Hayden Panettiere might star in NBC's "Heroes" as the popular high school cheerleader that saved the world – but in reality, the actress suffered through school years where she says she was "tortured" by her classmates.
The actress revealed her rough past during her time in middle school to the August issue of Details.
"I was tortured, emotionally tortured by these girls," Hayden told the mag. "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."
Hayden said she started to feel different than the rest of her classmates as early as elementary school.
"I remember hearing in first grade, 'Oh, why does she get to skip school?'" she said. "It wasn't like I suddenly started feeling different. I always knew that I was. I never felt I missed out—in fact, it was like, 'Oh, thank God I'm not that.'"
Though Hayden says she's now single, she was previously linked to her "Heroes" co-star Milo Ventimiglia – and the actress told the mag that having their relationship ups and downs play out in the press wasn't easy, either.
"When it comes to relationships, it's nice to have something that is your own and not everyone else's," she said. "That's not part of my job. I never stood up on a podium and said, 'Vote for me – I'm perfect. I'll be this for you and never do anything wrong.'"
Hayden's family was also thrust into the spotlight in August 2008, when her dad, Alan Panettiere, was arrested on suspicion of hitting the actresses' mom. He was later charged with misdemeanor spousal battery and received two years of informal probation after pleading no contest.
"It's turned my life upside down and shaken it," the actress said of the events. "It 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—I lose my… I learned the game. The more I react, the angrier I get, the more satisfaction they get. That's exactly what they want."
Hayden will return to "Heroes" in the fall and she's also starring in "I Love You, Beth Cooper" which debuts in theaters on July 10.
Related Content from AccessHollywood.com:
PLAY IT NOW: Access Extended: Hayden Panettiere Talks 'I Love You, Beth Cooper'
PLAY IT NOW: Access Archives: Hayden Panettiere & Lesley Panettiere (2007)