The mutants-a-poppin' world of Heroes is about to get much bigger. British actor Christopher Eccleston joins the cast when the NBC hit returns from winter hiatus on Jan. 22; he's playing Claude, an invisible man who haunts the streets of New York. (In case you film buffs were wondering: Yes, the character is named after Claude Rains, star of 1933's The Invisible Man.) According to creator Tim Kring, Eccleston's mystery man will ''introduce a large element of mythology to the show. You're about to learn that there was a whole previous generation of heroes and that they had adventures of their own.'' A flashback episode slated for late February will explain much of their history, says Kring, and more older heroes will be revealed as the series progresses.
Also factoring into the mix are two supporting players who'll see much bigger action this spring: the mind-erasing ''Haitian'' (Jimmy Jean-Louis) and ''Radioactive Man'' Ted Sprague (Matthew John Armstrong). Jean-Louis' character who works for Horn Rimmed Glasses finally spoke in December's winter finale. He'll reveal a mysterious agenda of his own when he starts spilling family secrets to Claire. Says Jean-Louis, ''It's nice to finally have a voice and know I'll be using it often.'' (Unresolved riddle: Why so mum in the first place?) As for Armstrong, he's looking forward to getting recognized for a part he's actually playing; seems the scruffy-faced Sprague has gotten him confused with a certain advertising icon. ''For the record,'' he says, ''I am not the Geico caveman.'' He's also not the Spoiler Guy, either. ''I'm terrified of saying too much,'' says Armstrong. ''I'd like to have this job for a while!''
Anglophiles may recognize Eccleston from his role in the BBC series Cracker and his year-long tour of duty as England's fabled sci-fi hero Dr. Who. He says he's glad to be playing a (relatively) good guy on this side of the Atlantic, too. ''European actors tend to be offered villains in American film and TV. Claude is not, and that was important to me.'' Eccleston jokes that there is one downside to his role, however: ''The most difficult thing about being invisible is reporting to set and being completely ignored.''
Prickly, Faginesque vagabond who'll use tough love on Peter the Super Sponge.
HRG's henchman gets involved in Claire's rocky home life; Jean-Louis hints at the Haitian's spiritual side.
Matthew John Armstrong
So radioactive he killed his wife. Could he be the prophesied human bomb who's threatening NYC?