Boys is trying to be the ultimate word on men pushing women too
far. A bloody mix of Thelma & Louise, Death Wish,
Single White Female and Hostel, the film looks at Shae
and Lu, two women who have been mistreated by men and decide to take
The indie film
Shae, the sweet, quieter student
is played by Danielle Panabaker. Panabaker is an interesting
actress whose career path has been taking some unexpected turns.
She started out as a child actress and Disney Channel favorite,
spent a couple of years on TV as James Woods' daughter on the series
Shark and now has become a bit of a scream queen – starring
in such horror films as the Friday the 13th reboot,
Piranha 3DD, The Crazies, Mr. Brooks and John Carpenter's The
Shae has just broken up with her
married lover – who has decided to give his wife another chance.
She is invited to a club by a co-worker named Lu, played by the
exotically pretty Nicole LaLiberte (HBO's How To Make It In
America and Dexter). They get drunk, get high, meet
some strange guys and go home with them. When Shae insists on
going home, one of the guys rapes her. She goes to her ex for
compassion and he comes on to her as well.
This is when Lu turns into her
protector and dark side, suggesting a deadly retribution be paid to
all the men who mistreated Shae. But at what point will Shae
decide that Lu is apparently enjoying their little crime spree a bit
A few days before Girls Against
Boys had its New York premiere, Panabaker and LaLiberte gave us
a call to discuss the film.
What was it about
the script of
that intrigued you?
I had really been looking for something a little bit more dramatic.
I first read the script and I was really interested to speak with
Austin [Chick, the writer-director]. Austin had such a specific
vision and is a really talented filmmaker. We met a couple of times
and I really liked collaborating with him. So, then we were off.
It was just that I would read things and I'd be like "Oh my God, did
that really happen?" "Oh my God, did she really do that?"
(laughs) "Oh my God, I can't believe that's happening right
now." There is one particular scene that reminded me of the ear
scene in Reservoir Dogs. Do you know that scene where...
what's his name? It's not Vince Vaughn, the other guy... the dude
in the Quentin Tarantino movie that cuts the policeman's ear off. [ed.
note: It's Michael Madsen.] There is a similar scene in
Girls Against Boys and I just remember being so excited about
that scene, because I thought it was so dark and really fun to make.
You started up on
The Disney Channel but lately your career seems to be mostly in the
horror realm. Have you been surprised by the direction your career
(laughs) Absolutely. I'm kind of a sissy. Horror films
still scare me. So, it is a surprise, because I never grew up
watching them, either. Bambi used to give me nightmares.
But the truth of the matter is that I think that's the majority of
the films being made these days. A lot of films in theaters seem to
have a genre bent to them and people often go see them. So, those
are movies getting made and I'm an actor who likes to work
(chuckles) so it's just seems to be a good mix.
Not as an actress
but just as a film fan, what type of things do you tend to watch
just for fun?
I like period dramas. (laughs) I want to be in a Jane
Campion movie. Not just period films. I love the director that did
Drive, Nicolas Wending Reth. I would love to do one
of his films. I watched a lot of foreign movies – French horror and
Japanese horror – to prepare for Lu. But I usually don't watch
horror movies because they really freak me out. I just saw Mama
the other day. I went with my boyfriend. I literally had his
hand covering my eyes for the entire movie. I sort of peeked out
every once in a while. (laughs)
I'll watch anything. I feel like the films this year from the
awards season are incredible. I loved Silver Linings Playbook.
I really enjoyed Argo as well. It's a good time of year
In some of the
scenes in Shae’s class, the movie sort of suggests a feminist
slant. Do you see
as a bit of a feminist film like
or just more of a straightforward psychological horror film with the
battle of the sexes as a hook?
I did see it more as a sort of Thelma & Louise story. For me
the relationship between Lu and Shae was very important. Especially
because at the end of the film, you are really left to second-guess
their relationship with a lot of questions. That relationship was
very important to me. I was so excited when Austin finally cast
Nicole. She and I spent a lot of time together getting to know each
other. I think that's also one of the great things about the film,
that we, I feel, are a great match on camera together. My
performance in this film is a little simpler and more quiet. Hers
is the opposite. I think that they are a great match. I'm really
proud of Austin that he brought it all together.
One way I have described it is of like a Disney version of
Baise-moi. Are you familiar with that film? It's a French
film, another female revenge film. Girls Against Boys is
really like... if you ever do see that film, which I totally
recommend, if you have your hands that can cover your eyes
(laughs)... our film is a very Disney version of that.
Lu was such an
odd character, arguably sociopathic. Was it interesting playing her
and with her?
