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Feature: Heroes

20/20 Vision

Jack ColemanHe’s defined by his glasses and lack of a Christian name, but there’s more to HRG than that, explains his other self, Jack Coleman

Some people say that the clothes make the man, but as far as Heroes’ mysterious Mr Bennet, or HRG (Horn-Rimmed Glasses) as he’s been nicknamed by fans, is concerned, it’s the glasses that have definitely helped define who he is. “The glasses are a very big part of how my character was first conceived,” notes Jack Coleman, the actor behind HRG’s specs. “He’s kind of a Fifties throwback to the movie studio’s image of a guy who’s plotting a revolution in some South American country. The glasses are like a curtain or wall between him and those around him.

“We probably went through 100 or so pairs of glasses trying to choose just the right ones. And when I say we, I mean the executive producers, including Tim Kring [series creator], Dennis Hammer and Dave Semel as well as the props people and myself. Everybody had an opinion. As soon as I put the glasses on it was HRG. Actually, when I first saw myself in the mirror I had an epiphany that I looked exactly like my dad when he was my age, which was shocking,” jokes the actor. “Beyond that, it’s amazing how much something like glasses can, to a certain extent, become the character for you.”

Living in Odessa, Texas with his wife and two children, Mr Bennet is a paper salesman who works for the Primatech Paper Company. Or is he? In fact, it’s all a front. The company and its employees have spent the past 15 years investigating, capturing and experimenting on people with superhuman powers. Bennet claims he only wants to help them learn to control their abilities, but his bosses have other plans. The character is first seen in the Heroes Season One opener Genesis, where he meets Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy), who is investigating the murder of his father Chandra (Erick Avari) and his connection to these superheroes. As débuts go it was a modest one, but nonetheless attractive for Coleman.

“I first became aware of Heroes through a friend of mine who’s a writer on another series,” he recalls. “He told me, ‘There’s this wonderful pilot script called Heroes that I’ve heard great things about’’ Then I discovered that it was being produced by Tim Kring as well as Dennis Hammer and Dave Semel, who directed the pilot, both of whom I know. I subsequently went in to read for the role knowing it was a very small one. It was basically a one-page audition from the pilot where Bennet is sitting in the back seat of the cab and is being rather threatening towards Mohinder. That was the extent of it.

“Then, however, I found out at the very end of the episode that Bennet is Claire’s father. I thought to myself, ‘This [character] definitely has the potential to grow’. Of course, back then I had no idea that the role would become what it has, or that the show would become the juggernaut that it has.”

by Steven Eramo

Read the full interview and much, much more on Heroes in
Cult Times Special #44

Photo © NBC
Feature © Visual Imagination 2007. Not for reproduction

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