One of the most frustrating things about Heroes is that it’s full of actors who should be on a much better show. That includes Adrian Pasdar, who plays Nathan Petrelli, Cristine Rose, who plays his mother, and Malcolm McDowell, who plays Mr. Lindermann.
Both Pasdar and McDowell are well known to genre fans – Pasdar was in Near Dark, one of the best vampire movies ever made and starred in one of the great brilliant but cancelled shows, Profit. And McDowell’s resume is a laundry list of projects – from A Clockwork Orange (don’t worry, nobody asked him about that) to Tank Girl. He’s also been having a bit of a career resurgence recently, from the underrated crime flick Gangster No. 1 and a pretty funny cameo on South Park, as well as continuing to appear in a number of films – including the Rob Zombie remake of Halloween.
Adrian Pasdar and Malcom McDowell, along with Cristine Rose, recently participated in a conference call I had the opportunity to sit in on. These actors had a nice, comfortable banter and both McDowell and Pasdar love to talk, so this interview is fairly lenghthy. (No, I did not ask them about Watchmen – would you want to piss the guys who played Jim Profit and Alex DeLarge off? I think not.)
This interview, as always, contains spoilers for Heroes.
Malcolm, you played your fair share of villainous roles over the years, but how did it feel to come in and play the part of someone whose presence had loomed so heavily throughout the series since the first episode?
Malcolm: It made my job actually much easier. Of course they've all been talking about this character and I didn't really know until Adrian actually told me that he'd even had sort of phone calls with me, and nobody on the other line of course, and they didn't even know who was going to play the part at the time. But you're right. I have had my fair share of villains, and this is one of the really good ones.
How do you think it compares to some of your other past roles, insofar as whether he’s evil or just misunderstood?
Malcolm: You know, I never really get into that sort of definition of characters. I like them all. And I suppose this guy, you know, I suppose you could make a case for Hitler being misunderstood, couldn't you really? But the fact is that Linderman is such a fabulous part for an actor to do, that really I had to do no acting at all. And, you know, it was so well written, I think the show is really well written. Although I must say as a viewer…you're always on the edge of your seat, but I haven't got a clue what's going on.
Although I do - must admit it is so compelling, it's sort of déjà vu. It's sort of like drugs or something. I don't know. It's an amazing - an amazing show. And they do such a great job. And I can say that because I've been on the inside now. And, you know, of course the regular cast members, they know all about it. And I think they've got honestly one of the best jobs in television.
Cristine Rose: Amen to that.
Cristine, do you have any earthly idea based on how your character was played in the first episode that she would evolve as she has?
Cristine: Not at all. It's like a surprise package every time I open up that script. I got a little bit of a hint of a clue in the fall when it was alluded that I would be a little more interested in Nathan's political career than might normally be expected from a mother. But then I sort of went to the back for a while and I didn't know if I was going to come to the forefront.
And then it was terribly exciting to find out that I am in fact in league with Linderman, and I really thought at the beginning I was thinking that it was my husband who had the powers, and so it's just been a thrill ride, a real joyride. And I don't think that we are evil. I really think that we're out to save the world, just a little misguided.
Adrian, you play a politician. I was wondering if you based your performance on a real politician -- in someone in particular?
Adrian: I think it's kind of a conglomerate. I've taken the best and the worst of politicians that have come across me in my personal life and also people that I don't know. We haven't defined whether Nathan is Republican or Democrat. I'm sure an argument can be made for the earlier in many, many ways. But no, I haven't really based this guy on anybody in particular, just a nice mix of the worst and the best that I've seen. The most morally liquid characters that I have run across, I've based this guy on.
Adrian, right now there - you really seem to be enjoying playing with the ambiguity of Nathan. Do you have any worries that at some point they're going to decide, okay, he's really just bad?
Adrian: I think just when you've had your suspicions confirmed one way or the other, he does something that presents the opposite. When you think he's bad he does something that might be called heroic. If he does something that's good he, you know, he does something that's not so good. That's the beautiful I think part of the writers' creation here is that they've made somebody that can lean both - on both sides of the fence and still serve his ultimate goal without compromising his ability to be good or bad. I don't really have a, you know, it's a joy to play something like this because the writing is so good.
Malcolm, were you following the show before you got the call for being Linderman?
Malcolm: To be honest no. I wasn't following it. I don't watch that much TV, so, you know, but when I - when it was coming up of course I tuned in. And they sent me the pilot, which is really a wonderful show. And I enjoyed it very much. And as soon as I read it, I, you know, and my son also said, Dad, it's one of the great shows on television. What rock have you been hiding under? And that was it. You know, the young guys, they know what's what, you know?
Malcolm, earlier when you were talking about your villainous roles, you said that you didn't need hardly any acting at all. I was wondering is there a sense that there could be a little villain inside you, the little dagger with a smile guy that might be a part of you?
Malcolm: Well, you know, I think that any part that you play you of course - there is always a little bit of you.
