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?
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?
You'll find out in Episode 2.

TVGuide.com: What, she like kills people by making them bleed through their eyes?
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.
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?
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?
Uh, yes. That might be something that could happen….

TVGuide.com: Well, Mohinder could use some action.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.