This is our kinda hostage crisis! Heroes went on location to the beach at San Pedro, California, to shoot a scene (airing tonight, 9 pm/ET, on NBC) in which Company men Mohinder (Sendhil Ramamurthy) and Bob (Stephen Tobolosky) plan to swap Claire (Hayden Panettiere) for Bob’s daughter Elle (Kristen Bell), who is being held by Claire’s pop HRG (Jack Coleman). Got that? The chick exchange will lead to a deadly climax — one prophesied in an Isaac Mendez painting — but right now Panettiere and Bell just wanna have fun. We sat down with these two real-life pals for a seaside chitchat.
TVGuide.com: This is the first time Claire and Elle are in a scene together — the meeting of the hot blonde babes!
Kristen Bell: Yes, it’s the highly anticipated standoff millions are waiting to see! I dressed for the occasion.
Hayden Panettiere: And I — what else is new? — am in my cheerleading outfit. It really disappointed me because Kristen’s in heels and a cool designer outfit. They dress you nice at the Company.
Bell: This is what I wear to the office to kill people. But I wish I was in the cheerleader outfit.
Panettiere: Would they notice if we swapped? It could be like Parent Trap! But Kristen’s not too coordinated. She keeps zapping people and falling over.
Bell: That’s because they’ve got me zapping people in high heels! I look like I’m in a comedy sketch!
Panettiere: Save it, honey. Last season, I had to do a dive out of a window and then do a tuck 'n’ roll — all in 4-inch-heels, OK? It was easy.
TVGuide.com: Divas, please! You’re both wonderful. Now, tell us about the scene.
Panettiere: Elle knows all about Claire, but Claire has no idea who Elle is. All she knows is that HRG is holding Elle hostage for a reason and that Elle is giving her an evil look — so I give her one right back. I’m looking her up and down like “Who are you, bitch?” And she’s like, “You don’t know me but I know you, bitch!”
Bell: The whole idea is that Elle and Claire are two sides of the same coin.
Panettiere: Yeah, HRG didn’t turn Claire into the Company because he knew they’d experiment on her. He knew what they’d turn her into. But Elle’s dad didn’t protect her that way.
Bell: Bodies are not able to take that much electricity and pain, and so Elle’s psychologically a little off her rocker.
Panettiere: We’re like the yin…
Bell: … and the yang.
Panettiere: And now Elle is Claire gone bad.… We don’t technically meet in this scene since we don’t have lines. I do my nasty glare and, trust me, it didn’t require much acting.
Bell: That’s OK. There’s a scene later where I get to zap the hell out of her with my lightning bolts.
Panettiere: [Rolling her eyes] Puh-leeze. She misses me and hits West [Nick D’Agosto].
Bell: I thought I hit you.
Panettiere: No, you hit him. Then he passes out on top of me and crushes me. What a gentleman.
Bell: Men! [Both squeal with laughter]
TVGuide.com: Obviously, Miss Kristen Bell didn’t read the script.
Sendhil Ramamurthy: [Strolling by and overhearing] She doesn’t bother worrying about which of us she electrocutes. She doesn’t care. That’s the real Kristen Bell. Put that in your interview! [He laughs and wanders off]
Panettiere: Our characters are going to have a very interesting relationship. We relate to each other; we get each other.
Bell: Yeah, we’re definitely connected. Our dynamic will change over the course of the next few episodes. Just wait. You’ll find out that Elle holds the key to Claire’s future. I have a past with Peter and a past with Claire’s dad and a future with Claire.
Panettiere: No, you have a past with my dad and a present with Peter.
Bell: No, I have a future with Peter… no wait... [Exasperated]. I do need to read the script.
TVGuide.com: Forget the future, let’s discuss the past. You both knew each other as young actors in New York, right?
Panettiere: She used to change my diapers.
Bell: I did not change Hayden’s diapers!
Panettiere: We met when I was 8.
Bell: And I was… [Hesitates]… well, I don’t want to say how old I was. [Laughs] We were both with the same agency. Hayden doesn’t remember this but I happened to be in the office the day she booked Remember the Titans and she came in with her mom to celebrate. I was there having a meeting and all the agents were saying, ‘We knew it, Hayden! We knew you’d get the movie!” She had these long beautiful blonde curls.
