Geeking Out Over TV, Film, Travel, and Tech Since 2002!
Home Movies Movie Interviews Interview: Hayden Panettiere from Heroes
Interview: Hayden Panettiere from Heroes

Interview: Hayden Panettiere from Heroes


Ordinary people with extraordinary abilities link a group of complete strangers that may determine the future of the world when Heroes: Season 1 comes to DVD and HD DVD August 28, 2007 from Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The most acclaimed and addictive new series of the 2006-2007 television season. We were able to sit down with Hayden Panetteire (Claire Bennett) from the very successful series — which will be starting again September 24.

If there’s a superpower that you think would benefit, you know, you as a young Hollywood stars or other young Hollywood stars, if there’s a superpower that would benefit them, or which one will benefit you guys that most?

Hayden Panettiere: The ability to be invisible.

Really? Why is that?

Hayden Panettiere: Because I think, you know, obviously we can blame most of it on the people who are doing the bad things that they’re not supposed to be doing. But, you know, at the same time when you’ve got cameras in your face all the time, it leaves you no room to mess up even slightly and things get turned around on you. So if I could walk out my door or drive my car out my door, and not be followed by paparazzi, I’d be a very happy person.

With everything that you’ve gone through this past year on the show, how has that changed the way you view what people have had to go through working on like a weekly series is like this?

Hayden Panettiere: Well, it’s definitely, you know, I would have had no idea what to expect. I did do “Ally McBeal’s first season but that was, you know, a half-hour show and — was it a half-hour show? I’m”¦

I think it was an hour.

Hayden Panettiere: I was 12 – I’m like, okay. It was an hour show but it was, you know, it’s just a different – totally different groove, and I wasn’t in it everyday and wasn’t, you know, one of the major characters.

But it’s been crazy. But this show is unlike probably any show that anyone shoots, because we shoot it like a movie, and it’s like we’re doing a full-length feature film everyday. So in that aspect — my past feature film career has most definitely prepared me for that.

But there’s no place I’d rather be. I love my cast, I love my crew, so”¦

When you first signed on for this show, what exactly were your expectations? Is it surreal now that, you know, to know that the show and that your character and your work has had a big impact?

Hayden Panettiere: Oh absolutely. I had absolutely no idea what to expect.

I — you know, I’ve never been on a show from beginning to end, and I’ve never been there for the pilot and then, you know, a full series. Especially not one like this.

You never really know no matter how good the show is or how many, you know, incredible actors are involved with it — you never really know what’s going to happen with it, or how the audience is going to take it. Because I saw incredible shows this past season, you know, last season just — not accepted by the audience, and it wasn’t because it wasn’t good enough, it wasn’t because – you know, the people didn’t like it, people just didn’t grab it like they did other shows.

So it’s kind of a toss-up — I had no idea. We were shooting for so long before the show actually aired, that we started thinking either it’s on the air already and it’s doing obviously well because we’re still here, or we’re just doing this for shits and giggles and it’s never airing ever.

So if you had known, if you had any clue in advance, would it have been almost a paralyzing, daunting thing to take on — or would you have been like, yeah, bring it on?

Hayden Panettiere: Oh I’m usually like, yeah, bring it on. I have my cast mates and my family and they’re – I love them to death. I wouldn’t trade them or my job or this show for anything.

But, yeah, I would have taken it on.

With the changes in the cast and the additions to the cast of “Heroes’, what the chemistry has been like on set for Season 2.

Hayden Panettiere: It’s been great. You know, we have a new character Dania Ramirez is playing – her name’s Maya — and she’s been really fun. And her brother – her twin brother, Shalim Ortiz.

But it’s been great. I haven’t really gotten a chance to be around them a whole lot, other than a few cast things on set. But it seems everyone is pretty excited and thrilled to be a part of the show. You know, it’s an already established show, and it’s been doing great and it’s a wonderful show and most of the people who have joined the cast have seen it and are just psyched to be there.

When Season 2 picks up, where is it in Claire’s life that we find her, and how do we build up to this new relationship with the new guy, West?

Hayden Panettiere: Well, it’s four months from where we left off last season. And Claire is really trying to be, you know — just trying to get in touch with her inner teen self once again, you know. She hasn’t given that up, and I think it’d be a sad thing if she did.

And she’s – you know, struggling to fit in but not stand out and, you know, obviously they’re still hiding and running from these people. And West — you know, I think the funny thing about Claire is that she’s really — as much as she has that beautiful naiveté about her and as sweet as she is, she does have that spitfire. She has that — yeah, that sass about her. And so it’s fun to watch her.

