Heroes Creator Tim Kring Talks!
Post by: Sal
US, December 14, 2007 - This past Tuesday saw cast members from Heroes and fans of the show join the striking writers on the picket line outside Universal Studios. Greg Grunberg ("Matt Parkman"), Dana Davis ("Monica Dawson"), Sendhil Ramamurthy ("Mohinder Suresh"), Dania Ramirez ("Maya Herrera"), Cristine Rose ("Angela Petrelli"), Jack Coleman ("Noah Bennet"), Ali Larter ("Niki Sanders"), Masi Oka ("Hiro Nakamura") and Kristen Bell ("Elle Bishop") all were in attendance showing support for the writers, including the creator of the show, Tim Kring.
I was able to speak to Kring to talk about the strike, and how it has impacted Heroes, which ended up re-shooting the ending of the final episode of their Volume 2 storyline, "Generations", as the possibility of a strike grew. We also discussed some of the criticism Heroes received during Volume 2; the spinoff series Origins -- which was taken off the schedule this year thanks to the strike – and hints of what's to come in Volume 3, entitled "Villains."
IGN TV: You've had a lot of fan encounters since the show began, but this must be a different experience than any of the others.
Tim Kring: Yeah, this is unique. This is not the ideal way to interact with the fans, when you're unemployed and your future is uncertain. But it's very heartening to have them show up like this.
Heroes creator Tim Kring holds a sign made by a young fan
IGN TV: What's your take on the situation? Last week things seemed to be going relatively well, and then the bottom dropped out again.
Kring: Listen, I don't know if this was always a part of the script. Clearly, a scenario that a lot of people have been talking about for awhile is this idea that the studios would go and make a deal with the directors and then we would follow after that. And clearly, that seems to be what it looks like is going to happen.
IGN TV: You have a lot of your cast here with you today. What do they seem to think about the situation?
Kring: Well, they're in a really tough spot, because as of right now, they don't have any issues other than wanting to go to work. Their issues will be talked about in the next few months. These issues that we're dealing with in this strike will become their issues, obviously, with the SAG members. But what's great is a lot of them really showed support. They came out not just to an event like this, but they came out many times and walked with us, so it's great.
IGN TV: It must have been strange to have Heroes still in production for a bit when the strike began.
Kring: Yeah, very surreal, because I immediately left the show and didn't cross the picket line and had the surreal experience of picketing my own show as it's in production. I can't even begin to describe what a bizarre thing that is, to see people you've worked with so closely coming in and out of the gate, as you're waving to them with a picket sign. It's a pretty strange experience!
IGN TV: Is it correct that a couple more episodes were shot beyond what we've seen?
Kring: No. We did a little bit of shooting on episode 12 and 13; specifically things like Zach Quinto's stuff, because he was going off to shoot Star Trek, so we made sure to shoot enough of his stuff to carry on, because he had a scheduling issue. And then we shot some storylines that we knew weren't connected, that were up ahead in episodes 12 and 13. But we pretty much are going to start from scratch when we come back. So we don't have episodes in the can. We have some material in the can, but by no means is it a full episode.
IGN TV: How different was the new ending for Volume 2 from what was originally shot?
Kring: Well, it was designed so that we could take advantage of a longer break than we hoped, and it turned out to have been really the right call. I think we ended up re-shooting about eight pages, maybe – six or eight pages, something like that. So it was about five minutes of that final episode that were altered. It allowed us to jump ahead. Originally Season 2 was going to be comprised of three volumes. Volume 2 was "Generations", Volume 3 was called "Exodus", Volume 4 was called "Villains." We now have dropped "Exodus" and jumped right to "Villains." And by rewriting this ending, it allowed us to do that.
IGN TV: You did an interview with Entertainment Weekly that addressed complaints some had about the show earlier this season.