Panettiere: [Grimacing] I know, I know…. Don’t rub it in.
Bell: She was adorable.
Panettiere: And I went to see Kristen on Broadway in Tom Sawyer. I remember that very clearly.
Bell: Did you want to grow up to be me? Do you still want to?
[Panettiere pretends she didn’t hear the question] No, the truth is, Hayden was a very big deal already back then. She was also on Guiding Light at that point. I was just doing Broadway Schmroadway.
TVGuide.com: [To Bell] Did you ever want to get on a soap opera?
Bell: No. Musical theater was my be-all-end-all. That was my ultimate dream.
Panettiere: And then her dream was crushed — now she’s only on Heroes.
Bell: Maybe Elle could sing.
Panettiere: I have always said there should be a musical episode: There is a lot of singing on the set.
Bell: Everybody would try to outdo each other! It would be a total catfight. Jack Coleman sings all day long. Sendhil sings. One day in the car, Masi Oka [Hiro], Zach Quinto [Sylar] and I decided to start a band. It could be like the Heroes all put on a talent show! You know, Hayden and I have been saying for a long time that we wanted to work together, so it’s kinda fun that we now get to be rough and tough because we’re not friends.
Panettiere: Not friends on the show, she means. We’re such good friends in real life that we carpooled to the set today.
Bell: I drove and we got so lost we wound up in a Lowe’s parking lot somewhere.
Panettiere: Yeah, and she wanted to drop me off there.
Bell: I said, “OK, Hayden, you’re here, get out!”
Panettiere: I was like, “Kristen, we’re supposed to be shooting at San Pedro beach today, not Santa Monica beach!”
Bell: I had us in the wrong place. We had like 10 minutes to get to the set and we were still 45 minutes away.
Panettiere: Now it turns out she’s working here till sundown and I’m out after just a couple more shots. So I’m stuck here for hours with no way to get home. I didn’t even bring a book. This wasn’t the best plan.
Bell: I’m sure everyone would love to think I sabotaged her, but it ain’t the truth. But we do enjoy sabotaging each other on screen, if we can keep a straight face.
Panettiere: Our scene today was so hard. I was trying not to laugh. At least Kristen gets to have a smirk on her face. But I have to restrain myself.
TVGuide.com: Unlike what you did on Live with Regis and Kelly a while back.
Bell: Whaaat? What did you do?
Panettiere: I said the F-word. And it was all over the Internet. I was outside the studio and the paparazzi were pushing this little kid to get to me.
Bell: I would have straight-up knocked somebody out if they were pushing a kid.
Panettiere: I just blurted it out, it wasn’t even intentional.
Bell: [Riveted] Ooh, what did you say… like “WTF”?
Panettiere: I think so, very quickly, and somebody managed to catch it.
TVGuide.com: But you came off like a true superhero — protecting a little kid in jeopardy!
Panettiere: Honestly, did they need to report about that? There’s nothing else going on in the world except an 18-year-old — a legal adult — saying the F-word?
Bell: Hayden has the most level head of any 18-year-old I’ve ever met. She’s handling her fame with real grace, isn’t she? I couldn’t do what she does.
Panettiere: Oh, thanks. I had you as a role model. [She reaches over and caresses Bell’s face tenderly and they laugh like crazy]
TVGuide.com: Kristen, how long are you signed with Heroes?
Panettiere: [Perking up] Yeah, how long?
Bell: Hayden just wants to know because she likes to cradle my face.
Panettiere: That’s an inside a joke.
Panettiere: About, uh, something interesting….
Bell: We can’t say. [They are called to return to the set]
Panettiere: Did we actually do an interview here?
Bell: It was more like a non-interview. I feel like we should have been telling information about the show as opposed to revealing that we cradle each other’s faces.
Panettiere: I’ll leave you with this. I’d like to keep Kristen around. I enjoy her. I have fun with her. She’s talented. She’s wonderful. I’m just never going to carpool with her again!
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