Greg Grunberg on Heroes Casting, Playing Matt Parkman and More

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Another Heroes fan site, 9th Wonders, talked with Greg Grunberg early on last season. Here's what the man who portrays Matt Parkman had to say...

Were you part of the initial casting process for Heroes?
I was. I actually read for Milo's role. I had worked with the director, Dave Semel, on House, and I had a deal with NBC. And my deal was coming up, I'd done a pilot for them that they didn't pick up, and I so desperately wanted to work with NBC. I just love them. I love what they do. They get me.

And right at the very end of my deal, they sent me this script, and said would you go in and audition and meet with Tim Kring for this role. Found out that Dave Semel was doing it, and so I went in. It was only an hour-long script when I got it. I called Dave, and I said "hey, I'm so excited, I'm gonna go read for you tomorrow," and he said "You're completely wrong for that role." And I had prepared, and everything. I go in, and I audition. I said "I'm gonna knock your socks off. You're gonna love it. I really wanna do this."

Greg Grunberg Pic
Because when I read the pilot, it read to me like a MOVIE. It didn't read like a show. It truly read like something which is, you know, I'm a fan of the genre, and I love the fact that when you create something like this, you're creating a world, the mythology, the history, the future - it has to be laid out. You have to have answers. Not every answer, but you've gotta know where this stuff's going for it to really work, and it just seemed like a story that somebody had wanted to tell and had been working on for their whole life. Tim assures me that's not the case, he threw it together in a matter of weeks.

But it really is so well-written, and I love his writing, and coming from the world of Lost, and Alias, and JJ's writing, and Jesse Alexander, and Damon, these guys - they're just such good writers that, when I read this, I was like "Okay. This is what I want to do." There were a number of pilots I was considering.

Anyway, I went in there, auditioned, I wasn't right for it, but Tim had something up his sleeve, which was the second hour of this two-hour pilot that he was planning, and one of his favorite characters, he's told me since, is this cop. So as I was driving home, they called me and said hey, we're gonna send you a script, if you would play this guy, we'd love you to play this guy. So it was an offer, immediately, it was great. After this audition, I read it, I LOVE this character because I think it's one of the most relatable characters, because his ability is one of the least fanciful abilities, which is reading minds. I mean, obviously, it's still a leap, but something that we can all relate to more than flying or some of the other ones.

So I jumped on it, I loved it. We shot the two-hour pilot, and I think now, I'm not sure exactly, but I don't know if I'm going to be in the pilot-pilot, but that's fine. My character is a very integral part of the show, and has been since the beginning.

What can you say about your character of Matt?
He's this frustrated cop. Frustrated just because he, like all of these other characters, is like most other people. If you talk to people, everyone feels like they are possibly not destined to do more, but everybody feels like they can do more in their life, whether it be lose weight, or get in a better relationship, this guy feels like he needs to be more a part of the action. He wants to be a detective. He's a LAPD beat cop. He's taken the detective test three times, and not passed, and why has he not passed? Because he's got a secret that he doesn't want to share with the department, for fear that he'd be put down to a desk job, which is he's dyslexic.

It's something that's been a real problem. He and his wife have argued about this for years. She's like, just divulge it, who cares. I can't tell them. She's frustrated because she's happy with her life. She's like, "Matt, we can't be happy unless you're happy. Why can't you just be content with where you are in your life?"And I've said for years, in this relationship to her, I know that I'm destined to do more. I know I can do more. I want to be where the action is.

I'm not going to retire a beat cop. And just like anybody else in life, if you were stranded on a desert island and you wanted to lose weight, there you go. You're gonna lose weight. Except for Hurley. Somehow Hurley has found a way to keep the weight on. But if you hate your situation in L.A., and someone picks you up, puts you in a box, and ships you to Florida, you don't know anyone. Now you've got to start your life.

Everybody needs a kick in the pants, and that Matt gets. He gets the ability -- the one thing that a cop needs more than anything else, which is to be able to hear, see, read the truth. That's what he gets. He's able to read minds, and hear thoughts.

Heroes is truly a show that's starting at the very beginning. We're not coming in to the middle of a story. Stuff has been happening, obviously, in this whole world of people getting abilities and becoming heroes, but as far as these characters are concerned, which it really is a character piece rather than a sci-fi piece, I think, you're at the various instances of what happens to these characters and how they're dealing with it, and in my case, I have absolutely no idea what these voices are, where they're coming from, what's going on. I think I'm going crazy.

And I quickly learn, at a crime scene, that I can use this to my advantage, and I can really do some good, and then I use it to promote myself. And over the course of the series, I think I'm going to get into some really great situations, being someone who is in law enforcement, and trained, and who's in a position to be a hero anyway. You know, cops and firemen, they're all heroes in my mind, so he's basically living up to his calling.

To read the full interview, click here.

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


Heroes Quotes

Don't insult me. I have trained professionals to do that.


(to Molly) If you wanna help, help me put the nightmare man behind us, so we can get back to normal. Okay, and just be a little girl, go to school, have fun. And I’ll be an underpaid cop. Deal


Heroes Music

  Song Artist
Song Road to Joy Bright Eyes
Song Mustang Sally Wilson Pickett
Song I Want It That Way Backstreet Boys