Former "Heroes" and "Nashville" star Hayden Panettiere, who last appeared in an on-screen role in 2018, has revealed that opioid and alcohol addiction had impacted her career and compelled her to send her young daughter overseas to live with the child's father.
"I was on top of the world and I ruined it," Panettiere, 32, says in the new issue of People magazine. "I'd think I hit rock bottom, but then there's that trap door that opens."
The former child star revealed that at 15 and walking red carpets, she first began being offered drugs "to make me peppy during interviews. … I had no idea that this was not an appropriate thing, or what door that would open for me when it came to my addiction," which would include both opioids and alcohol.
Yet with a steady stream of work even before landing the plum role of cheerleader Claire Bennet in the 2006-10 NBC superhero drama "Heroes” at age 16, "My saving grace is that I couldn't be messy while on set and working," she said. "But things kept getting out of control" in her personal life. "And as I got older, the drugs and alcohol became something I almost couldn't live without."
An on-again off-again relationship with Kazakhstan-born world heavyweight boxing champion Wladimir Klitschko led to an engagement in 2013 and a daughter, Kaya, now 7. Panettiere and Klitschko would break up in 2018 amid her substance abuse and postpartum depression.
"I never had the feeling that I wanted to harm my child, but I didn't want to spend any time with her," said Panettiere, who noted that she abstained from alcohol while pregnant. "There was just this gray color in my life." Klitschko "didn't want to be around me. I didn't want to be around me. But with the opiates and alcohol I was doing anything to make me feel happy for a moment. Then I'd feel worse than I did before. I was in a cycle of self-destruction."
She confirmed rumors from 2019 that she had sent her daughter to live with Klitschko in Ukraine, where he has been helping to operate the relief organization he co-founded, #WeAreAllUkrainians. "I wanted to be a good mom to her," Panettiere said, "and sometimes that means letting them go."
The actor has since gone through eight months of rehab, she said, and she believes she is "over the hump" of her addiction. "I'm just so grateful to be part of this world again, and I will never take it for granted again."
Klitschko, 46, has not comment publicly on the interview. His 50-year-old brother, Vitali Klitschko, is also a former world heavyweight boxing champion and the current mayor of Ukraine's capital, Kyiv.