Jack Coleman may have the best character in all of Heroes, and he doesn’t even have any super powers. As Claire’s unnamed dad, the secret government agent credited as HRG for his horn rimmed glasses, Coleman seemed like the villain of the series until a few weeks ago. When he sacrificed his own memories to get Claire to safety, it was heartbreaking. With a hiatus until April, we don’t know what’s in store for HRG, and neither does Coleman really, but he tried to help us in an interview.
CraveOnline: Do you expect to continue working for with Ashley Crow and Randall Bentley, or could something bad happen to them?
Jack Coleman: I can honestly say I really do not know the fate of Sandra and Lyle, but I don’t think they’re going to completely disappear at the moment. I don’t know.
CraveOnline: Since we know you’ve got a second season, what might we expect for any cliffhangers involving your character and where you see your character going into Season 2?
Jack Coleman: We’re about to start filming Episode 20. I have no idea what’s happening in Episode 21, so I’m not trying to be a killjoy when I say I have no absolutely idea about what’s going to happen next season. I do think that there are some relatively profound changes heading toward HRG but I don’t know that they’re going to continue or what’s going to happen into the next season.
CraveOnline: Do you think his mission will change given the boss coming in and kind of taking over?
Jack Coleman: Oh, I think the mission will definitely change. The question is for how long and at what cost. It’s certainly not going to be the same kind of bagging and tagging that we’ve seen HRG do with Matt and some of the others. I think that it’s going to be a very different kind of mission that he’s on.
CraveOnline: Any cast members you’re particularly hoping to work with?
Jack Coleman: I still have not worked with Masi, but that’s actually just about to change too. And I haven’t worked with Ali yet. I’ve barely worked with Adrian, I haven’t really worked with Adrian yet, sort of getting know Leonard. So there’s a bunch of people in the cast and I’ve actually integrated with more storylines than many. But yeah, I’m looking forward to all these things expanding as they are.
CraveOnline: How will your character handle Sylar now assuming he ever gets another crack at him?
Jack Coleman: Well, I can tell you that the antipathy toward Sylar is put on the backburner for a little while because other things come up and supersede, and Sylar’s out on his own sort of away from the prying eyes of HRG for a little while. HRG has other things on his plate which are demanding his full attention. So I can say that I’m not exactly sure what HRG’s approach to Sylar is going to be toward the end of the season and how it’s all going to play out but there’s no question that that’s the guy that he would very much like to get his hands on or somebody’s hands who can deal with him. But yeah, that is something, which I think will keep HRG moving forward.
CraveOnline: Claire still seems upset with you. Could you become mortal enemies?
Jack Coleman: I mean, as any allegiance on the show is subject to change, so it’s certainly can happen. I think certainly the relationship between HRG and Claire has been very strained lately and in 17, it comes to a head. I suspect that the relationship between Claire and HRG is one of the core values so to speak of this show and that as twisted as the relationship is, they’ve said so many lies to each other. But ultimately, I think they really do love each other and there’s a tremendous bond there, and I think it’s one of the sort of the bedrocks that they will build story on. So in other words, I can’t imagine that they’re going to be sort of at each other’s throats and trying to kill each other to that extent. I think it’s much more of a domestic issue than some sort of superhero issue.
CraveOnline: How hard was it to find the perfect pair of glasses, and did that inform the character?
Jack Coleman: We probably went through about, oh man, I don’t know, probably a hundred pairs. When I say we, as in props and myself and Dave Semel, the director and Dennis Hammer and Tim Kring and everybody sort of put in their opinion on it. And, yeah, we came up with sort of the perfect hero pair of horn-rimmed glasses, which we use everyday. And then there’s a backup pair and occasionally I’ve had to wear the backup pair, and it feels completely different and off and uncomfortable. So, yeah, I mean, as soon as I put the glasses on, it’s the character. Well, other than having in epiphany that I look exactly like my father did when he was my age, which is shocking. Beyond that, it was just kind of nice to refine the pair that really felt right and looked right. And then, you know, the glasses do have to work. It certainly is amazing how much something like that becomes the character for you to a certain extent.
CraveOnline: Have you seen anybody wearing the glasses as a fashion statement?
Jack Coleman: Well, I’m not sure that I have actually set-off a fashion craze. I certainly have seen some pairs of horn-rimmed glasses which I maybe just wasn’t aware of before because they didn’t standout like you buy a white car and suddenly you notice all the white cars. But I have seen them out there and they are kind of anachronistic and it takes a certain, you have to have a certain fashion courage to be anachronistic in this day and age, but I don’t know that’s going to be setting off a trend or not. But, there is a kind of a hipness to being that retro.
