November 2nd, 2010 by thetvchick
Superhero shows have been done before to relative degrees of success. When I heard about “No Ordinary Family,” everyone was describing it to me as a TV show version of “The Incredibles.” I’m a big fan of that movie, but I think the show has really set itself apart from anything we’ve ever seen before. It’s on a tough night at an even tougher timeslot but has managed to maintain decent ratings, which is a heroic feat in and of itself. Julie Benz and Michael Chiklis star as Stephanie and Jim Powell, a couple struggling to make it work. They have two kids, JJ and Daphne who fill the unhappy teenager roles very well. And then something incredible happens — they all get superpowers after their plane crashes. Sounds a little hard to believe right? But this show is at its core about the family and their friends and figuring out how to cope with life and powers. Daphne Powell gets the power to hear people’s thoughts which could be a teenager’s worst nightmare. I recently had the chance to chat with Kay Panabaker, who plays Daphne, about her “new-found powers,” working with TV veterans Michael Chiklis and Julie Benz and what she would do if she were put in Daphne’s situation. We even talked about her new Twitter BFF Chloe Moretz (star of the movie “Kick Ass”).
What originally drew you to the role of Daphne?
Most teenage TV daughters are snarky and have an attitude, but that’s their entire character. And I liked this one because it shows why she’s in such a bad mood. She’s a high school student who’s having to deal — before she even gets her power — having to deal with mean girls stealing her boyfriend and now the added bonus of having a superpower, it’s even more so. So you see her really as a person and not just as a caricature.
Was doing a superhero show something you always wanted to do? Was it that aspect that attracted you to the show?
Yeah, each year, you’ve got to pick and choose your projects and there’s a slim selection out there. But I was excited when I auditioned for this, not even knowing that I was going to get the role. Just because it’s something so unique. The superpowers has been done before, not in a mass amount, but it has been done, but this one is so clever in the way it’s written and delivered. It’s got the comedy and the humor, but it’s also really dark at times, and it’s really a comment on society. It’s really interesting. I get so excited to read episode to episode. Like [last week] we just had our table read for episode 10. And I am bursting at the seems to talk about it. I can’t talk about it of course. But they just keep coming up with these twists and turns and I was just talking to Stephen Collins who plays Dr. King and he was like “It’s as if they’re discovering that they can literally do anything at anytime” because of the super powers. It’s fun because each week, when we’re doing an episode, we’re like “Okay, what are we doing this week?” I have some great stuff with my younger brother — Jimmy Bennett plays him, and it’s just so fun to work with him on set because he’s a really talented actor, he’s not just one dimensional. And of course, Michael Chiklis is — words can’t describe him. He’s such a nice person, but he’s great on set. I’m really excited to be working on this. It’s the role of a lifetime.
And obviously seeing as you don’t have superpowers yourself, are you anything like Daphne?
Not really. She’s so snarky and has a bad attitude and I’m not that at all. I’m very bubbly and love to talk to people. I give people crap every now and then. Chiklis will tell you how much of an annoyance I will potentially be. But it’s all in good fun. I guess the only thing is how much Daphne loves her cell phone. I am almost as much in love with my cell phone as she is.
Exactly it’s a lifeline these days.
And did you have a favorite superhero growing up? Did you read comics at all?
I didn’t. One of my favorite movies is “Sky High” because it has such an epic feel to it. Batman of course is amazing, the new Batman of course. It’s just mind blowing and nothing will ever surpass it and it’s kind of depressing in that sense. But funnily enough, I’ve always want to read people’s minds. That’s the one power I’ve always said I wanted. I find it really interesting to be in the shoes of a character who doesn’t want the power, because I can kind of see where she’s coming from. High school is so tough, do you really want to hear things — hear what people are saying behind your back but still technically saying it to your face, and being two faced in front of you? So it’s tough but I think that I would still want the power, even though it can be tough.
How do you think you would deal with that power if you had it? Because you would want it but Daphne doesn’t want it.
Daphne takes it very negative, and she takes everything people say very personally. For me, I understand that you’re just not going to get along with some people, and some people are just going to say things behind your back. And so if you know it sooner rather than later, you can not waste that time trying to forge a friendship that’s just not going to happen. So I see it as I can weed out the good people from the bad people and just be friends with the good people.
That’s a really interesting way to look at it. I don’t know how I’d deal with reading people’s minds. I think it’d be great and awful at the same time.
Exactly. I used to have conversations with my mom about it and she’s like “I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t face two-faced people.” And I’m like you know what, you accept who they are and you just don’t bother with them after that.
And how will Daphne’s relationship with JJ continue as the season goes on?
They find their relationship to be mutually beneficial. I scratch his back, he scratches mine. We help each other out. It’s also nice because we can’t tell our friends about our powers, so we can confide in one another, and since we’re close to each other’s age, we can really talk about it and sympathize with one another about the problems that we are facing. Whereas if we try to talk to our parents, they’re like “We’re the parents, we’re the adults, blah blah blah.”
Do you think we might see any family missions?
