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The Shunning – Interview
By Fredy on April 5, 2011 | Filed in: The Shunning | With No Comments »

Here’s a very nice interview with Danielle Panabaker, coming from Premier Guide Media:

“I really related to the journey of this young woman sort of struggling to find herself and find her own voice,” Danielle says, during an afternoon’s interview.  “I think that’s something that a lot of young women — young people — can relate to, you know, being in your late teens or early twenties and trying to figure out who you want to be in this world.  When I read the script I was drawn into it immediately.”

Danielle went on to get in touch with “The Shunning” director Michael Landon, Jr., “and obviously had a lot to share, a lot to discuss.”  She laughs.  “I think I overwhelmed him a little bit on our first phone conversation.”

“I had the script maybe a couple of weeks, a month before we started shooting.  One of the bigger challenges for me was the dialect,” she admits.  “Pretty much as soon as I had a conversation with Michael about it, he got me in touch with Paul — Paul Meier, who is a fantastic dialect coach.

“It was the first time I really attempted to do a dialect that heavy.  I started working with Paul and we would Skype for hours, and he would record the Skype sessions so that I would continue practicing on my own time.  That’s also what I used to get myself through shooting,” adds Danielle.  “I constantly had headphones and was listening on my iPad for the tracks over and over again, trying to stay on top of it.”

Beyond the dialect were other hurdles. “Playing the guitar and singing the song was a big challenge for me because I don’t have a particularly strong singing voice and it was really approaching one of my bigger fears head-on to do that on camera,” notes Danielle, referring to a sequence in which Katie defies Amish strictures against singing non-church music.

“On top of that, it was really an emotional performance.  I really wanted to make sure we hit all the moments this young woman was struggling with, as authentically and honestly as possible.  And it was certainly difficult on such a limited time budget.  We shot the whole thing in, like, three weeks, which is pretty incredible.”

“Academics have always been really important to my parents.  So in spite of the fact we were working  starting around the age of 14 or 16, it was really important to them that we get our education.  We were able to balance it and, make the compromises necessary for me to be able to get my degree, which I’m still proud of,” she says.

Today, Danielle finds that her background as an English major comes into play in her professional life.  “The fact that ‘The Shunning’ is based on a book is something I love.  I read the book within a week of reading the script because I wanted to understand more about Katie and the world she was in.”

“Well, you know I’m not from L.A. originally,” she observes.  “I’ve been very fortunate to make my way and find a career here, but I used to live in a small town not too far from Katie’s world in Lancaster, Pennsylvania…The sort of smaller town mentality is something I relate to.  Being in a big city, particularly one so consumed with celebrity, is an adjustment for me.”

As for how she shields herself from the glare of the celebrity spotlight, “I have a really wonderful group of friends out here and its wonderful having my sister out here.  We’re incredibly close.  It’s really just surrounding myself with great people” – and focusing on the work she loves.

Read the whole interview here. Beverly Lewis’ The Shunning premieres Saturday, April 16 (9 p.m. ET/PT, 8C). More information on the movie and Danielle’s role, Katie Lapp, can be found here.

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