Zachary Quinto, who plays bad-guy Sylar on NBC’s Heroes (tonight at 9 pm/ET), is preparing to enter sci-fi superstardom by taking on one of the genres most iconic roles, Spock, in the new Star Trek movie. The 30-year-old actor talked to TV Guide about his sudden rise to fame, the “new” Sylar and becoming a young Spock.
TV Guide: A year ago, you were just another jobless Hollywood actor. Now you’re starring on the white-hot hit Heroes and playing young Spock in the next Star Trek movie. Are you sure you’re not dreaming all this?
Zachary Quinto: It’s all very dreamlike, though Trek is feeling less so as it draws nearer. We’re getting ready to shoot in a month, and I just had my first fitting for my Vulcan ears. It felt incredible, and in that moment there was a huge shift for me. Suddenly it was real, and I was like, “OK! Let’s get this thing going!”
TV Guide: In a wild twist on Heroes, your serial-killer character, Sylar, has lost his powers. Will this help humanize the monster?
Quinto: Not really. Sylar’s plans for ultimate power have been derailed, but that doesn’t give us a chance to know him better. If anything, he’s the same guy but even more driven and obsessed and in a place of absolute hunger: “I want my power back! No time to waste!” During this struggle, he’ll align himself with the twins, Maya [Dania Ramirez] and Alejandro [Shalim Ortiz], and they’ll go on a journey to New York to find Mohinder [Sendhil Ramamurthy].
TV Guide: Do some fans root for you to slay as many heroes as possible?
Quinto: Oh, yeah! There’s a group that calls itself the Sarmy — or Sylar’s Army — that’s dedicated to the support of my character, and they don’t like it when he’s disparaged. Their slogan is “Every villain needs a legion of evil supporters.” But what’s funny is they do great charity work. It’s never bad to have an army.
TV Guide: Is it true you were ready to drop out of showbiz when Heroes came along?
Quinto: I was in the depths of despair to the point where I couldn’t get out of bed. I was about to turn 30, which is a notoriously tumultuous time for people, and I was dealing with career obstacles that were profound — a real existential crisis. I was asking myself, “What’s the point of all this? Why am I even in the game anymore?”
TV Guide: But you’d already had a few cool roles by that time — Tori Spelling’s gay BFF on So NoTORIous and CTU analyst Adam Kaufman on Season 3 of 24. Weren’t you encouraged by that?
Quinto: So NoTORIous was great fun but had no far-reaching appeal. 24 did have that, but I was an information disseminator who was very expendable on a show that doesn’t have a lot of character depth. Until Heroes happened, I’d never played an amazing character on a really great show that a lot of people watched.
TV Guide: Let’s get back to Spock. It’s almost like you manifested this role. Was this The Secret at work?
Quinto: From the day I found out they were making the Star Trek movie, I said, “I want to be Spock,” and I started talking about it to everybody — to my friends, my agents, reporters who interviewed me. I put my intentions out there clearly and the universe responded. But this is age-old thinking rooted in Eastern philosophy and spirituality. I’ve never read The Secret.
TV Guide: Some Trek loyalists are already griping online that the film, about Starfleet Academy, is starting to look like Star Trek, 90210. Response?
Quinto: I don’t immerse myself in the Internet chatter because it opens you up to a whole source of danger. I think Zoe Saldana [young Uhura] and Anton Yelchin [young Chekov] are formidable young actors, and I’m grateful to be among them. The film is being made with the longtime fans in mind, but it will also be of its own time and have a distinct voice and perspective. There’s no better way to respect the Trek mythology than to try to bring it to a wider audience.