Dania Ramirez is no stranger to having super powers; she’s already flexed some enhanced muscles in X-Men: The Last Stand and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Now, she takes on the role of Honduran refugee Maya Herrera, whose destructive powers land her on the run from the cops with her twin brother, Alejandro (Shalim Ortiz). Ramirez was ready to conquer the role of not-so-angelic Maya: ”We all have a little dark side to us,” she says. See what else Ramirez thinks about taking a walk on the dark side, adding more subtitles to the Heroes world (Spanish speakers, rejoice!), and what she’s learned from her past sci-fi gigs.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What can we expect from Maya’s storyline?
DANIA RAMIREZ: They drop you in at the heat of what’s going on in these people’s lives. The first time you see me, I’m running for my life from the cops, somewhere in Central America, because of something horrific I’ve done with my ability. I’m trying to come up north to understand what’s happening to me. Alejandro and I get to introduce a completely different side of the world. We get to introduce Central America. Through my character you get to understand more about illegal immigration and how hard it is to make it.
Is it easy to play Shalim Ortiz’s sister?
Oh yeah. He’s a sweetheart. As a person I really have a lot of respect for him and as an actor he’s really devoted to his craft. That’s been the really easy part. Honestly you need that connection, because we play twins. We’re more than just brother and sister.
I know you’re under strict orders not to disclose too much, but what can you say about your power?
I can give you a little hint — you might not want to make me sad. You might not want to make me cry. I’m dealing with more of the darker side of having a power. My ability is not something I’m comfortable with or understand what’s going on with.
What do you find most interesting about Maya?
What I find interesting is her arc. By the fifth episode she’s already changed so much. There are a lot of injustices that happen to her through traveling up north. She’s definitely affected by the things she encounters along the way.
Were you a fan of the show when you got the audition?
When they called me and said they were interested in testing me, I hadn’t watched any of the episodes. I told my friend, who’s a freak about the show. She was like, ”You have to be on this show.” She came over with all of season one. I couldn’t leave my house. How could you not want to be part of such a cool show as this? It’s such a different way of looking at science fiction, of looking at TV, period.
Science fiction roles aren’t new to you — how did your experiences in X-Men: The Last Stand and Buffy the Vampire Slayer help prepare you for “Heroes”?
It’s a completely different world. It’s a completely different way of looking at a role. For me, as far as the physical part of it, those past roles were really helpful because both Buffy and X-Men were physically demanding roles. My role in Heroes is not that different when it comes to the physical activity and how prepared you have to be physically to carry out the role. As far as the roles themselves, I really look at what’s going on in these people’s lives and how my own experience can relate. And what’s going on in Maya’s world is completely different than what was going on in Callisto’s world in X-Men.
What familiar heroes will you cross paths with?
She comes in contact early on with a very dark character from season one. I think you can put two and two together.
If two equals ”Sy” and the other two equals ”lar”…
I get to work with Zach Quinto, which I love. He may play a villain but in real life he’s a really amazing person.
That’s what they all say…then he eats their brains.
Want more Heroes? Take our interactive quiz to answer the question Which Hero Are You? And don’t miss EW’s Ultimate Heroes Fan Guide, where you can join with other members of the Heroes community to fill in new details of season 2.