With Heroes back on our screens with season three, we were able to catch up for a natter with Zachary Quinto - anti-hero Gabriel "Sylar" Gray himself. A little of this has been in print courtesy of SFX 175 but here's the full detail. Enjoy!
SFX: So, Sylar's back at the epicentre of the story this time?!
Zachary Quinto: "He definitely has a re-emergence into the core of the ensemble. 'Villains' as a moniker for the season means a lot of different things, though: it's not all about Sylar. There are other important characters there – there are definitely other villains in play."
SFX: Do you think the criticisms of season two were fair?
Quinto: "We can look back on season two and see that it served a really specific purpose. The reality is that just as we were beginning to hit our stride we were truncated by the writers' strike, and that really derailed our ability to follow through and to bring fans back to what they had come to expect."
SFX: Will season three deliver something very different?
Quinto: "Absolutely. I think season three is a pretty incredible return to the kind of entertainment that people had come to enjoy and expect from the show – just the idea that there's a lot more action, there's a lot more story that moves forward in bigger steps each episode. And there's a sense of unity that it really is the heroes fighting for something again, whereas I think season two was a little bit more about the heroes discovering their own journeys and figuring out where it was taking them."
SFX: And are you interacting with a bunch of new characters in this season?
Quinto: "This season is about revisiting some of the dynamics which were effective in the first season… but framing them in a different set of circumstances and putting them in different situations. So I've been spending a lot of time with people I worked with in the first season! But spending very different kind of time with them…"
SFX: With Sylar's awesome powers, he's got to be unstoppable! How do you keep somebody like that grounded in reality?
Quinto: "This character's been so well defined by the writers that it's always easy to come back to the origins of what drives him. He's ultimately fragile and hungry for approval from outside himself. It's his pursuit of that approval and respect that gives him a sense of importance and purpose. And these are qualities that any human being can relate to. As a character he's well rooted in something that talks to us all."
SFX: What is it about Sylar that appeals to people – do people just love a bad boy?
Quinto: "He's a very archetypal character. I think he represents the shadow side that people don't often get to explore in their own lives and so it gives them an opportunity to project their own shadow, or their own darkness, onto that character, who they can then either really love, or love to hate, or simply hate! There are varying degrees of people's response to him – he's a very magnetic character and his energy lives in his shadow. We live in a society today where a lot of people's shadows are overlooked or suppressed or sublimated into other areas of their lives, so they need to find some kind of outlet for it. And that's why people turn to creative content to give them that, and I think this character fulfils that really well."
SFX: You're not a killer in real life! But is anything about Sylar "you"?
Quinto: "Oh, of course, it's impossible to play a character for as long as I've played this one – it's impossible to play any character at all – without having some sort of connection to him, without bringing a part of yourself to it. That's just the nature and the craft of acting. I can certainly relate to all those qualities of the character that are echoes of the human experience. So definitely I draw upon aspects of my own personality in order to fulfil the requirements of where the character is in his emotional life at any given time."
SFX: Tim Kring recently said that after "Villains" the later episodes are going to be a new volume called "Fugitives". Have you been told what direction Sylar's story is going to take?
Quinto: "Absolutely no idea! We're kept only as far ahead of production as we need to be. I don't really have any sense of where the show's going in the next volume! We have 13 episodes and I'm just on episodes 10 and 11 right now so we have three more to shoot, then the next volume will unfold. I'm just focussing on what is right in front of us and what the task in hand is – and that's to make the best 13 episodes we can for the first volume of the third season."
SFX: Thanks Zachary!
Remember you can also read some of the things Zachary Quinto had to say about taking on the role of Spock in the Star Trek film next year on our site. The rest of SFX's Heroes feature is to be found in SFX 175 which is on sale until Wednesday 22 October, when the new issue (with insight into this year's Doctor Who Christmas Special) is released.