CraveOnline: Any endorsement deals?
Jack Coleman: Well, you know, I’m just waiting for the call to come in. No, I don’t know. I haven’t taken it down that road, I haven’t even thought about it in those terms.
CraveOnline: Does it bother you that we’re talking so much about your glasses?
Jack Coleman: I don’t think it’s odd because, I mean, after all the character’s name, he’s an acronym, HRG. I think the glasses were a very, very big part of how the character was originally conceived, you know, behind a veil, kind of a ‘50s throwback. He really is a throwback and the glasses are a huge part of the look and also sort of who he is. It’s kind of a curtain between him and other people, a bit of a disguise, a bit of a wall. So I think it makes perfect sense to discuss the glasses if that’s all that anyone is interested in and maybe they’re missing the point, but I think that the glasses are certainly a huge part.
CraveOnline: Do you know what your character’s first name is or have you given yourself a first name?
Jack Coleman: Well, there was a first name in a draft, which was then removed I think partly because it just sort of kind of stopped the scene in which it was delivered cold. And so, in other words, I think maybe they’re sort of happy at least for now going without a first name. But my personal preference is always been Anthony because then I could be Tony Bennet, but I don’t think that’s going to go anywhere.
CraveOnline: Even though we know where he’s coming from now, he’s still done some bad things to justify his ends. How did you justify that before you knew the flashback stuff?
Jack Coleman: I think it’s kind of the same like anybody justifies themselves. I think he sees himself working for the greater good and taking on a job which is dirty, but has to be done. U think it’s sort of the same way that people can justify doing all kinds of things in their personal and professional lives. But then, you see that becomes unmanageable eventually. He’s been able to sort of separate the personal and the professional for a long time, and that is about to end.
CraveOnline: You used to be on Dynasty. Which character are you most proud of or are you most recognized for now?
Jack Coleman: It’s much more from Heroes at this point. I mean, anyone who recognizes me from Dynasty is, dare I say, of a certain age, because Dynasty has been off the air for quite a while. I still get recognized all the time from Dynasty but it’s not the kids whereas now, the show is so big with teenagers and 20-year-olds and stuff that it’s a whole new audience, which is fantastic. To answer your question, I mean, I have to say that this character is much more interesting and fun to play than Steven Carrington was. Don’t get me wrong. It was a great opportunity, I love doing that but this is a much juicier role and the devil gets all the best lines. It’s a lot of fun to play and it’s definitely one that I’m proud of. And obviously other roles I did and I’m very proud of. I’ve been on stage and seen by hundreds of people, I suppose to millions of people but that’s the nature of the beast.
CraveOnline: So you’re saying you’re the devil, are you a bad guy?
Jack Coleman: No. I certainly did a setup as the bad guy for the first, 2/3 of the season, but I think that there’s light shed on both his motivation and his loyalty which I think broadens everyone’s understanding of who HRG is and what he’s been trying to do. And I think it makes him in one way more sympathetic and in other ways maybe even more horrific.
CraveOnline: Do you enjoy that ambiguity and being able to play both sides at the street a little bit?
Jack Coleman: I love the ambiguity. I think it’s what makes the character so interesting, and I know that people are perplexed and certainly, the question I’m asked all the time is, are you a good guy or a bad guy? People want to know. They want to be able to pigeonhole you. They want to be able to figure out exactly who you are and what you are. But I think the fact that he is both good and bad is what makes him so fascinating, and you realize people can do horrible things and come home and love their children. It’s a perfectly human way to behave in the world because I think most of us are living in areas of gray in some part or another of our lives. And I think it’s what makes the character interesting and fun to play.
CraveOnline: Do you have your own conspiracy theories about HRG?
Jack Coleman: I mean, you can come up with all kinds of things, but you’ll be wrong, and which is what so great. I kind of learned a long time ago in this sort of game and in serial television that you got to play what’s in front of you, you got to play what you know. There are certain themes you go in and you go, “Okay, I really don’t know what I’m alluding to here. I don’t know what this references to, you got to tell me something.” And they basically will tell me something. Oh okay, all right. Now, I know. But in general, I don’t spend too much time worrying about what’s coming on five episodes down the road. I mean, one of the things I feel is so amazing about the show is how much happens in every episode and how action packed it is and how much story there is. The writers’ expression is stuffing 50 pounds of story into a 10-pound sack, and they really do that. And more and more as the season goes on, I think you’ll see from here to the end of the season, it’s just going to be chockfull of story, and also paying things off, bringing them up and then paying them off. And speculation only get you so far and you’re going to be wrong anyway, so you might as well just kind of go for the ride.
