Kristen Bell, <EM>Heroes</EM> Kristen Bell, Heroes

Is this the new face of evil... or is she just misunder­stood? Former Veronica Mars star Kristen Bell joins Heroes (Mondays at 9 pm/ET, NBC) this week as Elle, a loony operative for the Company who is not above using her special power — still a secret — for her own twisted delight.

"Pain is amusing to Elle, and so is the malice with which she conducts herself," Bell says. She's also a spoiled brat. "When she shows up in Ireland to locate Peter [Milo Ventimiglia], she does not succeed and that gets her pretty ticked. She takes out her aggres­sion on the locals."

Elle's saga is a sad one. Her parents exploited her like a circus freak and put her into the Company at a very young age. "You're going to feel sorry for her," Bell promises. "Elle is like Claire [Hayden Panet­tiere] gone bad." And that'll just add to the confusion. "My grandfather and his friends at his assisted-living home were so eager to see me on Heroes, they jumped the gun and watched the season premiere," Bell says. "Half were convinced I was Hayden and the other half were going, 'No, no! Kristen was the robot!' I'm like, is there a robot on this show? Or did they just not take their meds?"

And now, some extra Heroes scoop, courtesy of a recent conference call with reporters:

A Picture Is Worth....

Series creator Tim Kring says that the photograp of "The 12" glimpsed at last week holds many clues. "We will be seeing the people in the photo," he shares, "and I think all of [the actors posed in the picture] will be the same ones [appearing on the show]." Kring says that snapshot was no snap to create: "Logistically, it was difficult to come up with this photograph that is used now and refers to things that are [filmed] well into the future, but it is as accurate as we can make it." As for one of the new elders looking a bit familiar, he allows, "[She does] look an awful lot like Joanna Cassidy...."

What About Matt's Old Life and Wife?

Addressing the matter of Matt Parkman's apparent life upheaval since the Season 1 finale, Kring says, "There is clearly a mystery now — but there wont be in the next couple of episodes — as to what happened in the four months [that passed]. Clearly he went from a man whose wife was pregnant and who was living in L.A. to a man who's living in New York and no longer with his wife. Something happened in that intervening time — and we will find out about it."

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