Ali Larter Is ‘Heartbroken’ by Former Costar Leonard Roberts’ Accusations of ‘Tension’ on ‘Heroes’ Set
Speaking out. Ali Larter publicly apologized to her former Heroes costar Leonard Roberts after he accused her of causing friction on set.
“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,” the actress, 44, said in a statement to Us Weekly on Thursday, December 17. “I respect Leonard as an artist and I applaud him or anyone using their voice and platform.”
Larter added that she is “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.”
On the former NBC series, Roberts, 48, and Larter played married couple D.L. Hawkins and Niki Sanders. While the Drumline actor’s character was killed off before season 2 began, he later returned for two episodes to wrap up D.L.’s story arc.
In a newly-published essay for Variety, Roberts reflected on his negative experience working on the fantasy drama. As he recalled his encounters with the Final Destination actress, he claimed to have been written off the show due to tension between them. He was told by producer Dennis Hammer to not “think of this as a situation where the Black man loses and the white woman wins.”
Roberts recalled how his character was initially sidelined in the first five episodes before being introduced in episode six. From then onward, the actor claimed that he was soon “on the receiving end of pushback” from Larter. He became “instantly aware of the tension on the set” while they filmed a bedroom scene, in which she allegedly refused the director’s instruction to lower her shirt straps to make it appear as if they were in the same state of undress since he was shirtless.
The Missouri native claimed that Larter behaved differently while filming another love scene with their costar Adrian Pasdar, during which she had to seduce him. Pasdar, 55, told him that there was “openness to collaboration and even improvisation” with the Legally Blonde actress.
“I pondered why my costar had exuberantly played a different scene with the Petrelli character involving overt sexuality while wearing lingerie, but found aspects of one involving love and intimacy expressed through dialogue with my character, her husband, disrespectful to her core,” he wrote in the essay published on Wednesday, December 16. “I couldn’t help wondering whether race was a factor.”
Roberts also recalled a season 1 photo shoot for Entertainment Weekly where the cast posed for special edition covers based on their characters’ relationship. “Upon arriving backstage at Radio City Music Hall for a rehearsal, I caught my costar’s eye. ‘I’m hearing our cover is selling the least of all of them,’ she told me. It was the first and only thing she said to me that night and I believed the subtext was clear: I was tarnishing her brand,” he explained.
The Buffy the Vampire Slayer alum said he then received a phone call from Heroes creator Tim Kring, who revealed that “the Ali Larter situation” would result in his character not returning for season 2. The firing happened after two other non-white lead characters were killed off the series.
Heroes ran on NBC from 2006 to 2010. It returned for a 13-episode miniseries, Heroes Reborn, in 2015.
While it’s been years since the show went off the air, Roberts explained why he believes now is the perfect time to speak out. “With the pain there is resolve. By tearing away the boards I have put up and sharing my story, I make this experience valid,” he concluded. “In doing so, I hope to be a part of a rebuilding that ensures my child a future in which she feels heard, seen and valid. Where she need not demand, but simply expect the respect and equality she deserves. That would make me feel like a real hero.”Listen to Watch With Us to hear more about your favorite shows and for the latest TV news!