Kring: Listen, when somebody asks me if there's anything that I would do differently on the show, the answer is "Yes, everything!" Literally everything. There isn't a frame of film that I watch that I don't think "Oh, well we could have done this! It could have been blue and not green!" And so you're kind of asking the wrong guy when you ask me what I could have done differently, because this group of writers and producers on this show are incredibly passionate about what we do and we are the worst critics; we are the most hard on our own stuff. We ask the tough questions every single day. We constantly analyze what we're doing and we constantly try and gauge where we should be and it's a very organic process. You have to remember that making a show like this is not like a cop show or a medical drama where there are literally dozens and dozens of models to fall back on – "Well, you know, we can put the same ending on Act 3 that they did on NYPD Blue in this episode." We don't have that luxury.
The show is so sort of bold and innovative and new that we don't have a template to follow. So we're making these rules up as we go along. So, because of that and the organic process of the show, there are times when you go "Well, we should have zigged instead of zagging at this point." The good news is that we are often five, six, seven episodes ahead of where the audience is, so when the audience starts to get frustrated by something, we've already felt that frustration eternally and have adjusted for it. And I think Volume 2 was very much an example of that. I think just when the audience started to feel frustrated by things, sure enough they got to episodes where those things were addressed. And that wasn't us answering the audience, because we were weeks ahead. We started shooting these episodes in June, so we were pretty far along by the time they started airing. It wasn't like we were adjusting because of what we were hearing.
The cast of Heroes
The other thing that I'll say about it is that as you go along on a show like this, the fans become harder and harder to please. I mean it's just human nature. When something isn't shiny and new anymore, you start to look at it from different angles. And in many ways, the first season had all these same problems. We had these terrible complaints in the first season about "When are these people getting together?!" and "I don't understand this." We waited until episode 9 to bring people together last year, so the frustration level was really, really high. On a show like this, I think the shelf life gets shorter and shorter and shorter with frustration. We are just trying to commit ourselves to constantly being bold and pushing the boundaries of new storytelling, and a show like this has to stay fresh and has to stay new. With fans sometimes, if you're different they say "Why are you different?" And if you're not different, they say "Well, why are you the same old show?" So you're in a catch-22 oftentimes with an audience.
All I know is that we have to keep moving forward, like a shark. We have to repopulate the show with new characters. Even though people sometimes don't want to see new characters, the truth is they kind of do. They kind of really do want to see new characters. Last year, I think we introduced over 20 characters in one season, and most of them I think met with success. So we felt very embolden that we could keep doing that. Why wouldn't we? We've had success with almost every single one. So it's all a work a progress. It's all a work in progress.
IGN TV: Do you think Heroes: Origins will live again at some point?
Kring: I really do. I think it's a fabulous idea and it was very schedule specific for this year, because it was designed to air in May and to fill up the season. That was the whole idea, was we would air until the end of April, and then Origins would go through May. It was a schedule-specific idea and it's going to have to be schedule-specific again. But it's part of the rub of television right now, in that people don't want to watch reruns. They want original programming, all the time. A television season is 39 weeks long, and most shows can do at most, 24 episodes, so therein lies the rub. If you've got 39 weeks and 24 episodes, what do you do for the rest of that time? And our idea was to come up with this other show that was produced as a separate entity, so it didn't tax our production. Do six episodes and we would expand our season to ostensibly 30 episodes by doing that. So my guess is that will still be a good idea next year, it's just we don't know when next year is! Next year doesn't exist right now.
IGN TV: What can you say about the fates of Nathan and Niki?
Kring: Well, my answer to that is it doesn't look good! [Laughs] It looks pretty dire. But as we've seen on Heroes, death is one of those things that's very, shall we say, fluid. So I would not completely count them out.
IGN TV: Some fans are wondering if Claire's blood is too much of a miracle cure. I'm assuming that's something you've thought about as well?
Kring: Yes. There's only so many times you can go to certain wells or it gets tempting to take the easy route. There's a few other tricks up our sleeve in that respect. The fans should just know that Volume 3, "Villains", when we hit the ground running is going to be pretty high velocity. While that doesn't mean action so much, it means tension and all that kind of stuff. It's going to be the cranked up version of our show.
[At this point, Kristen Bell walked up to say goodbye to Kring before she left]
IGN TV: And more of this young lady, I hope?
Kring: And hopefully Kristen will be with us forever! But right now we've got her for a few more episodes.