Hayden Panettiere has officially returned to the set of Nashville following her rehab stay for postpartum depression.
Panettiere’s co-star Charles Esten took to Instagram on January 26 to give fans a glimpse at Hayden’s return to work, where he shared a sweet photo of himself and Hayden in the wardrobe room and recalled one of the first times he met the actress during his very first audition for the ABC show.
“The first face I saw as I walked out of my first NASHVILLE audition belonged to this beautiful girl. And she was clapping. Still can’t get over that [sic],” Esten wrote alongside the sweet photo, calling Panettiere “such a sweetheart and a friend.”
The actor then confirmed that Hayden Panettiere was back to work, writing alongside the photo, “So great to see her yesterday!” alongside the hashtag “#haydenpanettiere.”
TVLine confirmed earlier this month that Hayden’s return to the Nashville set was imminent and also confirmed that Panettiere would likely be returning to the hit drama as country/pop diva Juliette Barnes in the 14th episode of the current fourth season, which is expected to air sometime in April.
Panettiere originally took a leave of absence from her role on Nashville back in October 2015 in order to receive treatment for postpartum depression following the December 2014 birth of her daughter with fiancée Wladimir Klitschko, Kayla.
At the time, Nashville executive producer and showrunner Dee Johnson confirmed to Deadline that the show’s cast and crew fully expected Hayden to return to the popular music city show once she completed her treatment. Confirming that Panetierre would not be out for “the entire season,” Johnson told the site that Hayden’s absence was in fact “just for now.”
“We’ve had to make adjustments but it’s not uncommon for shows to have to make such accommodations when real life intervenes,” Dee said of Hayden Panetierre’s leave of absence.
Although Hayden Panettiere has flown under the radar since leaving treatment, the actress appears to be in high spirits after making her first big public appearance and returning to social media. Panettiere returned to Twitter on January 28 to post a shot of herself dancing during a photo shoot, which marked her first tweet in more than two weeks.
Hayden’s much-anticipated return to work also comes just days after Panettiere spoke out about the stigma surrounding postpartum depression during her first red carpet appearance since leaving treatment at the 2016 Critics Choice Awards.
“It made my life better. I do feel and hope it’s made other people’s lives better and more of an understanding because postpartum depression was not something that I ever understood,” Hayden told E! News on January 17. “You could never understand it unless you have a personal involvement with it. I didn’t realize how much of a stigma it had about it.”
Hayden Panettiere also revealed in the candid red carpet interview that she’s looking to use her status to set an example for women, particularly her 1-year-old daughter, Kayla.
“I want to put out a good example for my daughter and tell her that she could be anyone she wants to be, she does not have to be afraid that somebody’s not going to like it because no matter what you do, there’s always going to be somebody who doesn’t like it,” Hayden confessed to E! News.
“I was floored by the positive response and really happy I could stand up for the women who are out there suffering from this and let them know it’s okay, they’re not alone,” Panettiere continued. “It doesn’t mean they’re weak. It doesn’t mean they’re a bad mom. It doesn’t mean they’re strange and that they could get help if they need it.”
Nashville is expected to return to ABC on March 16 with Panettiere’s return episode expected to air in April.
Will you be tuning into Nashville to see Hayden Panettiere’s big return as Juliette Barnes?
[Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images]