Five Favorite Films with Hayden Panettiere
The former Heroes star talks about her new film, Fireflies in the Garden.
RT: On to Fireflies in the Garden. This is a pretty spectacular cast you have in the film, even though you don't necessarily get to share screen time with all of them. You're far from a newcomer in the business, but what was it like working with people like Julia Roberts and Willem Dafoe, for example?
Hayden Panettiere: It's such a privilege. This life is definitely one where I found myself in such interesting places with such interesting people that I just sit there in awe and think, "How did I... What road led me here?" Just being around that cache of actors and actresses that you always looked up to, and there are so many amazing ones. Of course you want to work with all of them, but you never know which of them are going to end up all in the same place; you can never imagine. So it was amazing. And it was great to be on set with them on a film like this that was so character-driven and wasn't that huge production. And when you're dealing with that, you have much more of an opportunity to get to know each other and a need to develop those relationships.
In the film, Willem Dafoe is pretty terrifying, as he sometimes can be. And he's really good at it, too.
Mm-hmm, and I always find the nicest guys are always the ones that play bad guys. Like, one of my favorite people ever to work with was Will Patton in Remember the Titans, and he's constantly playing the bad guy, and he's just the nicest, sweetest, very shy guy. Very camera shy; not a fan of cameras. But still, he's one of my favorites.
Was there ever a point with Willem Dafoe when you stopped and thought, "Wait a minute. He seems genuinely pissed off! Maybe we should take five."
You know, he's such a nice guy! I've always been the kind of person who wants to defy authority, to a certain degree [laughs], so to be able to come in and see someone doing wrong and treating people the way that his character does, it was very fulfilling to be that character that speaks her mind and doesn't have that fear, and gets to take this kid under her wing and protect him. And, you know, there's definitely something to be said about the role my character plays in the family, because she's this young girl who's got this adult title. And what an odd dynamic it is between her and her sister who... you can tell because of the age difference, they don't have that bond that you would expect siblings to have, and she's the aunt of this kid who you would expect to be her cousin or her friend.
Being that you and Emily Watson play the same character at different ages, did you sit down with her beforehand to discuss how Jane would behave or how her character would have evolved over the years?
No, we didn't, but I think that was okay, because her character was so different, and evolved to be so different. You know, from a reckless kid who goes fishing with firecrackers to a concerned mother who has to be responsible. It's always interesting to see that, especially as a child looking at your own mother and wondering what she was like when she was young and all the things that she did, and that she wasn't always a parent.
You've actually done this sort of high drama before, particularly on television, but you also seem to enjoy lighter fare like Heroes and, earlier this year, Scream 4. Do you have a preference?
I like to do both, and that's what's great about this industry. You don't have to choose. I say it's the exhilarating part of this business, and it's the terrifying part of this business, not knowing where you're going to end up next, or what character you're going to play, or with whom you're going to be acting, or where it's going o take you. But I love having that combination of both, or else I get bored. [laughs] I did this film in between... it was the first film I'd done since Heroes, in between the first season and the second season, and to go from such a big production and such a very specific character to a really independent, character-based drama... I got to change physically and emotionally, and got to feel like I was playing a completely different character.
I'm trying not to rush. You know, I'm always anxious to see what's next and see what comes, but lately I've been fortunate enough to be able to sit back and not rush things, and just appreciate life in general in every aspect.
Fireflies in the Garden is in select theaters this week.