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While attending the South by Southwest Festival, I was lucky enough to meet up with Danielle Panabaker and her ‘Girls Against Boys’ co-star Michael Stahl-David. We chatted for about 20 minutes at the Driskill Hotel in Downtown Austin on March 10, 2012.
Danielle talked about why she wanted to be in the film, her character, onset/offset experiences, problems with budget and favorite scenes. She also talked about other recent projects, including ‘Piranha 3DD’, “Franklin & Bash”, “Grimm”, “Intercept” and her experience with genre films in general. It was a fun interview!
Unfortunately I was not prepared to interview Michael, but he was really nice and made some funny comments throughout the interview. Danielle was, of course, such a sweetheart. I hope you enjoy the interview!
DPS: I have to begin by saying that I loved the film. I thought you guys did an amazing job, and the movie was everything I expected and more. It’s truly wonderful.
Danielle: Thank you so much!
Michael: Thank you!
DPS: So, how was the casting process?
Danielle: I was on location shooting Piranha 3DD, and they sent me the script; I originally had some concerns because it was another genre piece and I’ve been trying to stay away from those, but talking to Austin really changed that for me, you know, first obviously reading the script, it’s not over the top at all in terms of violence and gore, particularly as compared to other films I did before. think the first thing I focused on was the relationship between the two girls, and how that affects Shae’s relationship with men as the film progresses. So Austin and I had a Skype session while I was in North Carolina, but once I got back to LA we sat and had coffee for about three hours (laughs) and then I haven’t stop harassing him since.
DPS: What was the main reason you wanted to be in the film? Was it the script?
Danielle: It was an opportunity for me to do something that I felt was more character-driven than stuff that I’ve been working on more recently, so that was really exciting. And again, to collaborate with Austin, it really felt like a good match.
DPS: What can you tell us about your character, Shae?
Danielle: Shae is a young woman who’s going to school in New York, and living in New York, trying to make her way through that city. She works as a bartender and she has a much older boyfriend who breaks her heart. In true fashion, she deals with her pain by hanging out with her girlfriends for a night out, and things get a little out of hand.
DPS: How did you prepare for the role? Did you do any research?
Danielle: Yeah, I have my own way that I like to prepare for any role. I think every actor’s process is different; it comes from cast experience, and what works for you, among other things. So, I did my own work, but I also did some research to try and understand what it’s like to be raped, because Shae does get raped, and I wanted to be delicate with that, be respectful and I wanted to do justice to that because it has such a huge impact on Shae. So I read a lot of books, there was one book that was incredibly raw, I still have it on my bookshelf actually, because it was a woman who very specifically and very clearly documented day one, day two, etc. Not that chronological, but she just talks about how hard it was for her to get up and get moving, it’s fascinating.
The book Danielle refers to is called After Silence: Rape & My Journey Back, by Nancy Venable Raine.
DPS: You’ve mostly worked on supporting roles lately, but this was a completely different one. You are the lead of the film, how was that transition?
Danielle: It was great! I was so passionate about the film and so excited to work every day. I think that really helped because it was a grueling shoot; we were shooting six-day weeks, sometimes seven days a week. You know, if we weren’t shooting on our seventh day we were rehearsing with actors that were coming in and out of town, so I don’t recall sleeping a lot during that period. But it was great, I love making movies, I love the process, I love being on set so it was a great experience.
DPS: What was your favorite scene to shoot?
Danielle: Favorite scene to shoot… hmmm
Michael: Did you have fun dancing? (Laughs)
Danielle: Oh my Gosh! I’m the worst dancer so I was probably… I was super self-conscious. Especially because they kept playing such terrible music, I wanted them to play like cheesy hip-hop music or something that people could laugh and feel silly about, but they kept playing this strange mix that no one had ever heard of. [I was like] stop it! Let’s just put my workout mix-up!
Michael: It looked good though. And it was in slow motion too, you looked amazing.
Danielle: I was going to say, filming that stuff is very difficult! Austin laughs at me because there was one moment in one of the last two days of shooting, we were trying to do something slowmo and I guess I said under my breath “I’m so over the slowmo stuff” and I didn’t know Austin was listening to my mic, but it was true. I think you heard me say in the Q&A last night, that bathtub scene, it was awesome, and it was really hard! Hum… I’m trying to remember what my favorite scene to shoot was!
DPS: Maybe using a gun?
Danielle: My character doesn’t really use the gun a lot.
Michael: Did you like riding on the scooter?
Danielle: The scooter was fun. Any time you see the scooter from the back, it’s Austin… it’s not Liam because he had already left to go to another movie. So like, under the bridge and stuff, where you see Liam’s face it’s Liam. That was cool. The Coney Island stuff was also fun because I had never been to Coney Island before, it was my first time. We were very lucky, our cast was great, and…
Michael: And Bella [Danielle's dog] and I had our own trailer.
