Hollywood Babylon

This ‘Heroes’ actor allegedly threatened to quit if producers made his character gay

Bryan Fuller, former Heroes exec, let it spill that Heroes once ditched a gay storyline because of an offstage fracas involving petulant actorly sorts.

The TV series, which ran for four and a half seasons between 2006 and 2010, made Zachary Quinto a household name and launched the career of many other stars.

This week at Outfest, Fuller revealed that projected gay storyline, saying:

“The gay character was het-washed after the actor’s management threatened to pull him from the show if [the character] were gay.”

Fuller didn’t name the actor making the complaint, but it’s not difficult to read between the lines.

During the show’s original run, it was often suggested that Zach (Thomas Dekker), who played a good friend of Claire Bennet (Hayden Panettiere) was gay.

Related: Zachary Quinto furious with James Franco over his confusing sexuality!

Well, that plot-line abruptly flew out the window — just like most superheroes are wont to do.

Zach suddenly became very heterosexual indeed. And was then written right off the show.

Heroes creator Tim Kring vaguely alluded to backstage drama at the time, telling After Elton:

 “It was certainly not our intention to confuse the issue of Zach’s character being gay. We have too much respect for our audience to do that intentionally.

However, it has simply become too complicated behind the scenes to push this issue further with this particular character.

We wish that we could have handled things better on our end. But making a TV show is often a very imprecise business.”

Dekker saw things quite differently.

Related: Zachary Quinto Would Never Slut-Shame, Says Zachary Quinto Nine Months After Slut-Shaming

In a blog post written in 2007, he wrote:

“I, nor my management have ever had any kind of problem with creating a gay character. To me acting is about being prepared to play all kinds of roles and it is an honor and a challenge to portray ANYTHING that comes my way.

What transpired on Heroes is something far more complicated than anyone being “afraid” to make Zach homosexual.

The character that I created in the beginning of the show, a process I take very seriously, was based on Zach being an outcast who had a burning love for Claire, a crush that drew him to her and effected every ounce of his self-esteem around her.

I created the character that way because it was WRITTEN IN THE ORIGINAL SCRIPT that he was in love with Claire.

I was not informed in the beginning of the series, of any planned character arc, because I was told there wasn’t one.

What ensued later was a combination of miscommunication, confusion, surprise and last minute decisions, not a knee jerk reaction from me or my team.”

He insisted that “me leaving Heroes has NOTHING to do with this gay controversy.”

So it was his devotion to Stanislavskian method acting that got him written off the show. The story checks out.

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  • KaiserVonScheiss

    He played a bisexual character in Kaboom, so if that were his opinion then, it doesn’t appear to be his opinion now.

  • Brian

    I remember this! It’s really something to see it confirmed. The character was implicitly gay, then suddenly very very straight, then inexplicably gone forever. Even my straight friends noticed how awkwardly it was treated, and we all assumed it had something to do with the writers – not the actor.

    • kent25

      Sounds just like a bisexual

  • Donston

    Could this news get any older?

    Dekker was clearly trying to prove that his fem ass could play it straight, which he never became very convincing at doing. He admitted to be molested when he was younger. So, he probably has/had a convoluted and conflicted ego as well as certain degrees of internalized homophobia. Although he’s never officially come out a glance at his social media lets you know what’s up.

  • am_psi

    Dekker has played gay in several movies and TV shows, so I don’t think he’d have a problem with it. I always thought he left Heroes to do the Terminator show. I think Fuller must be talking about somebody else.

    • Donston

      As he said, he was disappointed by the character being gay considering in the pilot he was not presented as such. And he probably saw it as an opportunity to play a straight character what would likely be a popular series, thus proving he could portray such a guy.

      The title of the article is mis-leading. Clearly they were talking about his character. But in none of those quotes or even in the article is it hinted that any actor wanted to quit because their character was gay. It’s typical Queerty click-bait.

    • JED08

      Donston, “there was an offstage fracas”, and it looks really clear to me that Dekker and his team did at least object forcefully. What he did or said in other role situations that he was in doesn’t have any bearing on what he did and said in this situation, at that time.

    • Donston

      I have no doubt that he and/or his team was against the character being gay. I just don’t get why Fuller would even bring this up ten years later.

