wanted a break from Hollywood so I moved to New York to kind of get a dose of reality and a little bit, you know kind of distance from this. And you know I decided to move back about four months before they were casting the show. And I just knew I really wanted to be in the business again. And it wasn't quite as easy to get back in. And you know I read this script. And I went, wow, OK, now is a chance for me to play a really complicated woman. And I hadn't gotten that chance before in my career, so it was just an amazing opportunity for me.

KING: Leonard, did you have to audition?

LEONARD ROBERTS, PLAYS "D.L. HAWINS" ON "HEROES": Yes, I did. I read the script and was floored by it and wanted to go, but I thought there was no way in the world I was going to get in.

KING: Why?

ROBERTS: I think the phrase was, big, big, big. And I thought, OK. Physically imposing guy, see what I can't do. I put on the smallest t-shirt I had. I went to the audition and I was still the smallest guy in the room. I'm 6'2" and I was the smallest guy in the room. These guys were huge and I thought they really were looking for something different.

KING: What is there about your character we don't know?

ROBERTS: There's some discoveries coming up. D.L. is learning a lot about his past and his connections with his family. And there's a higher thing going on.

KING: Do you like him?

ROBERTS: I do. I do. I like his loyalty to his family and his commitment to their welfare.

KING: Noah, are you like Micah?

NOAH GRAY-CABEY, PLAYS "MICAH SANDERS" ON "HEROES": Oh, yes, he is super fun. He's the most complicated role I've had like ever.

KING: In your long career.


GRAY-CABEY: So he's really dramatic and you get to know him as a person, which is why he is such a fun character. Even the super powers aside and I'm 11, so I love superpowers.

KING: So you'd be a fan of this show if you weren't in it?

GRAY-CABEY: Oh, yes, completely. Are you kidding me? Yes, I think I'd be glued to the TV every Monday.

KING: Ali, is there something about your character we don't know?

LARTER: I'm an excellent pole dancer.

KING: Ah-ha!

LARTER: You'll find that out next week.

KING: You pole dance next week? You're risque. You're a wild girl, right?

LARTER: I have two characters, Larry, the sweet girl and the bad, bad girl.

KING: Which one do you like better? Come on.

LARTER: Pick the day. You know when I'm feeling feisty, I love playing Jessica but you know I don't feel that way every day.

KING: Is it hard, Leonard, fusing the scripts together, bringing the people together?

ROBERTS: Sometimes it's a challenge just as an actor to go in and our stories are so localized and we're on set with each other and we're doing our thing. But to get the scope of it, I have to go back and read the scripts. So I'm watching it like a fan every Monday night, just trying to put all of the pieces together and keep the balls in the air. But it is. It can be a challenge at time.

KING: Do you want to be a professional actor, Noah? I mean do you want to grow up and act? GRAY-CABEY: Actually, I don't but it's super, super fun and I want to do it for, like, as long as I can. But when I grow up, I want to do some other things that I think would be also fun.

KING: Like?

GRAY-CABEY: Well, I've got a few ideas, like being a lawyer. I was going to, you know, see if I could try to be a pilot but I don't know. That idea doesn't seem like it will work. So I want to be a lawyer, a doctor and I want to get into politics.

ROBERTS: He's toying with that presidency.

KING: Lawyer, doctor, politician, all rolled in one you could do it. Are you married, Ali?

LARTER: I'm not.

KING: Want to be?

LARTER: Yes. He's just not that lucky yet.

KING: You haven't met the right one?

LARTER: No, I'm with him now. I love him but you know not just yet.

KING: Is he an actor?

LARTER: He's in stand-up, yes.

KING: He's what?

LARTER: He's in stand-up comedy world. He's an entertainer.

KING: Do we know him?

LARTER: You might, yes.

KING: What's his name?

LARTER: I'm not telling you. He's mine. I don't share.

KING: "People" magazine voted you one of the sexiest young -- did they?

ROBERTS: Yes, yes, that wasn't bad. That wasn't bad.

KING: Were you surprised?

ROBERTS: I was very surprised. I mean you've seen the other guys on the show, man. They're the hotties, you know, and me? But no, it was definitely a fun little perk of the year. You know you can't take it seriously. You just kind of laugh whenever you see it. Somebody handed to me the other night on the street, like, can you sign this? I'm like oh that's me with the shiny pants. KING: Do you always like the scripts, Noah?

GRAY-CABEY: Oh yes, definitely.

KING: You never said, "I don't want to say this?"

GRAY-CABEY: No, definitely not. The script has just been amazing and very real; I think how this character would feel with his background, with his family. And everything was just amazing. My character didn't start out with superpowers. So even without the superpowers, he was just an amazing character and so much fun to play.

