Hayden Panettiere: FEMAIL reveals the Nashville star's many tragedies after her brother Jansen dies

3 months ago 7

Ten years ago, Hayden Panettiere was one of the brightest lights in Hollywood, having landed a slew of major roles in big-name shows like Heroes and Nashville. 

But a dark shadow was cast over that sensational success when the now-33-year-old was hit with a series of scandals, from domestic violence controversies to drug abuse battles that ultimately led to her losing custody of her child. 

Now, the former child star - who began acting when she was just a tween - is facing yet another heartbreaking tragedy: the sudden death of her only sibling and 'best friend', Jansen, who passed away at the age of 28 this past weekend, following a private battle with 'terrible anxiety and depression'.  

Jansen passed away in an apartment near Palisades, New York, the same picturesque storybook town where he and Hayden, spent their childhood, a source close to the actress confirmed to DailyMail.com

It marks the latest in a line of gut-wrenching personal battles that the star has been fighting for years - beginning when she was just 15 years old and first introduced to drugs by a member of her team. 

Hayden Panettiere's personal life has been full of turmoil behind-the-camera, due to many ups-and-downs during her Hollywood career

Hayden's brother Jansen had died aged 28, in what is the latest heartbreak for the troubled actress (pictured together in January 2019)

Indeed, while the actress was happily beaming for the cameras on red carpets - or fighting crime on-screen as a teenager superstar in Heroes, behind the scenes, she has faced an endless series of struggles, the latest of which see her grappling with the loss of her closest relative.  

'Hayden is just inconsolable,' a source told DailyMail.com. '[Jansen] was her best friend and her only brother. He was such a nice guy but he lived on the edge.' 

No further details have been released at this time and the cause of his death remains unclear - however the insider noted that Jansen, an actor and graffiti artist, had been 'having a rough time lately with his career' and felt as though he was 'being dragged in so many directions'. 

Hayden has not yet publicly addressed her brother's unexpected passing. The painful loss is the latest in a line of tragedies to befall Hayden. 

Indeed, the shocking news comes just as the star was taking steps to move forward from her previous knockbacks, which include her battle with postpartum depression, substance abuse issues, a complicated custody battle with her ex-partner Wladimir Klitschko over their eight-year-old daughter, and her domestic abuse issues with most current partner Brian Hickerson.

In a series of candid interviews last year, Hayden made it clear she was hoping to draw a line under her past trauma and move forward in both her personal life and her career.  

She had also been outspoken about her hopes to regain joint custody of her young daughter now that she successfully completed treatment for her alcohol and opioid addiction.

Shortly after, the actress delighted fans with the news that she would be making a return to the Scream movie franchise. 

Jansen was the Nashville star's only sibling. Hayden has not yet addressed her brother's unexpected passing (pictured one month before his death on January 24)

Jansen's passing comes less than five years after Hayden lost custody of her daughter Kaya, eight, amid her substance abuse struggles 

Hayden - and her late brother - were born into the business thanks to the fact their mother Lesley R. Vogel was a former soap opera actress. Her father, Alan Lee Panettiere, was a captain in the Fire Department of New York City. 

This meant Hayden started modeling at five months and was featuring in commercials at the tender age of eleven months. 

She soon became a soap star in her own right at the age of five after landing the role of Sarah Roberts in the ABC soap One Life To Live from 1994 to 1997.

She then went on to star in the CBS soap, Guiding Light, as Lizzie Spaulding from 1996 until 2000.

After making a string of guest appearances in shows such as Malcolm in the Middle, and movies such as Remember The Titans and Raising Helen, the star's drug abuse issues began at the age of 15.

There is no foul play suspected in Jansen's death according to TMZ (pictured together in 2001)

The siblings pictured with their mother Lesley R. Vogel, a former soap opera actress, in 2019

Just one year later, she landed her game-changing role as cheerleader Claire Bennet in the hit NBC drama, Heroes.

Two years after the show came to an end in 2010, Hayden landed her critically praised role as Juliet Barnes in ABC musical drama, Nashville.