But I think when she meets West – I mean, you guys will see.

So we’re going to see her meeting him — they’re not already together yet, or anything like that?

Hayden Panettiere: They’re not already together?

Like they’re not dating or something when the new season picks up.

Hayden Panettiere: No, no. It’s a gradual meeting, yes. It’s teenage angst.

When you talk about getting in touch with her inner teen, she’s not able to go all the way back to her original high school, is she? Is she asking to be an original teen on the run, on the road, or what?

Hayden Panettiere: Well, she is settling in somewhere in the United States”¦

Yeah, can’t be any old place, but she’s trying to live a normal life somewhere for a while?

Hayden Panettiere: Yes. She’s trying. “Trying” is the key word.

As we’ve seen in “Heroes’, sometimes what we try for is not – we don’t succeed at all the time.

What would you describe as the biggest changes in Claire’s character that have occurred in the first season?

Hayden Panettiere: I think she really grew up, you know? She – I definitely for a while there was getting sick of crying. I don’t know about anyone else who watching the show, but I was tired of seeing her cry.

And, you know, she just kind of went from that naïve teenage girl who only wanted — you know, if you guys don’t have kids or haven’t noticed, teenagers are selfish, and I will vouch for that. And, you know, she wanted what any teenager would want. She wanted to be normal, she wanted to be popular, she wanted to date the quarterback of the football team, you know.

And, you know, over the time, she realized that by dismissing her power like that, that she was risking a lot of people’s lives — that there was so much more she can do if she just came to terms with that. And so she just really evolved. She just really grew up. She learned to stand her own and stick up for herself.

So, yeah, I mean she’s matured and hopefully she’ll keep doing that.

When we see in the future – when we see into the future, for that one episode for example, seeing, you know, the way some people go bad. Claire still was on the side of good and she always sort has been. Do you think Claire could ever go to the dark side? Is there anything that could happen that could push her there?

Hayden Panettiere: As — you know what, in the show, anything is possible. You never know what’s going to happen. I doubt it. But, you know, anything is possible. Anything is possible. And that five years in the future was if New York City blew up, which it didn’t. So I mean there’s always that chance, there’s always that possibility. And we could talk to Tim.

What about playing a villain would you appreciate the most? What is it about playing that versus the good guy that you’d like?

Hayden Panettiere: I think because I’ve always been very categorized and sometimes typecast because of the fact that I’m blonde, and, you know, people look at me as either the popular cheerleader type or, you know, just the blonde – I’m just, you know, you don’t play villains unless you’re Sharon Stone when you’re blonde and you look like that.

It would be – just exciting for me. People look at me as very – as sweet sometimes and I say, I would never in a million years describe myself as sweet, never.

But I think it would be a blast. I think it’s so much – it’s more fun to be bad.

At least I have a chance – at least I could play and pretend to be bad on the screen.

You guys are allegedly getting two new villains this year. Do you know anything about them that you could tell us, and how is it possible to be worse than Sylar?

Hayden Panettiere: Oh, it’s possible. I think there’s – I think there’s one hint, actually, in the first season.

The Bogey Man”¦

Hayden Panettiere: I won’t tell you what it was. What?

The Bogey Man — with Molly?

Hayden Panettiere: Maybe.

But it’s definitely possible to be worse than Sylar. You know, I think – I think Sylar, you know, Sylar, looking back, he was a pretty good seemingly person. He was just kind of lost in the beginning when, you know, you first found them and then went crazy – (loopy loosey) — on us.

But I — they’ll be bad, they’ll be real bad.

Are these villains are more globally minded than Sylar? Because Sylar was pretty just out for himself.

Hayden Panettiere: I think they’re freakier in a different way. I think it’s kind of a mind trip, you know. And in a way, you know, Sylar is very physical. And these characters are just creepier. From what I’ve seen of them, from what I’ve heard about them. I have absolutely no idea otherwise.

During Season 1, Claire got into some pretty gory predicaments. How was it like working with all that makeup, and is that something we’re going to see more of in Season 2?

Hayden Panettiere: Um, it was sticky. Very sticky. You can imagine it’s actually corn syrup — like it’s basically made out of the same thing, with red dye. And so you can imagine what that does to your hair and your body after 10-1/2 hours working.