DPS: Oh, the dog had her own trailer?
Danielle: No, the dog just stole food from everyone. That’s all she did.
DPS: What about budget? Did it represent any challenges while filming?
Danielle: Yes, oh yes, certainly. There were a lot of challenges because we made this movie for less than a million dollars so…
Michael: [continues] In New York City, so it meant a lot of just going out with the camera and filming without necessarily…
Danielle: [continues] having a plan and just, you know, trying to make it work. We made neighbors angry… we did it all. It definitely represented some challenges but I think at the end of the day you adapt.
DPS: Moving on to other projects. What’s your favorite one, so far?
Danielle: I mean there are so many, I could start working backwards. This was an amazing experience, to be in New York and be so creatively fulfilled; it was the first time in a long time that I had that experience. Being back in Austin is really fun, because shooting ‘Friday the 13th’ was another amazing experience; we lived at the Four Seasons for three months and just tore it apart. I did ‘Sky High’, I was 16 when we shot that and Nick Braun and Michael Angarano are still very dear friends of mine who I adore. The producer, Andrew Gunn, he’s like my family in LA, I adore his children, I pick them up and babysit them. I love them! ‘Empire Falls’ was a great experience to work with those actors, and I don’t think I fully appreciated it then because I was 15 and wasn’t allowed to watch movies, but to look back at how supported I was, that was amazing. Different jobs presented an opportunity and different experiences, I’ve been very lucky.
DPS: So you say you loved working on ‘Friday the 13th’. Do you enjoy being in genre films in general?
Danielle: ‘Friday the 13th’ was really fun I think more for the offset experience [Laughs]. The onset experience was really fun too. It was funny, that was a disaster on set, it was all men on the set, and they used to have push-up competitions. And our set was so female-dominated, I mean our production designer, our costume designer, hair and makeup… it was a lot of women.
Michael: They had push-up competitions also.
DPS: Oh, really?
Danielle: No [Laughs]. Sarcasm… Hmm do I like being in genre films… I like working, I love being on set and people go see genre movies and it’s great. You know, I’m scared of genre movies, I’ve never seen the final version of ‘The Crazies’ because I’m too scared to see it. I’ve only seen ‘The Ward’ once. I am such a chicken, even though I know what’s coming, I still get scared. That’s the great thing about a film; you can get really wrapped up in the music and the atmosphere.
DPS: Yeah, and your death is so… [Gruesome]
Danielle: Which one?
DPS: In ‘The Ward’. Oh! Actually your three deaths are awesome!
Danielle: I was going to say [Laughs]. Yeah, that was brutal because by the end of that sequence I’m covered in blood everywhere, you know, it’s dripping down my back. And they decided they didn’t have enough, so they had to clean me back up so in the middle of the day in August, I’m in my trailer trying to use baby wipes to get fake blood off of me and start from scratch.
Michael: So sticky!
Danielle: Fake blood is the worst.
DPS: Have you seen the trailer for ‘Piranha 3DD’?
Danielle: I did see the trailer.
DPS: It’s crazy [Laughs].
Danielle: I was like “I look super tan”!
DPS: Yeah, you do!
Danielle: Yeah, it’s all fake. I hope it’s really funny. David Hasselhoff was actually, from the bit I saw, hilarious. I was not expecting that, so I hope it’s as funny as I want it to be.
DPS: Well, I’m really excited about it.
Danielle: Thank you!
DPS: What about “Franklin and Bash”?
Danielle: Oh, “Franklin & Bash”! That series airs in the summer, and I think it’s the seventh episode, so that’ll air during the summer.
DPS: And “Grimm”. Your episode aired last night, I didn’t get to see it because I was in the line for ‘Girls Against Boys’, but what can you tell us about that project?
Danielle: Last night, yeah. I haven’t seen it either. I play a fire dancer/dragon, very saucy! It was cool, it was in Portland so it was brutally cold. I had a dragon tattoo. I didn’t do [the fire dance] with fire, I did it with lights. Yeah, I don’t think I can be trusted with fire.
DPS: What about “Intercept”, is it over for sure?
Danielle: No one will ever see it. We did the pilot and ABC Family chose not to pick it up, which happens a lot with pilots. I haven’t seen it, but it was fun, I really adore Austin Butler, he’s a really good kid, so sweet; it would have been a pleasure to work with him and Kevin Hooks, the director. All good people, great experience.
DPS: Alright, I think that’s it. Thank you so much for your time!
Danielle: You’re welcome. Enjoy the rest of the festival!
DPS: Thank you!
This entry was posted on Saturday, March 17th, 2012 at 5:26 pmand is filed under Franklin & Bash, Girls Against Boys, Grimm, Intercept, Piranha 3DD. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.