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Hayden Panettiere, who returns as Claire Bennett, was part of a recent press conference call with Masi Oka to promote Season 4 of NBC's Heroes, which launches on Monday.

Following is an edited transcription of Panettiere's portion of the call.

Question: As we're going into the fourth year of the show, do you feel like you have a tight grip on your character or are you still learning things as you come along?

Panettiere: It's a little tough because even though we are playing the same characters, you really do have the whole writing staff taking us in whichever direction they want to. And on this kind of show, there's infinite amount of possibilities of where you could go, whether you stay good, whether you turn bad, you know, who you're working with.

So it's always a surprise. We know our characters so well now that we can see whator figure out what they would do in these situations and go from there. But really you never know what you're going to be playing.

Question: What do you see your character going through this season that maybe she hasn't before?

Panettiere: I'm personally in college and dealing with a new best friend and roommate. We have a very interesting relationship together. But she's really the first person that she's been able to let in on her secret and somebody that's really a confidant. But that's a very delicate balance that can easily, you know, fall apart.

And one little misstep and her dad will, you know, bring Rene the Haitian in to wipe their memories and that will be that. And she's happy that she's semi caught up to normal life, that normal life that she's been chasing. But where exactly we're going to go, I think there's going to be some manipulation and just some fun stuff. We really don't know, so that's why we get so excited to read the scripts every week.

Question: Why do you think people continue to tune in and watch the show?

Panettiere: I think because just like we get excited to read our scripts and see what we get to do next, they get excited to see what adventure we're going to go on next. And there's always these little twists and turns that are exciting and it's just a really fun show to watch.

I found myself Tivoing because I was working so much last season. I Tivoed all of the episodes so I could come back and watch them back to back to back and I found I could not put my remote down. I was like, "Just one more episode, please." And this is a show that I'm on and I don't generally like to watch myself. But it's just exciting and it's smart and I don't think it belittles the audience and I think it's just one of those rad shows.

Question: It seems like at the end of the day this is going to come down to a battle between Claire and Sylar on some level. So what can we expect on that relationship this season?

Panettiere: Wow. You sound like you know more than I do. I actually have no idea. And I've not seen anything thus far that has the two of us going at it or even in the vicinity of each other. But I assume there's going to be something with him ultimately because of the whole Nathan and Sylar thing that's going on right now and what happened at the end of the third season, because he's my dad, our paths are obviously going to cross.

Question: Your film projects -- does it energize you to get back into the season? How does it affect your work on Heroes?

Panettiere: Well it does make me excited to go back to Heroes when I do movies. I love to do movies. That's something that I find so much joy in, in being able to travel around and play new characters.

But there is also something settling about coming back to a place where you know where you're going to go every morning, you know who's there and who's waiting for you and you've known them for such a long time and you've spent so much time with them.

Question: So looking back at Season 1 and where your characters were then, going into the fourth season is this how you thought your characters would evolve?

Panettiere: God, I didn't even try to guess. My brain never even went there. It couldn't. I couldn't let it.

Question: What's it like for you playing a character going to a university when you haven't had that experience yourself?

Panettiere: You know what, they're all kind of similar. Similar in the way that being around friends and feeling out of place sometimes and for me being new in any situation. So I think you can pretty much figure it out how it would be.

And I really had a rough time in middle school. And middle school to me was the way most people explain high school. And then high school I had a blast. And I basically did everything that you would do in high school or in college. So it really wasn't a difficult thing to pull out.

Question: Would you like to go to university maybe after you finish working on Heroes?

Panettiere: I love to learn. But just going back into school because of what I do I'm so set in this path that I'm on right now and I'm so excited about it and I love doing it so much that I like to focus myself on one thing at a time.

But I've found that I really don't like -- as most people don't about school -- that there are subjects which are necessary to learn but you don't really want to learn on top of those ones that you do want to learn. So to take a class for me, a class or two on subjects that I'm really, really interested in and curious about would be awesome.

But I spend so much time with the brightest and most talented and well-rounded people. I've had the privilege of having long and very intellectual conversations with people and sometimes I just sit there and listen. It's like a better version of a class. So even though I'm not per se sitting at a desk and in school, I'm still learning all the time.

Question: Claire's been pretty unlucky with love up to this point. What's going to happen with her this season?

Panettiere: She has a roommate who is the biggest relationship in this season thus far because she has finally got what her friend Zach (was) in the first season, which was a confidante and somebody who she can tell her secrets to, who knew, who would be there for her and who she could trust. And she hasn't had anyone like that since then.

And then this new character, Gretchen, who becomes my roommate comes along, and she becomes that person for me. And it's a very interesting relationship because there's a little bit of a flirting. Are we friends? Are we more? Like do I have feelings for you in that way? So, that's the relationship so far, and where exactly it's going I have no idea.

Question: What's your sci-fi convention experiences been like?

Panettiere: It's not real. It's been very, very interesting experience. The cool thing is you just run into true, die-hard fans. They're not fans necessarily of you all the time, they're fans of what you do in your character. Which is a very cool thing is they're all, you know, very legit and very real and just genuinely love and live for the show. They don't want anything from you. They're not there for that reason. They're just there for the love of the show.

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