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Feature: Heroes

Seeing Double

Ali Larter in Resident Evil: Extinction and Heroes

With a dual role in Heroes and a part in Resident Evil: Extinction, Ali Larter is everywhere…

How many actresses can say that their career was kick-started by a hoax? Ali Larter, for one. In 1996, she appeared on the cover of Esquire magazine as Allegra Coleman, a fictional celebrity who was the subject of a parody profile. The controversial incident earned Esquire a fair amount of criticism, but it also put Larter squarely in the public eye. She booked her first acting job in 1997, a guest-starring role in the forgotten sitcom Chicago Sons. A series of television parts followed, leading up to her first breakout role in the horror remake House on Haunted Hill.

Now, years later, Larter is once again splitting her time between television and a Horror film. But this time it’s a critically acclaimed hit series and a multi-million-dollar franchise film. The New Jersey-born actress has officially made the transition from fake starlet to legitimate one.

Larter’s profile has steadily grown over the last decade, but her current role as single mother Niki Sanders on Heroes has thrust her into the mainstream with rapid force. Reluctant to accept any of the credit for the show’s popularity herself, she acknowledges the writers and the quality of the scripts as the major factors in its success.

“What’s amazing about this writing is that it really pushes me and makes me kind of find actually all different tones within our show,” she says. “As actors, you just come in with great writing and everyone just does the best they can do. So when an audience responds, that’s just the icing on top of it. I think that we’re all just thrilled that people are loving the show as much as we love working on it.”

Larter’s character spends the first series struggling with her super alter ego, Jessica, who appears in the mirror during times of stress, and sometimes takes over her body, wreaking havoc wherever she goes. The extent of Niki’s abilities, which may also include super strength, remain a mystery that even Larter can’t quite explain. But for Larter, the show is less about super powers than about the complications they create in the characters’ lives.

“When I read the pilot, I didn’t actually know what direction it was going in, other than the fact that you’ve got a really complicated woman who’s just trying to get by,” she says. “She’s trying to be a great mother to her son and her world’s really crumbling around her. So for me it wasn’t about what kind of powers she was getting or that, it was just about her dealing with her life and wondering if she’s going crazy and what’s happening to her.”

Larter seems to have an appeal to men and women alike. She was featured at number six in Maxim Magazine’s ‘Hot 100 Women of 2007’. But women are also taken with her portrayal of a strong mother. And viewers of both sexes can identify with the wish fulfilment that the character of Jessica represents.

“Where we’re leading to is that there’s going to be a duality within my personality,” Larter says of her character. “So there’s one side that has to conform to society’s rules and laws and the shadow side that can actually live out the dark fantasies that are repressed within all of us.”

by Cindy White

Read the full interview in
The Works #A18

Photos © Screen Gems / NBC
Feature © Visual Imagination 2007. Not for reproduction

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The Works #A18, see below for ordering options
The Works #A18
September/October 2007
ships from Aug 29 2007
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