After “Nashville” was canceled earlier this year, Hayden Panettiere, like the rest of the cast, was heartbroken. The role of superstar country singer Juliette Barnes ― which earned her two Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actress ― provided the actress with so much inspiration and allowed her to tap into emotions she had yet to portray on screen.
So when it was announced that CMT revived the ABC show for a fifth season, Panettiere recognized just how fortunate she was to be back in Juliette’s boots, and fully embraced the opportunity to return to Nashville.
“It’s been really empowering as a woman [to play Juliette],” the 27-year-old told The Huffington Post during a recent Build Series interview. “She’s like a phoenix. She crashes and burns hard and then she rises from the ashes, and she is so resilient and that’s one of the things I love the most about her. She always chooses to take the lesson and become stronger because of it. And she doesn’t seem to make the same mistake twice, but she seems to find every mistake she could make,” the actress added with a smile.
Her co-star Charles Esten, who plays Deacon Claybourne on the show, chimed in to say that playing opposite Panettiere as Barnes and Connie Britton as Rayna James is a dream come true as an actor.
“They’re some of the strongest female characters on television,” he told HuffPost, “and I’m the piece of rope getting the tug of war in the middle ... it was amazing right then to walk in and see [them] going at it.”
Panettiere added that although she’s not too much like Juliette in real life, she’s learned so much about herself through portraying the confident, emotional and tough-as-nails character.
“She has such extremes and I don’t think she could exist without it, and that’s what makes her so human and so fun to play,” Panettiere said. “I love playing bad and I love playing those moments of good, too.”
As for what’s to come this season for Juliette on “Nashville,” Panettiere warned fans that they may be surprised by the singer’s journey.
“Obviously, you see her go through this [plane] accident, but it opens a door and a path that you would never expect her to go down,” the actress explained. “She explores a part of herself that is so un-Juliette but so powerful and so deep, I think you’re going to be really surprised, really excited, I think you’e going to like it.”
“Nashville” airs at 9 p.m. ET Thursdays on CMT.
Watch the full Build Series interview with Hayden Panettiere and Charles Esten below: