Actor Ali Larter responded on Wednesday to the account by her “Heroes” co-star Leonard Roberts — who, in a first-person essay for Variety published earlier in the day, said Larter mistreated him while working on the first season of the hit NBC series, eventually leading to his dismissal from the show. Roberts believes the fact he’s Black affected that decision.
In a statement to Variety‘s sibling publication TVLine, Larter said: “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. 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’ and Larter’s characters were husband and wife on the fantasy show, so the two actors were frequent scene partners. Roberts wrote that he had tried to get along with Larter from the start, but she rebuffed his efforts at establishing a rapport. During a bedroom scene, Roberts wrote, Larter and the episode’s director had a loud argument about its staging — and it led to Roberts wondering “whether race was a factor” in her treatment of him. After a blind item appeared in TV Guide about how one the show’s leads “cannot stand to be in the same room as her leading man, let alone make out with him” — which was clearly about Larter and Roberts — “Heroes” executive producer Dennis Hammer told Roberts that the situation was “being handled internally.”
After the upfronts in May, when the broadcast networks announce their new fall schedules, “Heroes” creator Tim Kring called Roberts to tell him that his character was being killed off the show.
Variety substantiated Roberts’ account with 10 people who either had worked on “Heroes” in its first season or were familiar with Roberts’ experience at the time. Kring and Hammer both provided on the record statements after being given a detailed summary of what was in the piece — both of them did not disagree with its substance, and praised Roberts. Despite off-the-record communication with a representative for Larter, she chose not to provide a comment to run with Roberts’ essay.