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Hayden Panettiere talks about playing Amanda Knox in the Lifetime TV movie

February 21, 2011 |  1:38 pm

Hayden Did Hayden Panettiere hesitate before taking on the starring role in the TV movie "Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy," which airs tonight on Lifetime? Panettiere tells the Times she literally screamed with joy, thrilled to be offered a part so different from her usual clean-cut roles (such as the cheerleader on "Heroes").

But the controversy swirling around the TV movie has been intense. Knox -- an American college student who was charged in December 2009 with the murder of her roommate while studying abroad in 2007 -- is serving a 26-year sentence in an Italian prison but is appealing her conviction. Knox's family and friends feel the film could prejudice the jury and have been trying to block the movie from airing.

Panettiere said, "I've definitely gotten harsh questions, but then I talk about the fact that the movie is very fact-driven and classy." She also noted, "I wasn't sleeping during production because I was nervous. When you’re playing a person that’s actually alive, you want to portray them well."

Panettiere talks more about playing Amanda Knox in this feature.

 Photo: Hayden Panettiere. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times.