The two were spotted in New York City where they were seen walking arm-in-arm through SoHo on September 4. Disregarding photographers, the pair "continued holding hands, laughing and smiling." Hayden and Brian first started dating last year after she split from her ex-fiancée, former boxer Wladimir Klitschko.
"They looked very comfortable. Like a real couple," a source said. "They looked playful, happy and also very close and affectionate."
The budding relationship comes on the heels of a tough time for the actress. Four months ago, Brian was arrested for domestic violence for allegedly getting into a violent confrontation with Hayden. The fight resulted in a judge ordering Brian to stay at least 100 feet away from Hayden and prohibiting him from owning firearms.
Hayden Panettiere was recently spotted holding hands with her ex's brother. https://t.co/7sBiKWdvnW— Entertainment Tonight (@etnow) September 12, 2019
He has also been banned from contacting Hayden via telephone calls or email. After the ruling, the actress distanced herself from her boyfriend. The Los Angeles District Attorney's Office has since confirmed that Brian has been charged with one felony count of domestic violence. If convicted, he faces up to four years in prison.
A source told E! News that Hayden "has been leaning on Zach with the hopes of getting over Brian," adding that her closest friends aren't happy with her decision. The actress, who moved to New York to get away from her ex, has created a rift within her inner circle, who feel slighted by the fact that they supported her through her break-up only to watch her get together with her ex-boyfriend’s brother.
"A month ago everyone was feeling very optimistic about her situation, but the consensus now is that Hayden simply doesn't want to get her life back on track," the source said.
Despite the speculation as to the nature of their relationship, In Touch Weekly has reported that there is nothing "romantic" between Hayden and Zach. A friend of the Hickerson family told the publication, "Hayden and Zach are just friends. They have been friends for as long as she's been dating Brian."
In June, a source told E! News that Hayden was "focused on herself" and appeared to be in better spirits. She was reportedly advised by her family to take time for herself in order to get her priorities straight. "Hayden knows she needs to focus on herself and had to split with Brian for now in order to make huge positive strides in her life. She is taking it day by day trying to heal. Hayden is trying to stay low-key and process what's next for her," the source said.
Hayden has a daughter, Kaya, 4, who lives in Ukraine with her father, Hayden's ex-fiancé Wladimir Klitschko. The former couple is reportedly on 'good terms' for the sake of their child. Hayden's show Nashville was canceled last year after six seasons. Meanwhile, Wladimir retired from boxing in 2017 after 69 fights.