Adrian: Malcolm, it's Adrian. I hate to interrupt. But I just want to tell everybody I have seen Malcolm's left buttock and he does have that tattoo of a little villain with a dagger.
Malcolm: You said that that would be a secret between both of us and I'm really quite shocked that you've let all these people know.
Adrian: I was just sharing.
Malcolm: Shame on you.
Cristine: Malcolm, it's Cristine, and you showed me too.
Malcolm: You know what? I am very proud of that tattoo. I am very proud of it. And thank you for bringing it up actually.
Look, the truth is, of course, you know, of course one has a bit of the devil in one. Doesn't one - doesn't every one? It's just that they pay me to, you know, have fun with it. So of course I do it, you know, and I'm happy to do it. Look, I don't only play, you know, the heavies. I suppose I am primarily known for that. But in fact, it would only be half of my career if I was to tot it all up. But all the well known ones I suppose are on the heavy side.
But listen, I enjoy it. I enjoy it very much. I think the word relish comes to mind in terms of this part, particularly. And these wonderful scenes with Adrian, we have such a ball together. I'm going to talk to him as well here, and he can say whatever he wants. But I know we had a great time and it was a pleasure.
Cristine, your character kind of feels almost like a Jackie O, dresses almost like that. Are there first ladies that you're drawing inspiration or presidential mothers that you're drawing inspiration from?
Cristine: Oh my gosh, I never thought of it in terms of that. How lovely. No, I just like those coats because they look good on me. Total fashion. No, I'm not drawing on anyone in particular. Maybe - no one in real life. I did watch ‘Manchurian Candidate’ a while ago and there was an elegance that Angela Lansbury carried herself with that I really liked, but that was a long time ago. No, Jackie O, I adore her. And she looks so much better in clothes than I ever will hope to. So I can't possibly go down that road.
Malcolm: I don't know. Because, actually this is Malcolm butting in. Talking about my left buttock, and you mentioning these clothes and Jackie O, I have to say Cristine that I did see something of you and well I won't go into it any more. I'll let you finish it off.
Cristine: We have to keep our secrets.
Adrian, when you swung by the TV Guide offices a few weeks, months back, you had just received the finale script but hadn't looked at it yet. So what is the net outcome? What can we look forward to?
Adrian: You know, it's so frustrating doing a conference call where they ask you to promote the show and tell you at the same time you can't tell anybody anything. So having said that, questions, you know, do get resolved in a huge way. I have a big part in the end of the - in the final decision making in the last few moments of the pilot - I mean of the finale, which all those questions that are posited in the pilot are answered almost to a ‘T’ in the finale. It's a beautifully structured finale.
I think I did remember at the offices their saying - reading the first page of the script and couldn't tell any of the secrets on penalty of being removed from the entire project. So keeping that in mind, there are really wonderful moments at the very end. I just looped 22 and 23 the other day and I got an opportunity to see the final bits. And it's just mind blowing. It's stunning the way it's all put together.
I was a little bit unnerved to see that the ratings really weren't there this past week for the show, I mean especially since we're here ramping up towards the what's undoubtedly going to be an incredible season finale. Is there any thoughts going on there, at the set amongst the actors, with, you know people that you talk to about why that is, about why you know, the show which, you know, all of a sudden is starting to slip a little bit?
Adrian: You know, demographics have held tight the entire time. If you look at the show basically we're doing $100 million worth of business every time the show is on the air. If you were to gauge it against like say an opening night for a movie, that many people are watching our show every night. And Dancing With the Stars is certainly something people - everybody is wrapping up their season finales. We've destroyed, you know, Monday nights we own the demographics.
So it has, you know, the perception of it I think hasn't changed. We're still bringing home the bacon on Monday nights and that's our responsibility. I don't really, you know, numbers aren't the first things that people look at overall. It's the demographic that holds true. And if we had started to slip there I think there would be some concern, but we are still winning the demographic, the 18 to 49 every Monday night.
So, you know, with the end of the season everybody's numbers get compromised a little bit because everybody’s putting up their best effort. But we are still winning that demographic, which is the most important element.
Adrian, I was wondering, talk a little bit about how far in advance you get the scripts. And are there ever times where you’re confused by the story line and you're wondering wow, I didn't expect that to happen or stuff like that?
Adrian: I do manage to pull some information periodically from the producers from the producorial staff and from the writing staff prior to the scripts being released. Sometimes I don't. I'm never - I haven't been confused by anything. It's always very well laid out for us. But having said that at the same time there are surprises that we all receive, you know, when we read the scripts. And that's part of what makes is so exciting.
I think that goes hand in hand with nobody basing anything on people that came before or politicians that came before in real life, myself or Cristine having answered the question earlier I think, because the characters are so…well defined. There is no confusion. That wouldn't be the word I would use. I think the element of surprise is still there. We are just as, you know, enraptured reading the scripts as I think the audience is in watching it. It's that exciting to read. You know, they are real page turners.
