Of all the cool things about her Nashville home – from the cozy nursery and pool to the music “jam room” – Hayden Panettiere may be most enamored with…the fish tanks. “It’s my passion! You will never see anybody geek out as much as me about fish,” the Nashville star tells PEOPLE.
“The fish tanks are my happy place.” In fact, hanging above one of two enormous aquariums in her 4,500 square-foot house is a framed sign that reads: “This is My Happy Place”. For Panettiere, 27, who shares the home with partner Wladimir Klitschko and their two-year-old daughter, Kaya, her beloved fish, coral and even sea anemone have long been a source of comfort. “I could literally sit on a stool in front of my fish tank and just stare at it and watch,” she says.
“It makes me feel peace. It makes me feel calm, and I can feel my blood pressure going down. I know some people might think it’s crazy but they actually interact with you. It’s kind of like being a mom – in a different way!”
Another budding fish-fan? Her daughter, Kaya. “All she wants to see when I FaceTime her is fish – she says, ‘Show me the fish!’,” says Panettiere, smiling.“She loves Nemo, Dory, and all the fish!”While the actress regularly rescues animals and fosters dogs before placing them in homes, she feels an actress’s life doesn’t lend itself to raising pets. “Sitting in a trailer is not the life they deserve,” she says. “So, fish are perfect for me!”
For much more on Panettiere’s Nashville haven and an inside look at celebrity homes, please pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday.
Hayden Panettiere bounds across the lobby of a deeply fashionable New York hotel. She waves and grins broadly before settling into an armchair and seizing the cocktail menu. ‘You’re British, you’ll drink with me,’ she declares. At just 23 years old, the actress could justifiably be claiming her carriage clock by now. Panettiere was a millionaire before she was out of her teens, thanks in part to her award-winning role as Claire Bennet, a cheerleader with healing powers in the sci-fi series Heroes.
She spent most of her formative years on sets instead of at school, appeared in adverts by the time she could walk and talk, and landed her first full-time role in a television soap opera aged four. Since the winter sun is just about over the yard-arm, I join Panettiere in accepting the waiter’s recommendation of a couple of potent-sounding creations. Just 5ft 1in, and sporting skinny jeans, an orange sweater and brown fur-lined boots, she is so fresh-faced she looks barely old enough to be quaffing cocktails.
But Panettiere appears to have pulled off the notoriously tricky transition from child and teenage stardom to serious adult acting with aplomb. Earlier this year she earned a Golden Globe nomination for her role as the catty, conniving country-music singer Juliette Barnes in the new More4 drama Nashville. It’s a gratifyingly grown-up part for Panettiere. With her bad-girl persona, sequinned dresses and eye-wateringly tight denim hotpants, Barnes is a delicious departure from the good girls the actress is used to playing.
With Nashville being such a success, Hayden pitched in on promotions by covering a bunch of magazines, so we have updated the gallery with those!”I’ve grown into myself and my body. In Nashville, you see women, even successful singers, who have voluptuous bodies and everyone is supportive. You don’t get the kind of criticism you might in Hollywood. To me, the confident curvy girl is so much sexier than the insecure skinny girl.””I have stage fright! It’s because I’m a perfectionist, but I have to get over it. Getting to know the music scene here, I see that people are rooting for you, and if you mess up, it’s OK. And I’ve learned from karaoke, if all else fails, a shot of tequila takes the edge off and lets you have fun!”