Former star of cult-favorite TV series Heroes Leonard Roberts, who played the intangible D.L. Hawkins in the first season of the series, penned a powerful essay detailing harassment and marginalization experienced while filming the hit NBC show. The essay published by Variety explored many issues Roberts experienced during his short tenure as a series regular, including conflicts with his on-screen wife and co-star Ali Larter. But Roberts' essay also details a disturbing account of a black man working in Hollywood, and none of his experiences have been disputed by any of the producers or co-stars he worked with on the show.
Roberts regarded his role as a series regular on Heroes to be his big break in acting, though he details how his appearances on the series quickly shrunk from the original plans. The outlet also confirms questionable references to his race in the script for the pilot, which was ultimately cut from the shooting schedule. While Roberts has appeared in numerous projects since his time on Heroes was cut short, none of them have been regular roles on successful series comparable to the NBC show.
In the essay, Roberts details instances with co-star Larter in which she outright ignored his attempts to reach out and in scenes during which she became difficult in scenes where their characters were meant to be intimate, leading to fights with the producers in front of the crew. A report from TV Guide published in December 2006 seemingly confirmed these instances, though the names weren't posted at the time. Roberts later learned from a voice mail that Heroes show runner Tim King would be writing him out of the second season, when the series became a bonafide hit on NBC.
"I took a couple of days to cuss, mope and second guess, after which I decided to take Kring up on his offer, and set an appointment with him. When I arrived at his office, I was surprised to see that [executive producer] Dennis Hammer was there as well," wrote Roberts. "Kring began by reiterating that because of my co-star, he just couldn't make my remaining on the show work story-wise. I'm typically not one who refers to himself in the third person, but in that instance I felt compelled to channel my inner Alexander O'Neal and pointed out he fired Leonard Roberts, but only mentioned Leonard Roberts' co-star as the reason for his firing, and that Leonard Roberts found that … curious."
Roberts' essay details his frustration as a black actor working in Hollywood. In it, he explains his attempts to come to terms with his time on Heroes by examining how it's shaped his career and his frame of mind, attempting to navigate various opportunities after being sent to "actor's jail."
The actor's account was substantiated by Variety, who spoke with 10 people who worked on Heroes alongside Roberts. Neither Tim Kring nor Dennis Hammer disputed Roberts' account, instead complimenting the actor's professionalism and talent though also refusing to comment on what actually happened on the set of Heroes.
You can read Roberts' entire account of his time filming Heroes and how it affected his outlook on his career by clicking here.
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