The Haitian, whose actual name has yet to be revealed on NBC’s hit television series, Heroes, has the power to manipulate other people’s minds and erase memories. Jimmy Jean-Louis, the Haitian actor and model who plays The Haitian, took some time to talk to BuddyTV about the show, his character, and what we can expect to see in upcoming episodes.
Read the full interview script or listen to the MP3 audio below.
BuddyTV: The Haitian is such a presence on Heroes and the interesting thing is that for a lot of your episodes, he had no voice. Was that a big challenge for you as an actor?
Jimmy Jean-Louis: He had no voice but he had a big spirit. That’s what mattered. Yes of course it is a big challenge when you don’t get to say anything because it’s always harder to portray what you want to portray without the words. So it’s always a bigger challenge but because I understood the character and I am from Haiti and I connected pretty much with everything that I was asked to do so it wasn’t too hard.
Definitely, definitely. He does have that huge screen presence. Did you know in the beginning that eventually you were going to be able to talk?
Yeah, yeah. I’d been told you know the way they hired me that at one point I will be talking, at one point I will be going off with Claire and that was about it. I don’t know what I’m going to be doing next but yes, I always knew it.
Was the character a Haitian in the beginning? Did they tweak it towards your ethnicity?
Yeah, it was a funny process because originally I auditioned for the role of D.L. who is the husband and the father of the kid. I read for about three times for them and obviously they didn’t want to go with me. And then a few months down the line they called me back to read for the character that I’m doing now. But I wasn’t here. I was in Europe promoting another movie, so I couldn’t see them. And they decided to give it to me eventually without seeing me. But originally it was supposed to be a guy from New Zealand not from Haiti at all. So I guess because they hired me then the character became the Haitian because I am from Haiti.
Right, right. At this point the Haitian, his name has not been revealed is that right?
No, no we still don’t know. Even though he has a name, he has a name, but I think everybody sort of likes the Haitian so far, you know he has a lot of mystery with it so I don’t know how much longer we’re going to keep the Haitian but yeah, yeah, he really has a name.
So at this point as far as you know it’s not going to be revealed to us?
I don’t know when, I don’t know when. And I don’t think I can reveal it to you either for the moment.
Sure. At what point in filming are you guys right now?
We are doing number 23, end of 22 and beginning of 23, which is the last of the year, of the season.
How are you feeling about it?
Well you know what a lot of things are going to be happening in the next 5 episodes you know. A lot of people will die obviously. There will be an explosion. And you will have a lot of answers of all those questions. But ah, what else can I give you…
I’m guessing probably not very much.
Not very much! We will be going into the future, like five years into the future. And of course whatever will happen in the future will be just in the future. Meaning by that we will have a chance to go back in the past and stop everything from happening. So the future will not be a reality.
Oh excellent. Is the Haitian really involved in the episodes that take place in the future?
He is in the future, yes, he is in the future. Meaning by that he will on five years from now, from what I understand anyway.
At this point I think it’s probably safe to say you’re set for Season 2.
I don’t know if anything is safe. This is the kind of show where they could actually kill anybody and still get away with it because they can always bring back 15 new heroes. So because I might not die then I can say I might come back but nobody knows for sure.
And even if you died, Hiro could always you know grunt and go back in the past…
Exactly, that’s why I am trying to be good friends with Hiro, so he can save me.
Do you find, this show being appealing to the Sci-Fi comic book crowd, what kind of impact has that had on you personally? Do you find a lot of people recognize you walking down he street and come up and ask you about the show?
Actually yes you know especially when I travel. I’ll be at the airport and then somebody will come by, “[gasp] the Haitian, you’re not going to erase my memories are you?” So I get that a lot. And yes people recognize me a lot in the streets nowadays, which tells me how powerful the show is. You know I mean I’ve been doing a bunch of movies before Heroes and I’ve not been recognized as much as I’m being since I’m on Heroes. So yeah, the show is doing well and it’s also doing well in Europe and in Australia, South America, Asia; pretty much all over the world.
Do you think people anticipated that from the beginning? I know in the beginning they called it kind of a “surprise hit” but you know for guys like myself who are Sci-Fi geeks; you know I immediately got into the show. So it wasn’t too much of a surprise to me.
Well I think the creator sort of knew that he had a hit but I don’t think anybody could tell exactly how much of a hit they had. And yes it did become a surprise after the first 2 episodes to see how many people were following the show and how crazy they were about the show. That was a surprise. But I want to believe that the creator knew that it was going to be fantastic. I didn’t have a clue on what I was signing on to be honest with you. But you know I’m happy that I’m part of it.
I’m sure. Have you been invited into the whole comic book convention scene?
No not yet. You know they’ve been around, I think I was supposed to do one of them but I wasn’t in town. No, but I know I’m probably going to be doing some this summer. And I didn’t know that those things were happening all the time all over the nation. It’s just non-stop. So I’m looking forward to going to one of them.
With the Haitian in the beginning you didn’t know, he was kind of this ambiguous character, you didn’t really think he was necessarily evil because obviously people were escaping with their lives but did you know that your character was eventually going to have this heroic turn later on and be one of the good guys?
Well I’m still not sure if I’m good. There are going to be many other turns. He’s that kind of guy. You know he turns one time and then he might turn back again. So I knew that there were going to be turns you know where you will learn a little bit more about him, what exactly he is up to. But even myself, I’m not completely sure of his agenda; I don’t know what direction he is going to go next. So yeah, I’m as excited as everybody else to see what is going to happen to the Haitian.
Definitely. He’s in New York now.
He’s chilling with Grandma you know and the baby girl; you know they have a good time together. So we’ll see what is going to happen to them.
Final question here. Coming up you’re shooting the finale now. What do you think the audience’s reaction to this is going to be? Is it something that’s going to be a huge twist and send us off in a new direction or are we going to see some closure, more closure and just kind of leave us hanging as to what the next step is going to be?
In the next few episodes? There will be some closure. There will be closure to the big questions and of course we will set up the new season. But there will be some type of answers. And I mean it’s not the kind of show where there has to be one big answer either you know, because you have so many characters, so many stories and sub stories going on that you cannot just end one season and think that, okay we’ve answered to every single questions. You know what I mean? So yes the audience won’t be disappointed because the show will be answering some questions but at the same time you know a lot of other issues will surface and we all know that for the next year we’re going to have more heroes coming on as well from different parts of the world.
And Tim Kring has already said that some heroes may turn bad.
Exactly, which is nice, I like that. Can you imagine for example, having Hiro, for example, turning bad? That would be a good twist. So lord knows who is going to turn bad.
(Interview conducted by Jon Lachonis)
Senior Writer, BuddyTV