However, her career began to stall as her personal issues took precedent. Not only did her substance issues get worse due to a battle with postpartum depression, the star also ended up losing custody of her daughter Kaya.

Hayden then found herself caught up in a rollercoaster romance with real estate agent Brian Hickerson amid her substance abuse issues.

The tumultuous romance took a troubling turn as Brian was arrested numerous times in connection with domestic violence charges.

Hickerson remains on probation until 2025 in connection with domestic violence incidents involving the actress, but the pair have chosen to remain friends.

'Drugs and alcohol became something I almost couldn't live without': The actress unwittingly began a battle with drug addiction at age 15 when a member of her team gave her 'happy pills'

Panettiere (pictured at nine years old) began her acting career at the age of five, when she was cast in the soap opera One Life to Live

Hayden, pictured in 2005 (left)and 2006 (right), previously revealed that she had started abusing drugs and alcohol when she was just 15 years old 

Hayden opened up about her lengthy battle with drug addiction in a candid interview with People magazine in July 2022.

The actress claimed that she unwittingly became reliant on substances at just 15-year-old when members of her team began giving her 'happy pills' in an effort to make her seem more 'peppy' during interviews.

'I had no idea that this was not an appropriate thing, or what door that would open for me when it came to my addiction,' she explained.

The actress's drug and alcohol abuse issues were ongoing while she filmed country music show Nashville

Things then spiraled out of control while she was battling postpartum depression after the birth of her daughter Kaya in 2014. 

'As I got older, the drugs and alcohol became something I almost couldn't live without,' Hayden confessed.

In the years that followed her struggle with postpartum depression further compounded her reliance on drugs and alcohol.

Hayden said that she did not drink while she was pregnant with Kaya, but she admitted that she fell off the wagon soon after her daughter was born, and from there, her alcohol issues continued to spiral out of control. 

It resulted in her making the 'heartbreaking' decision to send her daughter away to live with her father in Ukraine.

The TV star continued: 'I would have the shakes when I woke up and could only function with sipping alcohol. [Sending Kaya away] was the hardest thing I ever had to do. But I wanted to be a good mom to her - and sometimes that means letting them go.'

After she sent her daughter away to live with Wladimir, from whom she had split just months before following a nine-year on-off relationship, Hayden's drinking continued to worsen - to the point where she had to be hospitalized with jaundice.

'Doctors told me my liver was going to give out,' she admitted. 'I was no longer a 20 year old who could just bounce right back.'

'I just knew I was deeply depressed': Hayden's lack of support and assistance during her battle with post-partum depression saw her turn to alcohol 

Hayden's addiction spiraled out of control while she was battling postpartum depression after Kaya's birth in 2014 

Many in her circle were quick to pass off her postpartum depression as signs that she was being 'overly emotional' which made the star's alcoholism even more severe

During an emotional interview with Good Morning America in 2022, the actress explained how she was left to struggle with postpartum depression following the birth of her daughter.

Due to the fact many in her circle were quick to pass off her postpartum depression as signs that she was being 'overly emotional', it made the star's alcoholism even more severe because she couldn't see where her battles with substance abuse 'ended' and where her depression 'began'.

'[The past four years have] been difficult,' she said, looking back on her struggles since the birth of her daughter. 'The years before were very difficult for me too. I'd been struggling for a long time.'

Asking where she sought help for her depression, Hayden continued: 'The bottle. The bottom of a bottle.

'I didn't have any negative feelings towards my child, I just knew I was deeply depressed. And I didn't know where the alcoholism was ending and the postpartum was beginning and I ran myself pretty ragged.

'People around me were more concerned about my usage of alcohol than they ever were about the postpartum depression.'

She added that many of those around her were quick to pass off her postpartum depression and alcoholism as signs that she was acting like 'a crazy woman', which in turn made her feel all the more isolated.

