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Holding Out for a Gay Hero

April 26th, 2007 · 4 Comments · Culture, Heroes, LGBT, Politics, Science Fiction, TV

Heroes castAt last it comes out (so to speak): the full behind-the-scenes story on the Heroes character who was supposed to be gay, and then wasn’t anymore. Popgurls.com interviews Heroes producer Bryan Fuller, who spills more beans than have previously been spilled from this particular can of beans.

What happened:

It absolutely was a path that we were going to take. In the first meetings when we were sitting down and talking about the show, one of the things about the show that Tim said that he wanted all these characters to represent different people in the world and we had an Asian guy and an Indian guy and… a whole bunch of white people. He just wanted it to be a united Benetton cast. I said that’s fantastic, but if we have this many people, then we need to have a gay character. If you want to represent the world, that’s certainly a demographic that we need to hit. [Tim completely agreed and] was thinking Claire’s best friend might be a good person – and I couldn’t agree more. So we were definitely going down a route of making [Zach] the gay character and having him have a big role in her life and sort of teaching her to come out about her ability and embrace herself and actually using the coming out metaphor and the gay metaphor in that instance as a fun piece of storytelling.

There was an unfortunate miscommunication and when the script arrived that had the line in it, ‘I would take you to homecoming but you have to know that I don’t like girls that way.’ The actor [Thomas Dekker]’s, manager threatened to pull him from the show because he was up for the John Carter role in The Sarah Connor Chronicles and she didn’t want him playing a gay character because it might affect FOX’s interest in hiring him. It got really ugly.

The aftermath:

In really, in all of our minds, the character was still gay but we couldn’t say it explicitly. I was very upset by it – I was not happy about it at all. There were times I had to avoid talking about it because we didn’t want to have a negative reflection on the show. The show’s been such a positive experience for so many people, we didn’t want to get hung up on the fact that one actor’s management felt that it was a career killer for him to play a homosexual which, as a gay man, I found incredibly insulting. We had episodes planned for him to be in, and she pulled him from the show altogether. So that’s why he sort of disappeared.”

… why do I suspect that in the long run, this kid’s management has done his career a lot more harm than good? If he’d played the first gay character on Heroes, he would have had a devoted fan base for the rest of his career. He could have been the Jack McPhee for the current crop of gay kids in high school. But that ship has apparently sailed — and who knows if he’ll ever have another chance to do something that memorable?

(Via Towleroad.)


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