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Hayden Panettiere successfully scared up her Scream 4 character’s return for the horror franchise’s latest chapter after taking necessary time off from acting for her health.
The Scream 6 star spoke to Good Morning America on Monday about her anticipated appearance in the New York-set sequel as Kirby Reed, the lone survivor of the Woodsboro Massacre remake in the franchise’s fourth installment. The role is part of Panettiere’s return to Hollywood after she put a pause on acting following her role in ABC’s Nashville, which ended in 2018.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do next,” Panettiere said. “I did have to take those four years off, and thank God I did. I had to work on myself — my mental health, my physical health, my spiritual health.”
The Heroes actress says the possibility of returning as Kirby was initially put on her radar after the fifth film, released in 2022, was announced — but without her leading Scream 4 character. “When [Scream] popped up and came back around, I was like, ‘I want to be a part of that again,’ because I hoped that Kirby was still alive,” the actress said.
So the actress set her sights on Scream directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, picking up the phone and pitching her return. “I willed her back into existence and I called them,” Panettiere recalled. “I actually called them … when they were doing Scream 5 and I was like, ‘Without me?! Wait. Hold on. I might still be alive, and I could come in handy.'”
In a cover story for Women’s Health, also published Monday, Panettiere opens up about her postpartum depression after having her daughter; her substance abuse challenges while and after filming Nashville; her decision to get a breast reduction; and her relationship with her daughter, who was at one point going back and forth between the U.S. and Ukraine, where her father and Panettiere’s ex-husband, retired pro boxer Wladimir Klitschko, lives.
All of those things changed the Scream 6 star, who says she can now relate to her character’s trauma. “We saw Kirby get stabbed, but we never saw her die. We didn’t see her rescued either,” she explained to the magazine. “She has that human trauma, and it’s changed her. That’s something I can obviously relate to.”
As for the film’s new setting, as a New Yorker, Panettiere told GMA she appreciates how the film turns the concept of being safer in crowds — specifically, “so that if somebody hurts you, somebody’s there to help” — on its terrifying head.
“That can become just as dangerous, if not more dangerous, and it really could be anybody for any reason,” she said of the film’s premise.
During the interview, GMA co-anchor Michael Strahan also shared his condolences about the passing of Panettiere’s brother, Jansen, who died in February at the age of 28 from an enlarged heart.
The actress thanked Strahan before telling him that he’s “right here with me.”
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