How Hayden Panettiere Survives the Fame Game

07/10/2009 at 06:30 AM EDT

How Hayden Panettiere Survives the Fame Game
Hayden Panettiere
Matthias Vriens for DETAILS
Just because she's spent her entire life in the spotlight doesn't mean that Hayden Panettiere's life has always been so bright.

"I was tortured, emotionally tortured by these girls," the star of Heroes and I Love You, Beth Cooper, 19, tells Details in its August issue about her contemporaries at school when she would return from professional gigs. "Every time I came back from filming, it would be me trying to find my way back into the clique. And they weren't having it."

Panettiere started her acting career in New York before she was even 1 year old. But with the early success came some amount of torment. When she'd head back to school in New York's Rockland County, classmates often shunned her – and one even hit her, she says.

Still, she says she has no regrets about her atypical youth. "I never felt I missed out – in fact, it was like, 'Oh, thank God I'm not like that.' "

Public Personal Life

These days the star is used to being scrutinized by paparazzi and overzealous fans, whom she says sometimes make it difficult for her to enjoy even a meal outside.

One particularly difficult part of fame has been having her personal life on display. "When it comes to relationships, it's nice to have something that is your own and not everyone else's," says the actress, who was previously linked to her Heroes costar Milo Ventimiglia.

But Panettiere's most trying time followed a domestic violence charge against her father for allegedly hitting her mother. That situation, she says, "was very tough, especially since it's my family. It's one thing if you do it to me. I get frustrated, but I can handle it. But when it involves my family, my friends, forget it." (Panettiere's father eventually pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery.)

Panettiere says her experiences dealing with fame and its downsides have served her well. "The more I react, the angrier I get, the more satisfaction [the detractors] get. That's exactly what they want," she says. "[But] I [have] learned the game."

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