Heroes' Ali Larter "deeply saddened" by co-star's allegations of on-set tension

Susannah Alexander
·4-min read
Photo credit: Shutterstock - NBC Universal
Photo credit: Shutterstock - NBC Universal

From Digital Spy

Heroes actress Ali Larter has said that she is "deeply saddened" by her former co-star Leonard Roberts' allegations that he experienced tension while working with her on the show.

Roberts, who played DL Hawkins in Heroes, published a personal essay in Variety this week about his experiences working on the fantasy drama, which included reports of difficult moments on set with Larter.

Larter, who played DL's wife Niki Sanders, has now responded to the allegations, saying in a statement to TVLine: "I am deeply saddened to hear about Leonard Roberts' experience on Heroes and I am heartbroken reading his perception of our relationship, which absolutely doesn't match my memory nor experience on the show.

Photo credit: Shutterstock - NBC Universal
Photo credit: Shutterstock - NBC Universal

Related: Heroes actor on show's "disappointing" reboot

"I respect Leonard as an artist and I applaud him or anyone using their voice and platform. I am truly sorry for any role I may have played in his painful experience during that time and I wish him and his family the very best."

Roberts, who has also starred in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and American Crime Story, claimed during his account of his time on Heroes that his character – a prison inmate who could pass through solid matter – was removed from the pilot and his debut pushed back to episode six of the show, adding that he often felt sidelined before beginning to film.

"As production began, I looked forward to sharing my thoughts on my character with the writing staff, as I heard other cast members had done the same with theirs. Unfortunately, no such meeting ever materialised," he said. "Then I learned that despite the show's three Black series regulars, there were no Black writers on staff."

Photo credit: Jesse Grant - Getty Images
Photo credit: Jesse Grant - Getty Images

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He also described a "particularly odd promotional photoshoot" in which "all the Black adult series regulars were relegated to the back and sides of photo after photo because, we were told, we were 'tall'".

The actor then detailed his relationship with his co-star Larter, saying: "The script suggested DL and Niki had a volatile relationship – and it wasn't long before art was imitating life, with me on the receiving end of pushback from my co-star regarding the playing of a particularly tense scene."

He went on to describe the filming of a bedroom scene with Larter, saying that his co-star "took umbrage with the level of intimacy being suggested between our characters" and that he was "instantly aware of the tension on the set".

Photo credit: JEAN-BAPTISTE LACROIX - Getty Images
Photo credit: JEAN-BAPTISTE LACROIX - Getty Images

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Larter allegedly then engaged in "an intense and loud conversation" with the episode's director and producers "in which she expressed she had never been so disrespected – as an actress, a woman or a human being".

The actor wrote that he was told that DL would be returning for season two but, shortly before production began, he said he received a voicemail message from Heroes creator and showrunner Tim Kring stating that due to "the Ali Larter situation", DL would be killed when the show returned.

DL was indeed killed in season two after being shot, a development which Roberts called "as perplexing as it was ironic, given DL's ability to pass through matter - apparently bullets were still an exception".

Photo credit: Shutterstock - NBC Universal
Photo credit: Shutterstock - NBC Universal

Related: Heroes Reborn season 2: What WOULD have happened

Kring has responded to Roberts' account by saying that he acknowledges a "lack of diversity" among the Heroes staff and adding that he remembers the actor "fondly".

"Diversity, interconnectivity and inclusivity were groundbreaking hallmarks of Heroes," he said. "So too was the huge, diverse cast that continually rotated off and onto the show, with none ever being written off based on their race

"Looking back now, 14 years later, given the very different lens that I view the world through today, I acknowledge that a lack of diversity at the upper levels of the staff may have contributed to Leonard experiencing the lack of sensitivity that he describes.

"I have been committed to improving upon this issue with every project I pursue. I remember Leonard fondly and wish him well."

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