A Chat with Heroes Reborn Star Ryan Guzman

Now that you’ve seen the Heroes Reborn premiere, let’s sit down with Ryan Guzman. He plays the hesitant hero, Carlos Gutierrez. When we meet Carlos, he’s a war vet that just wants to drown himself in alcohol and women, but he’s soon thrust into a valiant role following the death of a loved one. Here’s our conversation.

I loved the first season of Heroes, and I always felt that they kind of held back a bit. After seeing the first two episodes of Heroes Reborn, it doesn’t feel like they are holding back anymore. It’s like they’re finally getting to produce the show they always wanted.

They get a little crazier, a little darker.

And that works in this world.

It does. You have to give the audience something new. We’re not going to redo what was previously done so well.

Carlos is a phenomenal character.

Oh my God, thank you.

When he comes into the story, he’s so damaged but it seems like everyone in this world needs a hero. They need someone to look up to. They need some type of hope and they’ve placed it on the shoulders of this guy who doesn’t really want to be a hero.

No, he doesn’t. Not at all. That’s why I loved that character. He doesn’t believe in himself at all, which is a very relatable feeling — being put in a position of power, not being ready for it and having to go with the flow. I relate to this character so much. He’s trying to play catch up and a lot of times he fails. I love the failure because through the failure he teaches himself what he needs to do. He might fall on his butt, but he’s going to get right back up.

And now all of a sudden in addition to his speaking engagements and “teacher relations” —

(Laughs) Well put.

— he has a family member who perishes. He finds out exactly what was going on and gets this whole other responsibility put on him.

He has a lot of detrimental things happening to him in this point of time in his life. He has the loss of a family member, but he also has his own inner demons with being presented as a hero yet not feeling so. Also, he’s encapsulated in this chaotic, fear-based world. He doesn’t know where he fits in. With nobody to lean on, he’s inherited this extreme responsibility. It’s happening at the worst possible time in his life when he’s just trying to pick up the sticks.

But it may be exactly what he needs to get life back on track.

I think everybody needs a big push, and sometimes I think the best push is actually the one pushing you down because it makes you look back up. I think that’s what it takes with this guy. He needs to fall so hard that the only way to feel normal again is to reach for the stars.

There’s also the extra responsibility of his nephew, and has to become a father figure, which he’s clearly not prepared for.

Oh no. He’s drowning his sorrows in alcohol. He’s a class act.

The nephew does idolize him and look up to him, though.

That’s also another relatable aspect … this might not be true for you but it was true for me. I could look up to a certain person. I thought they had their life together. Then as I got older, I heard what actually happened throughout their life, and they were hiding demons. I think this works out perfectly. We tell so many different stories within this one story line. I can’t say it enough — Carlos is so damaged you can’t not watch him.

I’m not sure how much you can discuss beyond the first two episodes, but is there a point where Carlos’s story intersects with the others? To start, it’s very compartmentalized.

Most of the other cast has worked together, but Carlos is his own storyline. For the most part, he’s on his own to fend for himself, and he has to create this future which he didn’t even think was possible.

I find it fascinating that not too long ago, Lucha Libre wasn’t widely known. There’s a former luchador character on The Strain this season, and now there’s El Vengador in Heroes Reborn. These figures aren’t superheroes per se, but they’re idolized. Was this a world you were already familiar with?

When I was younger, Rey Mysterio Jr. was in the WWE, and I was like, “Oh my God. There’s a Mexican guy right there looking through the mask. That’s an idol right there.” So much history and heritage and culture is contained within that mask. It’s a representation of your family, your culture. It’s more than a wrestler wearing a silly mask. It means something.

I love that we’re implementing that, but at the same time it’s funny to see what America or Canada sees. [I’m asked] “What do you play? You play like Nacho Libre?” They all know Jack Black’s character. I love being able to show what it actually means. I would love to dive deeper into what Mexican culture is all about.

From what I’ve seen so far, I think the show has done a good job of commenting on what’s happening in the world today, albeit in a subtle way. For example, the husband and wife, Luke and Joanne, almost come off as religious zealots. The story operates on many levels.

You can derive a lot of things from each character. I think within different story lines there are many parallels to what we’re actually living in, especially the segregation of certain people. The inner struggle. The good versus evil. The inherently bad versus the redeeming good. There’s a lot of things to pull from each storyline.

Demonizing what people don’t understand because it’s easier to do instead of asking questions. Personally I think this is the perfect time for this show to come back. It’s very relevant to do something like this.

The more questions we can put in people’s minds I think the better. If I’m portraying this character in a way that makes somebody start a conversation, I’m doing my job. The same thing with this show. Hopefully people will see this show, first they’ll be entertained. Next, they see the world they live in. Some of the best things, in film and on TV, have done that. Planet of the Apes did that back in the day. There are subtle underlying issues.

You replace heroes, or Evos, with just about anything.

The thing I’ve learned most about good and bad is they’re almost the exact same thing — it’s just different intention. Both sides believe in their cause so much so that the other person has to be bad, so they label that other person. You’ll never meet somebody who is a terrorist on the other side saying, “Oh, I’m a terrorist.” They’ll say, “I’m fighting for my freedom.” They’ll bring up their own points. That’s what I think you’ll see the in Joanne and Luke characters, as well as many other characters.

For people who aren’t necessarily drawn to the world of superheroes or science fiction, what would you say is the thing that will bring them into this show and into your character’s storyline? Is it the human aspect?

Humanizing these evolved humans and people who are being persecuted for being different. For my character, becoming something that you never thought you possibly could, which I think is beautiful. A lot of my character is drawn from my own upbringing and what I’ve gone through. Constantly testing yourself and showing yourself that the limits you make for yourself are just that. No one’s telling you that you can’t do something besides you for the most part. I hope this character, Carlos Gutierrez, will open many eyes. I love being able to play a Mexican-American man as a lead in one of these shows. We don’t have that many out there, and hopefully I’m doing my culture right.

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