YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


A life of mayhem, at just 14

June 06, 2004|Susan King

Don't look for Hayden Panettiere to star in a frivolous teen comedy any time soon. The 14-year-old actress prefers angst-ridden characters such as Lizzie Spaulding, the role she played for four years on the CBS daytime soap "The Guiding Light."

As Lizzie, she murdered her mother's abuser, was kidnapped, thrown down a well and battled leukemia. Then there was her role in last year's HBO movie "Normal," as a farmer's daughter who learns her father wants a sex-change operation.

"I think it's always nice to have those kind of roles and to be able to play something that's totally far from you as a person," says Panettiere, who also played the spunky daughter of Ally on "Ally McBeal" and costarred in "Joe Somebody" and "Remember the Titans."

In her newest film, "Raising Helen," she costars with Kate Hudson and plays Audrey, a 15-year-old who turns into a rebel without a cause -- staying out late, smoking, drinking and almost going all the way with the school's "bad boy" -- after her parents are killed in a car crash.

"That is the first film that audiences have seen me as a teenager," she says.

The New York-based actress is in Toronto making the Disney film "Ice Princess," in which she plays an ice skater who wants a normal life. Last fall, she spent five months in South Africa making the family film "Racing Stripes," which she describes as "Babe" but "with different animals." The role required her to ride horses -- and a zebra.

"People think zebras are horses with stripes," she says. "But they are totally, totally different. They are very bouncy, and they run in a zigzag line because they are prey for a lot of animals. It was a real trick to get him to go in a straight line."

Panettiere was all of 11 months old when she made her acting debut in a commercial.

"My mom used to be an actress; she's my coach. She didn't think it would go this far. Now I am at the point where nobody is making me do what I am doing. And I couldn't imagine doing something else."

Los Angeles Times Articles