CraveOnline: As a father, how much are you like HRG?
Jack Coleman: Well, certainly, you bring your own experience to the table. Generally on television, parents tend to be a lot more patient and a lot more interested in every achievement their darling child makes than in real life when you’re trying to get things done. So there’s a kind of idealization of my parenting skills. Of course, I’m not bagging and tagging people and doing horrible things and putting chips in them and following them around and performing experiments, so that part of the parenting thing is quite different from my own experience. But yeah, I mean, you bring your own experience and parenting to it as I do, and I have a daughter that I dote on, so it’s a whole thing with Claire. It will make sense to me, but it’s certainly not an entirely accurate equivalent from one to the other.
CraveOnline: What comic books did you read as a child and what superheroes did you look up to?
Jack Coleman: Well, it’s funny because generally people are kind of DC guys or Marvel guys, and I was sort of a Marvel guy. I liked Spidey, I like Spiderman and that whole thing. I always thought that the Marvel Comics have a great, sort of the angst to the characters and there was more of a personal cost to all of these stuff as opposed to just sort of straight, square-jawed heroes going and backing heads and making things right. So, I was kind of a Marvel guys and those are the comics I really like.
CraveOnline: As a Marvel guy, how cool was it to have Stan Lee do a cameo?
Jack Coleman: Oh, it was brilliant. I was working on the day that he came in, came into the makeup trailer and he was just the nicest guy. He was shaking hands and signing autographs and everybody loved him. I don’t know how old he is but he is a spitfire, he’s in great shape. So it was really fun to have him on the show.
CraveOnline: Have you had a particular sequence in the series that it stood out to you in the episodes that you’ve done so far?
Jack Coleman: Well, yeah, I mean, wow, there are several. The end of Episode 17 was very emotional and it’s stuck with me for a while. I think of all the scenes that I’ve done, and there are many that are fun and memorable but I think the end of Episode 17 is the one that is really stuck with me.
CraveOnline: Does it bother you that you and a very few members or the rest of the cast don’t actually have a superpower?
Jack Coleman: My experience with prosthetics is there is a lot more fun than to watch than to do. So, no, it’s also kind of fun to be the kind of guy that has to rely on knowledge and anticipation to stay alive in this world. And you see that up to this point, he’s been pretty on top of things and it’s starting to unravel. So I just never thought of it as darn, I wish I could read people’s thoughts or fly or start fires or whatever. I just think of this guy as someone who really has to rely on his knowledge and understanding of the situation to survive. And that stuff is every bit as much fun for me to play as getting burned to a crisp and healing. That’s a lot of prosthetics and frankly, that’s not all that much fun.
CraveOnline: Do you keep up with the online community?
Jack Coleman: I follow it to an extent. I mean, I’m a little bit of a luddite, so I’m not somebody who’s deep into the all that, the entire online culture of these shows. But I do, I follow it a little bit and it is pretty fascinating to hear the theories and to see all the different ideas people have about what’s happening, and some of them are incredibly inventive and some of them are fairly accurate, and then, some are just way, way off. But you can be very wrong today and proven right six months from now because it’s a very fast-moving show.
CraveOnline: Have you considered the possibility that HRG actually does have powers so he is just kind of motivated kind of self-loathing?
Jack Coleman: No, I don’t see him being motivated by self-loathing. That’s a deeper show than we’re doing. But it’s a legitimate question and sometimes it’s hard to know what motivates these people. I don’t think he does, I don’t think HRG has powers, and I may be proven wrong down the line. At the moment, I don’t.
CraveOnline: What was the most challenging scene you had to do so far for Heroes?
Jack Coleman: Well, probably doing a scene in Japanese. I just recently did an entire scene in Japanese, and that was challenging. That took quite a bit of time for me to memorize and get comfortable enough that I could do it. So, possibly that, and then, there are some scenes that are just physically strenuous but I don’t think there was one that caused me quite as much angst as when I got the script and I saw that I was doing a page and a half in Japanese. That got my attention very quickly.
CraveOnline: If you could get a power, what would you like to have?
Jack Coleman: There’s sort of the visceral thrill of flying which I don’t think anything can beat. And then, there’s the ability to turn invisible but I was kind of invisible also in the ‘90s so that didn’t work out that well. And I don’t know, we all search on this show for a really snappy wonderful answer to that question. And so maybe my special ability would be to come up with a really, really great answer to that question. I’m still working on it.