But, you know, it was – I think it was more – it was the most fun when like me and Milo, and when we got to do it together and we got to be sticky together. And, you know, it’s just – it kind of – it was fun in the beginning, but when you have directors like Greg Beeman who like to go a little over the top with the blood. I just remember the look on his face when he got that blood bottle in his hand and he just looked at me like he was going to attack. I was like, “Oh no”, and then he just poured it over my head.

But it looks great at the end of the day. It’s not always the most fun or comfortable thing to do, but that’s my job, so…

Is it something you think they will continue to put the limits on with the second season?

Hayden Panettiere: Well, of course — that’s her ability, you know. And I think the more she – the longer she has it and the farther it goes, then the less she really is conscious of it, the less she thinks about it, the less, you know, she notices when – that she can’t do certain things — the less, you know, it clicks in her head.

So trust me — you will see plenty of blood. Plenty of snaps and pops and crackles.

Is there anything more you can tell us without spoiling anything about Claire for Season 2. I take it she’s still a cheerleader?

Hayden Panettiere: Well, well, not in Odessa anymore. I wouldn’t say goodbye to the cheerleading outfit quite yet, but she’s not in that one anymore.

Anything else in terms of her growth? I know you said she’s matured and she’ll have a boyfriend, I guess.

Hayden Panettiere: Well, I think – you know, this season she’s really looking to — to figure out more about her powers, more about what she can do, how far she can push it, what happens when she does it.

And, you know, there are still some unanswered questions for her about her ability, whether — you know, how far her pain tolerance can go or if she can actually die, if something happens. I think we’ve actually figured that one out by now, that, you know, there’s a specific spot that if you – you know, like Peter, we saw Peter in the first season, he had a shard of glass in the back of his head and not until we pulled it out did he come back to life. But the question is, you know, how long can he survive with that piece of glass in his head before he can’t regenerate anymore.

So I think she’s really just pushing to find answers, pushing to find answers and, you know, that’s all I’ve seen her doing so far. I mean that’s one of the things I’ve seen her doing. But on that level, she’s just trying to figure out who she is and what she’s doing and what she wants to do with her life and her ability.

I’ve read that there is a videogame in the works. Is there anything specifically that you would like to see with that? And do you know if you’ll have any involvement with it?

Gosh. I have no idea what the layout would be. I don’t know anything – I don’t know how – what it would look like. I’m ecstatic.

My cousin actually made me my first action figure. It’s not real but he – like it is real, but it’s not, obviously. But it’s – he did a really cool job. It’s so cool. It’s sitting on my shelf.

So it’s always fun to see what they do with your characters and in the videogames, whether, you know, what kind of animation they use. And, I’m — yeah, I’m ecstatic to be involved with it. I would love to be involved with it.

Other than that, I have no idea.

Can you explain how you would say your approach to handling the pressures on screen and off that come with being an actress, how you would say that your approach is unique as compared to other actresses in your generation, demographic, kind of such things?

Hayden Panettiere: I think that I approach acting because it’s something that I love, it’s something that I respect, and something that makes me want to be respected for what I do. And that’s, you know, what I’m working towards, is working to be a respected actress. And in order to be a respected actress, there are certain things you just can’t do.

And I think unfortunately in this business, when people start getting all those perks and, you know, sort of head down the wrong road, they can lose track of what’s important. And the business and their job has become more about that than about what their – about their craft. They forget about their craft, they forget about their love of it and sometimes it causes people to slack off and, you know — it’s just, they lose focus. It’s not about that all of the sudden anymore.

So I’m approaching it in the fact that I love my craft, I love what I do. I want to mature in it and get better at it every time I do it. And I want to, in the future, be looked at as, you know, as a respected actress.

Since we saw that Peter and Nathan are still alive, for those of who went to Comic Con — is there going to be an attempt on Claire’s part to get back with them and create more of a family than previously, you know, what with her attempt to find them in the first place?

Hayden Panettiere: I have absolutely no idea quite yet. We have not gotten that far. They’re dealing with – both dealing with really interesting storylines.

So — it could be a little bit, but I’m sure she hasn’t seen the last of the Petrelli’s. It is her family.

You confirmed that you’re going to be going to Europe for the Heroes World Tour?

Hayden Panettiere: Uh-huh.

Can you confirm possibly like who might be going with you, and what are you most looking forward to about the world tour?

Hayden Panettiere: It’s me, Milo, Jack, and Adrian. And – and what am I looking forward to? Getting out of this country. I’m so serious. At least out of California.

I’m – you know, I’ll be 18. I think it’ll be exciting, it’ll be fun — you know, just to get away and be with my cast members, it’s going to be so much fun. I can’t even imagine.

