Hay­den Panet­tiere is ready for the next step to­wards Hol­ly­wood fame and she’s not wast­ing any time, writes Elle Halliwell

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page - HOOD­WINKED TOO! Now show­ing Vil­lage Cin­e­mas

The for­mer TV su­per­hero spreads her wings.

WITH dozens of film and tele­vi­sion roles to her credit and a clean-cut im­age, you’d think Hay­den Panet­tiere would be sat­is­fied with her lot.

Per­haps it’s her self-con­fessed case of ‘‘ lit­tle-man syn­drome’’, but the 21-yearold feels she has much more to prove.

She’s smack-bang in the mid­dle of mak­ing the tran­si­tion from child star to adult ac­tor and with that comes plenty of de­ci­sions.

This year, Panet­tiere, pic­tured, ap­pears as ev­ery­thing from the tar­get of a se­rial killer in Scream 4 and con­victed teen mur­derer Amanda Knox to a fun, butt-kick­ing fairy­tale hero­ine in an­i­mated CGI film Hood­winked Too! Hood vs Evil 3D.

Sur­pris­ingly, it’s the fic­tional char­ac­ter Red in Hood­winked which the for­mer Heroes star can re­late to most.

‘‘ She has so much to prove and live up to,’’ she says of the Red Rid­ing Hood­in­spired char­ac­ter, who joins the Hap­pily Ever Af­ter Agency to help res­cue a host of kid­napped fairy­tale crea­tures.

‘‘ If you call her ‘ lit­tle girl’ she turns stone-cold and ends up fall­ing into these traps of putting up a fight, be­cause it ob­vi­ously strikes such a chord,’’ she says.

The 155cm-tall blonde, who be­gan her acting ca­reer be­fore her first birth­day, is now en­joy­ing the ex­tra free­dom which comes with turn­ing 21 in the US.

Un­like many other of her young Hol­ly­wood coun­ter­parts, Panet­tiere has largely man­aged to avoid be­ing caught up in the party scene which has seen the down­fall of so many teen ac­tors, in­clud­ing Lind­say Lo­han and Tay­lor Mom­sen.

Panet­tiere has been dat­ing boyfriend Wladimir Kl­itschko, a 35-year-old Ukra­nian box­ing cham­pion, for more than a year.

While the pair largely man­ages to skirt the pa­parazzi’s in­ter­est, it’s their height dif­fer­ence that has caused the most at­ten­tion.

‘‘ He is quite a bit big­ger than me,’’ Panet­tiere ad­mit­ted to talk­show host Ellen Degeneres.

De­spite the fact she’s now a ful­lyfledged adult, the star said mov­ing away from the teenage su­per­hero char­ac­ter she played in tele­vi­sion se­ries Heroes hasn’t been easy.

‘‘ With my look, my size and my age, I’ve al­ways fought an up­hill battle to prove to my­self that I can be some­thing else be­sides just how peo­ple saw me for those four years on the show,’’ she says.

Panet­tiere knows more about work­ing on CGI an­i­mated films than many ac­tors twice her age, hav­ing starred in the sec­ond Dis­ney/ Pixar film ever made A Bug’s Life.

‘‘ To see that as a sev­enyear-old come to life and be­come a char­ac­ter which, as an ant, was as close as it could pos­si­bly re­sem­ble me,’’ she says.

‘‘ They re­ally tried to make it look like me. They put 10 freck­les on its nose.’’

Since then she’s played a lemur, a wolf and now the feisty Red.

‘‘ It’s a very dif­fer­ent kind of art and it’s amaz­ing to be able to transform into a com­pletely dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter,’’ she says.

As for what’s next, the pe­tite star says she’s up for an­other chal­lenge sim­i­lar to that of play­ing char­ac­ter Amanda Knox in the tele­movie Amanda Knox: Mur­der on Trial in Italy, which aired in Fe­bru­ary. ‘‘ The best-case sce­nario for me would be to play gritty roles like that,’’ she says.

‘‘ I’ve al­ways been drawn to those roles – the grit­tier, the darker the bet­ter.’’

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