“I am deeply saddened to hear about Leonard Roberts’ experience on Heroes and I am heartbroken reading his perception of our relationship, which absolutely doesn’t match my memory nor experience on the show,” the actress says in a statement to TVLine. “I respect Leonard as an artist and I applaud him or anyone using their voice and platform. I am truly sorry for any role I may have played in his painful experience during that time and I wish him and his family the very best.”
In case you missed it, Roberts — who is Black, and played D.L. Hawkins on the hit NBC drama — went public with a lengthy essay in Variety on Wednesday, blaming friction with co-star Larter and a lack of diversity behind the scenes for his abrupt firing from Heroes after just one season. “The script suggested D.L. and [Larter’s character] Niki had a volatile relationship — and it wasn’t long before art was imitating life,” Roberts wrote, detailing an incident where Larter complained about a bedroom scene with him, but “apparently had no issue” shooting a seduction scene with co-star Adrian Pasdar. “I couldn’t help wondering whether race was a factor,” Roberts added.
Roberts went on to say that series creator Tim Kring informed him he was being killed off at the start of Season 2 “due to ‘the Ali Larter situation'” and said the two “didn’t have ‘chemistry.'” The actor also noted that there were no Black writers on the Heroes staff and that all the Black cast members were pushed to the back and side during a “particularly odd” photoshoot.
Kring said in a statement to Variety: “Looking back now, 14 years later, given the very different lens that I view the world through today, I acknowledge that a lack of diversity at the upper levels of the staff may have contributed to Leonard experiencing the lack of sensitivity that he describes. I have been committed to improving upon this issue with every project I pursue. I remember Leonard fondly and wish him well.”
Larter recently co-starred on Fox’s Pitch and ABC’s The Rookie, and is set to star in The Sidelines, an upcoming Fox comedy series about a 40-year-old mom pursuing a dream to be a pro football cheerleader.