‘Heroes Reborn’ Creator Tim Kring on Why Zachary Levi May Scare Fans, New Superhero Powers and Season 4 Critics

“The conversation between him and me was how to create a character that was different from what the audience had ever seen him play,” executive producer tells TheWrap

Last Updated: September 24, 2015 @ 6:20 PM

NBC is giving “Heroes” a second chance, this time around for a limited run–maybe.

“Heroes Reborn” is a 13-episode revival of the sci-fi series that premiered in 2006 and ran for four seasons, this time featuring a whole new story with all new characters. Creator Tim Kring says the limited episode count was an intentional decision made with the network, but that doesn’t rule out the possibility of more.

“I think it hopefully does create the idea in the audience’s mind that it is an elastic enough premise that should it prove to be successful, the idea is to see that there is always another way to tell another story,” Kring said in an interview with TheWrap.

Kring also talked about what went wrong with the original series, explained why a limited run is a better fit, and teased new powers and characters. Read the full interview below:

TheWrap: How did the reboot come about? Did you approach NBC or did they approach you?
Kring: It was a little bit of both. There had been a lot of talk behind the scenes for a long time about this. Or about something with the brand. There was a lot of recognition that when the show was on the air last time, the paradigm had shifted so much in the way people were watching. Our last full calendar year on the air, we were the number one most downloaded show in the world … Yet the show was cancelled five months later because of the ratings.

The truth is there was this very large audience for the show that was not watching it in traditional ways anymore. At the time, the network had no way of dealing with that. As a single-source revenue business–selling advertising–that was not a situation they could deal with. But the potency of the audience was still there for it. So there was discussion kind of simmering all along about it. When they did approach me, it was sort of the end of a very long conversation.

How will the new series be connected to the original?
The show picks up five years after the original series, but this isn’t a fifth season of the show. This is more like the tenth season of the show. In other words, there’s a missing five years there, so we picked up right where the show would’ve been five years later, had we had those extra seasons … when we pick up five years later, we have a world that has lived with people with powers, and when we drop into our story, we discover a world where these people are exploited and persecuted, hunted and haunted. It didn’t go well, in other words.

Do you see “Heroes” living on beyond this series?
Well this particular story was all that we were asked to tell, and it was all we wanted to tell. It was really important to make that contract with the audience: That this is a 13-episode event series. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. If you log on to it and tune in, you are guaranteed to have the story end by episode 13 … I think it hopefully does create the idea in the audience’s mind that it is an elastic enough premise that should it prove to be successful, the idea is to see that there is always another way to tell another story.

Is that the reason the later seasons of “Heroes” faced so much criticism?
We had an order of 23 episodes the first season, and 26 seasons the second season, but the first season took us 14 months to make. So we were facing a sort of mathematical impossibility from the very beginning. I tried to tell it in volumes where we could end stories, but I do believe that it was a very difficult process for us … It’s hard to be rare and special when you’re neither rare nor special.

With so many superheroes shows having come on the air since the end of the original series, how do you stand out?
That obviously is a complicated question for everybody in TV. This show has always been about heroes. It’s really about people … and I think it’s the very personal nature of having powers that sets it a little apart. The genre aspects of the show were always judiciously doled out. The show was much more connected to the characters than to their powers.

Are there any new powers in “Heroes Reborn” you’re excited for the audience to see?
I don’t think it’s any secret that it’s very hard to create new powers that people haven’t seen before. There’s a reason why most superheroes have one of about five different powers. Flight, super strength and invisibility, they’re not only visually the best, but they also seem to lend themselves best to story. Some of those archetypal powers are given a kind of new spin. Yes, there are a couple of powers the audience will see that are not from the original, but there are some that are from the original just with a new flavor.

Zachary Levi‘s character is so different than what he’s done before, what has it been like working with him on the new show?
Zach was a big fan of the first series, because he had his show “Chuck” on NBC at the same time, so we often saw each other at NBC events and that sort of thing. He was kind of like a fanboy. So when he heard it was coming back, they got us together very early. We started talking about his involvement from the very beginning. The conversation between him and me was how to create a character that was different from what the audience had ever seen him play. He was very involved in those early discussions, and I think the audience will see that he’s an extremely versatile actor, and he’ll have an intensity that might be startling for the audience to see.

“Heroes Reborn” premieres Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. on NBC.

See TheWrap Magazine’s Fall TV Issue complete coverage here:

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