Hayden Panettiere felt like the ‘estranged aunt’ coming back for ‘Scream VI’

Hayden Panettiere as Kirby in Scream 4
Photo via Dimension Films

Hayden Panettiere is back and ready to take on Ghostface in Scream VI as the beloved Kirby Reed, and her insight will prove extremely valuable to the survivors of the masked slasher’s latest attack.

Last seen in Scream 4, fans were unsure of Kirby’s fate until an easter egg in the latest installment of the Scream franchise proved that she’d survived the attack after all. Coming back to the family was something that Kirby and Hayden experienced in separate ways. For Kirby, Panettiere tells Entertainment Weekly that surviving Ghostface sent her life in a new direction, but she’s not a totally different character.

“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.”

On a personal level, returning to the Scream franchise was also unfamiliar territory for Panettiere. She’d been here before, but not with this crew, so it felt like she was an estranged family member that they were welcoming home.

“Yeah, I felt a little left out. 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!”

While she may have felt left out at the beginning, it’s clear that a warm welcome was offered to the legendary actress and character, and the bond they’ve all formed will be what helps them stand tall against Ghostface this time around. They’ve all been pawns in the masked slasher’s game before, and they’re ready to put an end to their story: for good.

If anyone understands what Tara, Sam, Mindy, and Chad are going through, it’s Kirby, and Melissa Barrera notes that not a lot of time has passed between Scream and Scream VI, so there’s an unspoken idea that Kirby will help them as they navigate the grief and turmoil they’re trying to work through.

“Not a lot of time has passed since the last movie. Pretty much, the amount of time that we’ve had between one movie and the other is the amount of time that has passed in their world. So the trauma is still very fresh. One of my favorite parts about this movie is that we really get to see how the happenings of the last movie affected them. We get to really see the baggage that they’re carrying now and how each of them is dealing with it differently.”

Scream VI hits theaters on March 10, and we can’t wait to see what it looks like when Ghostface takes on the city that never sleeps.