Interview by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for
February 24, 2010

An update of George A. Romero's 1973 film of the same title, The Crazies boasts a fun, thrilling blend of government paranoia and survivalist horror. When a top secret bio-weapon is inadvertantly released into the water supply of the town of Ogden Marsh, all hell breaks loose as the infected citizens devolve into murderous automatons. As the military ruthlessly begins to quarantine the once idyllic community, local sheriff David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant) must find a way to escape with his pregnant wife (Radha Mitchell) before they succumb to the soldiers or the sickness itself.

While attending a special event to promote the release of The Crazies, we had the opportunity to speak to Danielle Panabaker, who plays the adorably monikered Becca Darling, one of the Ogden Marsh residents trying to stay one step ahead of the infection and the infected. As it turns out, she's even sweeter than her character's name, and in this exclusive interview, she talks about rocking the horror/thriller genre--in addition to The Crazies, her film credits include Mr. Brooks, 2009's Friday the 13th, and John Carpenter's upcoming The Ward. We also talk about cookies.

Because everyone loves cookies. Congratulations on the movie!

DANIELLE: Thank you very much! Thanks for coming to see it.

Having done this film and the Friday the 13th remake, what have you learned about surviving life-or-death horror movie scenarios?

[laughs] Screaming's not going to do you any good--don't waste your energy! Focus on saving your life!

From an acting standpoint in a movie like this, is it more fun to be one of the survivors, or to have a gnarly death scene?

I don't know. I actually sort of loved that in this film, my character's death was so stunning, and I feel like it's a big explosion, and like it's a big, exciting moment in the film. So I think it's really fun, in this, to have an exciting death.

What were some of your most fun or memorable moments during shooting?

We had a lot of really fun scenes. Ummm...You know, the scene in the barn is an actual barn--I think we were in Georgia for that. There were really cows in there that mooed and the whole nine yards. [laughs] So that was really funny being in the barn scene. And then running through corn fields is something I had never done before, and now I can check that off my bucket list.

Right on. Were the cows cooperative with you?

No, not at all. [laughs] The cows smelled terrible, were really loud...It was brutal.

We'll be seeing you later this year in The Ward. Can you give a brief preview of what we can expect from that movie?

Sure! The Ward is John Carpenter's first film in about ten years, and it's about six young women in an insane asylum. And the women start disappearing, and it's one character's journey to figure out where they're all going and what's happening to them.

You worked with your younger sister Kay Panabaker in the Disney movie Read It and Weep. Was that a situation where you could both bring sibling rivalry to the set?

No, not at all. [laughs] It was actually really fun. We're really comfortable together, and I think that tends to bring out the best work, at least in me, because there's a little bit more freedom to play, and to trust that someone's going to be there [for you]--you know, there's a repertoire established. And she and I are really close, so it was a great experience. I would love to work with her again.

Marg Helgenberger has, coincidentally, played onscreen mom to both you and Kay in Mr. Brooks and on TV's CSI, respectively...

Yeah! It's true...

I remember during our Mr. Brooks interview that she joked, "I did a good job raising those girls"...

[laughs] She's so sweet...I think she's just such a fun, really wonderful woman. And so impressive. I mean, her career is just incredible. My sister is actually shooting another episode of CSI with her next week, so I'm really excited. I would love to see Marg. It's been a little while. I think she's such a great woman.

Have you guest starred on that show yet?

You know what? One of my first roles a long, long time ago was a very tiny, tiny role on CSI, yeah.

Just curious...Does your last name have some particular meaning in, maybe, a European language?

Not that I know of. My family is from the South, as far as they can tell you. They're from Alabama. And beyond that, there's no telling. [laughs]

I thought maybe it was like "bread maker" or something, what with the "pan" and all...

You would think. But I have no idea. You know when you're in grade school and you have to do those genealogy reports? My family is from Alabama, which they're really proud of--that was as good as it ever got. [laughs]

Well...Are you good at baking?

I love to bake! It's one of my favorite things, at Christmas time, to bake cookies.

Cookies fall pretty close to the whole bread category!


Thanks for your time.

My pleasure! Thank you.

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