Anchor Bay Films will open Austin Chick’s Girls Against Boys in New York and Los Angeles theaters this Friday, February 1st. The film stars past Danielle Panabaker (Friday the 13th, The Crazies) in a performance that sees her character going from victim to something a little more than empowered over the course of a single weekend. I recently spoke with Panabaker over the phone and we discussed the rigors of the shoot as well as her initial reaction to the intensity of the script. We also briefly touched on an upcoming project, Time Lapse.
In the film, “When Shae (Danielle Panabaker), a naïve college student, is tormented by several men in a matter of days, she reaches her breaking point, and is drawn into coworker Lu’s (Nicole LaLiberte) twisted plan for revenge. Together, the two embark on a gruesome killing spree, terrorizing and brutally murdering not just their attackers, but any man who gets in their way. However, after a wild weekend of retaliation, the friendship between the girls shifts into a dangerous obsession, and their perverse game becomes a desperate struggle for Shae to maintain control against Lu’s deadly and seductive influence.”
It’s an intense film, what were your initial thoughts when you read the script?
I was initially attracted to the film because it was a female role that wasn’t someone’s girlfriend or daughter. It really is Shae’s journey, she experiences a really terrible assault and then starts to cope with it. As an actor that was really attractive, as well as the big twist at the end that left me with a lot of questions. It was just a great script as well, I liked it from the get-go. And then I got a chance to talk to Austin [director Austin Chick] and we hit it off. I’m so glad I got the chance to work with him.
I really wanted the chance to bring Shae to life and to fill her out. We only see her in such a brief window of time, the majority of the film takes place over one weekend. So working with Austin and being delicate and respectful to the experience that Shae had gone through was important. He also sent me some films to watch prior to shooting, just so I could get a better sensibility of what he wanted and that was really helpful as well.
You mention the condensed time period the film takes place in, what’s your trick to navigating Shae’s arc through this? She goes from a victim to victimizer almost, but you still need the audience to be on her side.
Austin and I talked a lot about it from the get-go. Just the arc of the character and the beats we wanted to hit, and I really relied on him to guide me onset to help realize his vision.
How was it working with Nicole [LaLiberte] on the film?
It was great. I think she’s such a great match with me. I find her compelling to watch onscreen. I play my performance in this film a little bit smaller and she’s just so fascinating. You really get the sense that you never know what she’ll be doing next. It was a great balance.
When you initially read the script, were there any moments you thought you just couldn’t do? Places you didn’t want to go?
Absolutely. It’s funny, the things we’re scared of are never the things that end up being a challenge the way we expect them to be. There were some very emotional days. Everything we shot in the hallway was unfortunately shot in one day. So Shea gets dumped a couple of times and because of the way it was scheduled it was the same day my character got raped. So that was very difficult.
What’s coming up next for you?
I’ve returning to do more episodes of “Necessary Roughness” and “Bones” coming up and then I’ve got a little indie called Time Lapse coming up as well. Time Lapse is the story of three young adults who live in an apartment together and the time machine they discover in the apartment across the way.