‘The Flash’: Danielle Panabaker & Hartley Sawyer on Season 5 and the Crossover

     October 16, 2018

the-flash-danielle-panabaker-hartley-sawyer-carlos-valdes-sliceOn October 14, The CW hosted an event for the launch of its new fall season, which also showcased Shethority, an online collective that provides a positive space for all women to discuss the unique challenges of the female experience in today’s world, and debuted the #CWOpenToAll initiative that reinforces the network’s commitment to inclusion and representation.

Collider was invited to hang out on the red carpet to chat with the arriving talent, where we got a few minutes to get some scoop from The Flash co-stars Danielle Panabaker and Hartley Sawyer. During the interview, they talked about what they’re most excited about with Season 5, getting to explore the Caitlin Snow and Killer Frost duality, whether Team Flash is fully accepting of Ralph Dibny now, the upcoming cross-over, being the first female actress of the Arrow-verse to direct an episode, and how inspiring that is for everyone else.


Image via The CW

Collider:  What are you most excited about, with what you’ve gotten to do so far this season?

DANIELLE PANABAKER:  I feel like they’re doing a great job of trying to show a little bit more of Caitlin and Killer Frost, and delve into her history.

HARTLEY SAWYER:  I’m actually really excited about the interaction with Tom Cavanagh. It has been really fun to do. We’ve shot some of that, and there’s gonna be a lot more of it. There’s gonna be a lot of back and forth there, which will be really fun. And Tom is such a great person to play off of. He’s gonna challenge Ralph in a different way than we saw last season. We never know what he’s gonna say or how he’s gonna react to something, I feel like, and if he’s gonna be goofy and make jokes, or take things seriously. He always leads with his heart, which is what I like most.

Danielle, how much fun is it to play that Caitlin Snow and Killer Frost duality, in the same character?

PANABAKER:  It’s the best. I feel so lucky! I always say it’s great to be on a superhero show because you can really push things and have fun with them. You get to have a great time. It is really fun to play the duality. When you sign onto a TV show, you play the same character for 100 episodes, but not me. I’m very lucky to get to play a lot of different versions.

Hartley, what’s it like to no longer be the new guy on set? Do you feel like you’ve got a better handle on this character, or do you like always discovering something new about him?

SAWYER:  I like always having new things to find, and we have that this year with Nora, and how she impacts the team and the family. It is nice to also know that everything Ralph went through last year, he’s here and he’s part of the team. That’s a good feeling, too. It’s really fun.

Is the team fully accepting of Ralph being there now?


Image via The CW

SAWYER:  He just didn’t have a family or anywhere to go. Barry was always there for him, and that, to me, is the most special bond. Ralph and Barry have this big brother/little brother thing going on, so there will always be a bond there With that being the case, the rest of the team starts to accept him, as well. It’s a family, in the sense that people butt heads, but they also end up getting along, in the end. I think that’s what’s made The Flash work, from day one. When I started working on the show, I realized that the chemistry we see on screen is a real chemistry between all of the actors that are there. That’s a tangible thing, when you’re there working with them. That’s why this show works. Luckily, it was very easy for me to slot into that. I was very accepted. They’re nice people and great actors, so it was easy to do, but finding that and having that on a show is not easy to do. That’s what makes it so special, and that’s why we just filmed the 100th episode.

Danielle, what are you most excited about, with the upcoming crossover?

PANABAKER:  I was saying to Beth Schwartz that I’m excited about this crossover because it feels a little bit more like the first one we did. It’s going back to a much smaller cast of characters doing the crossovers this time, going from show to show. There’s really not that many of us. It’s nice. It actually feels a little nostalgic. And the shows have new characters, so I get to travel and play on other shows.

How does it feel to be the first female actress of the Arrow-verse to direct an episode of their show?

PANABAKER:  I was blown away when they brought that up at Comic-Con. I had no idea.

Is it something you’ve been thinking about doing for awhile?

PANABAKER:  Yeah, it’s something I’ve been thinking about and asking about for a little while now. I’m just so proud. What’s actually been really cool is the number of women who, after that, have reached out and said, “How did you do this? How did you direct?” It’s been really nice to share that information. So often, we’re taught to keep that information to ourselves because the success of somebody else might diminish our own success, and that’s not true, at all. It’s been really nice to help support other women, hopefully directing, as well.


Image via The CW

What made Season 5 the right season to try directing?

PANABAKER: We’ve made 100 episodes of the show, and I’ve always paid attention to special effects and things like that. When we have new directors come in, I have empathy for them because learning the special effects is a totally different language. As someone who has been there for so long and understands it, I do think I have a leg up on somebody coming in, who’s never done it before. After that long, I felt really comfortable stepping into those shoes.

What are the scariest aspects of it for you? Is it weird to come in and suddenly be a bit of a boss to your co-workers?

PANABAKER:  I don’t see directing as being their boss. Hopefully, they know that I’ve got their back, in a really special, unique way. If a new director comes in, they might not have seen all of our 100 episodes, but I have. I’ve lived them, I know the stories, and I know the trials and tribulations. Having been there with the rest of my cast and all of these storylines for so long, I know what’s important to them and I want to support them, in whatever that looks like.

Hartley, what’s it like to have one of your co-stars, Danielle Panabaker, step up and direct an episode this season? Does it inspire you to want to try it?

SAWYER:  It has inspired me to want to try it, and it has also intimidated me, realizing how monumental of a task that is. She’s gonna do it, and it’s gonna go really well. I have no doubts about that. I knew Danielle before I started the show, and I’ve known her for a number of years. I was so thrilled when I heard that, officially, and it was announced. I’m so proud of her. I can’t think of somebody who deserves it more. She is one of the hardest working people I have met in this business, without a doubt.


Image via The CW

As an actor, do you enjoy constantly working with different directors and getting different viewpoints?

SAWYER:  I do. As a springboard from that, it also helps you realize where you really are rooted in the character and the choices that they would make. The directors come in for a couple of weeks and work with us, and then they leave, but we’re always there, as the stewards of the ship. But it is great when somebody comes in and you really jive with them, and they think of these great ideas or different approaches, and it opens a whole new chapter.

Danielle, as a woman in a still predominantly male industry, when did you start to feel like you had a voice and that your voice was being heard?

PANABAKER:  I’ve always valued being a professional and respecting other people’s process, and having my own process. If you come at it from the angle of, “You’re trying to do your best artistry, and so am I. Let’s see how we can work together and collaborate.” That’s always been my perspective. I have a friend who watched me on set and said, “You have an opinion? What a surprise!” I always have an opinion, but I think it’s important to express it in a very empathetic, respectful way.

The Flash airs on Tuesday nights on The CW.