Danielle Panabaker ('Friday the 13th')
Beautiful young actress Danielle Panabaker got her initial break in the Fred Schepisi-directed Empire Falls, as daughter of Ed Harris and granddaughter of Paul Newman. She further cemented her career in the two-season "Shark", as James Woodsí independent daughter.
Now, the 21-year old is part of the new reworking of 'Friday the 13th,' which is already garnering positive word-of-mouth. Here she stars as Jenna whose idyllic trip to a holiday house near the infamous Crystal Lake has some chilling consequences.
Chatting one-on-one with us late last year, we first wondered: What do you do when you go for auditions for something like this? What are producers looking for, and how do you convince them that youíre right for a part like this? "Well, I had actually met Brad and Andrew prior to Friday the 13th, on a movie of theirs called The Unborn. I think itís the same as any other process. Just showing to them my skills Ė I sound arrogant, but to show your skills as an actor, because I think thatís whatís actually ultimately most important in a movie like this. Is that, you have to believe the characters. If you donít believe that the characters are scared, then the audience is never going to be scared. So, you know, I approached this movie just like I would any other. Just trying to demonstrate my talent to them."
Are you a fan of the genre? Is this a genre that you would normally be drawn to, as an audience member? "Itís funny, Iím a big sissy. Bambi gave me nightmares as a child, so I was never huge into horror movie, but after being a part of this, and working with Brad and Andrew and Marcus, Iíve really come to appreciate the art and skill of it. And I now am. You know, I went back and watched all the original Friday the 13ths. Iím really excited for them to do Nightmare on Elm Street. I know itís going to be terrifying. But I think theyíre so good at what they do."
Where thereís so much technical stuff involved in filmmaking, what are the challenges for you as an actress to elicit fear, when thereís nothing to be genuinely afraid of? I mean, what do you draw on? "For me Ė I mean, thatís part of my process as an actor, is really creating a world for myself, in which the fear is genuine. Because, you know, as people, our bodies change. Our pupils dilate. Our heart races. And so for me, itís about getting in my head and creating a situation that is that terrifying, and applying it to the circumstances that Iím in. And the other great thing about this movie Ė I mean, we say ďgreatĒ now, but itís tough then Ė is that we were shooting in the woods, in the middle of nowhere Texas."
"Like, if you screamed Ė you know, youíd hope someone heard you. The house Ė I mean, thatís a house we were at, and thereís no one around, and itís gorgeous. But itís also scary. So, you know, we did a lot of night shoots on the movie. And, you know, you donít necessarily know what youíre stepping on, or where youíre headed. But we always had someone around us with flashlights and stuff, just to make sure nothing ever happened, because it is a legitimately scary experience to shoot in the woods, in the middle of the night. So part of it is creating it for myself. But also, part of it is going with what the atmosphere provides you."
This is not a movie that is a character study, but you do need to create a character in order for the audience to empathize. How tricky is that? "I mean, itís my job as an actor, Despite the fact that it would be easy for someone just to brush off the character as just another hot actress Ė just another hot body in this movie, I think it was really important for Brad and Andrew to find characters that the audience could empathize with, and find actors who could do that. So I think it was important Ė for me, itís part of my process as an actor."
Was it important to go back and watch the original series of films? "I donít think it was important to tell the story, but it was important to me, to understand the legacy, and to understand sort of the history that Iím a part of. I wanted to know."
Did you and Derek Mears intentionally sort of not try to socialize too much, because of the difficulty, because of the role he was playing? Or was there a lot of socializing on this set? "When we got to Austin, I feel like the whole cast really bonded and got together. And the funny thing is, Derek looks like such an intimidating and scary guy. But heís actually one of the nicest men Iíve ever met. Heís a sweet and kind and really funny Ė he actually comes from a comedy background."
"So, you know, weíre going out to dinner, and I wanted to sit next to Derek, because I just adored him so much, and wanted to hang out with him. So on that note, I donít think we made a conscious effort to, because I really love him. But when we were shooting, and when heís in the full garb, and Ė you know, all the prosthetics and everything, he is quite scary. His mobility is limited as it is, so I think that takes him to another place. And so when he puts the mask on, heís scary. Like, heís a big, scary guy."
Whoís scarier, Derek Mears or Jimmy Woods? "Jason Voorhees, absolutely," she laughs. "If you were in conversation, though, definitely Jimmy Woods. Heís tough to keep up with."
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