Do you have the whole story or the season pretty much arced out for you signed on or was it?
Adrian: No, they don't - we have - and I think a lot of character dynamics are what define the progress that certain characters take, the performances, the way that people engage however the relationships need to manifest. They write for strength of character portrayal. And since they have managed to pull such great - Cristine and Malcolm both into the show, it just enhances the writers' abilities to generate lines I think. So I think while they do have an overall arc for the season, it is somewhat fluid in terms of who seems to be playing off whom well.
I know the major bomb plot probably will be resolved this season. I was wondering, are there any cliffhangers that will get extended to the next season that you know of or will things start pretty much from a different point in the fall? I don't know if any of you know anything. Maybe Adrian, since you're the regular?
Adrian: Well no. We're all - yeah, I think we're all privy to what happens at the end. It does posit a brand new place in that season two will pick up with. I can't talk about where.
Sure. But we'll know something. We'll have a tease right? We'll know something.
Adrian: Oh absolutely. The very end of the pilot - of the finale is where season two will pick up. And it shows you a good three minutes, or two minutes or so of where that is going to pick up. And I don't think anybody is going to guess where. In a very, very interesting place.
And of course you can't really say whether you'll even be there next fall, right?
Adrian: Right, you know, I mean I hope to. I hope to be there. I think I'll be there. But, you know, like I said earlier, somebody asked me this question. I signed on to do Heroes and I wound up being on Survivor. So I'm just trying to - I'd like to stick around. But if and when it's time for me to go I'll, you know, I'll be just happy to be part of a terrific season of TV.
I heard that we may possibly learn more about the identity of the Petrelli dad in this family. And I know you can't reveal anything, but was it a surprise to you? Is it going to be a big surprise to the audience?
Adrian: This is Adrian again. I've always been under the suspicion that - and again I'm not saying anything with any terrific insight, but I've always thought that wouldn't it be interesting if Malcolm had something more to do with being a part of the Petrelli…
Malcolm: From - I think from what I understand -- this is Malcolm, that actually -- and I think I can say this. I knew your father quite well.
Adrian: I've understood he knew him maybe a lot better than we might imagine.
Malcolm: Wait a minute.
Cristine: Wait a minute.
Malcolm: Does this have anything to do with the tattoo on my left buttock?
Adrian: No, this would be your right buttock.
Malcolm: Oh okay.
Adrian: No, I'm just hypothesizing. But I do think there is this certain…
Cristine: Well this is Cris. Don't they deal with part of that with the graphic novels that they have on the Internet right now, perhaps Malcolm is the dad?
Adrian: Yeah, I'm curious…
Malcolm: I don't know.
Adrian: It's been posited that Malcolm actually did sire somebody.
Cristine: That's what I'd like to think frankly.
Malcolm: Well look. I'd like to take a responsibility for this. But, you know, I don't - I think we need a blood test on this one.
Adrian: It's just a TV show Malcolm, not real life.
Malcolm: Oh thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Adrian: I want to clear that up.
Cristine: This is totally - this is Cris again.
Malcolm: I had absolutely nothing to do with it by the way.
Cristine: You know, there were things that happened. This is my theory, my - no it's actually wish fulfillment, I don't know.
Malcolm: Oh, what's that?
Cristine: I would like to think that Malcolm and I, or actually Linderman and Angela met at Woodstock and conceived Nathan. And you might not remember because we were in a daze of drug filled joy back in the day.
Malcolm: You know, I do vaguely remember something about that.
Cristine: A very beautiful moment.
Malcolm: I think Joe Cocker was on the stage at the time.
Malcolm: Right. Yeah that was - it was a pretty nice moment.
Cristine: Well it lasted a little longer than that…
Adrian: Very nice. Probably more than you wanted to know.
Malcolm: Yeah, you see, ask a silly question.
Adrian: These are just the thoughts of some employed actors. Ask if we don't have a job…
Malcolm: Soon to be unemployed.
I know that Heroes shoots sometimes up to three episodes at once. How - do you have to do anything to adapt for those days where you may be dealing with up to three different directors and three different crews?
Malcolm: I think Adrian, you better take this, because you've been pretty much more than I am anyway. Maybe Cris is too.
Adrian: I think I know personally speaking I've had to deal with three in one day. And it can, you know, it can be a little bit unwieldy. But I think the continuity that we've managed to achieve over the course of the season kind of has prevented us from making any grievous errors in terms of it's not that difficult overall when you're trying to portray a single character through the arc of perhaps three different story lines as long as they are not too disparate and as long as they are sequential or roughly sequential and not, you know, Episode 8, and Episode 12 and Episode 15. Usually it would be Episode 14, 15 and 16 that are shooting at the same time because of location issues or editing issues, editorial concerns. So it's taxing. It's exactly what you think it would be like. There is no mystery to it. It's a little bit more taxing in terms of you know, execution, but it is do-able.
