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Heroes stars Hayden Panettiere, Jack Coleman, Santiago Cabrera, Masi Oka, Greg Grunberg, Adrian Pasdar, Milo Ventimiglia, Ali Larter, Noah Grey-Cabey, David Anders, Kristen Bell, Dana Davis, Dania Ramirez, Zachary Quinto, James Kyson Lee, and Sendhil Ramamurthy.





image from TV GuideNow You See Him: HeroSite Talks With Christopher Eccleston
Interview by Craig Byrne
January 2007

The announcement that Christopher Eccleston would soon be appearing in a recurring role on Heroes was very exciting for fans across the world. The veteran of movies, television, and the stage plays an invisible man named Claude, and he will be making his first appearance on Heroes on the January 22 episode, "Godsend."

Mr. Eccleston was kind enough to take the time from shooting on Heroes' sixteenth episode to do an interview with's Craig Byrne about his powerful new role. The interview follows:

HEROSITE.NET: You've had the ability to pick and choose some of the best roles. What was it that attracted you to Heroes?

What attracted me to Heroes is that they came in for me, and I appreciated that. We talked about two roles, and it was Claude that I decided on, the second role.

HS: Was there something in particular that made you choose Claude?

CE: Well, there's a possibility that we'll be giving away plot points, but what I will say is that the first role was a villain, and I didn't want to play a villain. I think that it's somewhat of a cliche for European actors to play villains in American culture, and I didn't want to be part of that.

HS: What made you decide to do American television?

CE: Well, I like American television. I enjoy American television. I've got three particular favorites - The Larry Sanders Show, Deadwood, and NYPD Blue. I admire them all for very different reasons. One's a very broad, naturalistic satiric comedy. Deadwood's a fantastic take on the Western genre, and NYPD Blue, I thought the writing and the acting was extraordinary.

HS: What actors have you been able to work with on the series thus far, and what is it like to work with them?

CE: Milo, Milo, and Milo. I've worked very briefly with Jack Coleman and Jimmy Jean-Louis [HRG and The Haitian], but my whole time has been with Milo, who has been an absolute gentleman. He's a very generous actor, and has made me feel very welcome. I've enjoyed it immensely.

HS: How does working in American television differ from the routines of doing British TV?

CE: It doesn't, apart from the food. You guys really like to eat. The food is good, but apart from that, it's in vast quantities compared to British sets. We're a little more frugal about feeding ourselves. But no. It compares very favorably. Very similar.

What kind of special effects have you been able to work with?

CE: Not many, really. Playing an invisible man, most of it is done in post. What I have done, is I have flown. Me and Milo flew together. I've been tasered, but again, that might be giving away plot points. And I've shut doors without even being present. There's a lot of that kind of gag stuff.

HS: Have you had to do a lot of ADR or voiceover work?

CE: I did some post - what we call post-synching in Britain, two days ago. That was my first session. I think the sound guys are excellent on this, and even though we were shooting a hell of a lot downtown, which is a very difficult location, we've managed to save most of the real sound, which is great for an actor. You can never replicate what you did on the day [of filming].

HS: What are the challenges of playing an invisible man?

CE: You know, there aren't, really. When you play a character with super powers or whatever you would call it, I think the most important thing is to concentrate on making the man or woman itself naturalistic and truthful. The more you can do that, the more the audience will buy the more extreme behavior which comes from having super powers. So it's an acting exercise, as every character is.

HS: Is it exciting for you to have that challenge?

CE: It's exciting to play any character, and as I've said, you can't think about the extraordinary things he can do, because those, to a certain extent, are out of your hands. They're down to the post guys. So you've got to concentrate on the truth of - you search for the relationships, and obviously a key relationship in this is Claude and Peter.

HS: Are you allowed to say for how long you may be appearing on the show?

CE: I think it is better to keep that a mystery.

HS: But it is for multiple episodes?

CE: It is, yeah. It is multiple episodes.

HS: Had you seen Heroes at all before taking the role?

CE: When they offered me the role, they sent me the pilot to look at, and I was interested and intrigued, so I came on board.

