Jack Coleman on ‘Heroes Reborn’s ‘Pockets of Human Connection’ (and Why HRG Shouldn’t Have Powers)

Heroes Reborn - Season 1

How’s this for good news/bad news? On NBC’s Heroes Reborn, Noah “HRG” Bennet (Jack Coleman) recently found out that he’s the grandfather of superpowered twins Malina (Danika Yarosh) and Nathan (Robbie Kay), who were secretly born to his daughter, Claire (played on the original Heroes by Hayden Panettiere). But there’s no time for happiness—the Earth’s poles are shifting apart and humanity’s about to expire! Coleman breaks it down.

HRG’s head must be spinning. How’s he handling all this?
Claire was always his raison d’être, and that doesn’t change because she’s dead. Now he’s on a mission to protect her children, who are being called upon to save the world. What’s cool is that these kids are Claire’s flesh and blood but not HRG’s, because Claire was adopted. It’s a wonderful take on how we look at things in 2015. You don’t have to be blood to be family.

HRG will find Malina in the November 19 episode. Should we have tissues handy?
Maybe so. There’s some lovely, emotional stuff coming up, like those moments in war films where soldiers have a quiet talk knowing that s–t is about to get deep. Even though humanity may become extinct, it’s hard to stay in that fast and furious, fight or flight mode. We need those little pockets of human connection in a wild show like ours. Otherwise, we’re just a big ball of plot. You know, on one hand, this doomsday scenario is fantastical. On the other hand it’s not.

How do you figure that?
Scientists have done studies about exactly how many people it would take to repopulate the planet and, according to them, it’s not very many. So what happens if some incredibly together, maleficent force like Erica Kravid [Rya Kihlstedt] and her Renautus team know something cataclysmic is going to happen and they get their ducks in a row and become the only people to survive? There’s a scientific basis for this insanity. Of course, no one would believe there’d be people willing to just let the rest of the world die but, as Erica says, “Humanity is my Uncle Jerry—300 pounds and diabetic and won’t change his habits.” That’s really a wonderful indictment of what’s going on in our society. You could almost for a second go, “Yeah, there’s something to that!” But then you think, “Really? You’re just gonna let everybody die?”

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Reformed serial killer Luke (Zachary Levi) wants to help save the world and he and HRG are about the meet. Will HRG trust him?
HRG is skeptical about Luke though he doesn’t exactly know why, or what horrible things the guy’s been up to. But this is Luke’s redemption story so there’s also something very compelling about him. HRG is torn. It’s a conundrum, but it ends up resolving itself in a “facts on the ground” sort of way. Events happen that will leave no time for decision-making.

It’s hard to believe we used to be so suspicious of HRG!
[Laughs] Those were the days! Back in the early weeks of Heroes, that voiceover guy used to refer to HRG as the “Face Of Evil.” So Masi Oka [Hiro] always called me “FOE.” It’s been an amazing ride. I never could have predicted this.

Unlike many of the other core Heroes characters, Noah has never had a special power. Do you feel left out?
Never. It’s one of my favorite things about HRG. He has to rely on his wits and skills and can’t just blast a force field to knock somebody off their feet. I’d hate to have the producers call me into a meeting and say, “OK, HRG has powers now. He can turn water into wine.” I love that he can handle himself in a world where he’s outgunned.

The Heroes Reborn fall finale airs Thursday, Nov. 19 at 8/7c on NBC.