Voice Of ‘Princess Dot’ Loves ‘A Bug’s Life’

BY TERESA CARRANO, Times-Union Lifestyles Editor

Hayden Panettiere Photo by Teresa Carrano, Times-Union

The raspy little voice of “Princess Dot” may be heard piping up at the family carnival in Central Park tonight. Don’t worry – the movie “A Bug’s Life” hasn’t started early.

Or perhaps fans of “Guiding Light” will do a double-take as “Lizzie Spalding” walks past.

It’s just the voice and face of Hayden Panettiere, who is visiting her grandparents and taking part in the Warsaw Parks Department celebration tonight.

Panettiere, 9 (oh yes, soon to be 10 Aug. 21), is the voice of Princess Dot and has played Lizzie for three years. She is visiting her grandparents, Dr. John and Tam Vogel, Winona Lake residents. She is the daughter of Skip and Leslie Panettiere of Palisades, N.Y.

The young actress is a seasoned veteran who has been in the spotlight since she was 8 months old. When she was 18 months old she was featured in a Playskool “Toy Train” commercial and has kept busy ever since.

She’ll be heard in Disney’s upcoming animated feature film “Dinosaurs,” and begins shooting “Me, Myself and I” in Canada for Lifetime Television next month. Other credits include the movies “Message In A Bottle,” “The Object of My Affection,” “Isn’t She Great” and the miniseries “The Secret Life of Doris Duke” with Kathleen Quinlin and Lauren Bacall.

“I love working with all the people,” said the brown-eyed, blond fifth-grader. “It’s like having a big play day with adults and other kids. And they’re all very, very nice.”

She grouses, however, when she has to get up early.

On the set she is tutored and required to finish her elementary school’s assignments.

She won the voice of “Princess Dot” for “A Bug’s Life,” produced by Pixar Productions, not realizing it was a major film until the opening in Los Angeles.

“They drew Dot after they hired me,” she said. “I have freckles and Dot has 10 freckles, too.”

Her voice was recorded and spliced in with other actors’ tapings. Sometimes she had to match her words with how Dot’s mouth moved. She loved the finished version.

Not until the opening in Los Angeles did she realize how big “A Bug’s Life” was.

“When I saw how big the posters were and all the photographers, I thought ‘Hey, just how big is this?’” She met the other actors involved in the film, especially Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

While she’s used to the spotlight, the 9-year-old (soon to be 10) looks forward to being a teen-ager and learning to drive – those are her real aspirations. And in the meantime there is playing catch with her younger brother along Winona Lake.

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