Back in the mid-’00s, Hayden Panettiere looked all set to be Hollywood’s next big thing. She first took center stage opposite Solange Knowles in the sequel to the box office smash, Bring It On. She then landed the role of another high school cheerleader, Claire Bennet, in the very brief phenomenon that was Heroes. Soon after, Panettiere proved she wasn’t afraid of typecasting when she played another pom-pom shaker in romantic comedy I Love You, Beth Cooper.
That’s not to say typecasting didn’t hinder her onscreen prospects. “Playing such a specific role — young, female, all-American cheerleader — you definitely tend to get typecast,” Panettiere told Movieline in 2011. This may be why her film career unfortunately never really took off. But the tides would later temporarily turn, with the actress’ performance as “villainous” teen country sensation Juliette Barnes in the hit musical series, Nashville, ensuring the star remained on our screens. However, Panettiere eventually became more renowned for the drama surrounding her private life than for her acting and musical talents. And ever since the CMT series wrapped up in 2018, the double threat appears to have put her showbiz career on hold.
From radical image transformations to brave statements about her experiences of domestic abuse, here’s a look at what the two-time Golden Globe nominee has been up to since then.
Hayden Panettiere broke her silence on her domestic abuse experiences
In July 2020, Hayden Panettiere obtained a restraining order against her one-time boyfriend of nearly two years, Brian Hickerson, about a month after calling it quits. According to Today, the realtor had reportedly been physically abusive toward the former Heroes star throughout their turbulent relationship. After Hickerson was arrested on no fewer than eight counts, including assault, corporal injury on a cohabitant, and witness intimidation, stemming from multiple alleged incidents between May 2019 and January 2020, the actress decided to speak out in public for the first time.
Panettiere took to Twitter to confirm that she had been a victim of domestic abuse: “I am coming forward with the truth about what happened to me with the hope that my story will empower others in abusive relationships to get the help they need and deserve. I am prepared to do my part to make sure this man never hurts anyone again. I’m grateful for my support system, which helped me find the courage to regain my voice and my life.”
The star, who also shared details of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, was applauded by many for her bravery in coming forward, including her attorney. In an official statement quoted by People, Alan Jackson wrote, “Hayden has found the strength and courage to share the truth about her abuse and her abuser, and she intends to assist the prosecution to see that justice is served. As a survivor, she recognizes that her arduous journey of healing has just begun.”
Hayden Panettiere was threatened with the leak of 'embarrassing' videos
Months prior to Hayden Panettiere splitting up with Brian Hickerson, the Nashville alum told police in February 2020 that her boyfriend at the time had punched her in the face, per TMZ. This marked just one of several claims of domestic abuse the actress made against the realtor during their near-two-year relationship.
On this alleged occasion, however, Hickerson reportedly tried to get Panettiere to withdraw the charge by issuing another threat. According to Us Weekly in August later that same year, Hickerson allegedly told Panettiere that if she failed to do so, he would leak some video footage to the press that would highly embarrass the former Heroes star. The magazine revealed that it had seen legal documents about these allegations, which had been filed by Panettiere.
The document reportedly read, “Some of the ’embarrassing’ information … appears to be for short video clips that were sent from [Brian] to [Hayden] during this exchange from a previous incident at an unknown date and time … [Brian] used threatening language throughout the texts and videos referencing having information that would be embarrassing to [Hayden] if she refused to drop the charges that have been brought against him.”
Hayden Panettiere has rejoined Instagram
Perhaps to signify that she was now very much a free woman, Hayden Panettiere rejoined Instagram in June 2020 — the same month she split from the boyfriend who allegedly had subjected her to domestic abuse. And she soon racked up the followers, per the Daily Mail, reportedly amassing 154,000 in the first hour!
Panettiere made her Insta comeback with a simple selfie, which she captioned with, “Hello everyone! Finally posting publicly. Hope everyone is staying healthy and safe.” Alongside a second pic taken at the beach, the actress-singer wrote, “Glad I got to breathe in the fresh air and take my mask off for a min. while no one was around. Otherwise I’m in one all the time! Brought a little NY fashion to the beach which is why I look like I’m going to a funeral.”
The I Love You, Beth Cooper star went on to post several throwback photos, too, including those of friend Stella Maeve and mother Lesley R. Vogel. But Panettiere’s approach to Instagram seems to be less is more. Since her initial flurry of activity in the first month, she’s only posted four times, as of this writing.
