If you thought the return of NBC's Heroes last week served up the series' most riveting episode to date, brace yourself for a bit of future shock. Tonight's episode (airing at 9 pm/ET) follows Hiro, Ando and others five years into what we have seen is a very bleak future. There, unexpected alliances have formed and life-and-death decisions hang in the balance. Sendhil Ramamurthy, who plays Mohinder, calls this latest outing his personal favorite of them all. Now, the actor tells us more about it, lets slip a taste of Season 2, and details the onus of being deemed "sexy" by TV Guide.
TVGuide.com: I have to say, there's leaving people hanging with a cliff-hanger, and then there is leaving people, like Mohinder, literally hanging....
Sendhil Ramamurthy: Well, clearly, yeah! You have no idea how many people walked up to me on the street [during the show's hiatus] to say, "Is Mohinder dead?!" I didn’t know what to say, it was really hard. I had one woman almost in tears, thinking Mohinder was dead. A lot of people assumed he was. When I read it, I thought I was!
TVGuide.com: Were you disappointed at all in Mohinder those past few episodes, seeing him fall prey to Sylar so easily? Or did the drugged-tea twist redeem him for you?
Ramamurthy: For a guy who's supposedly so smart, he's been duped a lot, and that was a concern. But the way I tried to approach it was that he comes from a good place and he has a good heart, and he's ready to believe in people. But when the writers came up with this twist where he stops being taken for a sucker, I was really, really psyched. And it only gets better in the rest of the episodes. The character has rounded a huge corner.
TVGuide.com: He's hardened up a bit?
Ramamurthy: It's hardened him up, and from what I hear, that’s going to carry on into the second season. Apparently it's going to be "Mohinder 2.0." There will be very new aspects to him. I have no idea what they are, but I can't wait to find out.
TVGuide.com: Do you sort of envision him as the Professor X to these mutated heroes?
Ramamurthy: I have never envisioned him as that, but....
TVGuide.com: Are you satisfied with the role he plays, or wish he was a touch more active?
Ramamurthy: He's certainly more active in the remainder of this season, so I already know the answer to that question. And I want that involvement to carry on into the second season.
TVGuide.com: Did [Heroes creator] Tim Kring tell you anything else about Season 2?
Ramamurthy: No. There are a couple of writers that we know to be more loose-lipped than others, and all of the actors try to get those guys into a quiet corner on the set and pump them for information, but they’ve all been really tight-lipped about it. I have no idea what they're going to come up with.
TVGuide.com: Last we saw, Mohinder lugged Peter's lifeless body to Grandma Petrelli's, only to be rudely waved off. What is he up to when we next see him?
Ramamurthy: This is the episode set five years in the future, and it is amazing. It's my favorite episode of the season, hands down. There's a whole different look to Mohinder. There's a different look for a lot of us, but I kind of pushed for a beard and glasses, just to make him look older and wiser and hardened up. My favorite stuff takes place with Nathan (Adrian Pasdar). We had a blast doing the scenes in this episode. We rehearsed for like three days on our own beforehand and really knocked out the paces. It is a possible future that we see [in this episode], and Mohinder holds a very special place in the government of the United States.
TVGuide.com: Are he and Nathan at this point friends, or not so much?
Ramamurthy: Actually, we're each other's closest confidants, which I never in a million years would have seen. You see old aspects of Mohinder, and you see new aspects. People's lives are being taken in the future, and people are deciding about the greater good.... Huge, almost philosophical questions are being asked in the episode, which is why I think I like it so much.
TVGuide.com: Sylar returned to Mohinder's apartment to find the computer shattered. Is the List on a flash drive now, or printed out...?
Ramamurthy: The List itself was on a flash drive from the beginning, but what was destroyed on the computer, and what the audience has no idea about, was that Mohinder found a way to find the rest of the [heroes]. That has been destroyed, so now the question is: Did Mohinder take that stuff with him, or not? Does he have a way to find new people, or not? That will be answered in the [May 7] episode.
TVGuide.com: Oh, so that’s the tracking system in New York City that Matt and Ted are out to destroy.
Ramamurthy: Exactly, yeah.
TVGuide.com: How has your life changed since the whole Heroes phenomenon hit?
Ramamurthy: It's changed a lot. Being out and about on the streets, shopping, paparazzi waiting outside your apartment.... That kind of stuff is all new to me. But that’s the negative stuff. The positive stuff is that it's opened a lot of doors for me. I'm taking meetings with directors for projects that I never would have dreamt of, and that’s been huge. And the publicity that’s come with it, especially recently with that whole TV Guide thing....
TVGuide.com: Right, you made our "Sexy" issue. Twice.
Ramamurthy: It's been a good thing. The positives far outweigh the negatives. For all of us, it has opened up a lot of doors. It also just feels good when people come up to you and they are so into the show and what you're doing.
TVGuide.com: I imagine it's better to be liked for something you know is good, rather than having lucked into some "success" that, truth be told, is crap. Like, "Great job there with Big Momma's House 2!"
Ramamurthy: No disrespect to Big Momma's House 2 — I'm sure it was good — but yeah, exactly. Whether people like this or don't, I like it, and I'm proud to be associated with it. That makes a big difference when you're at work or doing things like this [interview]. These last five episodes are outstanding. And this week's is phenomenal. The writer was Joe Pokaski, who is actually a very good friend of mine — we went to college together and were in the same fraternity — and I think he wrote an amazing episode. And the performances... everybody is phenomenal in it.
TVGuide.com: I don't know how this eluded me all this time, because I used to cover soaps, but you're married to Olga Sosnovska, aka All My Children's former Lena....
Ramamurthy: Yes, and she is standing right next to me!
TVGuide.com: What did she have to say when you made TV Guide's "Sexy" issue?
Ramamurthy: She keeps me in check. She said, "Well, it's the first season, and I'll let it slide this time. But next year you better be No. 1 or I'm leaving you!" [Laughs] So I've got my work cut out for me! I don’t know how I'm supposed to go about being named No. 1, but....
TVGuide.com: I think you have to pray for Patrick Dempsey to be in a disfiguring combine accident.
Ramamurthy: In that case, I'll settle for No. 2.
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