Hayden Panettiere on Playing the Bad Girl


Hayden Panettiere makes her return to television in the new drama Nashville as country music star sensation "Juliette Barnes." Although her character has high ambitions, Panettiere revealed during ET's first-look set visit that her character is more of a "bad girl."

"I do get to play kind of the bad girl," Panettiere said, "but every...villain usually has a back-story...and that's definitely true to form in Juliette. When you first meet her, [you see] this young, snarky, disrespectful, untalented brat, and then you start to realize that she's this damaged, young girl who is running from this very dark past."

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The 23-year-old actress, who has been acting since she was a young child, skyrocketed to fame for her role on the series Heroes after acting on daytime soap operas as a child, among other acting projects. Despite her extensive acting experience, Panettiere revealed a loathed fear of live audiences.

"I have terrible stage fright," she revealed. "When you grow up in a world where you are judged and there's a lot of scrutiny...you become afraid...There's something about being...in front of a camera but only with your crew...and not having to look at all the reactions of people...and then there's a different thing [of] going out on stage and going, 'Hey, this is me! I get to do this right in front of all you and watch all of your reactions.'"

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While she may be terrified of being on-stage in front of large audiences that are evaluating her in front of her eyes, Panettiere dazzles in her preferred setting of being only with the cast and crew, according to Nashville's creator Callie Khouri.

"Hayden is blowing my mind everyday. She is so good," said Khouri, who is married to music producer T-Bone Burnett. "For someone who's as sweet as she is--and she is really, truly one of the sweetest people I've ever met--she plays a bad girl like nobody I've ever seen...It's not how she is in life at all so it's kind of fun when you see that little turn in her character."

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Panettiere's character takes on the stigma of a bad girl when she vindictively tries to take the place of fading country music legend "Rayna James," played by Friday Night Light's Connie Britton, who maintains that the show portrays the city of Nashville in a more realistic light.

"We have a great opportunity here to show the Nashville music scene in a very true way and to show these singers in very true ways and not in the caricature ways that we might have seen before," Britton said. "Our goal is to show Nashville as a complicated, human place and get people away from the more cliched ideas of what Nashville is."

The new series Nashville premieres October 10 at 10 p.m. on ABC.