You know, just seeing those beautiful countries and just being able to be there and, you know, staying at the top hotels in Paris and London and Munich. I mean, what more could you ask for, honestly?

But I’m excited to be with my cast mates. I’m excited to have time with them like that. We haven’t really spent that kind of time together. You know, we see each other all the time and we do spend a ton of time together, but not days consecutively. We’ll see who’s mad at each other by the end of the trip — how many fights there have been, how many people are cranky.

Do you had any other thoughts or ideas for what you would like to see your character do in Season 2 or any other upcoming seasons.

Hayden Panettiere: I mean, she’s come a long way from where she was the first season, and she’s matured incredibly. I think the boyfriend thing – obviously, as you’ve all heard — is touching, which is cool.

I would love to see her work with the characters that she hasn’t worked with. I’m ecstatic to work with them. I haven’t worked with – I think I’ve worked with less of the cast than I have worked with. So, yeah, I want to work with my castmates.

What have been some of the acting challenges for you stepping back into the role this year and playing Claire so far in Season 2?

Hayden Panettiere: Stepping back into the role this season, the acting challenges.

God, all the same ones as the first season. I mean, when you’re working with amazing cast and they’re — you know, they’re such great actors, it’s kind of hard to go wrong.

Acting challenges. I – God, I have no idea. I think she’s — you know, she’s taking place where she left off last season. She’s being put in — you know, she’s trying to be a normal girl. And I think it’s less challenges and more fun, you know, it’s — it’s fun to be in hiding.

Gosh, that’s a hard question, I have no idea. I don’t think there’s anything specifically that stands out that’s like, “Oh, that’s really hard and I have to pretend to be this and pretend to be that.” It’s not really like that. It’s more, “Oh, I get to do this” and “Ooh, I get to do that.”

I think that one of the really compelling things about “Heroes’ is it’s kind of striving for, you know, universal themes and philosophical introductions. And there’s like this tension in Claire’s life between security and freedom that we see, you know, her dad really wrestle with. Is that something that you find the show strives for? And if so or if not, is it something that we’ll see more of in Season 2?

Hayden Panettiere: Well, I mean, she is a teenager. And all teenagers – it’s almost like a metaphor, an odd metaphor in that way, that, you know, teenagers — you know, they’re constantly trying to push their parents away. They’re constantly trying to, you know, test the limits of their freedom and how far they can push things.

And that’s sort of the same thing with Claire, she’s just doing it in a different way, not really to have her freedom quite yet – well, it is to have her freedom, but not to, you know, go to the mall with her friends or not to, you know, go on vacations. It’s more to learn more about herself and this ability and what she can do.

I think – I mean, I think in that way it’s definitely a teenager — a teenage universal message. All teenagers will understand that one. But you know, I think that will still continue to be a battle for her until she’s an adult, and even then her parents are going to – or her dad’s going to want to protect her.

Who’s the character and the actor you feel the closest to in the cast?

Hayden Panettiere: That’s hard. I mean — I have no idea. They’re all so different.

You know, Adrian, we always said, was like the big brother. You know, he’s the funniest thing, and he always just wants to — you know, take you here, take you there and — you know, he’s the one usually, you know, the leader where he is going off, you know, he already – I think, planned a dinner in Paris, at like one of the top restaurants in the world. And we’re like, “Oh great, oh great. Who’s footing that bill?”

And then Greg’s a goofball and, you know, Milo is more of the flirt and, you know, Sendhil’s great, and Masi. And there’s just – I mean, there are just so many different personalities. You know, everyone is so different, everyone is so great. You know, I was about to say, you know, people – everyone has a crush on either Milo or Sendhil, but then I look at Greg and Adrian and Masi and I see everyone has a crush on them too. So, I don’t know — we’ve got a cast full of heartthrobs, what can you say?

And, you know, Ali is – we’re girls. So, you know, we’ve got to stick together. It’s a group of guys, and — Jack. Jack Coleman, I’m very close to. I get to work with him a lot. And he’s just – he’s so much fun. He’s so much fun. And he’s so funny and he’s such a bright man. You know, you really – you really, you know — it’s fun to be around somebody like that who is bright, but he’s fun at the same time.

And Ashley Crow, who plays my mom — and Zach, who plays Sylar. Zach is fun — funny as anything, and he’s a good friend, too.

So that’s really hard to say. They all just have their own individual personalities, and it’s such a hoot when you get together.

