Hayden Panettiere tells ‘Red Table Talk’ that custody ‘wasn’t a discussion’

A woman with blond hair pulled back into a bun posing in a red suit and red lipstick
Hayden Panettiere attends the 2022 premiere of “Blonde” in Los Angeles.
(Jordan Strauss / Invision / AP)

Hayden Panettiere rejects the assumption that she would “easily throw out” her child. In truth, she said, giving up custody of her daughter in 2018 was “the most heartbreaking thing” she’s ever done.

In preview clips for Wednesday’s episode of “Red Table Talk,” the “Nashville” actor opened up about the traumatic experience of being served custody papers by her ex-fiance, Wladimir Klitschko, while she was struggling with addiction to alcohol and opioids.

“It wasn’t a discussion,” she told “Red Table Talk” co-hosts Jada Pinkett Smith, Adrienne “Gammy” Banfield-Norris and Kelly Osbourne, who was filling in for Willow Smith.

“If he had come to me and said, ‘I think because of where you’re at right now and the struggles that you’re having, it would be good for her to be over here with me for a while’ ... I probably ... would have said, ‘OK, that makes sense. I get it. I’ll come there to visit.’”

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The way the situation unfolded was “very upsetting” to Panettiere, who was in an on-and-off relationship with boxing champ Klitschko from 2009 to 2018, according to People magazine. Klitschko, who was living in Ukraine at the time, had requested full custody of their daughter, Kaya, who was born in 2014.

“It was the worst,” Panettiere said on “Red Table Talk.” “Signing those papers was the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever, ever had to do in my life.”

Panettiere also reflected on the dehumanizing media coverage that followed, as well as the disparaging “comments that people made” and the “things that they assumed” about her as a parent.

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“There was a cover of a magazine ... and it said something like, ‘Why Hayden chose to give up her daughter,’” she recalled.

“I was like, ‘This is so misrepresented.’ And people are like, ‘How dare you? You’re a horrible mother. I could never do that to my child.’ So it was tough, and it took me a long time to be able to talk about it. ... This is the first time that I’ve delved into that specific topic because it’s scary. You don’t want to piss anyone off — especially the person who has control of your child.”

In a July interview with People, the “Heroes” alum detailed her harrowing journey with addiction and postpartum depression. She said she ultimately decided to let Kaya go because she “wanted to be a good mom to her.” Panettiere has since been to rehab and entered a period of sobriety.


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“This hasn’t been easy and there were a lot of ups and downs,” Panettiere told People. “But I don’t regret even the ugliest things that have happened to me. I feel incredibly accomplished. And I feel like I have a second chance.”

After Russia began invading Ukraine in February, Panettiere confirmed via Instagram that Kaya — whose uncle is the mayor of Kyiv — is safe and not currently in the country. In March, Panettiere founded a charity to support the war effort in Ukraine.

“What she’s dealing with and what we’re all going through right now in regards to Ukraine is really really hard,” Panettiere told People.

“I had a conversation with [Kaya] and the only question she had was, ‘Why is [Russian President] Putin doing this?’ It’s so heartbreaking.”

Panettiere’s full conversation with the hosts of “Red Table Talk” premieres Wednesday on Facebook Watch.