Can you believe that Hayden Panettiere was Ally McBeal's kid daughter in the final season? I knew who she was when her name first popped up in Heroes, simply because she had one of those names that you just can't forget.
HAYDEN PANETTIERE’S VULNERABLE SIDE
The indestructible cheerleader dishes on the ‘Heroes’ Season 1 DVD and offers up some Season 2 teases
By David Winnick
Posted August 27, 2007 11:15 AM
Season 1 of NBC’s smash hit “Heroes” hits DVD tomorrow, with a ton of special features including the original 2-hour pilot and commentaries by the cast and crew. At a recent roundtable interview, Hayden Panettiere, who plays rapid-healing teen Claire Bennet, looked back on that phenomenal first year, talked about Season 2 (which premieres Sept. 24) and revealed why she thinks she’d make a great bad girl.
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 a weekly series like this?
PANETTIERE: I did do “Ally McBeal” for a season but it’s just a totally different groove, and I wasn’t in every day and wasn’t 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 every day. So in that aspect, my past feature film career has definitely prepared me for that. But there’s no place I’d rather be. I love my cast, I love my crew.
Jack Coleman told me that HRG is sort of back to his old tricks in Season 2. How do you feel about that dynamic coming back?
PANETTIERE: “Mean dad” coming back?
Going back to the sneaky stuff?
PANETTIERE: Well, I think we all have proven that in this show we all have our dirty little secrets. Him going back, I think him becoming the house dad, the good dad, wouldn’t be very exciting. People like watching good bad people and you sometimes want to hate Jack’s character and sometimes love him. It was kind of a toss-up depending on what side you’re on. But how do I feel about that? I think it’s exciting. I think it’s exciting for him. I’m not sure if that’s exactly what’s going to happen. As I said, everyone always has their dirty little secrets. But I’m excited to see what happens with everyone. I wish I could turn bad. I would turn bad in a second.
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?
PANETTIERE: There are commentaries and there’s a ton of deleted scenes, which I didn’t knowingly participate in. But there’s 50 deleted scenes, which is…
Like foul-ups, bleeps and blunders-type stuff?
PANETTIERE: No, no, no, not outtakes. They’re just the scenes that were never used. 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. 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 this show—which is why we have the 2-hour pilot, which we showed at Comic-Con as well, which is great and it really explains other characters. It goes more in depth to other things, but unfortunately we didn’t have time for it.
When Season 2 picks up, where is it in Claire’s life that we find her?
PANETTIERE: Well, it’s 4 months from where we left off last season and Claire’s really trying to be, just trying to get in touch with her inner teen self once again. She hasn’t given that up and I think it’d be a sad thing if she did. And she’s struggling to fit in, but not stand ou,t and obviously they’re still hiding and running from these people.
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 having to be an original teen on the road or what?
PANETTIERE: Well, she’s settling in somewhere in the United States of America.
But she’s trying to live a normal life somewhere for a while?
PANETTIERE: Yes. She’s “trying” is the key word. As we see in “Heroes,” sometimes what we try for, 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?
PANETTIERE: I think she really grew up. I definitely, for a while there, was getting sick of crying. I don’t know about anyone else who was watching the show, but I was tired of seeing her cry. And she just kind of went from that naïve teenage girl who only wanted…if you guys don’t have kids or haven’t noticed, teenagers are selfish—and I will vouch for that—and 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. And over time she realized that by dismissing her power like that, she was risking a lot of people’s lives, that there was so much more she could do if she just came to terms with that, and so she just really evolved. She just really grew up. She learned to stand on her own and stick up for herself, and so yeah, she matured and hopefully she will keep doing that.
You mentioned earlier that you would love to play a villain on the show. When we see into the future for that one episode, for example, seeing the way some people go bad, Claire still was on the side of good, she always sort of has been. Do you think Claire could ever go to the dark side? Is there anything that could happen that could push her there?
PANETTIERE: In the show anything is possible; you never know what’s going to happen. I doubt it, but anything’s possible. And that five years in the future was if New York City blew up, which it didn’t. So there’s always that chance. There’s always that possibility. I’m going to go talk to Tim [Kring].
What about playing a villain would you appreciate the most? What is it about playing that versus the good guy that you would like?
PANETTIERE: I think because I’ve always been very categorized and sometimes typecast because of the fact that I’m blonde and people look at me as either the popular cheerleader type or just the blonde. You don’t play villains unless you’re Sharon Stone when you’re blonde and you look like that. And it would be just exciting for me. People look at me as sweet sometimes, and I would never in a million years describe myself as sweet. Never. I think it’s more fun to be bad. Or at least I could play and pretend to be bad on screen.
I wanted to go back to the DVD: It’s loaded with a ton of bonus features. Out of what you’ve seen so far, what would you recommend people starting with? What’s your favorite feature?
