Hayden Pantettiere and Milo Ventimiglia © NBC

In the successful TV series Heroes, Hayden Panettiere portrays Clair, a popular cheerleader who discovers she is practically indestructible. In her new movie I Love You, Beth Cooper Panettiere plays a popular cheerleader, which made it an easy segue into asking her questions about the upcoming season on Heroes.

Were you reluctant to be a cheerleader in this film?

No, a cheerleader is used a lot as a symbol. It’s very symbolic to high school, and that’s why it was used in Heroes, that’s what her symbolism was supposed to be, this sweet as American pie, all-American cheerleader. That’s why they made her that, because that’s in people’s minds where the popular girl is supposed to be, she’s the head cheerleader.

Can you give us a little hint about what is coming up with the premiere of the new season?

Hayden Pantettiere and Milo Ventimiglia © NBC

Clair is in college, and she has a new roommate who we don’t really know about in the beginning, we’ll find out more about her. There’s also this group in town called the Carnival. They’re the opposite of the Company, the Company wanted their powers kept secret, to keep it all under wraps. And the Carnival’s the opposite, they want everyone to know. So that’s a very interesting thing that’s coming up. Not to mention last year we ended up with Nathan being gone, he is Sylar now, Sylar is he, so things don’t always go smoothly.

Have you seen Zach Quinto as Spock in Star Trek yet?

Zachary Quinto © NBC

Oh yeah, he’s so good. He showed up on the set with no eyebrows, and [I was like], ‘Hey, dude, what happened?’ We would just tease him like, ‘Okay, Spock,’ ‘Whatever you say Spock.’ That’s what we’re there for, we really are the closest cast, we’re just like brothers and sisters that sit there and poke each other’s buttons. We’re the ‘buttons’ who have to be there to take their egos and shove them on the ground and stomp on them. They do it to mine all the time. I’m the butt of everyone’s jokes. I’m the little sister who gets it more often than not.

How much of a grind is it to do Heroes, it must be physically and emotionally taxing?

It’s definitely hard work, but I love what I do. We’re such a tight-knit cast and crew. It’s a big part of my life and it’s like home. It is emotionally and physically taxing but well worth it in the end. At the end of the day you make some great memories and I have so much fun doing it. I always find that the more difficult something is, and the more turbulent the shooting process is, the fonder the memories are afterwards. You look back and you remember those moments where you were in a pinch or something was grueling, and they’re much fonder memories to me.

Why do you think Heroes has struggled with the fans?

I don’t know, I think it sets a very high bar for itself and it’s scrutinized now, it’s not an easy crowd to please all the time, but I still enjoy watching the show.

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter. More by Judy Sloane