    • ProfessorMoriarty

      He’s bringing it up now because Miss Thing is really regretting leaving “Star Trek: Discovery” for the snooze-fest that is “American Gods”, and he’s dishing this old dirt to keep the spotlight centered on him, if only for a moment longer.

  • Danny595

    Queerty must be desperate for content if it is recycling a decade-old non-story. Dekker is gay. He has played gay characters throughout his career. His first major role as a child actor was of a gay youth, who was the youngest gay character to appear on television at that time. He’s a good man. Can’t this sewer of a website find a more worthy target of its mudslinging?

    • Donston

      It’s extremely desperate and extremely old news. However, last time Dekker talked about his sexuality, which I believe was quite a few years ago, he said he only dated girls (like a lot of closet cases and guys who can’t self-accept he never spoke of his actual sexual attractions). So, I don’t know where he stands now “identity” wise. Still, he’s been keeping a pretty low profile in recent years. And I don’t see any reason to randomly bring up something from ten years ago.

    • jjose712

      This is in the news again because Fuller give an interview and he talked about the difficult times he had to bring gay characters and storylines to his shows

  • mj7417

    In that interview, Fuller said that the actor in question has since come out as gay. While Dekker has said he would be open to a relationship with a man, he never came out as gay. It makes a lot more sense that it would be Zachary Quinto’s character, who has since come out as gay and for a while was shooting for leading man status. That’s why I can’t seem to rap my head around why all the gay blogs are jumping on Dekker as being the actor in question, when it seems Quinto is much more likely.

    • Donston

      Quinto would be an odd one since it would be so obvious. You might as well just name him. And what would they get out of making that character gay? Plus, Quinto and Fuller have worked with each other since Heroes and seem like friends. Honestly, Fuller just shouldn’t have bothered bringing it up or telling what happened if he wasn’t gonna name names. And really, at this point who the hell cares?

  • meghanada

    The funny thing is that this kid has been rumored to be gay for years. And all he has to show for his straightness is “rumored” relationships with women no one’s ever seen.

  • Ari Gold

    Dekker played a flaming queen in a TV movie called Campus Confidential back in 2005. After that I guess he couldn’t handle the “stigma” anymore.

  • Aromaeus

    Dekker has played a lot of non-straight character roles so I could understand if he thought he was going to play something different only for it being changed somewhat last minute. However it could also quite possibly have been Zachary Quinto. I mean he wasn’t out then and we know how actor’s agents do their best to keep that information under wraps.

  • Kangol

    It’s old news but Fuller, the show exec, has dredged it up. Queerty’s just reporting it. The first season of that show was the best.

    Another great part was seeing hottie Sendhil Ramamurthy strut his stuff. There should definitely be more of him and like him on TV.

  • jjose712

    This is really old.
    And he can say whatever he wants but it was pretty clear that his management didn’t want him to play gay roles, first because he was auditioning for some big roles and second because it was rumoured that he is in fact gay.

    Yes he played gay roles after that but that doesn’t mean a thing because he was not the one who made the fuss.
    It happened something similar in As the world turns, the guy who played Luke Snyder before Van Hansis leave the role because his mother (who was an actress on the show) didn’t want him to play a gay character, and now he is playing a gay role on Animal Kingdom

  • bobbyjoe

    Dekker’s excuse has always been really lame (it would have been like Buffy’s Allyson Hannigan refusing to play Willow as a lesbian because they once had her in a relationship with Oz, Seth Green’s werewolf– you go where the freakin’ writers and showrunners tell you to go, and you make it work because you’re a good actor. P.S.– if Dekker was trying to make his character seem like he was in love with Claire those first few episodes, then, hoo boy, he was seriously bad at it ’cause his character read as gay, gay, gay right form the start). Also, Dekker playing gay and bisexual characters after Heroes always struck me as a bit of him trying to avoid career damage, because the stories at the time he left Heroes did NOT make him look good, simultaneously making Dekker look homophobic and difficult to work with. We’ve seen some of the same kind of attempted recovery thing from Isaiah Washington).

    • ProfessorMoriarty

      Exactly my recollection as well. Dekker was the TV equivalent of box office poison after all the homophobic vibes that arose from the stories surrounding his character’s sudden departure in ’07.

      But seriously, why dredge this up now? As Karen on “Will & Grace” might have observed, you’d have to be headless to not know that Thomas Dekker is as queer as a three dollar bill. This story is getting play because Bryan Fuller is scratching an itch to stay in the spotlight.

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