Stealing scenes from Oscar nominee Denzel Washington wouldn’t be easy for even the most established thesp, much less an 11-year-old girl. For Hayden Panettiere, it was just another day on the – gridiron.
Panettiere co-stars in the Disney hit “Remember the Titans” as Sheryl Yoast, the daughter of Will Patton’s Bill Yoast, a prep football coach who is demoted as part of the racial integration plan in Alexandria, Va., in the early 1970s. Whether it be scenes featuring her cheering from the sidelines or offering advice on how to execute a zone blitz, Panettiere always captures the audience’s attention in “Titans.”
“The scenes where I was coaching and yelling were the most fun,” says the young actress who spent her down time during the pic’s Atlanta-based shooting going to the movies and hitting the mall. “I like to go to those places, but if you go there everyday, which I did, it gets boring.”
Panettiere is trading her cleats for a bustle in Warner Bros.’ “The Affair of the Necklace,” due next year, where she will play the younger character also played by Hilary Swank. She recently returned from filming the pic in Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic. Auds will also see her in 2001 as Nicole Kidman daughter in director David Fincher’s “The Panic Room,” from Sony.
Living in the New York suburbs, Panettiere practiced her craft by appearing in more than 50 commercials and regularly traveling to Gotham for regular appearances on a pair of sudsers: “One Life to Live” and “Guiding Light.” Her voiceover work includes stints on bigscreen pics “A Bug’s Life” and “Dinosaur.”
Even with all that work behind her, Panettiere agrees with her mom, Lesley Vogel, that “Titans” was her most rewarding experience.
Says Vogel: “I wish for other children to be treated as caring, both personally and professionally, as she was on ‘Titans’ and especially Will. He respected her ability as an equal and that doesn’t always happen.”