Heroes star Hayden Panettiere, who has a new film titled I Love You, Beth Cooper opening in theaters soon, is featured in the new issue of Details magazine. In the piece, Hayden talks her paparazzi paranoia, having a high profile personal life and getting beat up in middle school. Here is her Details mag photo along with a portion of her interview:
AS HAYDEN PANETTIERE WALKS a deserted strip in Hollywood, the 19-year-old star of NBC’s Heroes glances around nervously, occasionally spinning her head to check behind her. Wearing short denim shorts and brown UGGs and toting a big bag, the diminutive actress looks like an elfin princess on the run. “Hello,” she says, walking into a little vegan restaurant, greeting me as she shrugs off her load. She orders a bowl of brothy vegetable soup and twirls her little gold whale-tail necklace, a symbol, she explains, of her devotion to the cetacean cause. The petite, bronzed blonde keeps looking out the window, over her shoulder. Not surprisingly she’s afraid she’s been followed—Panettiere has become the ultimate tabloid chum. She has lived her whole life in the public eye. “I started doing this, and I know it sounds absurd, but 11 months old, I did my first commercial.” The daughter of an actress and a New York City firefighter, Panettiere spent her childhood bouncing between 30-second spots and roles on One Life to Live and Guiding Light. “I remember hearing in first grade, ‘Oh, why does she get to skip school?’” she says. “It wasn’t like I suddenly started feeling different. I always knew that I was. I never felt I missed out—in fact, it was like, ‘Oh, thank God I’m not that.’” Namely, she means, a regular kid. It’s not easy being beautiful and special and talented, and Panettiere lived through her share of Mean Girls shit. Mostly homeschooled, she occasionally returned from acting gigs to her public school in Rockland County, New York, and her classmates’ wrath. In middle school, she was punched in the face by “a very angry, very sad girl,” she says, as if echoing the words her mom used to comfort her at the time. “I was tortured, emotionally tortured by these girls. Every time I came back from filming, it would be me trying to find my way back into the clique. And they weren’t having it.” Panettiere seems to have emerged victorious from her teen trials. After a series of minor TV and movie roles, she was cast at age 16 as Heroes’ invincible cheerleader, Claire, and quickly blossomed into the queen of high-school geeks of all ages. (Her new teen comedy, I Love You, Beth Cooper, is about a nerd who falls for the hottest, most popular girl in school—notice a trend?) … There have been times when the media scrutiny was more than she could take. “It’s turned my life upside down and shaken it,” Panettiere says, referring to the incident in August 2008 in which her father was accused of hitting her mother and later charged with misdemeanor battery. Her father called it a misunderstanding, saying, “Nothing actually happened,” then pleaded no contest. “It was very tough, especially since it’s my family,” Panettiere says. “It’s one thing if you do it to me. I get frustrated, but I can handle it. But when it involves my family, my friends, forget it—I lose my . . . ” Panettiere pauses—then regains control. “I learned the game. The more I react, the angrier I get, the more satisfaction they get. That’s exactly what they want.” As Panettiere drains her bowl of soup, two young Orthodox Jewish men who have been circling in front of the restaurant finally come inside, holding cameras. “Excuse me. I’m sorry, I know this is extremely rude, but we’re from the East Coast and you’re the first famous person we’ve met. Is there any way I would be able to get a picture of you?” “You don’t want to meet famous people.” “If it’s possible, please,” the guy says. Panettiere puts down her spoon, and as they awkwardly drape their arms around her, she gives the camera a practiced look. “Thank you so much. Thank you. I’m sorry,” they say as they back out of the restaurant, already reviewing the images on the camera. “I gave them a half-smile,” she says matter-of-factly. “It’s a survival skill.”
On the one hand, I think it’s totally inappropriate to bother someone for a photo or autograph while they are eating … that should go without saying. But for Panettiere to feel she needs to employ “survival skills” when she is recognized by fans then she prolly should seek a different career. I can totally understand how the constant crush of fame can get tiresome but I also know that celebs really love the money and cache that comes from being famous. It is absolutely a double-edged sword … you take the good with the bad. In my personal experience, Hayden has been nothing but totally sweet to me. I’ve met her a few times … we chatted for a bit at the Star Trek premiere a couple of months ago. BUT, one of my very good friends suffered an unpleasant encounter with her when he tried to say hello to her at a public event (not while she was eating, not while she was talking to anyone else … at a promo event that she was paid to attend). I mean … I get it but when fame starts getting too much to bear, mebbe it’s time to try something else? I do enjoy her work and I will prolly see Beth Cooper when it opens (tho, I doubt the friend who she was mean to will want to come with me) but I’d rather the girl keep her sanity and get out of the limelight rather than become a bitter person.
[Photo credit: Matthias Vriens for DETAILS; Source]