Absolutely. Absolutely. It was really fun. I had a lot of freedom
in terms of what I could do in a particular scene. So it was cool.
I did a lot of research in terms of sociopaths.
It was. A lot of Austin's direction to me was "Do less." She's
doing the opposite. So I got to just react to her. It was great.
It was a treat.
Shae was on the
other hand rather depressive and much more downbeat. Did you
research how rape survivors tend to react when preparing for the
I did. I did do some research. Any person who has gone through a
traumatic event like that, you have a lot of different reactions.
Austin and I spent a lot of time trying to think about it. Where
specifically he and I thought Shae would be emotionally after an
event like that. How much shock she would have. We had very
specific discussions about "okay, she was on the floor and then she
got up and showered because she didn't know what to do." We talked
it all out.
You think her character was depressed? I would think so, right?
Yeah. Not so much, I didn't research rape victims. I basically was
focused on becoming as manipulative and seductive as I could be in
terms of dealing with somebody. With the state that she was in, it
wasn't really that difficult to get her to do what I wanted her to
do. But, that's questionable, too.
We know basically
Shae’s motivation in getting involved in the revenge plot, but Lu
quite blatantly refuses to explore why she kills. Did you try to
come up with a backstory as to how Lu became the person she became?
Ummm... (long pause) Obviously, I think I found the love in
that character. (laughs) If that's the best way to put it.
She really believes that what she is doing is right. The world
would be a better place when these people who are acting like this
are disposed of. (laughs again) In some way.
I wouldn't say I took it at face value. One of my favorite things
about the film was that last scene where you are left questioning
the reality of everything and whether it's just all been some very
twisted fantasy or fairytale or Shae's imagination. Austin and I
also discussed that. So for me, Lu always was real. She was this
very real entity who has been almost like a guardian angel sent to
Do you feel that
Lu’s feelings towards Shae were romantic or more protective?
There are actually several scenes that didn't make it into the final
cut of the movie that delve a little bit more into their
relationship. I used those scenes to inform the basis of my work
for their relationship. So, yes, I think that certainly was an
element of their relationship – Lu's attraction to Shae – but I
don't know that Shae would have ever returned it in the manner that
Lu would have hoped, if that makes sense.
Yeah, I think obviously it was very seductive. I think that Lu's
survival depends on Shae's attention.
New York City plays such a big part in the feel of the movie. Was it fun filming in
Oh yeah. I love New York. I lived there for a really long time. I
only just moved out to Los Angeles. So I have a lot of history in
It was incredible. I really toyed with the idea of moving to New
York. I had a great time. We were so lucky, we got to go to so
many cool locations. I had an incredible time.
The film ended
kind of ambiguously. Do you think Shae will ever completely escape
No, I think once you meet someone like that and they leave an
imprint on your life and they shape who you are, that never goes
I think that Shae has escaped Lu's influence, but I think that she's
grown exponentially through understanding Lu and can now utilize
those powers when she feels she needs to.
I was reading
that you have a romantic comedy called
Renaissance Girl coming. Is it fun to get back to a
You know what, unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge
Renaissance Girl hasn't been made yet. If it has, it's been
made without me. I would. I did do several episodes of a show
called Necessary Roughness last year. That's a much lighter
show. Those episodes are just starting to air. That was great. It
is nice to get away from the gloom and doom of death.
You have been
juggling TV and movies in your career with things like
How To Succeed in
America and Dexter. Which do you prefer, film or series
Oh, I don't know how to answer that. That one stumps me a little
bit. I think at the end of the day it's another day that I'm
exposing myself in some way. (laughs) Whether it's for TV
What would people
be surprised to know about you?
I'm shy. (laughs)
Ummm... (pause) I don't know. I feel like in this day and
age with Twitter and everything like that, it's pretty easy to get
access to people, but I'm still pretty protective of my personal
life. So, I feel like everything that I want to let out there is
I wasn't looking
for anything deep and dark, just something a little quirky...
I wish I had something. Okay, I'm obsessed with Downton Abbey.
I just got into it a week ago and I'm almost done with the
second season. (laughs) I love that British sensibility.
How would you
like for people to see your career?
A brave one.
I was reading you
graduated high school as valedictorian at only 14. Why do you think
that people don’t make such a big deal about something important
like that as compared to some of the trivialities of Hollywood life?
I think when I was younger, people were really fascinated with it
and I did feel the need to defend it. Because that is true, I went
to an independent study high school and graduated young. And then
graduated from UCLA at 19. That's something that wasn't done for
the business. It wasn't done for my career in any way, shape or
form. It was done for myself and to round out my life as a person.
So I'm very proud of it, but it doesn't necessarily correlate with
my career. (laughs)
us Let us know what you