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The Real-Life Horror That Inspired Hayden Panettiere's Scream Performance

It has been over a decade since "Scream 4" brought Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) back to Woodsboro. In the fourth film of the iconic horror trilogy, the killings start up pretty much as soon as she steps foot in her hometown. And, surprise, surprise, a new cast of teenagers are on the chopping block for the latest tech-savvy serial killer. Aside from Campbell, Wes Craven's "Scream 4" has an impressive cast including Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Emma Roberts, Mary McDonnell, Rory Culkin, and Alison Brie. Let's not forget that the movies-within-a-movie — "Stab 6" and "Stab 7" — even feature appearances from Lucy Hale, Shenae Grimes, Anna Paquin, and Kristen Bell.

One of the fan-favorite characters of "Scream 4" is Hayden Panettiere's Kirby Reed, a secret horror fan who goes toe-to-toe with the masked killers. As for her determined performance, Panettiere once opened up about a horrific experience of her own that she drew on for the role.

Hayden Panettiere once thought someone was breaking into her house

When speaking to Collider back in 2011, Hayden Panettiere revealed she once thought someone was breaking into her house, and that revisiting those memories helped her get into Kirby's mindset for the film. "That's got to be the most terrified I've ever been in my life," the actor said. "I don't know if that's saying much."

She described being incredibly scared during the event, saying, "The fear, especially as a female in a house by yourself, was horrible." Panettiere then opened up about the situation, explaining, "There happened to be a blackout in the area that I was living in, at that time, so my alarm was going off, but nobody was coming." The actor said she went into "survival instinct mode."

The "Heroes" and "Nashville" star then revealed what she did at the time, saying, "I found myself in the bathroom with my taser, which I have 10 of, my panic button and my cell phone." Panettiere went on to say that "not knowing who was going to come or what would happen or what you would have to do is terrifying." However, she also confessed, "I overreacted a little bit." She even admitted, "I wound up crawling out my window to find five or six guns with the laser beams pointed at me."

Panettiere said she had to convince the authorities it was her house, recalling, "I was like, 'Don't shoot me, please! It's me! It's me! It's my house!' They did eventually come, but they almost shot me. I'm not joking." Well, she might not have faced Ghostface in real life, but it still sounds like an incredibly stressful evening.