Ben Lyons Chats with Hayden Panettiere
Young Hollywood can be a minefield of temptation and distraction if not navigated properly. Hayden Panettiere has been able to escape the traps and pitfalls that have consumed the careers of so many other stars by keeping the focus on her work, not her personal life. On the heels of the success of the NBC drama Heroes, Panettiere has joined another franchise, the fourth installment of Scream, released in April. We had a chance to catch up with Hayden on the rooftop of the Petit Ermitage in West Hollywood.
BEN LYONS: The Scream movies were a big deal for me growing up. How did you react when you found out you were going to be a part of the series?
HAYDEN PANETTIERE: I was ecstatic because horror movies are always a bit of a toss-up. You have to be careful which ones you do. To look back at the casts [of Scream], it’s amazing how many people were involved: Liev Schreiber, Drew Barrymore, Jada Pinkett Smith, Parker Posey—so I feel like I’m in good company.
BL: I would imagine having the original cast back for Scream 4 helped put you at ease as well.
HP: Absolutely. Neve Campbell, I swear to God, looks exactly the same. Nothing about her has changed. She’s super mellow.
BL: When did you move to LA?
HP: I’m from Rockland County outside New York City and moved out here for Heroes when I had just turned 16. I was doing Bring It On: All or Nothing and bought my first apartment here without the knowledge of Heroes yet, figuring it was a good investment and I’d have it when I was here for auditions or whatever. So when I got the show and it took off, I was like, Well, that’s a coincidence. I still have my [New York] phone number.
BL: Looking back at the success of Heroes and how young you were when it started, how crazy was your life back then?
HP: I grew up on that show. I’m so lucky because when I hit that period of time when I started dealing with cameras and people following me—there were so many doors open for me to make a mistake—I had a cast that went to that place with me. People I admired set a great example for me.
BL: You mentioned the doors were open to make mistakes, but I’m sure some doors opened because you were a part of that show. What was the craziest thing you got to do as a result of the show’s success?
HP: The Globes. The first time I went to the Golden Globe Awards I looked like the welcoming committee, standing at the door waiting to see who I could say hi to. I sat at the table with my hands crossed. I remember Steven Spielberg came up to me and said, "Hey, I love the show." And I said to myself, You’re Steven Spielberg—why do you watch a show I’m on? Why do you know who I am? That was definitely wild.
BL: In addition to being known for Heroes, you’ve also gotten a lot of attention for your support of various animal-rights groups and issues. Did you always feel passionately about those things?
HP: Yes, I was a stray-animal finder. My mom was the same way, so I was brought up loving animals and always protecting them. The dolphin and whale situation is such a big problem, it’s hard not to get discouraged. Animals are my love; they’re my everything. I turned 14 when I lived in South Africa for the filming of the movie Racing Stripes, which had a lot of animals in the cast. I said then that one day, maybe when I’m retired, I’ll open a wildlife rehabilitation center in Africa.
BL: I never noticed until today that you’ve got some great tattoos. Are you the type of person who gets one and then wants more?
HP: I’m the type of person who gets tattoos and thinks, Why’d I get that? [Laughs] I love them in hopes that magically one day they’ll come out with something that makes them go away. If I could, I’d be tattooed all over the place. I love the act of getting them. It’s living with them the rest of your life that becomes the problem.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY NOAH ABRAMS; HAIR BY CHRISTINE WISEMAN; MAKEUP BY AMY ORESMAN FOR J. ARTIST MANAGEMENT; SHOT ON LOCATION AT PETIT ERMITAGE