Performer of the Week: Hayden Panettiere

panettiereA weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars

THE PERFORMER | Hayden Paniettiere

THE SHOW | Nashville (ABC)

THE EPISODE | “Dear Brother”

THE AIRDATE | Feb. 27, 2013

RELATED | Exclusive: Nashville Casts a Person of Interest to Catch Deacon’s Eye

THE PERFORMANCE | Playing Juliette Barnes is a tricky proposition. Sharpen her edges too much, and we’ll hate her. Lean too heavily on her sad backstory, and we’ll pity her. Hayden Panettiere gets that, and it’s why she was able to make Juliette’s quiet confession to a near stranger in this week’s episode as believable as any egregiously self-centered moment (pick your favorite!) from her recent past.

Even before Juliette started talking with her mother’s addiction counselor, we’d seen hints that her explosive anger toward Jolene was turning into something more measured. Panettiere previously played Juliette’s rage at her mother’s illness as a jagged, nasty thing. But when Jolene fell off the wagon at Deacon’s party and had to be escorted home, the young actress did a masterfully subtle job of conveying her character’s deep disappointment – at not getting to sing for Deacon, at having to clean up Jolene’s mess again and at never being able to forget that she just can’t rely on her mom.

For her chat with the counselor, Panettiere dropped Juliette’s usual theatrics and instead gave a matter-of-fact recitation of the sad details surrounding her failed ninth birthday party. It was a powerful choice. She stayed dry-eyed and in complete control while admitting that, despite averting a fire back then that would’ve surely killed her drugged-out mom, she wanted her to die. Her reading of “You really think you can help us?,” tinged with both hope and fear, was a thing of desperate beauty. Juliette may be going through a dark time, but it’s making Panettiere shine.

HONORABLE MENTION | Justified‘s Timothy Olyphant, who this week seamlessly navigated his mild-mannered Raylan through a confusing mourning process. Whether fighting back tears (where’d those come from?) or attempting to understand why he’d grieve his long-estranged father, Olyphant’s emotional display was a welcome — and wonderfully executed — change of pace for the typically cool customer.

What performance knocked your socks off this week?

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  1. Pattybelle says:

    Good for Hayden. I love her!

  2. j says:

    love her.

  3. she did good this week, I think Rachel Bilson also did pretty good this week, she showed us how well she does drama with the whole wade breakup & Torian Bellisario to me is the top performer each week, this girl deserves an emmy for playing Spencer Hasting. She truly is the best acting out of the other 3 girls and every one on Pretty Little Liars.

    • dude says:

      Completely agree that Troian is the best thing about PLL. She kills it every week and is delivering performances far greater than anything any of her co-stars are doing. She’s about the closest thing PLL has to a quality actress (the adults are great and far more seasoned but they phone in their performances week in and week out. This is clearly just a paycheque for them). That said, I still don’t think her work is Emmy worthy and while Rachel has been giving great performances “for her,” I don’t feel like she needs to be recognized for it.

    • Wouter says:

      Agree. Troian has been great the last few episodes. I’m sad she hasn’t been featured in this item yet….

  4. Lilu says:

    aaand again, no nathan fillion… you totally Emmy’d him dooods!!!

    • wordsmith says:

      The Castle two-parter was definitely epic, and it did put Nathan Fillion in some pretty intense situations, but I’m not sure I could point to any particular scene where his performance could top the skill and subtlety of the winners that TVLine singled out.

    • Lauren says:

      I watch Castle and Nashville and even I’d give the edge to Hayden. Quite frankly Castle didn’t do right by Nathan, that storyline could have been so so much more. It was almost odd.

    • Josh says:

      Funny I don’t think Hayden did anything special this week…and she’s been better in other weeks…so strange choice.