In October 2015, Panettiere voluntarily checked into a facility for treatment, causing her to miss filming for a few episodes of Nashville (pictured in 2016)

'I felt like I was walking blind and there was nobody there that was able to support me in the way I needed to be supported.

'And I don't like to ask for help either. You know, I want to be that strong, stoic woman, but when you see a [previously] happy-go-lucky girl... suddenly on the floor in a puddle of mess and alcohol, you've got to know something is wrong.'

After Hayden ended up in the hospital, she finally found the strength to seek treatment for her addictions and ultimately entered rehab for eight months, where she says she found the support she needed to face her demons head-on.

It has since been claimed that Hayden's issues inspired the storyline for her Nashville character (pictured in 2012)

'[I made] a lot of great friends in treatment who can speak on your same level where you don't feel like you're going crazy,' she told GMA, although she confessed that her experiences in rehab were 'horrible' at times, because she was identified specifically as an alcoholic, rather than someone also battling postpartum depression, which meant she struggled to make herself heard.

'Oh, it was horrible,' she said. 'Once you're the identified patient as the alcoholic - and not as a girl, a woman going through postpartum depression - then they don't believe anything that comes [out of] your mouth. So even when you're telling the truth, even when you're doing well, I've been told "No", almost gaslit, and told, "No, I wasn't."

'It's frustrating. It's heartbreaking. You want to break down and cry, which makes you look even worse. But not being believed, I think to anybody not being believed is - when they're telling the truth - is painful.'

While the actress is now sober but admitted that her struggles are far from over.

'I'm good [but] it's an everyday battle, it really is,' she shared. 'I'm grateful to say I'm sober today.'

She added to People: 'It's an everyday choice, and I'm checking in with myself all the time. But I'm just so grateful to be part of this world again, and I will never take it for granted again.'

Family drama: Hayden's father was charged for misdemeanor battery in 2008 for allegedly striking her mom Lesley, before the pair went on to have a bitter eight-year divorce battle 

In 2008, Hayden's father Alan pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery for allegedly hitting his wife (pictured together in 2009)

In April 2016, Hayden's parents eventually resolved an almost eight-year divorce battle (the actress pictured with her mother and brother in 2019)

In 2008, Hayden's father Alan pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery for allegedly hitting his wife, and was sentenced to two years probation.

Alan was also ordered by the Beverly Hills Superior Court judge to complete 52 weeks of domestic violence counseling and pay $400 in fines.

It came after he arrested at the family’s West Hollywood home for investigation of striking the actress’s mother, Lesley Vogel, in the face during an argument following a benefit event hosted by Hayden.

Shortly after he was released on bail, Alan told Extra the incident was a 'misunderstanding' and that 'nothing actually happened.'

Hayden added at the time:  'It was blown way out of proportion by a sheriff who wanted his 15 minutes of fame.'

A judge also  issued a protective order requiring Alan not to 'harass, strike or threaten' Lesley. 

In April 2016, Hayden's parents went on to resolve an almost eight-year divorce battle.

The settlement left her father with quite a bill as he was ordered to pay back spousal support to his wife and debts amounting over $100,000 to his daughter.

According to TMZ, Alan had to pay Lesley $5,000 a month in spousal support for the following five years, or until she remarries. 

In addition, he has agreed to take on the debt that the two had acquired from daughter Hayden during their divorce. 

'It wasn't my decision': The star has claimed she wasn't given any choice about signing over full custody of her daughter to ex Wladimir Klitschlo amid her battle with alcoholism

Hayden signed over custody of her daughter to her ex, Wladimir Klitschko, in 2018 - but she has since said that she was forced into the arrangement (pictured in 2015)

Hayden admitted she had been hoped Kaya would go back to splitting her time between both of her parents now she is sober, but 'that didn't happen' (Kaya pictured in 2020) 

When Hayden and Wladimir Klitschko ended their nine-year relationship in 2018, the star found herself signing over custody of their daughter to the boxer.

During an interview on Jada Pinkett Smith's Red Table Talk in September 2022, the actress revealed that she hadn't been given any real choice about sending her then four-year-old child to live in Ukraine with her father.

