Heroes exec reveals gay storyline was axed after dispute with actor
Former Heroes exec Bryan Fuller has revealed that the show was forced to ditch a gay storyline because of a behind-the-scenes battle.
The cult superhero TV series ran for four seasons between 2006 and 2010, launching the career of Zachary Quinto as well as a host of other stars.
Bryan Fuller, who served as an executive producer on the show, revealed at Outfest this week that he planned a gay storyline for Heroes.
The out exec, who is best known for his work on Star Trek, revealed the storyline was forcibly axed after a dispute.
He said: “The gay character was het-washed after the actor’s management threatened to pull him from the show if [the character] were gay.”
While Fuller did not name the specific actor, his comments line up with a controversy from the show’s original run in 2006.
At the time, the show had repeatedly hinted that Zach (Thomas Dekker), a childhood friend of show lead Claire Bennet (Hayden Panettiere), was gay.
However, the plotline ended abruptly as Zach was clarified to be straight, before being swiftly written out of the show.
At the time, Heroes creator Tim Kring hinted at controversy, telling gay blog AfterElton: “It was certainly not our intention to confuse the issue of Zach’s character being gay. We have too much respect for our audience to do that intentionally.
“However, it has simply become too complicated behind the scenes to push this issue further with this particular character.
“We wish that we could have handled things better on our end. But making a TV show is often a very imprecise business.”
Dekker had a very different account of events, however.
In a 2007 blog post, he claimed: “I, nor my management have ever had any kind of problem with creating a gay character. To me acting is about being prepared to play all kinds of roles and it is an honor and a challenge to portray ANYTHING that comes my way.
“What transpired on Heroes is something far more complicated than anyone being “afraid” to make Zach homosexual.”
He continued: “The character that I created in the beginning of the show, a process I take very seriously, was based on Zach being an outcast who had a burning love for Claire, a crush that drew him to her and effected every ounce of his self esteem around her.
“I created the character that way because it was WRITTEN IN THE ORIGINAL SCRIPT that he was in love with Claire.
“I was not informed in the beginning of the series, of any planned character arc, because I was told there wasn’t one.
“What ensued later was a combination of miscommunication, confusion, surprise and last minute desicions, not a knee jerk reaction from me or my team.”
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The actor insisted that “me leaving Heroes has NOTHING to do with this gay controversy”, and that he had been cast in the Sarah Connor Chronicles.
The show did later feature a lesbian storyline, with Claire experimenting with her sexuality.
Hayden Panettiere said that she had asked for the storyline to be included.