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INT: Angarano / Panabaker


Disney’s comedy SKY HIGH features two fresh-faced talents, Michael Angarano and Danielle Panabaker. Angarano plays Will Stronghold, adolescent son of the famous superhero duo Captain Stronghold and Josie Jetstream. As if puberty isn’t hard enough, he’s starting high school and doesn’t yet have any superpowers. Playing his hot/geeky pal is Danielle Panabaker. Panabaker has a young Heather Graham thing going that makes me feel naughty. Angarano make me feel naughty, too, but I’d prefer not to talk about that.

They both stopped by the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills last week to talk about their experience making Sky High.

Michael Angarano Danielle Panabaker

How much does the high school experience of Sky High mirror that of high school in the real world?

Panabaker:  I would say that it’s really significant.  That’s what attracted me to the movie  so much in the first place is that sort of John Hughes feel the movie has, of these teenagers going through high school dealing with bullies and pressure from their parents and unrequited love. I think it’s pretty similar, you know, a part of growing up.

How closely do you resemble your character in the film?

Panabaker:  Pretty close.  I was the biggest nerd in high school, so that’s kind of why I kind of felt Layla’s pain.

Angarano: My whole first month of high school was me trying to get friends, just trying to get people to like me, really.

Does being in the industry work in your favor or against it?

Angarano:  People don’t really care that I’m an actor, which is great. I love that. When you go to an all boys Catholic high school in the Valley nobody really watches TV or sees too many movies, so nobody really knew who I am, which is great.

Do you have a nickname?

Angarano: Nobody could pronounce my last name, so my Spanish teacher gave me the name “Angie.”  And everyone on the soccer team would all me “Ango,” which I hate. Call me Angie but don’t call me Ango.  That’s just bad.

Do you guys have any special powers?

Panabaker:  None whatsoever. 

Come on, there’s gotta be something you’re good at. 

Angarano:  I like video games. (laughs)  I don’t know; I listen to a lot of music, watch movies.  I’m very boring.  I never go out, really.  I skateboard now.  That’s really it.

Prior to making Sky High, did you have any experience working with CGI?

Angarano: I had very little experience with CGI and green screen.  What I loved about it was that there were just as many stunts as there were effects (in the film). So, a lot of it was very hands-on. If I were to take somebody and throw them fifty feet into the air, I would actually be throwing somebody and they would just be on wires and I would have to look like I’m throwing them.  So it was very hands-on, a lot of it.

Panabaker:  There was a little bit, all the stuff when the bus flies was green screen. We were in a bus that was actually shifting and rotating and moving, and that was pretty terrifying.  And there was a little more at the end.

Danielle, what’s it like having a sister who’s also an actor?

Panabaker:  It’s wonderful. If anything, this business has brought my family together because we can sit at the dinner table and say, “Oh, my gosh, wait till you hear this crazy story.”  And my whole family always comes to sets with me, so it’s something we can share as opposed to tearing us apart.

So you and your sister share a lot of stories?

Panabaker:  We swap stories all the time. There are so many different aspects of this business. We’re always trading tips, “Hey, guess what I learned today?” It’s wonderful. I love it.

In these types of movies, how come the guy never realizes that his best friend is the hottest girl in school?

Panabaker:  Good question!

Angarano:  Good question.  I have no idea. What I feel bad for Will about is that he’s so confused at that point by the fact that he has no powers whatsoever and he would do anything to become a hero, to get into hero class and have nothing to do with sidekicks. But her on the other hand, she has this awesome power, but she chooses to be a sidekick. I think Will’s way too confused at that point to realize that she’s crushing on him but she probably has been for the last five years. So I don’t know how he can explain himself.  (Laughs)

What was it like working with Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston?

Angarano:  I know Kurt as Snake Plisskin. I think everyone does. Working with them was so great. They’re pros. There was never a time that they were looking down on us. A lot of people ask, “Did he give advice?” He’s not the kind of guy that gives advice. You could just look at him and learn. He kind of lets you do it on your own, in an encouraging way.

Panabaker:  He’s the kind of guy where everyone gets excited when he comes on set because it’s so much fun. He has such a great sense of humor. Everyone from the crew was shaking with laughter because you are just enjoying yourself so much.

Angarano:  Yeah.  Working with him and Kelly together, they’re such a perfect match. It’s kind of scary and intimidating because they’re so spontaneous and they approach each scene like it’s a blank slate, like it’s empty and we need to fill it up. It could be the funniest scene but they always add new things to it. Just kind of picking that up and rolling with them and adding your own input, there was a very collaborative spirit on the set. 

If you could choose any superpower, what would it be?

Panabaker: I’d love to be able to multiply because then I could be in lots of different places at once. One of me could be sitting here, one of me could still be in bed and one could be vacationing in Hawaii .  Just be lots of places at once.

Angarano: I would fly, just to beat traffic. Just to not have to go on planes. How cool would that be.  I would love it.

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