'I thought she was going over to visit him like she always did - she went back and forth between me in Nashville and Ukraine - but once she was over there, [he] was immediately [like], "I want full custody of her," which was a shock for me,' she explained.

'It wasn't my decision. In fact, I didn't even know it was happening until she was already over there. In a country that's very male-dominated, there wasn't a heck of a lot that I could do.

'It wasn't a discussion. If [Klitschko] had come to me and said, "I think because of where you're at right now and your struggles that you're having it would be good for her to be over here with me for a while..."

'If I had probably had enough of a conversation I would've said, "OK, that makes sense, I get it, I'll come there to visit," stuff like that.

'It was the worst signing those papers, the most heartbreaking thing I've ever, ever had to do in my life. Because of the way that it was done, it was very upsetting.'

Hayden insisted that she 'never endangered' her child or did anything that she feels justified her losing custody.

'I had never endangered her, or done anything that would... in this country, they would never take a child from me, it never would have happened,' she continued.

Hayden insisted that she 'never endangered' her child or did anything that she feels justified her losing custody

'I think that's why she was wanted over there, and once she was there, I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. I just tried to tell myself, "You get yourself better; in time it will change."'

Panettiere explained that as soon as she was 'better,' she was hoping that Kaya would go back to splitting her time between both of her parents, 'But that didn't happen,' she added.

According to the Heroes alum, since Klitschko gained full custody, Kaya has 'never been back to California,' where Panettiere now lives; instead, she has to travel to Europe to see the seven-year-old, but said she 'wishes he would bring her to visit.'

She added that she believes Klitschko 'thinks he's doing the right thing,' but that he 'doesn't grasp that Kaya needs her mom.'

'He thinks he's doing the right thing, he's a fantastic father, he really is,' she told the hosts. 'But I don't think he fully grasps that as she gets older, kids need their moms.

'He wasn't around to see the kind of mom I was, had he been maybe it would have been different.

It appears that Kaya still lives with her father (pictured in March 2022), but it's unclear where the pair are currently residing amid Ukraine's war with Russia

'I really hope one day it does change, it's the most heartbreaking thing I ever experienced.

'I haven't gotten any hints that it will [change]. I've been told that I can go over and see her any time.

'I just keep the hope that one day when she's old enough for her opinion to be respected a little more and her wants heard that there will be more proactivity on that side.'

The 33-year-old wanted people to know that she never chose to 'throw out' or 'give away' her daughter, when the hosts asked her what the most 'misunderstood' thing was about her.

'The comments people made or the things they assumed about my situation with my daughter we just so off and heartbreaking,' she continued.

'There was a cover of a magazine... and it said something like, "Why Hayden chose to give up her daughter." I was just like, this is so misrepresented.

'People were like, "How dare you?" and, "You're a horrible mother," and, "I could never do that to my child."

'It was tough and it took me a long time to be able to talk about it. It's scary, you don't want to piss anyone off - especially the person who has control of your child.'

While Kaya still lives somewhere in Europe with her dad, Hayden said she has left Ukraine amid the country's war with Russia - but didn't specify where exactly she is residing now.

'None of it is OK': The actress speaks out about abusive relationship with Brian Hickerson amid substance abuse struggles  

Hayden Panettiere was in an abusive four-year relationship with Brian Hickerson

They former couple started dating in 2018 amid her substance abuse issues, and he was arrested numerous times in connection with domestic violence charges

Hayden has since explained that 'none of it is OK,' but claims that since Brian sought treatment, she is 'trying to live in a place of forgiveness'

Hayden and Brian Hickerson were first linked shortly after the actress with her then-fiancé, the former two-time heavyweight boxer champion Vladimir Klitschko.

Following a series of troubling outings by the pair, Brian was arrested on domestic violence charges in May 2019 after he and Hayden allegedly got into a physical altercation at their home following a night of drinking, and was later ordered to stay 100 yards away from her.

