Scream fans were beside themselves when it was announced that Hayden Panettiere would be returning to the fold as Kirby Reed – and the star-studded cast were right there with them.
Her character became a firm fan favorite in the fourth instalment of the slasher franchise in 2011, starring alongside Emma Roberts, Rory Culkin and beloved OGs Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette.
Although she appeared to die at the hands of Ghostface, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment in last year’s sequel confirmed that the movie buff is alive and well – and back to battle the masked killer once again.
Discussing her comeback ahead of the release of Scream 6, her new castmates revealed their delight at being able to share the screen with the 33-year-old.
Melissa Barrera, who plays Sam Carpenter, told Metro.co.uk: ‘She’s such a pro, it was great to see her come back into a character that she played 12 years ago, and it was like nothing. She was straight in it. She’s so sweet and she’s such a giant of the industry.
‘I remember I grew up – even though she’s my age – I grew up watching her, so it was great to be able to share the screen with her.
‘Having been in the fourth movie, it felt like she was a legacy character for us, even though we had also done one movie. We were doing our second movie together and continuing the franchise, which was fun.’
Tara Carpenter actress Jenna Ortega agreed: ‘I loved [Hayden]. What was that movie, Hood? Where she played Little Red? Oh, my God, it’s an incredible animated film.
‘I was a fan and she’s a lovely person.’
Mason, who reprised his role as Chad Meeks Martin from Scream 5 revealed that he had a full fan moment while working with Hayden, having played a video game she voiced a character for.
He also declared the sequel that we were introduced to Kirby as his favorite in the franchise.
‘I’m such a fan of Hayden, I keep saying it,’ he told us. ‘I grew up on this video game, Kingdom Hearts 2, and she played a character named Kairi. I fanned out immediately when I saw her, and it was really embarrassing.’
‘But at least I was living my candid true self and told her how I felt… She hasn’t spoken to me since…,’ he laughed, as co-star Jasmin Savoy Brown joked that Hayden probably ‘blocked his number’.
The latest sequel follows the Woodsboro gang as they move to New York for college, when Ghostface begins to hunt the characters down.
The killer’s arrival drags Kirby back onto the scene alongside Gale Weathers (Courteney), who is living in the city for work.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Hayden gave a glimpse into where her character is in the movie, explaining: ‘She’s come a long way.
‘What happened to her has obviously impacted her life, and it sends her in a certain direction, but she’s still the same old Kirby at the heart of it. She’s just a little older, a little wiser, but just as spitfire-y, and snarky, and all that good stuff.’
Despite returning as a ‘veteran’ character, the Nashville alum also confessed that she felt slightly ‘left out’ among the new Woodsboro gang, having only worked with Courteney in the past.
‘Yeah, I felt a little left out,’ the former Nashville star continued. ‘It’s true. I did feel a little like I had to find my way back into the new group because that crew had done the prior film. But they were all so welcoming.
‘It was interesting, they made me part of their family that I had already been a part of. [Laughs] So it was like an estranged aunt came back into the fold!’
Scream 6 is in cinemas now.
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