Heroes’ Star Leonard Roberts Claims Racism, ‘Tension’ Led to Exit

todayDecember 21, 2020 26

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Actor Leonard Roberts published an essay for Variety where he claimed racial tensions led to his exit from the hit 2006 show Heroes.

What We Know:

  • Roberts was cast for the role of Daniel Lawrence (“D.L.”) Hawkins in NBC’s Heroes 14 years ago. The show aired for 4 seasons, yet the character Hawkins only made it through one full season as he was shot in the season 1 finale and was fired prior to the premiere of the second season.
  • In the essay, Roberts says his relationship with co-star Ali Larter, who played Hawkins’ wife Niki Sanders, played a huge part in his removal from the show. He felt that she, along with showrunner Tim Kring, singled him out as a Black actor.
  • Roberts wrote, “The script suggested D.L. and Niki had a volatile relationship — and it wasn’t long before art was imitating life…” He recalled a time during a bedroom scene when Larter became agitated with the characters’ intimacy level. He was shirtless and she was asked to lower her straps under the sheet that was covering her to give the impression she too was shirtless. Roberts says she refused to do so and demanded a meeting with the producers and director Greg Beeman, where she “proceeded to have an intense and loud conversation in which she expressed she had never been so disrespected — as an actress, a woman or a human being.”

  • Roberts asked Adrian Pasdar, who portrayed Nathan Petrelli, if he experienced the same difficulties with Larter when shooting a scene where her character seduces Petrelli. On the contrary, he spoke of “her openness to collaboration and even improvisation”. This is when Roberts began to wonder if race played a factor in the disrespect felt by Larter during their own intimate scene.
  • Although married, the couple shared less and less time together on-screen throughout the season. Roberts even noticed two other non-white characters were killed off the show, but was reassured of his character’s return. Nevertheless, he received a voicemail from Kring stating because of “the Ali Larter situation,” viewers would find out D.L. had died offscreen.
  • Upon meeting with Kring, he was told that his character was backed into a corner because he and Larter did not have “chemistry”. Roberts questioned how an issue involving both actors resulted in the firing of just him. Executive Producer Dennis Hammer urged him to not “think of this as a situation where the Black man loses and the white woman wins”.
  • After the essay was published, Kring and Hammer issued statements to Variety. “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,” Kring said. Hammer only stated, “Fourteen years is a long time ago, but I remember clearly that Leonard was a great guy and a total pro.”
  • Larter also made a statement apologizing to Roberts although she claimed to not remember events happening in the ways he told. “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,” she said. “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,” she concluded.

As a Black actor, Roberts faced adversity on set working in an environment where whiteness was the default. It was evident to him that his main purpose was to maintain the ideal of whiteness, on and off-camera, regardless of how he was compromised as an artist, a professional and a man.

The post Heroes’ Star Leonard Roberts Claims Racism, ‘Tension’ Led to Exit appeared first on Black News Alerts.

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