Hayden Panettiere Says Filming ‘Nashville’ Was ‘Traumatizing’ as Writers Used Her Alcoholism and More for Storylines: I’ve Never ‘Cried as Much’ on Set

Hayden Panettiere said in a recent interview with The Messenger that filming “Nashville” was “very traumatizing because I felt like I was acting out my own life.” The actor played country pop singer Juliette Barnes on the ABC musical drama, which ran for six seasons and 124 episodes between 2012 and 2018. Panettiere suggested the show’s writers often pulled from her real life while crafting Juliette’s storylines, which was emotionally traumatizing for her as storylines used her real-life struggle with alcoholism.

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

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Panettiere has been quite vocal over the last few years about her own struggle with alcohol and drug addiction, which is why it hit too close to home for her “Nashville” character to also have an alcoholism storyline. She said working 12-to-20 hour days on the “Nashville” set took a toll on her well-being.

“I didn’t have time to take care of myself [and] to think about and go through the pain I was experiencing physically [and] emotionally,” she said. “I just wanted to drum it out and watch mindless television and great shows. Anything to keep my mind off of that because I knew that next day I was going to be back at it again. I was like, tear central. I don’t even think on a soap opera that I cried as much [as I did] on ‘Nashville.'”

Panettiere opened up to People magazine in 2022 about her years-long addiction to opioids and alcohol, revealing a member of her team gave her “happy pills” before red carpets when she was only 15 years old. The actor’s addiction worsened from there.

“They were to make me peppy during interviews,” Panettiere said of the pills she was told to take as a teenager. “I had no idea that this was not an appropriate thing, or what door that would open for me when it came to my addiction.”

Panettiere gained success as a child with roles in soap operas and Disney’s popular football drama “Remember the Titans” with Denzel Washington. She achieved greater acclaim with her leading role at 16 on NBC’s drama series “Heroes,” and she became a horror favorite with her supporting turn as Kirby in “Scream 4.” She reprised the role in last year’s “Scream VI.”

“I was on top of the world and I ruined it,” Panettiere said. “I’d think I hit rock bottom, but then there’s that trap door that opens…This hasn’t been easy and there were a lot of ups and downs. But I don’t regret even the ugliest things that have happened to me. I feel incredibly accomplished. And I feel like I have a second chance.”

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