PANETTIERE: I would say 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 2-hour pilot. I would say watch that first and then maybe the deleted scenes. I’m having fun watching the deleted scenes, but that’s probably only because I know what was deleted and what wasn’t. There’s some great stuff. There’s some goofy commentary. I mean, I think I remember my commentary and I think they probably edited it, but everything on it is great. I love DVDs when you get to go and look at the extras and find certain things. There’s a lot of stuff on this.
You guys are allegedly getting 2 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?
PANETTIERE: Oh, it’s possible. I think there’s one hint actually in the first season.
The bogeyman hint with Molly.
PANETTIERE: Maybe. But it’s definitely possible to be worse than Sylar. I think Sylar wasn’t bad. He was, seemingly, a pretty good person. He was just kind of lost in the beginning when you first found him, and then went crazy. They’ll be bad. They’ll be real bad.
These villains are more globally minded than Sylar?
PANETTIERE: I think they’re freakier in a different way. I think it’s kind of a mind trip, in a way. Sylar’s 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.
And you’re sitting around envying them because you want to play their parts?
Just wondering if there’s anything more you can tell us without spoiling anything about Claire for Season 2? I take it she’s still a cheerleader?
PANETTIERE: 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.
PANETTIERE: Well, I think this season she’s really looking 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’s still some unanswered questions for her about her ability, how far her pain tolerance can go or if she can actually die, if something happened. I think we’ve actually figured that one out by now, that there’s a specific spot that if you…you know, like Peter: In the first season when Peter had a shard of glass in the back of his head, it wasn’t until we pulled it out that he came back to life. But the question is, 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 pushing to find answers, pushing to find answers, and that’s all I’ve seen her doing so far. 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.
Your character is virtually indestructible. As an actress, how do you make her appear so vulnerable?
PANETTIERE: She is vulnerable. That’s the interesting thing about her is the fact that she’s this physically indestructible girl but she’s not emotionally or mentally indestructible. When you approach it as an actress, it’s just like playing any other character: Are they vulnerable? Are they mean? Are they nice? Are they disturbed or happy? You make her like a normal teenage girl—and I actually am a teenage girl, so I kind of just approach it the way you would any other character, and when I’m acting I forget about my abilities. That’s not something that takes a toll in it because she has no idea to how to handle them. And that’s the honest truth. So neither do I.
During Season 1, Claire got into some pretty gory predicaments. What was it like working with all that makeup, and is that something we’re going to see more of in Season 2?
PANETTIERE: It was sticky. It was very sticky. It’s actually corn syrup with red dye, and so you can imagine what that does to your hair and your body after 10 hours. But you know, I think it was the most fun when me and Milo [Ventimiglia] were together and we got to do it together and we got to be sticky together and we can joke. It was fun in the beginning, but then we have directors like Greg Beeman who liked 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.” Then he 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.
Is it something you think they’ll continue to push the limits on with the second season?
PANETTIERE: Of course. That’s her ability. And I think 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 she notices that she can’t do certain things, the less it clicks in her head. Trust me, you will see plenty of blood, plenty of snaps and pops and crackles.
Since we saw at Comic-Con that Peter and Nathan are still alive, is there going to be an attempt on Claire’s part to get back with them and create more of a family?
PANETTIERE: I have absolutely no idea quite yet. We have not gotten that far. They’re dealing with real storylines so it will be a little bit, but I’m sure she hasn’t seen the last of the Petrellis. It is her family.
I was just wondering if you had any other thoughts or ideas for what you would like to see your character do in Season 2 and any upcoming seasons?
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’m wondering what happens to the rest of her family. Obviously she’s with her dad, but are your mother and brother just left behind?
PANETTIERE: No. Of course not. Where would Mr. Muggles be then? We love Mr. Muggles. I think that you might see them this season.
So in the show your character is indestructible. Can you recall a time when you were younger when you kind of felt indestructible?
PANETTIERE: Yeah. When I was younger I always had that thought in my head for some reason that I could never imagine dying. And it was impossible for me to die when I was younger. I mean, not indestructible in the way that I could heal myself, but when you’re younger death is not something that like clicks in your head. Now it is. Now it does. Now I don’t feel so indestructible, even though I’m playing someone indestructible.
What have been some of the acting challenges for you stepping back into the role in Season 2?
PANETTIERE: God, all the same ones as first season. I mean, when you’re working with amazing casts and they’re such great actors, it’s kind of hard to go wrong. I think she’s taking place where she left off last season and she’s trying to be a normal girl and I think it’s less challenges and more fun. It’s fun to be in hiding. 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, “Ooh, I get to do this and ooh, I get to do that."
How has working with a large cast helped you with your craft?
PANETTIERE: 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’re constantly working to bring yourself up to their level and to strive to be better and to do your best. And at the same time, because we don’t always get a chance to work with each other, it’s almost like showing off every time you get to work with them because you’re so excited to, and then it’s like, “Ooh, I’ve got to be really good because I’m working with so-and-so today.” They make you want to be better.
Oh yeah, it's rumoured that Kristen Bell well be in Season Two. Oooh-la-la. Starting your drooling, fanboys!