TV's Original Invisible Man Takes On Heroes' Newcomer
Heroes ' big invisible twist? I'm just not seeing it. Call me literal, anal or simply intolerant of bad science, but I have a "super"-sized problem with the NBC show's brand-new addition. Introduced last night, Claude (as in Rains, get it?) was spied by Peter liberating unsuspecting diners of their wallets and whatnot. Being an invisible man, as we later would learn, Claude's crimes went unseen. As did - inexplicably - the clothes on his back. That's some aggressive DNA, huh? Heroes' "list" is of people blessed (cursed?) with a genetic anomaly, one that manifests itself in assorted abilities that, by stretches great and small, could be born from "super" DNA. But someone explain to me how something inside me can change the transparency of my jeans, of my Lacoste sweater? Having screened last night's episode some weeks ago, I had to share my frustration with somebody who might care. So I tracked down TV's original Invisible Man, David McCallum, now known as NCIS' Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard and the voice of C.A.R.T.E.R (a car) on Disney Channel's The Replacements. After getting briefed on Claude's debut, McCallum had to agree that the new kid on the block is indeed cutting corners. "He's either naked or he isn't," the actor says with a chuckle. "When we did it, I had to take all my clothes off - and sometimes it was in the snow!" See, The Invisible Man's Dr. Daniel Westin, like The Fantastic Four's Sue Storm or Hollow Man's Kevin Bacon, can only "disappear" if buck-naked (or in Alba's case, outfitted, drat, with a special jumpsuit). McCallum's alter ego, in fact, was transparent 24/7, and could only be "seen" by slipping on a latex mask and gloves. McCallum remembers the old-school special effects with which he had to work. "You have to remember, there was no CGI, no trickery," he notes. "I used to think of myself as Marcel Marceau, because I was totally doing mime against a blue screen or a green screen. I would pick up my own head with my right hand, and walk it across the room and put it down on the table, with the rest of my body blued out so you didn't see it. The physical antics we got wrapped into to make that whole thing work were incredible." That said, McCallum offers bad news and good news for Heroes' Claude. "Being invisible is a dreadful thing to happen to you, because the one thing you want to do is get visible, otherwise you're going to be a freak for the rest of your life," he says. "Of course, the one great thing about playing an invisible man is it's a most wonderful production schedule. You're only there when you're there!" UPDATE: My complete Q&A with David McCallum can now be found in Interviews & Features. CBS' NCIS airs Tuesdays at 8 pm/ET. The Replacements airs Saturday at 8 pm/ET on Disney Channel, and Saturday at 9:30 am/ET on ABC.