Grief and loss can turn you cold. Sometimes dangerously so. In an instant, a brilliant young scientist could be twisted into something else. Something far…frostier.
Fortunately, there’s nothing the least bit cold about Danielle Panabaker, the gifted and quite friendly actress who portrays Dr. Caitlin Snow on The CW’s soon-to-debut The Flash. While Caitlin is a friend to Barry Allen’s Flash and a scientist at S.T.A.R. Labs on the show, fans know that in comic book continuity, Caitlin ultimately becomes the super-villain known as Killer Frost. We recently had a chance to speak with Danielle about the series, the possibility of her character taking a villainous turn and whether she enjoys frosty vacations.
You’ve been acting for a little while now. Did you ever think you’d be on a super hero show?
It hadn’t really occurred to me. I did a movie a long time ago about a high school for super heroes called Sky High, and that was a lot of fun. What’s so great about television is you can sustain that. It doesn’t have to be an isolated 90-minute movie. You can keep telling stories about super heroes all year round.
So how would you describe your character, Caitlin Snow?
Caitlin Snow is a young doctor. She’s one of the scientists working with Dr. [Harrison] Wells, and they’ve been working together for some time. She’s devastated by this particle accelerator explosion, but because she believes in Dr. Wells, she comes back [to work for him]. She’s also dealing with some grief of her own because her fiancé passed away in the explosion. So she’s a sad scientist to begin with.
Wait… “Sad” scientist?
That’s what we used to say, “She’s just a sad scientist.” [laughs]
Caitlin’s also an interesting character because she has the potential to make a very dramatic shift down the line and possibly end up with enemies who are currently her friends. Was that one of the things that interested you about the role?
Absolutely. To get to work with such amazing storytellers… Greg Berlanti’s been so prolific in television for so long, and Andrew [Kreisberg] has had such success with Arrow. Plus, on top of that you have Geoff Johns, who is a comic book god as far as I am concerned. To bring these people together to tell cool stories was something that appealed to me from the get-go, and the idea that someday… Well, it’s really fun to see Grant put on the suit and sort of take on this heroic otherworldly persona when he becomes the Flash. It’s so exciting that someday I could get to do something like that too.
Did you know who Killer Frost was before you were cast? I’ll admit, she wasn’t a character I knew until I started working here.
I didn’t know who she was, but I love that Andrew, Greg and Geoff so thoughtfully found her. They knew they wanted a female, so they looked through the comic books and tried to find a character that they thought would be fun to play with and have a lot of depth. She’s new to me, but that’s been really fun.
Sticking with the Killer Frost theme here, I’m curious, what’s the coldest place you’ve ever been?
I was in Alaska, but it was in the summer, so that was beautiful. We were here in Vancouver in February and that got pretty cold. I mean, anywhere you can go skiing. I’ve been skiing in Colorado, and that can get pretty chilly.
But no excursions to Antarctica or anything crazy like that?
No, ironically I am always cold, so I would prefer warm weather over cold weather. But I think I’m just going to have to get used to that one.
The last show I saw you on was Justified. If you were ever in trouble, who would you rather have come to your aid. Raylan Givens or the Flash?
I’m probably biased, but I think the Flash.
Time travel promises to be a factor in the show. If you could travel back in time and tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?
I just had a birthday, so I was looking back and reflecting on all of them. It would probably be a lesson that I learned now that I’m a little older—just to be present. I think that in today’s society, we’re so dependent on our phones. You go to a concert and everyone is taking video of the concert as it’s happening, but it’s very rare that you see someone who’s just being present and enjoying the moment. I think that would be it. Just be present and enjoy whatever life’s throwing at you.
I think that’s a good one for everyone to learn, honestly. I have just one last question for you. We’ll have to see what happens to Caitlin, but if Danielle Panabaker were ever to fall to the dark side and become a super-villain, what would she be like?
Well, the thing about Killer Frost is that she’s sort of a heat vampire. She steals everyone else’s heat. So maybe that really is what I would become like.
You’re well cast in your role, then.