Do you have any sort of like tricks that you have for just keeping track of where you are and how you are supposed to be or is it like shooting anything else out of sequence?
Adrian: No, it's a little more involved. You have to make sure that you're consistent in terms of your choices, what's coming before and what's coming after.
Malcolm: And whether you're in the right clothes.
Adrian: Yes. Thank God we've got terrific people to take care of all that stuff for us. Malcolm has somebody who actually dresses him so.
Malcolm: Well I need to because I do tend to dribble too.
Adrian: He has a professional dribble catcher.
Malcolm: Yeah, I'm a lot older than most of them there, see.
Adrian: And it's exactly what you think it is Abbie. It's just a lot more staying on the dime, you know, making sure your choices are consistent and that your, you know, there is no magic, no tricks to it. It's just a little bit more, you know, you have to be a little more present for every choice. You can't just make a choice in the morning and stick with it. You have to be a little fluid.
Malcolm, I was wondering, how does the character of Linderman compare to the character of Dr. Loomis in the Rob Zombie remake of Halloween?
Malcolm: Well it's completely different, because Loomis is a psychoanalyst of some note I might add, although God knows, let's face it, for a man who's got a patient like Michael Myers and, you know, he certainly can't do anything to control him or cure him in the 17 years, God knows how good of a doctor he really is.
But no, that's really - he's a well meaning man, you know. Whereas of course Linderman is rather I suppose you would have to say ‘arch’. Fascinating, I mean, you know, he's running a big empire like any of these people that, you know, chairman of the boards of multinational companies. You know, they all have sort of one thing in common don't they? And we've seen the demise in England of this poor man who ran BP, you know, and all that.
I don't know why I'm rambling on here about that. But how many people are out there for God's sake? I mean how many are we?
Adrian: Forty, thirty, twenty?
Malcolm: Oh wow. Well I hope that answered your question. Anyway, they are completely different. One - I suppose to put it in black and white terms, one is a good guy and one is a bad guy.
And Adrian, I was just wondering, with Nathan Petrelli being involved in politics, have you ever had any aspirations of running for a political office?
Adrian: You know, I haven't. I did a little show called Profit a while back and I based some of the work on some people that were in office at the time. And I received some stationery from the White House. George Stephanopoulos wrote me a letter on White House stationery. And I was so impressed and blown away to have received something from the White House seal and things like that. It was really impressive to me.
And I realized at that point how I - I did have a visit to the White House and there is so much showmanship and gamesmanship in politics it's really not a stretch to imagine an actor getting involved in being a figurehead for a political party for a certain party or so. But for myself personally, I'm involved in New York in terms of the High Line and getting things going around here, but nothing grand on any scape. I just - I don't think I could do that.
Cristine: I'd vote for you. I'd vote for you.
Adrian: Well thank you darling. I would hope so as my mom.
Family is very important to most of the characters on Heroes. Maybe Cristine and Adrian you can talk about just what family means to Angela and Nathan, especially with the introduction of Claire who they didn't seem to know was still alive. Do they love her, or is she just a tool?
Cristine: Well I've had a lot of thought put into this as to what really my motives are. And there are still a lot of questions that I hope might be answered in the second volume called ‘Generations’. That title might intimate there will be more news about what has gone on before, what might go on in the future.
I've been wondering if indeed Linderman and Angela and others of the ‘numerati’ as Tim Kring refers to us, if these plans have been going on for decades and if Angela might not have borne here children to be part of this whole plan. There is an allusion on Monday night's episode to Suresh having been conceived in order to save his older sister’s life. And in that photograph we saw the very pregnant mother and the hope was that he would be born before the sister died. And so the idea of bearing children to save someone or in this case to save the world, I've had to deal with that.
Is Angela's concern about her younger son dying in Episode possibly in 2, in 12 and again when she thought he was indeed dead. Is that concern that overwhelming grief, was it for the son that she loved or for the demise possibly of a plot or a plan she had been working on with others for so long? These are all questions I don't know. It could be, you know, it could be anything. But that is one of the joys of the show. And there are so many questions, so many mysteries that we still don't know.
Adrian, how about Nathan with Claire?
Adrian: You know, I think that family has played such a big part in the landscape that has been defined by Heroes, it is really a family oriented struggle on so many fronts. When I discovered that Claire was my daughter, there is a certain pragmatic approach to understanding what needs to be done, and then there is probably a less than pragmatic approach about trying to figure out how she is going to fit into the future of his life. As an alpha male who is so aggressive in terms of succeeding politically and professionally it all hearkens back to trying to appease and win the approval of your parents.
And I think, you know, it's been a joy playing it. I think there are some very interesting decisions that are going to come up and towards the very second half of the beginning of season two that are going to answer - of course answer a lot of questions but at the same time in the nature of this show open up a lot of other questions as well.
