Panettiere was born in and partly raised in Palisades, New York. Vogel, a former soap opera actress, and Alan Lee "Skip" Panettiere, a fire captain.She has Italian, and some English and German ancestry.In April 2011, Panettiere appeared in the Scream sequel, Scream 4, playing Kirby Reed, a role for which she received acclaim and was considered to be a highlight of the film, which received mixed reviews. In 2012, The Forger, in which she played the role of Amber, was released direct to DVD (both this and Hoodwinked Too! Panettiere voiced Kairi in Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II.The same year she replaced Anne Hathaway as the voice of Red for the animated sequel Hoodwinked Too! While she was replaced by Alyson Stoner in Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, she reprised her role in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep and also voiced Xion in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance.In early 2007, Panettiere appeared on the MTV show, Punk'd.
She began her acting career by playing Sarah Roberts on One Life to Live (1994–97), and Lizzie Spaulding on Guiding Light (1996–2000), before starring at age 10 as Sheryl Yoast in the Disney feature film Remember the Titans.
Other notable roles include her portrayal of the title character in the true crime drama Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy and Kirby Reed in the slasher film Scream 4.
She received two nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film, for her work on Nashville in 20.
ABC canceled the series in May 2016 but it was later picked up by CMT and Hulu for a fifth season.
Panettiere made her feature film debut with 1998's A Bug's Life, but her first film to actually be released was the same year's The Object of My Affection, in which she appears briefly as a mermaid in the school play in the opening scene.