Hayden Panettiere has maintained a great relationship with a different ex
Turns out that Hayden Panettiere still has the backing of the man anyone would want in their corner, a 6’6″ former world heavyweight boxing champion. Yes, the Heroes star may have split from the Ukrainian fighting machine that is Wladimir Klitschko for good in 2018 after a nine-year on-and-off relationship – but the longtime pair, who share daughter Kaya, have thankfully remained close friends.
According to Us Weekly, Klitschko was something of a rock for his ex-fiancée in the wake of her 2020 breakup from Brian Hickerson. A source told the magazine that the sportsman had been “extremely supportive and a champion” during this difficult period, in which Panettiere revealed on Twitter that she’d been a victim of domestic abuse.
Several months previously, when Panettiere was still with the realtor, another insider had told the same publication that Klitschko was reportedly “very concerned for Hayden,” adding that he “still cares for her and truly wishes her the best.”
Hayden Panettiere is a proud mom
In December 2020, Hayden Panettiere made a rare visit to Instagram to wish her daughter, Kaya, a happy sixth birthday. The former Nashville actress captioned a picture of a How to Train Your Dragon-themed birthday cake with, “Six years ago today, I met the most amazing (not so little anymore) creature … Can’t believe my baby girl is getting so big!”
Panettiere went on to express her gratitude to the founder of the D&Y Couture company, which made the “beautiful cake.” She also tagged Kaya’s father, Wladimir Klitschko, in on the post. According to People, the birthday girl has been living with the former heavyweight boxing champion since her parents’ break-up in 2018. Meanwhile, Panettiere resides in Los Angeles.
The actress had previously spoken about how she suffered from post-partum depression following Kaya’s birth. As quoted by Now to Love, Panettiere told TV Week in 2017, “You learn how strong women can be. [But] it takes you a while to understand what is going on with you. I felt like a phoenix, and I crashed and burned and chose to rise from the ashes and take the positive lesson I can learn from it. I feel stronger because of it.” Emphasizing her positive outlook on her mental health struggle, Panettiere told Good Morning America, “I think I’m a better mom for it, because you never take that connection for granted.”
Hayden Panettiere frequently travels to Ukraine to see her daughter
Although her young daughter, Kaya, appears to spend most of her time living with father Wladimir Klitschko in Ukraine, per People, Hayden Panettiere still makes the effort to see her as much as possible. In addition to FaceTiming the youngster on a regular basis, the former Heroes actress will often make the near-6,000-mile trip to the Eastern European country.
Panettiere first spoke about the long-distance co-parenting arrangement she made with the boxer in a 2019 interview with Us Weekly: “We’re still respectful of each other, and we still have that friendship with each other. It’s not a situation that you find yourself in all that often, so it’s a new one. But I think we’ve done a really good job.” The star also revealed that she and Klitschko have agreed to raise their only child with both “street” and “book smarts,” while acknowledging that the process has been one of “trial and error.”
For her part, Kaya certainly appears to be thriving while living the Ukrainian life, anyway. According to an anonymous source cited by the same magazine, the youngster likes nothing more than spending time with her “very hands-on dad” and has already made “a lot of friends.”
Hayden Panettiere has a radical new look
In addition to waiting a while to rejoin Instagram in the summer of 2020, Hayden Panettiere also understandably withdrew from Twitter from most of 2019, while dealing with her turbulent private life. When the actress-singer eventually returned from her social media hiatus that December, she looked remarkably different.
Yes, gone were the long blonde locks for which Panettiere was renowned and in came a new pixie style, which she acknowledged bore a resemblance to the haircut of her Scream 4 character, Kirby Reed. In a Twitter selfie showing off her new ‘do, the movie star thanked the Anthony Leonard Salon, which was responsible for her fierce transformation.
Shortly after, the man who wielded the scissors, hair guru Leonard Zagami, revealed to E! how the makeover came about: “Hayden was looking for a radical change, so last night we just went for it! It’s a modern version of a classic pixie style with a little more of an edge. The color is silver, but not gray. She had previously been going with a super sexy blonde.” He added, “The cut was a collaborative idea. She has wanted to go short for a while but she has always had a commitment with her work and wasn’t able to. Right now, she is free and said, let’s do it!”
