Dania Ramirez, <EM>Heroes</EM> Dania Ramirez, Heroes

Last week on the season premiere of NBC's Heroes (Mondays at 9 pm/ET), viewers were not only caught up on the lives of Claire, Nathan, Matt et al, but were also introduced to a few new faces, including a sister-brother team hot to make tracks to New York City and consult with Mohinder. Alas, Maya and Alejandro seem to be leaving a trail of corpses in their wake, due to Maya's mysterious own ability. TVGuide.com invited X-Men: The Last Stand's Dania Ramirez to share some insight about Maya's power and possible love interest, and what it's like to whale on an Oscar winner.

TVGuide.com: I'm happy for your new gig, but you're in this not-100-percent enviable position of having to join a hit show in its second season. That has to be a little daunting, right?
Dania Ramirez: Honestly, I didn't even stop to think about it. They called my manager and were interested in me testing for the show. At the time I knew about Heroes, of course, but I hadn't really watched all the episodes. So I told my best friend, and she was like, "Oh my god, it's the best show ever! You have to get on it." I watched a couple of episodes and told my manager, "I have to be on this show." By Episode 8, I couldn't stop watching. My dog would look at me like, "Please walk me" and I'd be like, "OK, in one more hour." They never opened the role to anyone else. I went in, I tested and a week later, I was at work! And honestly, until this day, it hasn't even hit me yet.

TVGuide.com: Do you think that your turn in X-Men 3 as another empowered mutant, Callisto, placed you in the Heroes producers' minds?
Ramirez:
Honestly, from what I've heard from the producers, it was my role [as Blanca] on The Sopranos. They saw my first episode of The Sopranos, called the casting director and asked her who I was and to find out about me. And then when they were together thinking of new characters for Season 2, Tim Kring wanted to create a Latina character and one of the producers was like, "Maybe we should think of this girl." And that's how it all happened.

TVGuide.com: I saw the season premiere, but help me out here: What exactly is Maya's power?
Ramirez:
You'll find out in Episode 2.

TVGuide.com: What, she like kills people by making them bleed through their eyes?
Ramirez:
Well, it's a little more complicated than that. It's more about how Maya feels too much. If you put her in a situation where she's feeling fear or feeling vulnerable… well, you don't want to make her upset, basically. In Episode 2, you'll see how I do it. In Episode 1, you only saw the effect, the aftermath, of me having [used my power]. It was more about understanding that this is something that she can't control. She's essentially a good person but something has happened to her. As the episodes go along, you will see how it all happens and the importance of my brother.

TVGuide.com: See, I thought I read somewhere that she has to be with her brother to use her powers, that they're kind of like "The Wonder Twins" from the old TV cartoon.
Ramirez:
That's the thing that people have been saying, but I don't need my brother to use my power. As you saw in Episode 1, I can use it by myself. In Episode 2 on Monday, you'll come to understand the importance of Alejandro as far as what my power is and how he affects it.

TVGuide.com: Maya and Alejandro are on their way to New York City. How soon is it that you get to intersect with any of the other heroes?
Ramirez:
Pretty soon. In the next two or three episodes I'm definitely going to cross paths with someone from Season 1. It's someone dark — I'll give you that secret.

TVGuide.com: Is Maya being steered in the direction of an on-screen romance?
Ramirez:
Uh, yes. That might be something that could happen….

TVGuide.com: Well, Mohinder could use some action.
Ramirez:
Yeah, he could! [Laughs] There are a lot of characters that could use some action. I think Maya could use some action, and so could Alejandro!

TVGuide.com: I know you're all off shooting in different areas and on different sets, but have you had a chance to hang with any of your cast members?
Ramirez:
We really get along well, so we hang out more outside of set than anything. I got an opportunity to hang out with a few people who all got sent on [the Heroes' summer] world tour. For my leg of the tour, I was hanging out with Zach [Quinto], James Kyson Lee and my little boy Noah [Gray-Cabey]. He's so cute.

TVGuide.com: Is it extra-special for you to get to rattle off in Spanish as part of your Heroes role?
Ramirez:
You know, that's really one of the coolest things about the show — the fact that the show really touches upon and gives you a peek into so many different cultures. I'm originally from the Dominican Republic, and to have the opportunity to play a Dominican character and speak my native language, it's an exhilarating experience.

TVGuide.com: We saw that last season with Hiro and Ando, and it makes the show much more… well, as real as Heroes can be, it feels a little bit more real.
Ramirez:
Exactly! That's one of the things that made me become a fan of the show, the fact that they do keep it real. It's a show on prime time and we are trying to reach the masses with a representation of the world, not just the United States.

TVGuide.com: Before I let you go, give me a fun anecdote from your X-Men 3 fight scenes with Halle Berry.
Ramirez:
Well, we had a lot of really bad, full-on fight scenes, so during rehearsal we just hurt each other a lot! [Laughs]

TVGuide.com: Was she cool about it?
Ramirez:
Oh, totally! I think that's what made the whole scene work so well, that we were both [game] and knew that we were both hurting each other, but it was like, "All right, next!"

TVGuide.com: Yeah, but nobody wants to accidentally break the nose of an Oscar winner.
Ramirez:
Well, hello! I'm like the one new character [in X-Men 3] and the minute I hurt her the first time, I was like, "Oh my god, I'm going to get fired!"

Find some super Heroes clips using our Online Video Guide.

The Oct. 1 issue of TV Guide features an in-depth preview of Heroes, featuring Hayden Panettiere, Ali Larter and the newest hero, Kristen Bell. Plus: Inside Jerry Seinfeld's return to television on 30 Rock. Try four risk-free issues now!

Send your comments on this Q&A to online_insider@tvguide.com.