BEEMAN’S BLOG – EPISODE 21
Episode 21 is here. This one is a little bit of a quieter episode of HEROES. The key to understanding it’s place in the season is to realize that, episode 21, 22 and 23 are three parts of one story. It fact it’s less of a trilogy, and more like, Act one, Act two and Act three of a film. So, by the nature of that design, this episode is a little slower and spends it’s time getting the players into position. Next week cranks it up to a simmer and then we boil over in the finale.
John Badham came back to direct his second episode this season. Besides being a legendary director, he is a true gentleman. He is thoughtful, gracious and he grasps everything very quickly. On set he concentrates on performance direction foremost, and the actors all quite like him. Actually John wrote an interesting book about directing actors for screen. It’s called “I’ll Be In My Trailer,” published by Michael Wiese Productions.
One of the biggest ideas for this one that came from the writer’s room was to re-examine Sylar’s character. To have him have one last moment of doubt and one last shot at redemption. This would be viewed in relationship to his mother, so that we could begin to really understand how he had become the villain he was. Now, to be frank, this conceit spurred some healthy debate. I know my opinion, and some others, who hadn’t been involved in developing the story, questioned the need for it. Sylar felt like a pretty committed villain. Why would he have self-doubt? Why was it necessary to regress him to his previous incarnation? But Tim and the writers felt strongly that we needed to better understand this character, and that we had one last chance to fully round him out. They felt that Sylar had always acted methodically, killing the weak in order to become a superhuman. They added dialogue in his phone call scene with Suresh to illuminate the idea that he had no intention to kill millions of random people for no gain. This helped my issues. And any other doubts I had about the storyline vanished when we cast Ellen Green to play Sylar’s mother.
Ellen came to audition for the role. She did a first audition, and, right away, she was a riveting combination of vulnerability and mental illness. But her first reading was too maternal and sympathetic. Spurred on, mostly by Dennis Hammer we stopped and had a conversation about what type of woman this was. That she was very disturbed and very judgmental and very critical. But at the same time, over the years she had pushed everyone she loved away and she regretted that. So, now, with her son back at home she was trying - straining - to not be too harsh on him. We discussed that she should snap and be judgmental, and then catch herself and pull back. These are complex emotions, and it’s unusual to have a long discussion like this in the audition. Ellen did another take and it was absolutely amazing and mesmerizing.
Later, Zachary Quintos told me, that Ellen, on her own, called him up and asked if he wanted to rehearse. Ellen is a theatre actor and she really values rehearsal time. Zach told me that they spent a Saturday talking about their characters and rehearsing the scenes. When the shooting began a very unusual thing happened. It took about a day and a half to film all of their scenes. Face it, no matter how wonderful HEROES is, for the crew it’s a job they do for twelve-plus hours a day, five days a week. They do their jobs (very well) but besides the camera crew who need to pay attention for every take, much of the other crew wander off to the periphery of the stage and do crossword puzzles or read books while we’re filming. But on these days, the crew remained riveted by what zach and Ellen were doing. The scenes were so intense and the performances so strong that the crew stayed and watched.
One of the most interesting scenes for me is the one where Ellen is insisting on making Sylar a tuna sandwich and Sylar is fixing his father’s clock. John Badham talked to the actors a lot about that clock. Ellen’s character hated the ex-husband, Sylar's father, who was long gone, but still she keeps his broken clock on the wall. Sylar wants to repair the clock, and by extension, the family. In this scene, from one perspective, nothing is happening. A lady is making a sandwich and a man is fixing a clock. But, because of the writing, the actors and the direction, the scene is loaded with tension. The scene, to me is actually tenser than the scene where they struggle and Sylar accidentally stabs his mother,
Next week, our second-to-last episode – one that I directed. Until then… stay Heroic!
DIRECTOR JOHN BADHAM
LEONARD ROBERTS ON SET
ALI LARTER ON SET
CAMERA OPERATORS LOREN YACONELLI AND PETER MECURIO MAN (AND WOMAN) THEIR CAMERA’S
Here are a few pix from last week’s episode that I forgot to post:
MILO AND SENDHIL EXCHANGE WARDROBE “IN THE FUTURE”
MILO AND ADRIAN. ADRIAN MODELS NEXT SEASON’S BIG FASHION STATEMENT – GREEN-SCREEN GREEN IS THE NEW BLACK
MASI, MILO AND OUR SCRIPT SUPERVISOR VAL NORMAN (SHE TOOK THESE PICTURES – SO I TIP MY HAT TO HER)