KING: Ali, do you bring the same feelings to both parts?

LARTER: I do actually. Right now, we're kind of dealing with the merging of the two. And I think they're kind of learning from each other. And that's just, you know, fun to play. You know I've really dealt with two very different personalities and you know getting the chance to play a single mother who embraces her sexuality at the same time, you know, really has kind of, you know, a deep, you know, relationship with her son. And they're complicated. They're really fun.

KING: The three remain and when we come back, the big finish. "Heroes" has been picked up for a second season. Who will stay? Who will go? We'll ask. Let's see if they'll answer after a break.


OKA: What are you doing here? You're not supposed to be here. None of this is supposed to be here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was an accident. We time traveled it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened to the city?

OKA: The bomb. The bomb still happened. It was all supposed to change.




KING: Coming up next week, we're celebrating my 50 years in broadcasting. Kicking off Monday with George Tenet, the former CIA director who told President Bush that WMD case against Saddam Hussein was a slam dunk. Tuesday, the incomparable Oprah Winfrey joins me for the hour. Wednesday, Katie Couric turns the tables and interviews me. Thursday, a "CNN PRESENTS" special, "50 YEARS OF POP CULTURE" through my eyes; and Friday, an all-star toast hosted by Bill Maher. What a 50 years it's been and what a week it's going to be.


KING: They're all back, the cast of "Heroes." They're in the winding days. Four more episodes coming up starting Monday night.

All right, Hayden, the show has been picked up. Are you going to be picked up?

HAYDEN PANETTIERE, PLAYS "CLAIRE BENNET" ON "HEROES": Am I going to be picked up? You mean am I going to be dismissed from the show?

KING: Season two, do you know you're in season two?

PANETTIERE: Well, they haven't told us anything yet so...

KING: That's what I mean. Are you confident?

PANETTIERE: We'll see. I hope so. I would enjoy it very much.

KING: You'll be picked up. I predict it, Hayden Panettiere.

Jack Coleman, are you signed and sealed?

JACK COLEMAN, PLAYS "H.R.G."ON "HEROES": Signed and sealed, no, sir.

KING: Why do they keep you on hooks like this?

COLEMAN: This is nothing. I'm anticipating being back but stranger things have happened.

KING: Adrian?


KING: Are you confident?

PASDAR: Yes, of course, he can fly.

KING: He knows. He knows.

PASDAR: No, I have to believe yes, but you never know.

KING: You have to believe it but you never know.


KING: Masi, you've got a 180 I.Q., what does it tell you?

OKA: I have no idea because I can't tell the future. But I would love to work with you all again. Cheers!

KING: When do they tell you?

OKA: Hopefully before June 29.

GRUNBERG: Yes, they'll tell us soon because we have the up- fronts -- we go in front of advertisers in New York. So we all have to go do that. So I'm pretty sure. KING: No one doubts it, do they?

GRUNBERG: No, but it's the nature of the show. I mean Sendhil is such a central character of the show and he's gone now. So you know you never know. We're all pretty vulnerable.

KING: Sendhil?

RAMAMURTHY: I held up the taping because I was late, so I apologize. I was talking to my agent though and I have been picked up.

GRUNBERG: Congratulations!

RAMAMURTHY: The rest of you guys, I'm not so sure.

KING: Sendhil made it.

We're coming to the difficult problem of Santiago.


KING: Do you pick up a dead person?

GRUNBERG: Look at him, he's pretty picked upable.

KING: What do we do with Santiago?

CABRERA: Well, I'm the most positive of everyone, you know, even though I died. I don't know. I have a feeling this isn't the last time I'll see everyone. But...

GRUNBERG: Definitely.

OKA: Definitely not.

PANETTIERE: Not at all.

KING: This show is too bright, too progressive. They'll figure a way.


PANETTIERE: We'll show...


CABRERA: At least the paintings will live on.

KING: If you can do all of the things you can do, why can't they bring you back?

GRUNBERG: There you go.

OKA: Yes, he's family. He always will be. KING: I must say you are all terrific. It's been a lot of fun. And this show has certainly been worthy of its success, continued success and you'll all be back.

Before we go, make believes heroes are terrific entertainment but real life heroes change lives usually without a lot of applause or high TV ratings. Because of this, CNN is launching an effort to search out and spotlight people who are doing good in the world. And you can help by nominating individuals you think deserve a CNN hero award. A blue ribbon panel will select winners in five different categories. For more information, go to right now.

The news will continue on CNN. And Monday night, when we're back live, George Tenet, the former head of the CIA, his first prime-time appearance with be with us Monday night; Oprah Winfrey on Tuesday.