Yeah, not at this point. Because so far, just Chiklis is doing all of his crime fighting. So far, either the parents will help each other with a particular problem or JJ and I will help each other with a particular problem, but it’s not that we all go out and fight missions. It’s more that each of us deals with it in a small scale except for Chiklis, who goes and saves people.
Maybe in the future, perhaps.
Maybe! It would be fun.
You’ve talked a little bit about working with Michael Chiklis. What has it been like working with Julie Benz and Michael Chiklis as your parents? What is your off-screen relationship like?
It’s really great. As a whole cast, we love to see each other at table reads, because a lot of the time, I won’t see Autumn Reeser for a long time. It’s probably been two weeks since I’ve really spent any time with Julie and Chiklis because I’ll have scenes with Jimmy or at school or with my friends, and we won’t have a family scene for a long time. And we miss each other, we have to catch up on our lives. And of course Julie and Chiklis and Romany [Malco] and Stephen [Collins] and Autumn are all TV veterans. So to be working with such a talented cast, I go “Okay, why am I here? Could they have found somebody better?” And they’re awesome, they give advice. I talk to them about anything, any problems I’m having. They’re really great at giving advice.
And what would you say has been your biggest challenge so far, playing Daphne?
I guess the biggest challenge is finding a happy balance between her snarkyness and still making her likable. Just because some of the lines they have written, you’re like “Oh she’s a total brat,” but if you realize where she’s coming from, and you make it more of a pleading kind of thing, it works out better I think.
And do you have a favorite moment from filming the show so far?
A favorite moment? Every day is fun because maybe I’ll be doing a quiet scene with Michael Chiklis and then the next day, I’ll be trying to fight with my brother. It’s fun to come to set and have different things to do. A lot of TV shows, you’re stuck doing the same thing. With our show, you get to do something different.
I noticed that you have become new Twitter best friends with Chloe Moretz? What started that fun relationship and would you love to see her guest star on No Ordinary Family?
Of course. From the moment I saw “Kick Ass,” I was astounded by her. I had read that script and thought it was so good but there aren’t very many young actors who are naturally talented, it seems like an effort. And with her, she was just so funny. And then I had seen the original “Let The Right One In,” the Swedish film. I heard they were making an American version and I said “I really don’t know about that. I don’t think they’ll be able to find a good enough young actor.” And then I heard she was cast and I was like “Oh, she’s going to kill it.” And sure enough, I saw it and I was just blown away. Her performance was so subtle and so sweet and so heartbreaking. It was almost a perfect movie. And after watching her, I was like you know what — I had just joined twitter a few months earlier and I was like “You know what? Let’s see if I can make this happen.” So I wrote a little note on Twitter, and said @chloegmoretz: I want to be your BFF. And I asked all my Twitter followers to re-tweet it. And I would say it took about a solid month at least. I had Jimmy tweeting her because he worked with her a few years ago on a movie. And just last week, I opened up my Twitter to find she was following me. We’ve BBM-ed now. She’s in London, so we can’t actually hang out in person yet, but she’s so awesome to talk with and I would love to work with her at any point in my career whether it’s on this show or the next thing. She is amazing, and if we could all be like her, the world would be a better place.
Aw, that’s so sweet. Now you guys just have to hang out and the friendship will be complete.
Exactly! But I was so against Twitter but now that a wish of mine has come true just by twittering her, I am so happy and will believe in Twitter forever and ever. Amen.
Awesome! And I know you can’t spoil too much but can you give us a little teaser of what’s coming up in the next few episodes for Daphne?
Daphne has now mastered her powers, so now it’s figuring out what she wants to do with it. Does she want to use it for her own needs, which she does do of course. She’s a teenager. But she also uses it to try and help her friends. And that’s always really interesting. But the fun thing is even though she’s trying to do good with her powers, she ends up messing it up somehow. It’s nice to see her fail and see her struggle. That’s what I really like about this show, is that it’s not just — you think superheroes, you think “Oh that’s so cliched,” but with us, we see the struggle with our powers and figuring them out and sometimes it doesn’t always work right, or we mess them up, or we don’t do right by them. And it’s realistic in the struggles that occur.
I definitely agree. And obviously I’m really loving the show far, but what would you tell viewers as to why they should tune in?
It really has something for everyone. Michael Chiklis [has] my favorite quote, is that “It’s entertainment.” It’s not a comedy, it’s not a drama, it’s not a comic book, it’s not a superhero story, it’s the story about a family who’s struggling just to remain a family. And then they have these superhero [powers] thrust upon them, and they have to figure out who they are as people, who they are as a married couple, who they are as teenagers, who are they going to become when they are older. And then do they want to be a superhero, do they want to be anonymous. But it’s all done in a lighthearted manner, and yet we still have these dark twists. It really has something for everybody I think.
I agree. And I’m really excited to see where the season goes.
I tell everybody, each episode gets better and better. I don’t know they how they do. They get funnier, it gets more heartfelt. It makes you want to see more. It really is amazing.
No Ordinary Family airs Tuesday nights at 8 pm on ABC.Tweet