Appearing at pop-culture conventions is all but mandatory these days for the stars of movies and television shows about superheroes. Danielle Panabaker, a former Naperville resident, doesn’t mind. “I went to my first one two years ago, and I really liked it,” said Panabaker, who plays Caitlin Snow in the popular CW TV show, “The Flash,” based on the iconic DC Comics hero. “These shows are such a great way to interact with the fans.”
Panabaker is just one of the stars slated to appear at this weekend’s Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo, usually referred to as “C2E2.” C2E2 also will feature dozens of comic-book creators and dealers and plenty of cosplayers — fans who dress up as their favorite pop-culture characters. The event takes place April 21 to 23 at McCormick Place in Chicago. “I’m excited to see everyone in Chicago!” Panabaker said.
Panabaker already had the acting bug when she moved to Naperville from suburban Atlanta as a girl. She and her sister, Kay Panabaker, had started working in local theater in Atlanta. After relocating to the Chicago suburbs, both sisters continued to take acting jobs, including spots in commercials and community theater productions. Danielle attended Neuqua Valley High School for one year, and then the family decided to move to Los Angeles. “We loved Naperville, but we wanted to pursue acting seriously, and we decided that being in Los Angeles was pretty much a requirement for that,” Panabaker said. The move worked out well. Before landing her role in “The Flash,” Panabaker starred in numerous films (“Sky High,” “Mr. Brooks,” “Friday the 13th”) and television shows (“Shark,” “Necessary Roughness”). “I like them both (movies and TV), but for different reasons,” she said. “With a feature, you know the whole story going in — beginning, middle and end. With TV, you kind of go on this journey, just like the audience does.”
Panabaker first appeared as scientist Caitlin Snow on the show “Arrow,” which also centers around a DC Comics hero. She now plays the character regularly on “The Flash,” as well as the character’s villainous, superpowered alter-ego, Killer Frost. The Flash has been part of the DC universe since the 1950s. The character has gone through several iterations during that time, with one thing remaining constant — his ability to move at super speeds. Panabaker said she’s grateful to be part of something with such a rich history and legacy. “I really feel it when I meet fans and see how devoted they are not just to the show, but to these characters throughout their history,” she said. “I’m very fortunate to be part of it, and to be working in television right now, a time when so much incredible work is being done in the medium.”
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