HS: What other projects may be in your future, beyond Heroes?

CE: I shot a film in the Fall in New Orleans in which I play a New Orleanean doctor. That film is called New Orleans, Mon Amour, which is about post-Katrina, the rescue effort, and the emotional damage as well as the physical damage that was done to that great city. And I'm doing Heroes. In about two weeks I go off to Bucharest to make a film called The Dark Is Rising, which is from a series of fantasy books which were written in the Seventies.

HS: In an ideal world, what kind of acting do you enjoy the most - theatre, television, or movies?

I've been very fortunate through film and television to learn about screen acting. It's been my life for twenty years. If I had my choice, I would exclusively do theater, if I could justify it financially. Theatre is my country is by and large very lowly paid, so actors have to supplement it with television and film work, if they're fortunate enough to be able to do that. The main reason for that is theatre is an actor's medium. Film and television is primarily a director's medium. When you act in the theatre you get a four to six week rehearsal period, where you can build a character, and of course each evening when you give a performance, you have the final edit. So, theater acting is my great love. But, I've had some very interesting and rewarding experiences in front of the camera.

HS: Do you know if the writers intended any significance to the name "Claude," because of the name of the first actor to play an invisible man?

CE: The first time I appear as Claude, I make a joke about that, so it is a homage, I think, to Claude Raines.

HS: Does Claude have a last name?

CE: I don't know, no.

HS: What do you feel motivates Claude to do things or behave the way that he does?

CE: I think Claude has a conscience and a very good heart, and I think there is a kind of strain of psychology, almost, called the guilt of the survivor, and I think those three things are the main motivators for Claude.

HS: I believe I read in an early interview with Tim Kring, that Claude has been living with these powers for a while?

CE: That's right. I think it's reasonable to say that Claude belongs to a previous generation to our present heroes. He functions as a kind of paternal figure to Peter.

HS: Do you feel that his presence really helps Peter along in his journey?

Yeah. That's very much the dynamic of their relationship.

HS: When you took the role, did the writers and producers lay out your character's general arc, or are you learning more as you go along?

CE: I knew that the role would be substantial and key. I had to have that up front. But obviously, details emerge as you shoot, which is the same for all of the ensemble cast.

HS: I've noticed in the trailer that Claude has a disheveled look. Is there a reason for this appearance, and as an actor, do you enjoy being able to change your appearance for a role?

CE: I think that it's something I bring naturally to the role. [Laughs] No, Claude lives a very solitary and marginal life, for very good reasons, so he doesn't have much time for facials and high fashion. But you may see a change.

HS: Is it a different feeling to be filming here in the States, where you might not be as easily recognized as you are in the UK?

CE: I moved to America on June the 8th of last year, and it's been like beginning my career again, and I'm loving the challenge. It's great, at 42, to give myself the kind of challenge I gave to myself when I was 19 and left Salford to go to London to start drama school.

HS: Have you done any theater here in the States yet, and would you like to?

CE: No. I'd love to. To work on Broadway would be a dream fulfilled.

HS: Have you been noticed or approached by any of your fans out here in L.A.?

CE: I occasionally get recognized for projects, but particularly Shallow Grave seems to register. 28 Days Later. And Elizabeth. Very occasionally.

HS: On HeroSite we have a Real Heroes page where we spotlight charities that are supported by individual people associated with the show. I believe I read that you were involved with some charities?

CE: Back home I'm patron of an extraordinary theatre company called Celebrity Pig, which is made up of people with a learning disability. I'm a patron of that company, and I've been involved in a couple of their productions, and I hope to do more. I'm an ambassador with [the learning disability charity] MENCAP, and I also went out to Banda Aceh for the Red Cross. [Banda Aceh was at the very center of the tsunami that occurred on Boxing Day 2004]

--'s Craig Byrne would like to thank Christopher Eccleston for taking the time to participate in this interview, and would also like to extend special thanks to the folks who made it happen.

Don't forget to watch Claude's debut episode... Monday, January 22 on NBC!

Click here to read more upcoming episode spoilers!

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