I can't get much more specific, but I think that family as it is structured and as it has begun to unfold in the Petrelli household, the dynamic exists between the four of us, myself, Peter, Cristine, and Claire, is going to open up a little bit more. You're going to have some more insight into how that all came to pass. You know, but again it is a family -we are at the center of the generation of the Petrelli dynasty. And it's going to - it's either going to start to unfold like a cheap sweater or it's going to be put back together very carefully by some talented people from the outside. I hope that's not too confusing, but.
Cristine: If I could throw this in, because what I just talked about, that was all speculation. Because I, like everyone else, I'm a fan. And this storyline, all it does is one enigma wrapped in an enigma. And I'm just speculating along with all the other fan base.
Cristine, I was wondering, do you have any idea what your power is?
Cristine: I'd have to kill you. I can't tell you. I can't tell you. I can't tell you.
Malcolm: Oh go on. Give us a clue.
Cristine: Okay, I can change my makeup at will.
Is that something that is made known this season or next season?
Cristine: I can't tell you.
Adrian: It's frustrating, I know.
Cristine: But thank you for worrying or even wondering. That's fun.
Adrian, how surprised were you when we saw that Sylar had taken on your identity?
Adrian: I thought it was just a great opportunity to play another actor. I've always loved to do that. And that morning was the culmination of a lot of work that Zach and I had done up to that point. He came to the set. He wasn't on call but he came to the set and spoke to me in my trailer and just whispered the lines in my ear for about a half an hour. And then I just watched him walk around. I followed him. He blocked the scene. And to be able to take on his mannerisms and such, it was a real joy, a lot of fun…And there is not a lot of ambivalence in his actions and his motions. So to play somebody like that was a lot of fun.
Was it a surprise? Yeah. There are so many surprises in the show. Found out that I was going to, you know, embody and be playing him that was a real surprise. Yes it was.
Malcolm, you have a long history with genre projects, with Star Trek and Time After Time right up through Halloween and Heroes. What about these kind of stories attracts you to these roles and just sort of what about them appeal to you as an actor?
Malcolm: Well to be honest with you, it's not so much that I'm attracted to them, but I get asked to do them. You know, you're only as good as what they ask you to do. And I'm very lucky that, you know, I was asked to do this Heroes, because as I've said before, because it's a gift of a role. You know, it's really a wonderful part. And same with Loomis, and I've been very lucky through the years to have a few good parts here and there amongst the crap. You know, and let's face it, there is quite a lot of crap out there too.
So the odd little pearl that comes my way, you seize on it and you say thank you very much and it was great fun, you know, getting away with doing old Kirk in. I think he'd had a good run anyway and it was time to move on. So that was fun. And Time After Time was a beautiful film and I got two beautiful children out of that particular show, so I'm very fond of that one. That's no fiction for me. And, you know, so there you go. Life goes on.
Adrian, you mentioned Profit before. With the TV landscape being what it is now with being a little more friendly to unsympathetic and sort of amoral protagonists these days, do you think a show like that would have had a better chance being on the air now as opposed to ten years ago?
Adrian: Absolutely. I think that show would have found a home now. You know, I think one of the things I can be so bold that I feel like I share with Malcolm is a kinship – maybe I’m imagining it, but nonetheless, it feels true that we both share a, you know, there is a perceived utility that we both display, and that's playing someone who holds a secret, playing someone who you like, you trust, but not 100%. Somebody you want to have a beer with, but you hope they pick up the tab.
You know, it's always very fun to play someone who is, you know, somewhat enigmatic, but at the same time there are underpinnings of real concern for mankind and so forth like that. But there is a lack of desperation in characters I think that we share that is always fun to play. There is not - they're not strident but they are also very sure about what they are doing and why they are doing what they do.
And you don't always - that was what Profit had a lot of too, that he is somewhat of an antihero but he's not responsible for - he moves the story along but he's not responsible for being liked 100%. And when you have a show that has the writers like our show does, you can embrace that 100%, and it's been really, really fun.
Cristine, you mentioned The Manchurian Candidate a little while ago. How - was that homework you got from the producers to watch or was it just something you sort of brought yourself or?
Cristine: Absolutely. And I only watched it just before, very, very, very, very, very late in the game. And so I didn't base anything really on her, but I - there was an elegance, and that's what I was referring to in terms of I was asked the question about how I dressed or how I carried myself. And it's not directly applicable, but I truly only watched it about a month ago so it's not really something that I took directly. But she's sure a good actress.
And as someone who is not in every show, how much are you reading scripts and following things just as a fan?
Cristine: Oh, I've been watching from the very beginning. And I do - I ask for the scripts. When I'm going to be in the show I request all the scripts that have been shot in between my last show and the show that I'm doing. So I - you sort of have to keep tabs on what has been happening with the boys as it were. And so yes, and I am very - as I mentioned before, I'm a big fan. And its hard not to be once you get hooked on the storyline and the brilliant not only writing, but the actors.
