Save the cheerleader, save the world. At least that’s what we thought, right? Heroes Reborn brings us five years after the Heroes finale, where the brave new world we were promised has turned out to be something of a nightmare. After a horrific event in Odessa, TX, humans with powers (now called “Evos”) in the United States are hunted down and forced into hiding, or to flee to safe havens like Canada.
It’s in this frightening new reality that we meet our new heroes, all with very different stories and mysterious pasts, but who will eventually form together to fight a new threat. Of course, there’s still a lot of mystery behind the new event series, including a new power that’s guaranteed to shock viewers.
To learn more about one of our new heroes, Carlos, The TV Junkies caught up with actor Ryan Guzman, who reveals his excitement to play a Mexican-American character and discusses what sets Heroes Reborn apart from its predecessor.
The TV Junkies: Your character is considered a war hero in his community, but he’s also deeply troubled and seems to have a drinking problem. How would you describe Carlos’ mindset at the start of the series?
Ryan Guzman: It’s a lot of self-deprecation. He is kind of consumed in his own lack of self worth and in that of his family. He’s coming from a war in Afghanistan where he was presented as a hero, in which he doesn’t feel he’s achieved that success, and then comes to a broken family where it’s kind of dangling by a thread. Then, to add on top of that, [he’s] in this chaotic world where it’s pretty much its own war, where there’s segregation of a certain culture who’s being bagged and tagged. For Carlos, it’s almost too much to take in, and he drowns his sorrows obviously through alcohol.
TTVJ: You talk about him being a hero and feeling like he’s not living up to that. Of course, in the context of the show, when you think about heroes, you think about people with superpowers. Considering Carlos is one of the characters that doesn’t have those powers, how do you feel that character challenges the notion of what a hero is?
RG: He may or may not have powers, we’re not sure. I love the character of Carlos, just from the main fact that I think there’s a point where the audience can relate to the character, where they’re going through something very tough, and being [in] that heroic moment, that achievement in oneself to battle your innermost demons, and present to the world this new man or woman. Carlos, I think, represents that.
TTVJ: Carlos’ family plays a big part in his story. How do you feel that the story of his family relates to the overall theme of the show?
RG: I love the fact that Carlos is a Mexican-American man. In Mexican culture family is everything, I mean, you’re raised as one unit and you’re always told to look out for each other. I feel like he’s ostracized a little bit, but the family comes together through the progression of the show. I’m trying not to give too much away, but there are parallels in terms of other characters and what happens throughout the series that you can pull from, as well as looking towards this character’s family. It’s everybody for themselves at one point and then we have come together to tackle this one massive issue.
TTVJ: We’re picking up five years after the original series left off. What do you think Heroes Reborn does to stand out from the original?
RG: It’s completely different from the original series, but it’s also the same, if that makes any sense. We still integrate old characters–I shouldn’t say old characters because Jack [Coleman] hates it when I call them old–but characters from the original series are passing the torch to these newer characters, whether it be Kiki [Sukezane], or Robbie Kay or myself.
This new series, this “reborn” series, if I can say, is a lot darker. The series prior was more about how these Heroes could become part of the general population and still use their powers. This [series is set in] this whole society where people know and like to segregate these evolved humans and hunt these people down. So it’s a very fear-based world, and calling it a dystopian society would be putting it lightly because everybody’s out for themselves and they’re not taking names, they’re getting toe tags.
TTVJ: So how does Carlos feel about the Evos? Is he on the pro-side of people with powers or does he fear them like some other people do?
RG: I think Carlos doesn’t care too much in the beginning. Like I said, he’s so self-involved and he’s known about the evolved humans, he’s encountered the evolved humans. There’s one that I can say that means a lot to him, that’s changed the course of his future, but I think he’s not thinking so much about what these people are and how different they are from him, I think he’s thinking about, ‘What’s the big deal? I don’t get why they can’t be apart of this society.’ That’s what I love about this character so much, he doesn’t see black and white, he sees the grey and the middle as well. He kind of blends the colour lines and the segregation lines.
TTVJ: You have a background in mixed martial arts as well as dance from the Step Up movies. How did that help during the action sequences?
RG: Oh, I dance so well in these outfits [laughs]. The mixed martial arts I try to implement as much as I can because that is my bread and butter. I love martial arts, I’ve been training for almost 10 or 11 years now, in different forms and facets, so any time I can try to show off a certain skill or a certain martial art I try to bring it out.
I get carried away too much sometimes, so the producers kind of reel me back in and say, ‘No, Carlos wouldn’t be doing Kenpo.’ There’s a lot of brute force with Carlos in his actions scenes. It’s more about the feeling behind each punch rather than the type of punch he’s throwing.
TTVJ: What do you hope that the fans will take away from the new series?
RG: There’s so much that I hope they take away from the series, I’d hope that they’d, first off, love the Carlos character [laughs]. But, as well, just become intrigued enough to dive deep into this Heroes Reborn world and just be captivated by everything. It’s a lot to take in at first, that’s why they put the first two episodes together. So the first episode is more about telling you where we are, showing you where we are, and getting you there. Then the second episode we dive right into the action and the meat of the story.
I just want them to become invested. It’s easy to get invested in the series because of the drama, the passion, the action, like I said, how dark it is. There’s so much each person can take away and I think we’re attacking every demographic as well, we’ve got everything everybody else would want.
TTVJ: Everything? Can you give an example?
RG: One of my favourite storylines, which is Kiko and Toru [Uchikado]’s storyline, they play Ren and Miko, they’re set in Japan. Without trying to give away too much, again, she is one of the most original characters I’ve seen in the franchise of Heroes. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen on TV and just the performances that they give; you’re reading the subtitles, but that doesn’t distract you away from the performance, especially Toru. I gotta give him a lot of credit, I fell in love with his character right away after seeing their storyline play out.
Another good storyline that I think is amazing is Robbie Kay’s storyline; he plays Tommy, who is actually being hunted for his power. He’s running away from all these people that want to take it away from him and use it for horrible, horrible reasons, of which I obviously cannot say. He just wants to become part of the general population, he just wants to live his normal life. Again, it’s a very relatable feeling to anybody that’s felt like they’re different, and they just want to become normal. You kind of see that normalcy is a state of mind and his character presents that perfectly.
There’s a lot to take away from each storyline and each storyline is different from the next. Mine happens to be Latin-based and I love that aspect, we’re bringing Mexican culture to the forefront and showing how much these cultures mean to us.
Will you be tuning into the new series? Sound off in the comments below.
The Heroes Reborn two-hour premiere airs Thursday, Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. ET on Global and NBC.
Associate Editor Kelly Townsend always had strong opinions on TV growing up, so it was only natural to evolve from couch musings to online journalism. She can't ever choose a favorite series, so please don't ask. Her writing has also appeared on IndieWire and Tribute.ca. You can find her on Twitter at @kellybtownsend.