Hayden Panettiere is to play convicted murderer Amanda Knox in a new film.

The 'Heroes' star is due to start shooting the project for US TV channel Lifetime, which plans to air the movie in 2011.

Hayden is believed to have beaten off stiff competition from a host of big name actresses, including Kristen Stewart, Lindsay Lohan and Megan Fox, to land the role of Knox, which received a lot of interest due to the high profile of the case.

Knox was convicted of killing British student Meredith Kercher in 2007 and was jailed in December 2009 for 26 years for murder and sexual violence - her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito was also given a 25-year sentence for the killing which took place in Perugia, Italy.

Little is known about the details of the case, which also saw drug dealer Rudy Guede jailed for 16 years - all three claim they are innocent and have appealed against their convictions.

Judges who convicted Knox, who was 20 at the time of the murder, believed she took part in a sex game with Sollecito and Guede which led to Meredith's throat being cut.