Derek Hough: I Felt “Really Protective” Working With Pregnant Hayden Panettiere on Nashville

Derek Hough and Hayden Panettiere
Derek Hough opened up about working with pregnant Hayden Panettiere during his guest starring stint on Nashville to Us Weekly Valerie Macon/Getty Images; Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

Hough’s got Hayden’s back! Dancing With the Stars pro Derek Hough opened up to Us Weekly last night about working with expectant mom Hayden Panettiere on the ABC drama Nashville.

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“I get really protective over pregnant women! I’m like walking around her with my arms out like, ‘are you okay?!'” he told Us after the live DWTS show on Monday, Sept. 29. “But she’s still working, she’s still rocking it! She looks great. She’s amazing. I love her.”

The Emmy-winning choreographer, 29, announced via Twitter last month that he would be joining ABC’S soapy country music show as Noah West for a multi-episode arc. Deadline described his third season character as “a beguiling and disarming movie star who will cross paths with the players of Nashville’s music realm.

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Indeed, Hough’s character appears to draw a wedge between Hayden and other possible suitors — or at least, that’s what it sounds like. “Let’s just say that there’s some drama there, a triangle of sorts,” he teased to Us. “Hayden might fall into my arms somehow in a dramatic way. Let’s just say ‘she falls into my arms in a dramatic way” and interpret that any way you want!'”

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Derek on Nashville with Hayden
Derek and Hayden Courtesy of ABC/Mark Levine

West may have stepped on people’s shoes, but Hough himself had a wonderful time getting to know the core cast. “Everyone was so kind, so sweet, and Hayden was incredible to work with,” he told Us. “The whole cast and crew were so welcoming, they weren’t like, ‘Who’s this guy?’ They were really awesome.”

Us broke news in May that Panettiere, 25, is expecting her first child with fiance Wladimir Klitschko. It was up in the air whether Nashville would write her real-life pregnancy in as a storyline, but it appears fans finally got their answer after this week’s season premiere.

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Warning: Spoilers ahead!

Turns out, Panettiere’s character, country singer Juliette Barnes, tearfully tells her estranged boyfriend Avery Barkley (Jonathan Jackson) in the upcoming episode that she’s pregnant. The only issue? She cheated on Barkley with slimeball record exec Jeff Fordhan (Oliver Hudson), leaving the paternity of the baby in question.

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