However, the case against him was dismissed when the district attorney's office couldn't 'secure a material witness' and the couple were seen together again in November.

Brian pleaded not guilty to all charges.

He was then arrested on Valentine's Day 2020 in Wyoming and was charged with domestic battery after he allegedly punch the actress 'with a closed fist on the right side of her face.' 

He was arrested on multiple felony charges, including corporal injury on a spouse/cohabitant, two charges of assault with a deadly weapon, and one for intimidating Panettiere. He also faced a misdemeanor charge for battery on a spouse/cohabitant. Most of his charges were dropped. 

Brian is on probation until 2025 in connection with domestic violence incidents involving the actress

Hickerson was sentenced to 45 days in jail and four years probation in 2021. He also had to attend 52 domestic violence classes, pay $500 in restitution, and was issued five-year protective order. 

Hayden made a statement after the incident, which read: 'I am coming forward with the truth about what happened to me with the hope that my story will empower others in abusive relationships to get the help they need and deserve. I am prepared to do my part to make sure this man never hurts anyone again.

'I'm grateful for my support system, which helped me find the courage to regain my voice and my life. For anyone else affected by abuse and needing support, please know that you can call 1-800-799-7233. If you're unable to speak safely, you can log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474. You are not alone.'

However, the pair sent shockwaves in November 2022 when they were pictured together at LAX, sparking reconciliation rumors.

Brian had previously stated in July that year that the pair were no longer together but had been working to build back their friendship. 

'He was her best friend': The actress has been left 'inconsolable' after the unexpected death of her only sibling

Jansen (seen with his sister left in 2008 and right in 2013) passed away in New York according to a family source who spoke with TMZ on Monday

Jansen, who was five years younger that his sister, followed Hayden's footsteps into acting. The duo also worked together on Tiger Cruise in 2004, and Racing Stripes in 2005 (Pictured 2010)

Jansen was the Nashville star's only sibling. Hayden, 33, has not yet publicly addressed her brother's unexpected passing over the weekend.

Law enforcement sources were called to a residence Sunday night around 5:30PM according to TMZ. 

An insider noted to DailyMail.com that Jansen, an actor and graffiti artist, had been 'having a rough time lately with his career' and felt as though he was 'being dragged in so many directions'.

'He had been having a rough time lately with his career and he was dragged in so many directions,' the source shared.

'Hayden is just inconsolable. He was her best friend and her only brother. He was such a nice guy but he lived on the edge.'

The siblings were last seen together less than one month before his death. The Walking Dead actor shared a picture of Hayden cutting his hair on January 24.

'Not the first haircut she's tried to give me,' he joked in the caption.

Over the years: His other work includes roles in The Walking Dead, Major Crimes, Even Stevens, Blue's Clues, Ice Age: The Meltdown, and Robots; Pictured 2019

He also posted a throwback of the duo from a rafting trip on November 4, 2022.

He shared his last post over the weekend, featuring a new snap of his graffiti artwork. 

Jansen, who was five years younger that his sister, followed Hayden's footsteps into acting. His IMDb lists the 2022 comedy Love and Love Not as his last role. 

His other work includes roles in The Walking Dead, Major Crimes, Shia LaBeouf's TV show Even Stevens, Blue's Clues, Ice Age: The Meltdown, and Robots.

He also had a recurring role as Truman X in The X's on Nickelodeon.

The duo also worked together on Tiger Cruise in 2004, and Racing Stripes in 2005.

Jansen received a nomination for a Young Artist Award in 2008 for his work on The Last Day of Summer.

At the time of his death he was attached to five different projects.

Jansen also had a website for his graffiti art, with his bio reading, 'I AM a good person. I don’t do anything illegal illegal or at least I don’t do illegal things that hurt people in front of me, if that makes sense.'

'I've done drugs but I don’t steal. Not to say that anyone that’s ever stolen something is a bad person and far from it. Meaning I have my moments like everyone else.'

'I was frustrated with the whole acting thing so I would take it out on weird things things like clothes.'

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