There are three things you should know about David Anders. The first is that he was born and raised in Portland, Oregon The second is that his background is in musical theater. The third is that he does a killer Peter O’Toole impression. The last one may not surprise you, but to fans who only know Anders from his work as Mr. Sark on Alias and Adam “Kensei” Monroe on Heroes, it’s a bit unnerving to hear him speak in a plain old American accent.
BuddyTV spoke with Anders as Heroes is winding down Volume 2. He spoke about his future with the show, how he initially found out he’d be playing two characters in two times, and his singing career with Greg Grunberg’s Band from TV. Anders also revealed quite a bit about his impression of Adam Monroe, speculating on what he’s been doing for the 400 years between Kensei and the present, and he even told us how Adam can be killed. Continue reading for the full transcript, as well as the audio file of the interview. The audio file is particularly enjoyable, given the American accent and his Peter O’Toole impression.
Hi this is John from BuddyTV and I’m talking David Anders, one of the stars of NBC’s Heroes. Hi David.
First of all, how did you get this role on Heroes?
Well, I auditioned just like most people do. It was a breakdown that said recurring character, possible series regular, so my eyes widened at that and the breakdown sounded very similar to the breakdown for Alias five years prior. A worldly character with an English accent, so, I kind of sunk my teeth into that and came in with my Peter O’Toole impression, really drunk and they said, “We love you. We love the Peter O’Toole. Come back with a plainer version of Peter O’Toole.” And I came back and I got the part.
And when you first auditioned, what did you know? Because I imagine they wanted to keep the twist that you’re also Kensei and Adam Monroe a little secret. So did you know you were auditioning for two roles?
Not really. No, not really. I think they fed me morsels at a time of information to inform my character arc. The Heroes set is shrouded in secrecy even from the Heroes actors. As the scripts went along I kind of saw the direction it was going. I’d ask, you know I’d corner an executive producer or writer and say, “Come on, you’ve got to give it to me and tell me what the heck’s to come.” And they would. Still, even at this point I don’t know where Adam Monroe is going to end up. I don’t know, there’s some element of surprise and fun in that, but it can also be frustrating.
Exactly. How late into the game then, after you got the role, did you find out that you’d stop being this you know, feudal Japanese hero and come into the future?
It was probably about five episodes in when I realized that, when they told me that. Masi [Oka] would come up and he’d have some information he heard from a writer and then I’d have to go corner that writer. Dig for information.
I’m not sure how much you can tell us about what happened to your character, but the implication certainly seems to be that Kensei has just kind of been living on earth for 400 years, until he got to be Adam Monroe.
Yeah. 400 years, to be exact. 400 plus. And Kensei uses a night cream and a leave-in conditioner to stay looking so young. His blood has healing powers and evidently his blood also has non-aging abilities.
So how much then do you even know about what happened? Because that’s a lot of backstory to fill in. The writers can probably fill in anything they want for what happened in the 400 years.
Yeah, exactly. A lot of the writers … Jeph Loeb for instance likes to say that that one betrayal by Hiro back in 1671 Japan just kind of jaded him forever. He went along 400 years in and out of every war you could guess or pre-suppose. Never really getting to know anybody, you know? Meeting friends, losing friends, and just gaining this perspective that nobody else on Earth has that it’s all going to end, except not for him. I think he’s hated women ever since the one woman he loved betrayed him. And … I don’t know. It’s all guess work, you know?
Do you know at least, because volume 2 is wrapping up in three more episodes, you’re still coming back after that? You’re not just done with this volume.
Yeah. Yeah, I’ll be back.
That’s great. And thus far we’ve seen you kind of play and older, mentor figure kind of to Milo [Ventimiglia] and to Masi [Oka]. Yet you’re five years younger. You’re 26. You’re a very young man. Does that affect how you sort of play that dynamic?
I’ve always been asked to play these parts that are far beyond my years and hold positions or do things that are far beyond my years. I’d like to think that I’m an old soul, but I’m just a 26-year-old Oregon native who couldn’t get a part as an 18-year-old when he was 18, I might add. So it’s all come … I dunno, it’s all started to make sense, these parts that I get. They’re much older than I am. I don’t know, it’s fun being older than you are. It’s fun to pretend.
Two weeks ago I was interviewing Greg Grunberg and he was saying that if his character and your character ever met, it would be a massive showdown and that you would wind up the loser. And I’m just wondering how you would respond to that.
(laughter) Well you can’t kill me, Greg! You can’t kill me! How am I going to be the loser if the guy that toys around in your mind can’t kill you? No way am I going to lose to Greg Grunberg. No way!
Exactly. And since you work with him, you’ve actually done some singing work with his band, right? Band from TV?
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
And are you doing anything more with that? Because one of those other surprises that I think a lot of fans who just see on you TV don’t know is that you actually are a singer.
Yes I am. My early, my formative years were spent in the musical theater. So yeah, I do sing … I wouldn’t classify myself a singer. But yeah, I love to sing and I think I’ll be singing “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green the next time Band from TV performs.
That should be good. And in these final three episodes, they’re kind of wrapping up this storyline. And their seems to be a long way to go with your character, as to what are his motives, what’s going on, what’s his ultimate plan. Can you give us a sneak peek as to anything that’s going to be going on with your character in these last couple episodes?
The whole Milo/Adam Monroe will see it’s fruition, I guess. You know how I can’t say much. It’ll pan out. It’ll pan out. And the audience will love it. Hopefully they’ll love what I’m doing with it. I can’t say anymore. I can’t speak anymore to that.
At least we know that hopefully, well you’ll have to survive it because your character is pretty much an immortal.
Yup. Yup. Yes sir. The only way my character can die is if someone were to cut off my head and I have yet to go do that.
-Interview conducted by John Kubicek
(Image courtesy of NBC)