Hayden Panettiere Opens Up About 'Traumatizing' Time on 'Nashville'

"I felt like I was acting out my own life."

Hayden Panettiere and Connie Britton in Nashville
(Image credit: ABC)

It cannot be hard to have your real-life struggles play out on-screen. Particularly while you're in the midst of them, and essentially playing a heightened version of yourself. Which is exactly what happened to Hayden Panettiere while she starred on the soapy ABC series Nashville.

The series ran for 6 seasons from 2012-2018, and during her time on the show, Panettiere saw the parallels between herself and her character, a rising country star named Juliette Barnes. And in a candid new interview with The Messenger, the actress opened up about the parallels to her own life.

"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. 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."

"I look back at it with curiosity more than anything," she added.

The singer is reflecting on her time on the series during an event she's calling A Conversation With Hayden Panettiere, taking place on three separate nights in DC, NYC, and Pennsylvania at the end of February.

During the talk, Panettiere hopes her candid discussion will help others dealing with addiction.

"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."

We commend Panettiere for opening up about her struggles and how life in the public eye compounded them in such a unique way. There's no one right way to handle these things, and the more empathy and kindness we have towards those struggles, the better off our society will be, don't you think?

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, there is always help—and you are not alone. SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Alicia Lutes
Freelance Writer

Alicia Lutes is a freelance writer, essayist, journalist, humorist, and screenwriter based in Los Angeles. She has written extensively on culture, entertainment, the craft of comedy, and mental health. Her work has been featured in places such as Vulture, Playboy, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, MTV, Cosmopolitan, Rotten Tomatoes, Bustle, Longreads, and more. She was also the creator/former host of the web series Fangirling, and currently fosters every single dog she can.