Hayden Panettiere on the phone call that led to Scream VI return: ‘I willed her back into existence’

Hayden Panettiere has opened up about the phone call she made to the Scream VI directors to pitch her character’s return to the iconic slasher franchise.

Scream VI picks up from where the 2022 reboot left off as the Carpenter siblings (Jenna Ortega and Melissa Barrera) leave Woodsboro to start a new life in New York alongside twins Chad and Mindy Meeks (Mason Gooding and Jasmin Savoy Brown). The past soon returns to haunt them as Ghostface re-emerges to stalk the survivors, leaving the usual carnage in his wake.

Joining them is Hayden Panettiere as fan favourite Kirby Reed, a character who did not appear in 2022’s fifth instalment of the franchise, Scream.

Appearing on Good Morning America, Panetierre revealed that her Kirby nearly didn’t return – but directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett were persuaded by a phone call (not from Ghostface, though).

“When [Scream] popped up and came back around, I was like, ‘I want to be a part of that again,’ because I hoped that Kirby was still alive,” the actress said, referring to the 2022 film.

“I willed her back into existence and I called them.”

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‘Them’ refers to Bettinelli-Oplin and Gillet; the franchise’s directors since its reboot.

Hayden Panettiere as Kirby Reed in Scream (2022) (Paramount Pictures)

Hayden Panettiere went on to explain that the call took place while they were filming Jenna Ortega‘s debut outing in the horror franchise.

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“I actually called them when they were doing ‘Scream 5’ and I was like, “Without me?! Wait. Hold on. I might still be alive, and I could come in handy,'” she said.

That’s not the only phone call that took place to secure Kirby’s return, however.

Scream creator and original writer Kevin Williamson told PEOPLE at the Scream VI premiere that he made the first phone call to Panettiere.

“No one knew where she was, because she had just sort of moved out of LA,” Williamson said, referencing the actress’s break from work.

“I had done a show called Tell Me a Story in Nashville, and everyone I worked with was from Nashville the TV show. So I called up my friends at Nashville and said, ‘Do you guys know where Hayden Panettiere is, by chance?’ “

“They said, ‘Give me five minutes,’ and in five minutes I was talking to her by phone,” he concluded.

Williamson then told the actress the story of the film, after which he suggested she spoke to directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett. According to Williamson, “she said, ‘Absolutely, have them call me right away,’ ” he says. “And that’s how it happened.”

Panettiere, who is a native New Yorker, also expressed her joy at Scream VI‘s shift in location to the Big Apple.

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“I’m a New Yorker, so I love that it came here,” she explained.

“When they tell you the rules of, like, staying safe, basically the number one rule is put yourself in a crowd. Make sure that you’re surrounded by people so that if somebody hurts you, somebody’s there to help.”

“Well, apparently that is not the case. That can become just as dangerous, if not more dangerous, and it really could be anybody for any reason.”

Initial reviews for Scream VI have been incredibly positive; the film scored a ‘nine’ in IGN‘s review, and debuted at 82% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Scream VI is in UK cinemas now

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