You know, actors come in, they do these roles, wonderful jobs, wonderful writing. But now you're asked to know so much more. There is a graphic novel with this. There’s web sites with this. Actors are really being put on the spot to say what are the answers that probably the writers know but the actors may not know. Can you tell us a little bit about how that changes your job?
Malcolm: Well, this is Malcolm. I'm not really savvy to all that, so I can tell you that it doesn't make one bit of difference to me, because I've never been online with it, or anything for that matter. But I do believe, and I'm sure Adrian, he is up to date with all these things and he knows all these gizmos and things. But you know, I know that it's huge online. And I understand that even the French, you know, even though they are slightly, they have their election and all the rest of it, but I hear that they even download these shows, you know, Heroes, in France. And they, you know, they can pay $1.99 or whatever it is, and get it on iTunes which is amazing to me. But there you are, you know.
So, you know, it's just amazing at how different the business is. And I think the online part of it is very important, you know. And it was very important because I went to do ADR, you know, and was asked if I would go step next door and record on a video and talk about I don't know, something that I had no idea what the hell I was talking about actually. It was something to do with the show, which I really didn't know much about but I sort of made it up as I went along. So it was kind of fun doing it. And, you know, the possibilities with this are endless aren't they? Anyway, I'm sure Adrian is…
Adrian: I mean I think we're - this is Adrian here. I think we're coming to the end of appointment television in the next few years. It's going to spell out a marked change in terms of what is on TV and the access that people have to what they want to watch. And Heroes is a very beautiful way, graceful way to be a part of the end of an era of television.
Malcolm: Oh dear. Are you telling me that they won't need actors any more?
Adrian: No, no, no. They will need actors. It's just about the way that the material is viewed and the media is downloaded. I don't think, you know, like I said appointment TV is going to last with Tivo and you know, video on demand, and people are going to be able to watch whatever they want to watch whenever they are going to want to watch it. And so having to be home at Monday night at 9 o'clock is not going to become as necessary as it once was.
I don't think you can remove the water cooler element of television. People always want to gather and say, oh, did you see this at a certain time. There still will be that. But I think the specificity with which television is delivered now is going to alter rapidly.
And I mean, corporations across America are just trying to break unions, you know, and the contract talks that are coming up between SAG and also the writers, everything is going to, you know, they've got such strong positions being the corporations do right now. And the unions by and large tend to fold. And SAG is the third largest union in America. Nobody really seems to know that.
Malcolm: I didn't.
Adrian: In terms of money. It's an amazingly strong work horse. But it's going to be a very interesting time to see what happens in the next few years. So to be a part of Heroes, that's where the end of this part of an era is totally cool. It's an honor.
Susan: Thank you very much.
Malcolm, what are you doing in London? Is it Vivaldi, War and Peace, Doomsday? Bring us up to date on that.
Malcolm: It is a movie called Doomsday. That I'm doing that is directed by a lovely director called Neil Marshall. And actually my nephew is in it. And he's a very good actor called - what does he call himself? Alexander Siddig. He was in Syriana, played the good prince who was blown up at the end. He's a very good actor and he told me listen, you know, they want you to do this and it's really good, you should do it. And so that's why I'm here. And I'm on my way to Cannes to show my film that I did of my tribute to Lindsay Anderson, who was a great director and a man I loved dearly and was very important in my life. And so it's my tribute to him. It was filmed and it's now a movie. So I can't believe that they invited it to the Cannes Film Festival. It's absolutely extraordinary for me, but there you are. So I'm just on the little - on that little trip at the moment.
Does that mean you'll get over to Athens to see Liverpool beat Milan?
Malcolm: I wish to God I was going, but of course I won't be going in person. But I will be in some bar in Cannes watching it. And my mate Clive Owen that bastard has got tickets and he didn't want to share them with me. So, but he's going, and we'll be shouting our hearts out for Liverpool FC.
‘War and Peace’ is for which network as a miniseries?
Malcolm: I have no idea, to be honest with you.
You're not in that?
Malcolm: I am in it. Yes, I remember, I'm not that gaga, yes. I am in it. I play a wonderful part, Prince Bolkovsky or whatever his name is, and all those Russian names. But - and I do most of my scenes with Brenda Blethyn who is a dear, dear, dear and a terrific actress of course.
And that's sort of a big ‘euro pudding’ as they say. You know, 8 million from the Swiss, 6 million from the Italians and 15 million from the French or whatever it is. Anyway, there are seven or eight countries involved in it. I don't know who's picked it up in the States. But I know that they are going to screen it in Rome, right the way through night, the whole nine hours of it. And I think it's quite a remarkable, you know, event. And it's a beautiful production. I do know that. I've seen quite a bit of it. It's really quite wonderful.
I was just noticing there seems to be an inherent contradiction in your character Linderman that he is orchestrating this plot that is going to end up killing lots of people in New York City, but his power is to heal and bring things back to life. Is that quite how you see the character and how you play the character?