The cast of Heroes is considerably larger than most shows. How has that helped you with your craft?

Hayden Panettiere: Well, it’s not only a large cast, but it’s a large cast of really good actors. And when you’re around such good actors, you really want to bring yourself up. You know, you’re constantly working to bring yourself up to their level and to strive to be better and to do your best.

And, you know, at the same time, you know, in this show, it’s kind of been — because we always don’t get a chance to work with each other, that it’s almost like showing off. It’s almost like showing off every time you get to work with them, because you haven’t worked with them – you haven’t worked with them and you’re so excited to, and then it’s like, “Ooh – ooh, I’ve got to be really good because I’m working with so-and-so today.” You know, it just – they make you want to be better.

Is it almost like acting school in a way?

Hayden Panettiere: I don’t know. I’ve never been to acting school. So I have no idea.

I know in this industry, there’s rules for minors, you know, about the hours that you can work. So, how will turning 18 change your life on the set?

Hayden Panettiere: Well, I could now work “til the wee hours of the morning.

And that’s a good thing?

Hayden Panettiere: No. I can now work 16 hours, 15 hours, 18 hours — it’s awesome.

But that actually happened – that started happening when I graduated. So I’m working those hours right now.

Eighteen, though — there are more stunts that I can do, I think, which I’m ecstatic about. You know, there are certain stunts that they won’t let me do because I’m a minor. And this next season I get to do them.

Is the critical and the — you know, the overwhelming popularity of the show, did it take you by surprise? Were you expecting this wave of adulation, whatever you want to call it, that follows the show now and everything? This obsession as somebody once said a while ago? What’s your reaction to all this?

Hayden Panettiere: You know, as I always say, you never really expect that kind of success for yourself or to be a part of anything like that. But, you know, at the same time, we thought – we knew it would do great. We thought it would do great, at least. Anything is possible in this business. We thought it would do wonderful.

And I think by word of mouth and what we were hearing the producers and the writers say that, you know, we had some confidence in it. But at the same time, you know, the night before the premiered, it was like, oh God, we could not — you know, do well and blah, blah, blah.

But, you know, everything in this business is kind of a toss-up.

As far as the dvd, out of what you’ve seen so far, what would you recommend people starting with? What’s your favorite feature?

Hayden Panettiere: I would say – well, it would depend if they’ve seen the show or not. If they haven’t seen the show, I would say watch the pilot – the two-hour pilot. I would say watch that first. And then maybe the deleted scenes, “cause I’m having fun watching the deleted scenes – but that’s probably only because, you know, I know what was deleted and what wasn’t.

There’s some great stuff — there’s some goofy commentaries, like I’m talking goofy commentaries. I mean, I think I remember my commentary and I think they probably edited it, but, you know, everything on it is great. You know, you just – I love, you know, DVDs and you get to go and look at the extras and, you know, find certain things.

But people have fun with it. There’s a lot of stuff on this.

What sort of special extras did you get involved with for the DVD release? And was it your first time doing that type of stuff?

Hayden Panettiere: There are commentaries and there’s a ton of deleted scenes which I didn’t knowingly participate in. But there’s about 50 deleted scenes, which is”¦

Like foul-ups, bleeps and blunders-type stuff?

Hayden Panettiere: It’s — no, no, not outtakes. They’re just deleted scenes that were never used. And it’s incredible. Looking back at it now, I’m actually – I’m not going to lie, I’m watching it right now. And it’s incredible how many scenes you just totally forget were deleted. And you’re like, “Oh, that’s where that scene went!” But it’s really fun to watch because we really had limited time, you know, it’s only an hour show and especially with the pilot and stuff, you have such limited time to explain all this information that you need to know before you can really get into the gut of the show, which is why we have the two-hour pilot which we showed at Comic Con as well, which is great. And it really – it explains other characters and explains — you know, it goes more in depth to other things, but unfortunately didn’t have time for it.

But no, I mean I – I did a couple of – I think I’ve done a commentary on, like, “Ice Princess” the movie. I think that’s about it.

Interview By: Emma Loggins

– Heroes Official DVD Site
– Heroes Gallery

Emma Loggins Emma Loggins is the Editor in Chief of FanBolt. As an internationally recognized "Geek Girl", Emma updates daily on the latest entertainment news, her opinions on current happenings in the media, screening/filming opportunities, inside scoops and more.  She’s been writing on the world of geekdom and pop culture since 2002 and is also considered to be one of the top Atlanta bloggers and influencers!


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *