October 6, 2008

Brea Grant Smacks of Success on ‘Heroes’

By Bill Keveney

Heroes now has an anti-Hiro.

Speedster Daphne, a new character played by Brea Grant, has been giving time-stopping Hiro (Masi Oka) fits in the NBC drama's third season, smacking him in the face and the ego as she steals a piece of a dangerous formula while mocking his dream of a world-saving quest.

"It's been really fun to play out the comedy, in that he thinks he's a hero and she's not having it," says Grant, who was spotted by producers during a stint on Friday Night Lights.

The Roadrunner-like chase, in which Hiro can slow but not stop Daphne, will continue, but she will move into more dramatic, life-and-death territory starting with a trip four years into the future in tonight's episode (9 ET/PT). There she will come into contact with other Heroes characters, including Peter (Milo Ventimiglia), Claire (Hayden Panettiere) and Sylar (Zachary Quinto), and it's not clear who is good and who is bad. "There's a huge fight scene that's really, really cool."

Other Daphne stories to be explored during "Villains," Heroes' 13-episode fall volume, include who hired her to steal the formula, what they have on her, and her future connection to mind-reading Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg), who saw a painting in last week's episode that appeared to foreshadow the two of them together with a baby. Technically a villain, Daphne is "basically good at heart" and will struggle with her role in the battle of good vs. evil, creator Tim Kring says.

"Daphne gets a little more serious, but she's still sort of spacey and funny," says Grant, who is on board for at least 13 episodes. "She definitely has to deal with a lot more drama. This is Heroes, after all."

For the third season, Heroes' producers wanted to focus on core characters and decided any additions, such as Daphne, would have to be incorporated into an existing hero's story. Last season, fans complained that it took too long to connect new characters to the main story.

"Because we had Hiro on this quest to find this formula, we thought we would give him an arch-nemesis because he speaks in such comic-book terms," Kring says. "We came up with the idea of somebody who could move fast enough that if Hiro stopped time, (she) could still move at regular speed, slowed down enough so the two could have scenes together."

To put a face on the speedster as they shaped the character, they pictured Grant, whom they had seen on Lights. When casting, they decided to consider the actress herself, a 26-year-old with distinctive blond dreadlocks who did her master's degree thesis while pursuing acting.

"We wanted an attractive actress, but somebody who stood out a little bit. There's the quirky quality of her looks and a spunky energy to her," Kring says. "There's also an instant likability (and) a kind of vulnerability. We knew we were going to end up with someone who was not evil at heart."

Grant is pleased with the power of speed, which she calls "one of the best abilities. You'd never be late."

Computer effects turn Daphne into a blur and create the rubbery wake she leaves when Hiro stops time, but Grant has to run in many of her scenes to get the character started. The 5-foot-2 actress, who will appear in the Max Payne film due out Oct. 17, at times has had to run in heels, which bring her closer to the height of the show's taller actors.

"That definitely made me learn more about balance," she says. "Actually, (running) is what I do for exercise, so it works out OK." (c) Copyright 2008 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc. <>