She became the face of Neutrogena, spokeswoman for the animal-rights charity Peta, designer of her own line of handbags, multiple award-winner and Grammy nominee (for the voice of Dot, an ant princess in A Bug’s Life).
When Heroes began, she bought an apartment in Los Angeles and the whole family relocated to the West Coast.
‘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.
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. 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.
‘After Heroes I knew it was going to be an uphill battle for me to be seen as anything other than the all-American cheerleader,’ she says.
Her father, Alan (known as Skip), was a policeman, then a firefighter, before he retired to set up a wooden-flooring business.
But Panettiere appears to have pulled off the notoriously tricky transition from child and teenage stardom to serious adult acting with aplomb.‘I even developed insecurities about areas of my body that I never even thought to be self-conscious about.’ A shot of a 16-year-old Panettiere in a bathing-suit was published with a vicious and crude commentary.‘I was so traumatised, I developed an immediate insecurity about it.It’s certainly true that with her perky blonde prettiness she perfectly resembles that icon of American high-school culture, straight out of central casting.Perhaps it was an ill-advised effort to shed her wholesome image that made Panettiere take on the contentious role of Amanda Knox in the television film Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy (2011).‘I remember being 16 years old, bending over in a shop, and having somebody snap a photo of me from behind and publish it in a magazine, saying that I had cellulite.