Malcolm: Well it's not a conscious thing. You know, the man is a healer. He has obviously got a wonderful side to him. He's wonderful with children, wonderful with pets. What more can I say about him? He's the life and soul of a party. He tells a good joke. You know, he's a delightful man and the kind of person that would, you know, be a very fine uncle to your children.
But having said that, there is a side to him which is a little bit dark which is sort of, you know, he has this power thing. And he feels that, and I'm not saying that I feel that which is what he feels obviously, is that the world is in such a state that the human race is so decadent and out of - is that me? No.
Anyway that, you know, that he you know, he thinks the answer to that is starting again. And it's obviously a kind of strange way of going about things but, you know, there are other people on this planet at the moment I'd say that think the same unfortunately, and they are dangerous. And Linderman, you know, I don't know. He must have had quite an unhappy childhood I think for him to have taken it that far, you know. But I don't know. I mean I have to leave a big question mark open because I'm not allowed to say anything about what happens.
I know that there is some talk of Nathan being let's say separated from his traditional familiar environment next season. Have you given any thought to what Nathan is like if he's not a man of power with resources immediately at hand? Where does he go? How does he act differently from how he might be now?
Adrian: I think that's going to be the journey. I think from what I can tell there is going to be a little bit of story of redemption, having to pay for the sins, not just of the father, yeah pseudo father, and those are the choices that he's aligned himself with. From what I can tell without being too specific, there is going to be - that will be the question, how do you handle who you are without the ability to pick up a phone and get anything you want, if you can't even put money in a phone or you don't have a cell phone. I think you find yourself, you know, sitting on the city streets talking to yourself, perhaps with Christopher Eccleston. Wouldn't that be wonderful?
I think you're going to find it's a completely unexpected place you think that Nathan might end up after the end of - after the choices that he makes at the end of the very last three minutes of the finale that have a lead to the story as to what's going to happen to him in Season 2. That's again, I'm combining you know, hypothesizing with a combining of a little bit of information that I do have.
As Adrian suggested earlier, anyone can go at any time. So I was wondering how the more irregular supporting actors, Malcolm and Cristine, feel about that. Do you now how long you're contracted on the show for?
Cristine: Well, actually that passed through my mind halfway through this season. I was - while wondering if I would ever get more involved in the storyline. I was taking great comfort in the fact that I wasn't important enough to kill. And so that led to a little…
Adrian: It's a double edged sword isn't it?
Cristine: Exactly. A little bit of job security there. But no, it's all up in the air.
Malcolm: Well, if I told you how many I'm doing then it would probably give it away, so I better not say anything about that. But suffice to say that I'm doing a few of these and I'm doing, you know, other work too. So, you know, I'll go in and out, I suppose is the answer to that, as required, as needed.
And with your Halloween, are you paying homage to Donald Pleasence or doing something completely different?
Malcolm: No, I have to tell you that I've never seen Halloween 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7. So I must be one of the only people on the planet I think never to have seen any of the films. And I'm so glad, because I asked the director, Rob Zombie, who is a wonderful director, whether I should, you know, if he thought I should see them. And said no, better not.
And of course I knew Donald Pleasence, and a brilliant actor he was with that wonderful sinister kind of thing of his. And I could imagine him playing Loomis of course with that sinister kind of thing he has, you know, that - but I did not want to be - I wanted to - it's a new look. It's a reinvention of it. And, you know, he is completely different, my Loomis, I presume. So I guess there will be some people that will be sort of disappointed if they think I'm just going to copy him, because I'm not.
Oh no. I don't think we'll be disappointed. By the way, there were eight before this one.
Malcolm: Eight? Well I'm obviously talking to an expert. Anyway, I've signed for three. How about that?…They obviously think it's going to be a big hit.
The show is pretty popular among college students on campus. I was wondering why you think that is, that it's popular among college students, and also who you think the show's main audience is?
Adrian: I think one of the reasons the show has reached a certain audience is that it does combine fantasy with reality. You know, we are living in a pressure cooker of a - at the moment, and that pressure isn't lost on the writers. I think they are using it to their fullest advantage. And they are also combining the element of fantasy and, you know, namely having super powers in order to fight the evils that are presented to us.
You know, I think the audience really is beyond any particular demographic group. It is kind of canvassing 18 to 49 fairly successful every Monday night. So I think it's somewhat of a family show if the children are of age. It's also, you know, a show for older folks as well. So it's really successful in what it's intended to do. I just, you know, I think it's pretty much all I can think about that one.
Amy: Malcolm, is the show popular in London?
Malcolm: Darling, I don't think it's on here.
Malcolm: So I really - no, I just know that this friend of ours in Paris downloads it there.
I think it just started BBC 2 Malcolm now.
Malcolm: Oh it is? Oh there you are. I only watch the sport and the news, so I wouldn't know. I'm not real familiar with it. But if it's on BBC 2, well then I suppose three people and their mother or something will see it. But I think once it catches on here it will be the same. I think it's going to be the same everywhere, you know.
