Silk floral top ($488) and skirt ($775), Etro. The Forum Shops at Caesars; etro.com. Onyx pendant necklace, Ippolita ($895). Neiman Marcus, Fashion Show; neimanmarcus.com. Special-edition gold and malachite necklace, Van Cleef & Arpels (price on request). Crystals, CityCenter; vancleef-arpels.com. Onyx, agate and coral necklace, David Yurman (price on request). The Forum Shops at Caesars; davidyurman.com. Earrings ($8,100) and ring ($6,600), Vhernier. vhernier.com  

Beyond her turn in Scream 4, she took on the real-life story of Amanda Knox, an American who was found guilty of the murder of British student Meredith Kercher while both were studying abroad in Perugia, Italy. Panettiere says that her experience on that film was the first time she realized she was maturing as a performer. “Heroes was such a specific thing,” she says. “It wasn’t always about the acting—there were many other aspects, the visual aspects, the crazy story aspects of it. But with Amanda Knox, I went in and I was nervous, because I knew this was my time to really spread my wings and prove to myself that I could do such an intense piece.”

“I always fear that the better I think I did, the more disappointed I’ll end up being if it’s not exactly the way I imagined it to be,” Panettiere says. “But when I saw it, I was really, really happy with it. I feel like I didn’t let myself down.”

What Happens In Vegas...
Another milestone she’s looking forward to is making her first trip to Vegas since she turned 21 in August. “My friends are definitely stoked to exercise my rights in Vegas,” she says with a laugh. “I love the feeling of Vegas, like you just walk into a wall of fun.” Although she insists she never snuck into any of Vegas’ many adult nightspots, she’s already a seasoned visitor, having seen a number of the Strip’s biggest shows. “I’ve seen O,” she says. “I’ve seen the The Beatles: Love. I’m such a big fan of the Beatles’ music, so to see that incorporated in a show was incredible. And I loved Le Rêve. The way the stages come up in the water, it’s just the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen.”

Suffice it to say there’s a certain youthful exuberance that balances Panettiere’s preternatural experience and poise. In fact, it’s precisely that unfettered enthusiasm that should allow her career to survive well into adulthood—even if her Scream 4 character doesn’t. “I was always a rebel,” she says. “Everything I wasn’t supposed to do I wanted to do, so the darker for me, the better. There are no boundaries. I like to step in the places that are a little bit more dangerous.”

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