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Brothers take flight in NBC's ‘Heroes’

"Heroes" Adrian Pasdar and Milo Ventimiglia put their heads together. They align their profiles to point out how much alike they look. Not surprisingly, they play brothers in the new NBC hit series.
/ Source: The Associated Press

"Heroes" Adrian Pasdar and Milo Ventimiglia put their heads together. They align their profiles to point out how much alike they look. Not surprisingly, they play brothers in the new NBC hit series, which airs Mondays at 9 p.m ET.

"Eyes, nose," they exclaim, their words bouncing into each other's.

"Look at these two eyes," Pasdar gestures.

"The color thing, and everything," says Ventimiglia, as, side by side, they widen their eyes.

"Exactly the same color," affirms Pasdar.

"Like build and body," Ventimiglia continues.

"It's all right there," interjects Pasdar.

Pasdar is the older sibling, Nathan Petrelli, an ambitious overachiever running for political office. Ventimiglia is Peter Petrelli, a male nurse, who is something of a dreamer.

All the main characters in this fantasy drama are ordinary people with extraordinary talents. Both Petrelli brothers can fly — something Nathan's not too keen on voters finding out about.

Additionally, Peter is able to pick up on the abilities of other super-powered people. Those include Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka), a computer enthusiast who can time travel; Isaac Mendez (Santiago Cabrera), a drug-addicted artist who can paint the future, and Claire Bennet (Hayden Panettiere), a cheerleader who cannot die.

There's also Niki Sanders (Ali Larter), a Las Vegas stripper and single mom who discovers secrets through her mirror image, and Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg), a Los Angeles cop who can hear people's thoughts. Sendhil Ramamurthy plays Mohinder Suresh, a genetics professor from India who discovered the heroes.

With the series' interwoven elements just beginning to mesh, Ventimiglia wasn't yet sure how close his character has to get to others to pick up their skills. He also was unclear "whether he can retain them."

"It's not like testing your car alarm to see how far you can get before you can turn it off or on," he says, grinning, as he and Pasdar wait for a rehearsal call in their trailer.

What both know is that it's fun to fly, even though it's not as easy as it looks.

"If we didn't have the physical acumen that we have, I think the show would have a different feel, at least in terms of our input, because the flying stuff is difficult to pull off and make look real," says Pasdar.

Superpowered show still based in realityThe actors feel they should take what opportunities they can to inject a semblance of reality, and sometimes even humor, into their flight scenes _ moments that might include unsteady landings, cold shivers, tears in the eyes and maybe even bugs in the teeth.

"The truth is, the show is very reality based," says creator and executive producer Tim Kring. "The show is really about what would happen if you or I woke up one day to discover we had some sort of special ability. ... How would we fold it into our normal lives."

Kring believes "Heroes" has caught on with viewers because, "I think everybody deep down feels they are special in some way, and if they don't feel that then they wish that they did."

He adds: "We live in a very complicated and confusing world and the thought that there might be people who would be coming along and may be able to deal with some of those complicated issues, and perhaps solve them, is, I think, a very intriguing idea right now."

A few years ago, Pasdar went in to read for the role of Ventimiglia's father in a planned but then aborted spinoff of "Gilmore Girls," the series in which the younger actor had costarred.

That idea would have been something of a stretch, since Ventimiglia is 29 and Pasdar is 41 (and married to Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks and the father of two young sons).

"Ultimately they said, when he (Pasdar) walked out of the room, `Wow, he's really good. You guys should play brothers,'" Ventimiglia recalls.

They met again on the set of "Heroes" on which Ventimiglia had been the first main character cast and Pasdar the last.

"He's the bow on the gift" Ventimiglia says, causing the actors to laugh about the bribe that might have been needed to make him say that.