Nashville Star Hayden Panettiere: 'You've Gotta Have A Bit Of Empathy' For Juliette Barnes

Hayden Panettiere plays country sensation Juliette Barnes on ABC’s “Nashville,” and while her demanding, seductive character could easily be the most hated gal on the new drama, the actress said Juliette’s troubled childhood is winning viewers over.

“You’ve gotta have a little bit of empathy for this girl. She’s a train wreck for sure, but you like her and you understand,” Hayden told Billy Bush and Kit Hoover of Juliette, on Wednesday’s Access Hollywood Live. “And you get to see the inner-workings of the fact that she’s just this damaged little girl who’s seeking love in all the wrong places.

“[She] has no idea how to show affection because she never got any – she has no father,” she added.

When “Nashville” first premiered last month, Hayden was immediately bombarded with media inquiring if her character was based on Taylor Swift. Hayden set the record straight with the press, then chatted with Taylor herself, as the two stars live in the same building.

“Taylor’s my neighbor so I talked to her about it, because in all the articles, of course the title was like, ‘Hayden Says: I Am Not Taylor Swift,’” she said.

While Juliette butts heads with her on-screen nemesis, Rayna James (brilliantly played by Connie Britton), Hayden said that off-screen, working with the former “Friday Night Lights” star is a dream come true.

“[Connie] was one of the big reasons why I even wanted to do the show,” she said. “I loved the script and I loved the idea of it, then as soon as I heard she was doing it, I just was jumping for joy.”

Adding, “She’s an unbelievable actress to work across from. She’s just one of those people where you don’t have to try – it’s just there.”

Catch Hayden and Connie on “Nashville,” Wednesdays at 10/9c on ABC.

-- Erin O’Sullivan

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