Skip to main content

Actor Hayden Panettiere received a lot of attention and praise for starring in the hit series Nashville. But she recently opened up about how challenging it was doing the show, especially when it was hitting too close to home.

Hayden Panettiere recently reflected on her time in ‘Nashville’

'Nashville' actor Hayden Panettiere posing in a red suit at the the 2022 amfAR Gala Los Angeles at Pacific Design Center.
Hayden Panettiere | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Panettiere had the opportunity to star in another hit television series after her breakthrough role in Heroes. The actor found herself portraying country singer Juliette Barnes on the hit CMT show Nashville. Barnes was a country singer on the rise with a lot of baggage in her past. But Panettiere’s Nashville character also mirrored the actor a bit too well. Many of Barnes’ personal storylines, which included substance abuse, paralleled Panettiere’s own challenges as well.

“Straight from the beginning, it was like, I’m dating a football player, [and then] Juliette dates a football player. And then they turned her into an alcoholic,” Panettiere told The Messenger.

“Then they turned to her leaving her daughter and going to this crazy [place] in Europe, and it was very obvious … They weren’t doing their homework. They weren’t creating new storylines. They were just looking at my life and going, ‘Oh, let’s just take what she’s going through and put our little spin on it.’ And then, ta-da! It’s done and done.”

It was mainly why Panettiere found doing the show as traumatizing as she did. Behind the scenes on Nashville, Panettiere’s battle with drug and alcohol addiction eventually took its toll on her. The actor wondered if she made the right decision to stay on the show during her personal crisis.

“I look back at it with curiosity more than anything,” she said. “If I hadn’t had done that — if I hadn’t accepted Nashville and had all that time to be involved with other projects — then where would I be now?”

Why Hayden Panettiere doesn’t regret her past battles with addiction

Panettiere’s drug and alcohol use was getting so bad that it began to impact her personal relationships as well. She confided that it caused a rift between herself and her ex-husband at the time, Wladimir Klitschko. Klitschko didn’t want to be near Panettiere, and she eventually sent their own daughter Kayla to live with him.

“I’d think I hit rock bottom, but then there’s that trap door that opens,” she once told People.

She was also told she sustained heavy liver damage from all the drinking.

“I was no longer a 20-year-old who could just bounce right back,” she said.

Eventually, Panettiere decided to truly put the work in to improve her physical and mental health. She spent months in rehab, and the 2020s have seen the actor’s career bounce back so far with Scream VI. But she asserted that her journey toward improvement hasn’t ended, and required constant maintenance.

“It’s an everyday choice, and I’m checking in with myself all the time,” Panettiere said. “But I’m just so grateful to be part of this world again, and I will never take it for granted again.”

How Hayden Panettiere felt about returning to acting


Hayden Panettiere and Boyfriend Brian Hickerson Reportedly Involved in Scuffle Outside L.A. Bar

Panettiere admitted her return to acting with Scream VI was a pretty anxious experience. But her nerves calmed down the longer she was on set, as she realized just how much she still loved acting.

“I took some time off that was much needed, but acting is what I love to do. It’s who I am, it’s just a part of me. And being back on set, I felt like I was back home,” she said in an interview with Numero.

Panettiere also went over everything she specifically missed about the film industry.

“I missed the camaraderie,” she said. “I missed being around a team, a family. When you’re on a project, your co-stars and crew members and directors become your family for a period of time. And it’s like going into battle together. You create these incredible memories with each other that you just can’t explain to anyone else. I missed having those moments, walking away knowing that we worked really hard and we created something beautiful that was going to impact people and make them feel something. It’s a wonderful experience each and every film, each and every show that you do.”

How to get help: In the U.S., contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-662-4357.