On Set with Milo Ventimiglia, Part I

After a disappointing sophomore season that saw fan criticism, a drop in viewers by 15 percent and a shortened run because of the Writers Strike, the NBC telvision series "Heroes" is back this fall with a vengeance. Dubbed "Volume Three: Villains," the season promises to address some of the complaints that fans had about the second season, which included a slow build up to the main story and the addition of new characters that took away focus from the main cast.

CBR News stopped by the "Heroes" set in Los Angeles to with Milo Ventimiglia, who plays one of the show's chief characters, Peter Petrelli. In part one of a three-part interview, the actor speaks candidly with us about the new season, which begins airing on September 22, new cast members and the long awaited introduction of Arthur Petrelli.

Ventimiglia began by talking about how "Heroes" plans to deal with some of the fans complaints in its third season. "I think there's always a concern that when you bring in new people that you limit your time with the old people," said the actor. "I think that the producers have done a very good job this year of balancing that. I think they understood that when we were all separated in the second season, the fans weren't too into that. When you bring in a new character, bring him in with a reason. Bring him in with a purpose. Don't just pack it with a bunch of new faces that nobody knows."

Despite fans' negative reaction to the show's adding of "needless" characters such as Maya and Alejandro to last season's roster, "Heroes" will introduce at least two more new characters in "Villains." The first is Daphne, a super-speedster played by Brea Grant ("Friday Night Lights,") who is said to be the Joker to Hiro's Batman. The second character is Knox, portrayed by Jamie Hector from "The Wire." Knox is a dangerous villain who's been locked away in the Company's secret prison, Level 5, for years and suddenly breaks out.

Ventimiglia wants to assure fans that these characters have been added for a reason. "Jamie's character, Knox, has a great presence in this whole chapter. So does Brea's character, she's got a huge presence and they're both fun," said the actor. "It's a pretty easy going group here, and I got to say Jamie and Brea fit in really nice."

Knox and Daphne aren't the only additions to the show this season. Practically since "Heroes" began, fans have wondered when they would be introduced to the oft-mentioned but never seen head of the Petrelli family, Arthur Petrelli. Viewers were delighted earlier this summer, when it was announced that Oscar nominee Robert Forester ("Jackie Brown") would be playing the Petrelli family monarch in the third season of "Heroes."

"That was always one of those things that had such a huge mystery behind it," Ventimiglia said of the enigmatic character. "I think every scene that we do, we're discovering more than what we had just talked about. [Arthur's] such a complicated character. He impacts everybody for his own need or want to be important and be the most powerful."

About Forester's work on the "Heroes" set, Ventimiglia said, "It's great. I've worked with him before in a movie called 'Cursed,' which died a very awful death. He was in the film and then they rewrote the film and he wasn't in it. So I got a chance to spend time on the set. It's nice being back on set. He's a great guy and I'm having a lot of fun."

"Heroes" has a very active fan community, which is often very vocal with their opinions. Ventimiglia talked about his feelings regarding online criticism. "A lot of it is a bit of pride and a bit of grain and salt. You feel proud that they're talking about it," he said. "You're excited by the fact that they're talking about it. But also, you know that if you sit around and read everything that you see online, it's like man, your going to spend a lot of time doing that. Personally, I'd like to show up at work and then go be with my family and friends."

Finally, the actor talked about the show's online campaign that includes original webisodes and webcomics. "A lot of that I haven't been able to see, there's so much information if you're really seeking it," Ventimiglia confessed. "I guess because I live in **that** world everyday, I don't really have such a pull to go online and find out what Mohinder Suresh is up to!"

"Heroes Volume Three: Villains" starts saving fans September 22 on NBC.

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