Hayden Panettiere: Return of the Cheerleader

The "Heroes" guys will be returning with new adventures Sept. 24th. Meanwhile, Hayden Panettiere and cast are on a world tour to promote the first season DVD. Earlier in the summer, we met with Hayden at a TV promo party in Beverly Hills to get some hints on what is coming up for Claire on the show and learned that the slim actress has a super sweet tooth and that she still considers herself a fan of a lot of stars.

The gorgeous blonde looked awesome in a black lace Marc Bouwer cocktail dress and some very high black heels. Her hair was in a low, loose bun and diamond stud earrings and really bright copper eyeshadow completed her look. We chatted between munching on snacks.

TeenTelevision: Who are your heroes?

Hayden: A lot of my family and friends are my heroes. People I look up to are actors and filmmakers and my dad. He was a lieutenant in the fire department in New York City for 9/11 so he's definitely a hero to not only me but other people.

TeenTelevision: How is Claire going to be different this season?

Hayden: I think she's just growing and changing and discovering new things about herself. She's still a young girl and has a beautiful naivete about her. I think she's lost a lot of it since the first season. Over the first season she just grew into a young woman but is still delightful, all American and sweet as pie. It will just be continuing to grow and learn about herself and figure out who she is.

TeenTelevision: She's going to be back with the Benett family? Is she leaving her other family?

Hayden: A couple of them blew up so we don't know what happened to them [laughter] so there may not be many of them left.

TeenTelevision: One seems to be growing a lot of facial hair [Adrian Pasdar].

Hayden: Oh yeah. Don't lets get started about Adrian's monkey-man face. He's a caveman. It's like Evan Almighty. Whoa, dude! Did you get bit by a werewolf? What happened?

TeenTelevision: Did you get to participate in the DVD commentaries?

Hayden: Some of them I was actually watching the episode for the first time while I was doing the taping.

TeenTelevision: Any new realizations about the episode that you didn't know while making it?

Hayden: [she spots a very tasty dessert tray going by] Oh my goodness. I'm about to follow that. Whoooo! Uh, I think so. I think that pieces come together when you watch the show and you figure out things you haven't figured out before.

TeenTelevision: How is going into a second season of a successful show for you rather than starting when it was all unknown?

Hayden: I think you just don't know how the show is going to do when you first go on and you just cross your fingers and hope for the best because you don't really know how something like that will be received by the audience. Now that we know that people generally like it and it was received well, [it's great].

TeenTelevision: How else is it different going into second season?

Hayden: We know the characters. We know each other now. [her manager brings her a plate of assorted dessert pastries] Woo hoo hoo. [she chomps down on one].

TeenTelevision: Are you a dessert freak?

Hayden: I'm an everything freak. I'm Italian.

TeenTelevision: Your role is very physical and we see that you are not opposed to hitting the pastry tray which is wonderful. How do you stay in shape?

Hayden: It's not metabolism. I'm five foot two so any weight that I gain, you can see it. On the show, you have to be heroes. It's like getting the hero's body back. I have a trainer. I do spot work with him and it's all about keeping your heart rate up and doing cardio while you are weight lifting. For someone like me, because I build really quickly, I was a gymnast for a long time, I tend to build muscle and have a stockier kind of body, so it's lesser weights, just repetitive.

TeenTelevision: Will Claire have some physically tough things to do this season or settle down a bit?

Hayden: I don't know. She's indestructible so she has the ability to break and heal so you generally think she'll be in most of the brunt of the action.

TeenTelevision: What was the toughest stunt that you did last season?

Hayden: Probably diving out that window. It's not that difficult because you know people are keeping an eye out for you making sure all the time that you're not getting hurt so that was probably the funnest. It was very physical. I was in four-inch heels leaping off of an apple box through a window and flipping through on the other side. It was intense but they had faith that I could do it which was really exciting to me to get to do it.

TeenTelevision: There are a lot of roles for strong women out there this new season. How do you like Claire being a young, strong woman?

Hayden: I love it. That's what I love about my character. She's wonderful, she's strong and has that wonderful naivete about her and you love her. She's not overpowering but I think she's a better role model than I could ever possibly be.

TeenTelevision: How is the album coming?

Hayden: [eating] Good! It's that struggle of the moment when to get it out, having time to promote it with the show. We're trying to work that all out.

TeenTelevision: Would you go on the new show "Singing Bee" or would that be unfair?

Hayden: No, no. Maybe later but definitely not now. Ooooh I see Zach Quinto. I love him! [She waves].

TeenTelevision: Are you going on the tour?

Hayden: Yeah, Paris, London and Munich.

TeenTelevision: Is there any kind of a fan encounter that was touching for you?

Hayden: Yes. But, I think it's more meeting your peers. You don't consider yourself one of their peers. I've just gotten on the show and there are other people on your network who are huge stars and they know who you are. I'm like 'whoa'. You know, it's 'I'm used to watching you on TV. You're not supposed to know me'.

TeenTelevision: Do you do a lot of work for animal rights?

Hayden: Yeah. I believe in using your celebrity, for lack of a better word, for good. You pick a few things that you are really fond of and passionate about and you follow that. One of the things I do is the "Save the Whales Again Foundation" On the day of my birthday, I'm going on a yacht up to Santa Barbara and seeing whales and dolphins up there.

TeenTelevision: Do you get a little uncomfortable when people say you are a role model? Or is that exciting for you?

Hayden: Ummm, it's both because it's exciting and sweet and you take that as a compliment but, at the same time, you know that when you are considered a role model you're going to be scrutinized for every little thing you do and [people will] try to knock you down and throw you off so you just hold on tight for the ride when you're called a role model. Hold on!

TeenTelevision: Are you looking for films to do on hiatus?

Hayden: Yeah. I'm working on that now and having meetings and I've signed with William Morris which I'm thrilled about and they're wonderful so we've been having a lot of meetings, trying to put things together. The hiatus is very short and you don't know what's going to happen with the strike but you hope that, no matter what happens, that you can participate in something.


Lynn Barker is a Hollywood-based entertainment journalist and produced screenwriter.

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