NBC’s Heroes, which debuts with a two-hour pilot on September 25, is one of the most talked-about new series of the 2006 fall season. (The show is also available as a free download on iTunes beginning September 1st.) The Chicago Sun-Times says that “Heroes” is “acclaimed for its tone, pacing, acting and character development”, while a number of outlets have compared the ensemble sci-fi drama to ABC’s hit “Lost”.
With so many fresh faces on the show, we compiled short biographies of each of NBC’s “Heroes”:
Hayden Panettiere (Claire Bennet)
Hayden Panettiere, though only 17, is a veteran of television and movies. Best known for roles on daytime soaps “One Life to Live” and, more recently “Guiding Light”, she has also appeared on dozens on television shows, over 50 commercials (according to IMDB.com), and a number of films.
Panettiere’s most recent work includes a human role in the 2005 animated film Racing Stripes and repeated appearances on Fox’s long-running hit “Malcolm in the Middle.” On “Heroes,” Hayden will play Claire Bennet, a high school cheerleader from Odessa, Texas with a seemingly unbreakable body.
Adrian Pasdar (Nathan Petrelli)
Adrian Pasdar’s career in Hollywood began with the role of Chipper in 1986’s mega-hit Top Gun; according to IMDB.com, director Tony Scott was so taken by Pasdar’s audition that “he wrote the part of Chipper just for (Pasdar).” In the twenty years since, Pasdar has lived on the fringe of Hollywood, taking bit roles in TV shows and independent films until 2005 guest turns on both “Judging Amy” and “Desperate Housewives”.
Perhaps best known for his marriage to controversial country star, and Dixie Chicks member, Natalie Maines, Pasdar grew up in Pennsylvania and attended the University of Florida on a football scholarship, before a car accident ended his career. On NBC’s “Heroes”, Pasdar plays Nathan Petrelli, a New York City politician fearful of his brother’s claim to supernatural abilities.
Milo Ventimiglia (Peter Petrelli)
Milo Ventimiglia is an experienced television actor, having been a regular on the long-running “Gilmore Girls” and NBC’s “American Dreams”, in addition to guest starring on “Boston Public” and “CSI”. In addition to his new role on “Heroes,” he joined the cast of the WB’s “The Bedford Diaries” in 2006.
Ventimiglia will also play Rocky Balboa Jr. in Rocky Balboa the sixth installment of the Rocky series, to be released later this year. Off-screen, Ventimiglia dated “Gilmore Girls” co-star Alexis Bledel for over three years before splitting in July, according to People Magazine. On NBC’s “Heroes”, Ventimiglia plays Peter Petrelli, the younger brother of a politician who believes that he may be able to fly.
Sendhil Ramamurthy (Mohinder Suresh)
One of “Heroes” freshest faces, Sendhil Ramamurthy takes his first recurring role on “Heroes,” after successful guest turns on “Numb3rs”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, and “Guiding Light.” A native of Chicago, and the son of Indian-born physicians, Ramamurthy is married to actress Olga Sosnovska, best known as Lena Kundera on “All My Children.”
Despite his relative lack of experience, Sendhil’s character will be the centerpiece of “Heroes”: a renowned geneticist from India who moves to the U.S. to uncover the mysteries of the other heroes.
Ali Larter (Niki Sanders)
Larter is undoubtedly the best-known cast member of “Heroes”; a star of numerous movies including Final Destination, Legally Blonde, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, she is famous (or infamous) for the whipped-cream bikini she sported opposite James Van Der Beek in “Varsity Blues”.
A native of New Jersey, Larter started modeling at 13, according to IMDB.com, and after a few TV guest spots – including a role on “Just Shoot Me” – began her film career. On NBC’s “Heroes,” Larter plays Niki Sanders, a single mom and stripper from Las Vegas with a secret in her mirror.
Masi Oka (Hiro Nakamura)
Oka is another fresh face in “Heroes”‘ ensemble cast; he began his Hollywood career behind the scenes, as a technical assistant on the Star Wars trilogy, as well as Hulk and Terminator 3. A 2001 guest turn on “Dharma & Greg” brough Masi out in front of the camera, and appearances on “Gilmore Girls”, “Yes, Dear” and a recurring role on NBC’s “Scrubs” soon followed.
Oka was born in Japan but graduated from Brown University before joining George Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic (where he did his production work on the three recent Star Wars films). On NBC’s “Heroes”, Oka plays Hiro Nakamura, a Japanese manager with the sudden ability to alter time.
Santiago Cabrera (Isaac Mendez)
The least experienced, and most interesting, of “Heroes”‘ cast members is Santiago Cabrera, who plays isaac Mendez, a heroin-addicted New York City painter who discovers that he may be able to see the future. Cabrera’s U.S. TV experience is limited to his 2005 role as Octavius in ABC’s epic miniseries “Empire”.
Mendez is a world traveler, born in Venezuela and having lived in six countries by his fifteenth birthday. Like co-star Adrian Pasdar, Cabrera was a college athlete – a soccer player in Chile. Cabrera found his true calilng in London, becoming an established theatre actor while taking small roles in several British television series. Fluent in four languages, Cabrera also stars in Goal! II opposite David Beckham, which will be released in the near future.
Greg Grunberg (Matt Parkman)
Grunberg is the most experienced TV actor in the cast; with regular roles on “NYPD Blue,” “The Jake Effect”, “Felicity”, and the recently-cancelled ABC series “Alias”, Grunberg is a familiar face to regular television viewers. He has also appeared in several national commercials as well as on “The Tonight Show”.
Grunberg is close to “Lost” producer J.J. Abrams (he was eaten in the “Lost” pilot); because of that, he does not appear in the “Heroes” pilot. As he told E! Online: “There’s a superstition that I share and that is that if I’m in a pilot, there’s a problem. I wasn’t in the pilot of Felicity, and I was a regular for years. I wasn’t in the pilot of Alias, I was a regular for years. I was in the pilot for Lost, and I was eaten in about five minutes.”
Grunberg will play Matt Parkman, an LAPD beat cop who hears strange voices that may help him save a sinking marriage and a struggling career.