Hayden Panettiere on Returning to the Screen With 'Scream VI' and Kirby's Fate in 'Scream 4' (Exclusive)

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After first playing the horror film-obsessed high school teen Kirby Reed in Scream 4, Hayden Panettiere has officially returned to the slasher franchise with Scream VI. This time around, Kirby is an FBI agent who gets called in from Atlanta to help the authorities after Ghostface starts terrorizing New York City. 

While speaking with ET's Rachel Smith, the 33-year-old actress opened up about her return, which marks her first major film since 2011, and addressed her character's previously uncertain fate at the end of the fourth film.

During Ghostface's second killing spree in Woodsboro during Scream 4, Kirby was one of the locals targeted by the mask killer before being eventually stabbed during the film's final act. Initially believed to be dead, Kirby was seen twitching on the ground. But her fate was left unclear with the film never clarifying if she survived or not.

It wasn't until Scream 5 that fans officially learned that Kirby had survived thanks to a brief Easter egg labeling her a "survivor" of Ghostface's murders. And consequently those fans rallied for the fan-favorite character to come back and appear onscreen once again. 

"I willed myself into existence," Panettiere says, laughing when asked about what she thought happened to Kirby in the end. "When I did Scream 4, I made them promise. I was like, 'Please just, like, leave it open because I would love to come back.' And I didn't know, but you never know. You never know you've made a movie until you're sitting in the movie theater watching it… You don't know the fate of [your character]." 

"So, I guess I manifested coming back and I loved it," she adds. 

Scream 4
Dimension Films
Scream VI
Paramount Pictures

As for returning to the franchise, for Panettiere, "it felt like coming home," she says, adding that "my heart was full; my heart was exploding." 

"I did this, not just for me, but I did this a lot for them," she says, acknowledging the fans. "I took time off and I didn't know what I was gonna come back doing and what the first project was going to be and then this came along and I was like, 'Absolutely.' And the fans have been so, so loyal, so spectacular… I love being back." 

As Panettiere alluded to, the actress took an extended break from acting after Nashville ended its six-season run in 2018 before returning to the screen with newest Scream installment alongside longtime veteran Courteney Cox as well as the newest group of survivors played by Jasmin Savoy Brown, Jenna Ortega, Mason Gooding and Melissa Barrera. 

As for why Panettiere chose Scream VI as her comeback, it was because it was familiar territory. "I had been there before," she says. "And it was a family experience. It was an experience with Wes [Craven] and with David [Arquette] and Courteney and Neve [Campbell]. I mean, the whole team that we had, the whole cast that we had, it was so much fun."

"I even had my best friend from home, which you didn't know. My best friend from home was on the project with me on Scream 4. So, it was such an experience, a glorious experience and I was hoping to experience that again here," she continues, adding, "And I absolutely did." 

Scream VI opens in theaters on March 10.


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