Hayden Panettiere got inked again
Hayden Panettiere sure didn’t waste any time in showing off a “newish” tattoo. Just a day after making her Instagram account public again in June 2020, the former Nashville actress uploaded a black-and-white pic of the large design she’d had inked on the back of her neck, The Eye of Ra. At the time, some followers believed it intended to represent her mood in the wake of her split from Brian Hickerson. According to The Sun, this mythological image is designed to both “repel” any previous negative energy and bring some much-needed “harmony.”
Of course, this wasn’t the first time that Panettiere had visited a tattoo parlor. Indeed, the Heroes alum also has her Leo star sign inked on her ankle, some Sanskrit on her forearm, and the Italian word for freedom, “liberta,” on her ring finger. Panettiere also once had a large tattoo on her back, which read, “Vivere senza rimipianti” — this translates from Italian-to-English as, “Live without regrets.” Well, almost. The two-time Golden Globe nominee later discovered that the last word had been misspelled, per Glamour, and so in 2013, she decided to get the whole thing removed.
Hayden Panettiere is taking a break from the screen
Hayden Panettiere hasn’t really stopped working since she landed the role of Sarah Roberts in daytime soap opera One Life to Live at the age of just five. Indeed, the star has no fewer than 67 acting credits to her name, ranging from voiceover roles in A Bug’s Life and Scooby Doo! and the Goblin King to her portrayal of real-life murder suspect Amanda Knox to regular stints on Malcolm in the Middle, Ally McBeal, and Guiding Light.
Throw in various music promos, video games, and soundtrack recordings, and it’s perhaps little wonder that Panettiere has more recently decided to take a break from the entertainment industry. Yes, ever since waving goodbye to her character, Juliette Barnes, in country music drama Nashville in 2018, the star has been notably absent from our screens. Back in 2014, Panettiere told Cosmopolitan that she’d been worried the last time she had a major break from the screen: “It hit me like a ton of bricks: There is a genuine possibility that no one will ever take another chance on me. That was an important gap between Heroes and this show [Nashville], a huge transition to make gracefully. I don’t know how gracefully I did it, but somehow I did.”
According to a source cited by Us Weekly in June 2020, Panettiere was focusing on “getting back into working in Hollywood and being creative again” following her Brian Hickerson split. So, here’s hoping she makes another comeback!
Hayden Panettiere is wanted for the Scream sequel
Back in 2011, Hayden Panettiere was one of several fresh faces to join regular franchise cast members Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette in the long-awaited Scream 4. And it seems that she made more of an impression than all the other newcomers to the slasher horror party.
Yes, despite the fact that her character, Kirby Reed, appeared to have died at the hands of her boyfriend, Charlie (Rory Culkin), in the much-anticipated fourth installment, there have still been calls for her to return in the even more eagerly-awaited fifth. One of the loudest has come from one of the few actors to survive the entire Scream series.
During the promotional duties for his You Cannot Kill David Arquette documentary in August 2020 the man best known as kind-hearted detective Dewey Riley was asked by HollywoodLife about his thoughts on Panettiere reprising Kirby for Scream 5. Arquette replied, “I love Hayden. I think she’s a tremendous person and actress, and I’d love to see her back.” And if you’re wondering how they could possibly revive a character who was twice stabbed in the stomach — well, as Screen Rant points out, we never actually saw Kirby succumb to her wounds on screen.
Hayden Panettiere got political
It can be exhausting work exercising your right to vote. So, what better way to celebrate dropping off your ballot than heading to the spa? Well, that’s what Hayden Panettiere did in October 2020, anyway. Per the Daily Mail, the actress was snapped issuing a peace sign as she left a Beverly Hills spa facility while sporting an all-black ensemble, complemented by a leopard-skin face mask. Earlier that day, like pretty much every other Hollywood celebrity during the presidential election, Panettiere had informed the world that she’d cast her vote.
In the battle between incumbent Donald Trump and soon-to-be President-elect Joe Biden, the Nashville star didn’t reveal who she voted for — but she did implore her followers to make sure they had a say in whether The Apprentice alum got re-elected or not. An Instagram selfie featuring Panettiere pointing to the sticker she received for engaging in democracy was captioned with, “I voted, did you?? I hope everyone gets out there and makes sure they’re heard!”
Unfortunately, some of Panettiere’s followers seemed more interested in the freckles on her face than her motivational words, but we applaud the star for using her platform for good.
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