'Scream VI' Filmmakers Reveal the Story Behind Hayden Panettiere's Longer Hairstyle in the New Film

Hayden Panettiere, SCREAM 4, SCREAM 6
Hayden Panettiere, SCREAM 4, SCREAM 6

Dimension Films/Courtesy Everett Collection, Philippe Bossé Hayden Panettiere in 2011's Scream 4 (L) and 2023's Scream VI

Hayden Panettiere can rock any hairstyle, but when it came to her character returning to the Scream franchise after an 11-year absence as Kirby Reed, her hairstyle was a major question.

In an interview with Variety, two of the film's key players, writer James Vanderbilt and producer William Sherak, talked about how they decided what to do with Panettiere's hair for Scream VI

When asked if there was a conversation about the actress' hair, Vanderbilt responded quickly. "I'm never going to tell a woman what she needs to do with her hair," he said cheekily.

"I've unfortunately had to at different parts of my career," Sherak responded. "I don't have the luxury of not doing it."

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Hayden Panettiere (“Kirby Reed”) stars in Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group's "Scream VI."
Hayden Panettiere (“Kirby Reed”) stars in Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group's "Scream VI."

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures Hayden Panettiere

Sherak then dove into Panettiere's great hair debate. "There was a whole conversation about what the right thing was," he said. "And [what] she felt comfortable with coming back 10, 11 years later." In her last appearance in the Scream franchise, the 33-year-old actress had a short pixie cut.

"I think we settled on something that she looks great in, was comfortable with and it was the right thing for Kirby today," Shrek continued. "90% of it is she has to be comfortable in her skin on set with what character she's playing."

"That's what you want to support — her ability to deliver the performance and that's what did it for her. She's a badass!" he added.

Scream VI marks Panettiere's return to movies as fan-favorite Kirby, who previously starred in 2011's Scream 4. Panettiere had previously taken about four years off from acting "to work on myself" after finishing the television series Nashville in 2018, she recently told Good Morning America.

Fans were first treated to a tease that Kirby could re-enter the franchise after easter eggs included in the fifth Scream last year implied the character had survived being attacked by one of Scream 4's killers, and Panettiere said she "willed [Kirby] back into existence" after getting in touch with the film's producers.

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In the new movie, Kirby is depicted as having embarked on a law enforcement career since her near-death experience, now working as an FBI agent based in Atlanta.

Upon Kirby's arrival in New York City to assist police with the investigation of a new Ghostface, she explains to sisters Tara (Jenna Ortega) and Sam (Melissa Barrera) — whom she is familiar with from their Woodsboro roots — that she takes a distinct interest in murders involving the Ghostface persona.

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Kirby later tells Sam she embarked on a law enforcement career to reclaim her power after recovering from her own stabbing in Scream 4.

In addition to original stars Courteney Cox and Panettiere, franchise newcomers Barrera, Ortega, Jasmin Savoy Brown and Mason Gooding also made their returns after debuting in Scream (2022).