The new ABC television series No Ordinary Family follows the Powell family and their journey from ordinary to extraordinary. After 16 years of marriage, Jim (Michael Chiklis) feels disconnected from his workaholic wife, Stephanie (Julie Benz), and two teenage children, Daphne (Kay Panabaker) and JJ (Jimmy Bennett). In an attempt to encourage family bonding time, Jim decides the family will join Stephanie on her business trip to South America, but when their plane crashes into the Amazon River, they soon realize that their lives have been forever changed, as each member of the family starts to show signs of new, unique and distinct super-powers. In trying to understand their abilities, they rebuild their family life and learn about what defines them as individuals.
In a recent interview to promote the series premiere, actress Kay Panabaker talked about her character’s power of telepathy and its pitfalls as a 16-year-old, how she would love to be able to read minds herself and that she would really like to be able to do physical stunts, at some point during the season. Check out what she had to say after the jump:
Question: What do you love about this character?
Kay: She’s got great comebacks. That’s what’s fun about her. She has this biting tongue and likes to give her parents crap all the time, but she really comes from a genuine place. She’s trying to build a friendship with her parents.
Can you relate to that relationship?
Kay: Of course. I spend so much time with my parents. My mom and I were joined at the hip for five years. There was not one moment when I wasn’t with her. I’m on my own now. I have my own apartment. I’m 20. I’ve been finished with school for two years already.
What’s your college degree in?
Do you feel like you grew up faster because you started acting young?
Kay: I grew up in a very structured way. I now enjoy the company of adults more, and I think Jimmy’s the same way. You can’t be crazy and wild when you’re on work time. But, I like it, in that sense I think it makes you a better person for having matured at a younger age.
How do you feel about your character’s super-power?
Kay: My character is interesting, in that she doesn’t want the power. Everybody else in the world would love to have a super-power, and she doesn’t want it. She’s going through high school. She’s got a boyfriend, she’s got great friends and she just really wants to focus on being normal. When you hear people’s thoughts and their real motives, it really puts a damper on that.
She struggles with accepting what she has and dealing with it, and she really struggles with her family, in that they’re all gung-ho and they don’t really understand where she’s coming from. We’ve got some good stuff coming up. Yes, we have the superhero aspect to the show, but it’s about this family, how they deal with it, and how they deal with it with their friends and their co-workers.
What super-power would you want, in real life?
Kay: I’ve actually always wanted to be able to read people’s minds. My sister did a movie with super-powers and that’s the one I would have wanted, so I really lucked out. The negative is that people are really cruel in their own minds, but you can weed out the bad people from the good people, and then just hang out with the good people.
Have you done anything to prepare for action stunts?
Kay: No because my powers are all mental. I don’t do any crime-fighting. Only the dad does. But, I hope to be able to do some stunts.
What stunts do you want to do?
Kay: I want to be in a harness. Granted, it does take a lot of time and patience to do that, but I want to do something like that. I’m sure I will, eventually.
Does the boyfriend stick around after the pilot?
Kay: He does stick around a little bit afterwards.
Does her power get her in trouble at school?
Kay: A little bit. She gets in a little trouble because she hears things that she’s not supposed to. What she’s currently struggling with is actually controlling the power. It’s not one of those things that she can turn on and off. It comes and goes.
Will she have someone to confide in?
Kay: At this point, not yet. She’s secluded herself.
Do you think she’ll meet other teenagers with powers?
Kay: Possibly. I haven’t talked to the producers, so I don’t know about anything in the future. I just know what we’re shooting now, and even that is very minimal. I know just about as much as anyone else does.
You have a sister, not a brother, in real life, so how is it having a little brother on the show?
Kay: I love Jimmy. It’s the same kind of relationship I had with Nick Benson on Summerland. I’ve really taken him under my wing and I’m very protective. He and I talk about things. I really enjoy it.
How did you get that chemistry as a family?
Kay: It’s either there or it’s not. You can’t force it. It was always there with us.
What’s it like to work with Michael Chiklis?
Kay: He’s got such a presence in the TV world, and I didn’t know what to expect. He’s the nicest guy. He’s so down-to-earth. He hangs with the rest of us.
Kay: I’ve always loved working on series. Summerland was such a great experience for me, and to be able to do it again is great. The crew feels like a family and it’s nice to have a regular gig that you can count on. I’m always happy to go to this job. It’s amazing, and a lot of fun.
What do you like to do on hiatus? Will you look for film work?
Kay: I’m all about what happens organically. If something happens, it was meant to happen. I did an independent film between shooting the pilot and now, called Little Birds. It’s a dark coming of age tale about two girls. It’s one girl’s story told through the other girl’s eyes. It’s through my character’s eyes. It’s really dark and twisted. It’s not family-friendly.
Who’s the other girl?
Kay: Juno Temple
Do you have any plans to act again with your sister, Danielle?
Kay: Hopefully. We did Read it and Weep together. It’s finding the right part. That was a Disney thing. If we were to do it again, it would have to be the right thing, and something really good.