And I honestly think as the demographics suggest, that young people for some reason love this show. And I think they love it because it is so open ended and sort of very oblique. And you know, you never really know. There is always a shifting sand. And actually it's very compelling, when you really haven't got a clue what's going on. Well then you think you know what's going on or you, you know, the next week you find out that you're completely wrong, it's gone in another direction. I think that's the brilliance of this show that nobody can really put a finger on it. And it's forever changing, forever moving. And you just can't possibly predict what is going to happen.
Okay. All right. Thank you.
Malcolm: You don't sound very - you sound as if that is absolutely question has really completely stunted you there. Answer me back.
Random question, probably for Adrian I guess. But I know the Dixie Chicks, every time their albums go platinum, I think I read that they get like a foot, chicken tattoo on their foot or something. Are you guys going to do that if the show gets renewed?
Malcolm: Oh my God. You should see her foot. I'll tell you right now. And I've seen it, it's full of chickens. And actually I think Adrian has got some chickens on his foot too because there is no room left.
Adrian: I don't have any chickens.
Are you guys going to do something like that for ‘Heroes’, like every season it's renewed you're going to get a chicken?
Malcolm: Good idea. I love that idea.
Adrian: We're going to get little tattoos of guys with knives on our left butt cheek, just like Malcolm has in honor of him. My God, I think if we were to count the success of the show internationally and attempt to do something like that we'd be covered in tattoos. We'd look like, you know, Rollins. I think that was something that they decided to do early on not realizing that they were going to be quite as successful as they are, and they've stopped. Because otherwise they would be covered up to their knees.
Adrian, you made a comment about Nathan being one of the most morally liquid characters you played. How do you think it compares to Jim Profit? Do you find yourself drawing on some of those -- and I mean this in the best possible way -- sliminess you perfected while playing Profit?
Adrian: You know, I think that profit was a bit more of an honest trustworthy guy. You knew where you stood with him. You know, he was - he had a moral code that was more consistent, you know, if somewhat slippery. But it was more consistent. With Nathan he is a true politician and you just don't know where it's coming from…I think Profit by and large was more reliable.
Nathan is kind of Giuliani-ish and Mr. Linderman is kind of like a James Baker or something. So - and in that future episode of course we saw like the Guantanamo Bay situation, patriot ex situation. So I'm curious if you talk about this - talk about these parallels on the set and what you think about them, you know, and maybe this is something sci fi/supernatural can address well.
Adrian: If I understand what the question is, yes, I, you know, I think they have done a wonderful job of creating a fictional character. And I think whenever anything is so successfully drawn, obvious parallels can be drawn to existing people. Again having said that, we haven't - there haven't been any attempts to, you know, base this on anything other than a writer's imagination. And we don't - the conversations we have on the set by and large tend to focus around everything but the parallels that might be drawn between what we're doing in real life. We just, you know, we're just a bunch of actors at the end of the day. You know.
Malcolm: Speak for yourself.
Adrian: I'm speaking for you. All you want to do is talk about cricket.
No, we, you know, the parallels that we've drawn between what we're doing and real life people, they mainly seem to come from the press and from questions that we get. We are forced to answer them so we come up with them on the spot. But, you know, in real life we're not making these leaps or assumptions on a daily basis at work at all.
You know, it's wonderful and it's flattering because there is an element of reality to what we're doing. I think that's why it resonates so well. Anyone else?
Cristine: Just echoing what Adrian said, I've never heard any discussion amongst the actors with regard to the parallels. It's - we're playing it as we would any other characters day to day, their own reality.
Malcolm: I can't tell you how many times people have said to me, you were playing Rupert Murdoch, right? I mean I've had that about, oh I don't know, at least a half a dozen characters I've played. And the answer is no, I have nothing to do with Rupert Murdoch whatsoever.
You know, I think that honestly I think the writers look to the headlines for inspiration, and quite rightly because they are mirroring what is going on in our society. And they are using it, you know, in a fictional way. And therefore in a sort of a second hand way we are getting handed down these characters that, you know, vaguely sort of in the headlines or something. And, you know, that - I think that's what happens, and it's a little confusing. But I don't think they are ever meant to be a copy of, or I think you may say they could be inspired by events or something, but that's about it.
As far as the actor goes of working on the part, of course that's neither here nor there. I mean you're working on the part as written, you know, at least, you know, that's the way I am, and that's the way I work. I mean everyone works in different ways of course and, you know, but you can only take it as far as it is drawn in the script.
Adrian: I mean I think that the actor draws, you know, they have two responsibilities. You know, one is to be visually compelling and the other to recite the lines as written by the writers.
Malcolm: Oh yes, well we want to look beautiful of course.
Adrian: Right, you know, it's hard to…
Malcolm: I mean, the hell with that – who wants to play Dick Cheney, you know?
The Heroes season finale airs Monday, May 21st at 9 P.M. on NBC.