  5. Grace says:

    Hayden has been knocking it out of the ball park every. single. week. SHE is the main reason I’m watching this show because I’m so over the whole Rayna/Deacon thing. But I’m rooting so hard for Juliette to find happiness and stability in her personal life and I really hope this counselor can help her go some ways to achieving that.
    And on a slightly more shallow note, I wasn’t familiar with Jay Hernandez before, but he is pretty darn cute.

    • Liz985 says:

      Juliette is the draw for me, too, on Nashville. The character is so much more nuanced than Rayna and, ironically, in the end, more likable.

    • lorna says:

      I love Jay Hernandez from Crazy/Beautiful and Hostel. I can see a love story for them. Love Hayden so good for her. This show is so damn good. I watched some of AHS this season, really? What a silly, illogical waste of my hours. Juliette is also trying to be nicer. I like that they really delved into her friendship with Deacon, instead of just hooking up.

      • B says:

        Weird mention of AHS as if they’re similar like say Modern Family (which isn’t silly) and New Normal (which is). Or you could go Nashville and Glee or Nashville and Smash or Nashville and Grey’s. But you chose AHS?

      • Amy says:

        ITA…this show IS SO good. Also agree with all the rest…JH is cute; I’m seeing possibility for a love story too and I too like that they’ve explored friendship with Deacon & Juliette vs. just hooking up. It’s in the friendship, among other things, that she is growing…she looks up to and respects him, I think even more or as much as is attracted to him and so he makes her strive to be better…musically, personally. He also is a bit of a father figure (for lack of better term…just an older guy she respects to look up to and learn from, in lieu of having had that in her life) she learns from. That’s one of the things that makes this show good…unexpected and complex writing for the characters. Anyway…I have not been hooked on a serial prime-time show in decades….I LOVE Nashville.

        Btw…the guy who plays Gunner gets my runner up vote tonight for performance. I love him…he is perfect for that perfect mix of adorable, sweet, shy but with an edge if pushed, sexy, smoldering…still waters run deep…and oh yea…boy can sing too. When he ID’d his brother tonight it broke my heart.

    • Luli101 says:

      Yes!!!! Hayden has been fantastic in several episodes–take your pick. I wasn’t sure what to expect from her on this show, but she has really blown me away. Go Team Nashville!

    • dude says:

      You should watch Crazy/Beautiful

  6. jalahyacinth says:

    I’ve loved Hayden since Tiger Cruise aired on Disney Channel. She was good then and she’s only gotten better. Good for her!

  7. Sara says:

    I love Hayden, though I’ve never seen Nashville, and I’m sure she did fabulous but…I really think Nathan Fillion or Troian Bellisario need to be up here. Nathan did incredible and I love him even more and Troian was outstanding in Pretty Little Liars this week – actually for the past couple of weeks she’s been great. Maybe you could make a #2 and #3 for this week? ;)

  8. Amy says:

    Wilson Bethel in Hart of Dixie.

  9. iMember says:

    I love Hayden and this week’ Nashville has been one of their best episodes, but I didn’t really think Hayden did anything to really stand out from what she’s already done on the show. If anyone from Nashville had to get it, I’d say the actor who played Gunner deserved it more.

    • Drew says:

      Agreed. Gunnar and Scarlet are the two to watch in this show. They’re the most interesting characters and their songs usually sound less auto-tuned than the others.

      That said, I think that the scene could have played better without the sex. She was worried about him and cared about him, so to play it as her being upset about the death but relieved that Gunnar is okay would have been nice. The sex distracted from that moment. The actors could have played subtle, but the writers were too heavy handed.

      • Amy says:

        Good point about the sex…I felt distracted by it too..interrupted the true emotion of the moment.
        Again this show delivers something unexpected…as I think about it…maybe that’s why…the “more messy” choice, like real life….escape from the pain, in-the-moment sex. I get it…but still had wished they’d had a better moment and a better time and way to finally have sex. I think, though, this might take on a new direction for a harder Gunner for a bit…don’t know…but I guess that’s the point…the powers that be keep me guessing.

