Hayden Panettiere interview
Hayden started acting when she was just eleven months old and at the tender age of fifteen has built up a formidable CV, she was the voice of Princess Dot in A Bug's Life and has recently played along side Kate Hudson in the rom-com Raising Helen. She stars in the official comic relief film of this year Racing Stripes.
LF: Can you explain a little bit about the film to us and the character you play?
HP: Well, first off the film is about a girl, called Channing who I play, who's Mom has passed away in a horse accident. Her mother was a great jockey and Channing wants to be a jockey just like her mom. But her father, who was a famous horse trainer, and who trained all the horses that her mother rode has been holding her back, because he's worried the same thing will happen to her.
So Channing has to overcome her father and convince him to let her ride. And at the time a similar thing is happening to Stripes, her pet Zebra, he has ambitions to become a race horse but then he finds out that he's a Zebra and he's got all the animals in the farmyard telling him that he can't do he also has got to overcome those obstacles as well.
LF: What was it like working with all the animals in the Farmyard?
HP: It was awesome. I love animals so it made it a lot easier, I can't imagine anyone doing the film who didn't love animals. I raised four baby Zebras. It was a once in a life time chance, you know my co-stars were pelicans, roosters and Shetland ponies and a zebra. It was just a really nice experience just being in South Africa and experiencing all its culture.
LF: Channing has aspirations to be a jockey; did you have to train hard before you started shooting for the role?
HP: I had to go to Africa about six weeks before we started filming and I was there, all in all, for about five months and I never came home in that time! I jut lived there, and everyday I had to be with the baby Zebras because they're pack animals and they had to bond with me. My training for riding consisted of doing squats on the horse to make my legs stronger and then gaining the muscles in your arms to be able to hold the horse back in the right places for the camera. My muscles went through a lot for the first week, I was deathly sore, but I loved it.
LF: What was it like working in South Africa, was it difficult being so far away from home?
HP: When we arrived in Johannesburg and we drove to a place called Nottingham road, which is about four hours away and all that time we drove through absolutely nothing, just corn, hay and little shanty towns. And I was just thinking please do not let us break down - please don't let us get a flat tyre! And we finally got there in the middle of the night and there was just nothing around. And I was just saying "oh, my gosh!, what am I doing here? I'm going to be here for 5 months!" But I wound up loving it, I made friends and when we came back to New York it was such a culture shock, the sky is smaller and I was like: "what do I do?" I miss it a lot.
LF: How did you manage to balance your school studies with all your acting commitments?
HP: It was really simple you know on this film. I do home schooling now, I've just started my freshman year in high school. But for this movie I had a tutor on set all the time telling me exactly what to do and monitoring all my work. I finished a whole year on set, from beginning to end. It made it very simple, almost like being at regular school.
LF: You've been in the acting business for almost your entire life what are you aspirations, what drives you?
HP: Angelina Jolie has always been my role model. She's a brilliant actresses she's played so many different types of roles. She's intelligent and a perfect example of a strong female. What she does for the world and the children and how she totally turned her life around is amazing.
LF: So can you see yourself in a more action type role like Angelina in Tomb Raider?
HP: We are looking at a film at the moment, based on a comic book called Go Girl, we've been pitching it. It's an action film and it just looks fun.