    • Amy says:

      I agree about Gunner, as I posted above…..I love, love. love him. Also love that he’s unfolding slowly. Anyway…this episode he broke my heart, with just a few short scenes. He’s good and perfect for this role.

  10. Hayden was great this week. I still prefered Rayna /Connie Britton’s performance. Both actresses are great, but Connie is much more my cup of tea.

  11. Stephen says:

    Hayden over Fillion? It’s like putting Zoanette ahead of any of the girls on Idol. Plus, I agree that Connie Britton’s song and performance was better then a good job by Hayden.

  12. I agree. Panetierre has done some phenomenal work on this series.

  13. Danyelle says:

    Very well deserved, Hayden has been a revelation on this show. What a refreshing surprise!!

  14. Lauren says:

    Yee-haw, Nashville! And cheers to Hayden. Love this show, let’s get a renewal soon, I hope.

    • Amy says:

      That’s the second comment re: “renewal”….is there something I don’t know? Is there talk it might not be?? Jeez, anything but renewal, (AY-SAP), would be a major surprise…and mistake! How long does the season go? I actually thought they were on some break after the last episode and didn’t even know there was a new on until coming to TVline! Tks, TL.

    • Gwc says:

      It is all about ratings. This show is so good. And so not just about the country music scene. I think that scares some people off who aren’t big fans of country music. It has great acting. Great singing. Great cast. Great plot lines. We need to get the word out.

  15. B says:

    Surprised no one has mentioned Sam Palladino deserving it, but all’s fair. I thought both were very strong and happy to see Nashville get critical acclaim where it’s missing viewers.

  16. skrable2 says:

    I would have picked James Brolin

  17. ChristineD says:

    Spot on with Timothy Olyphant.

  18. Gail says:

    Agreed…while also pointing out that Charles Esten was especially amazing, especially in the scene where Rayna was singing to him in the bar. He is believable, week after week.

  19. Jade says:

    Hayden is the BEST part of this mediocre series. I would have stopped watching long ago if it wasn’t for her.

  20. James says:

    No offense to Hayden, but Nathan Fillion for castle should have gotten this. Some strange choices, I remember when u singled out the great Sara Ramirez for an episode that I had to rewatch because there was nothing special and she’s been so great in other episodes. Anyways congrats Hayden!

  21. robert says:

    I have always thought Hayden is the greatest actress I have ever seen. I have seen a lot of actresses but Hayden is the best I gave ever seen. I beleive she should be nominated for an emmy for her work. Then I believe she should win that emmy. Nuff said.

  22. dude says:

    I love Connie Britton but Hayen is the best thing about Nashville. She routinely outshines everyone else on that show. Her character is by far the most complex and interesting and her performances are just heartbreaking. Love her. She needs an Emmy nom but it’ll likely go to Connie Britton just because she was Tami Taylor which is a shame because she hasn’t been given any material worthy of her talents to date. I really hate hating a character played by Connie Britton.

  23. Amy says:

    Charles Esten has been consistent every week. Great emotion and perfect casting. His expression can say it all.

  24. Lillian says:

    Great performance by Timothy Olyphant indeed.

  25. Lyle Lafee says:

    I loved Hayden since,well I wanted to save the cheerleader! Well done Hayden.

  26. torpian says:

    Go Hayden! I’m so proud of you. :)

  27. Magically Suspicious says:

    Hayden P. is definitely the reason to watch Nashville. I’m a Connie Britton fan, but she’s not the star of this show.

  28. robert lance says:

    I am 63 yeas old and I have to say Hayden Panittiere is the best actor, male or female, I have ever seen. She everything she has into every scene on Nashville and every other project she has been a psrt of. I believe she is going to last a long time and become the icon of her generation.

  29. Jeri says:

    Every show needs a wild card & Hayden is it in Nashville. I think all the actors do a great job & am continually impressed by the actors & the show. It better get renewed, I have been disapoiinted too many times with new shows I really enjoy.