With tonight's episode of The Flash, titled "Godspeed," series star Danielle Panabaker will become the first female Arrowverse actor to direct an episode of The CW's superhero universe. Because the Arrowverse has fairly diverse casts and crew, Panabaker has admitted that she did not realize until she had already decided to direct, that she would be the first actress to make the move. The episode is a complex one -- essentially the origin story for Nora Allen (Jessica Parker Kennedy), set in the year 2049 and dealing with a version of the Flash universe that is not entirely familiar even to an actor who has been there all along.
Panabaker says that in the months since it was announced she would be directing an episode, numerous other women from around the Arrowverse have reached out to her to ask about the process. During an interview with ComicBook.com, Panabaker said that her relationship to both the source material and to the cast helped make it a little easier for her as a first time director, acknowledging that she could play to the strengths of the material and the cast because she had a deeper understanding of both than most incoming directors could hope to get with a few days of prep.
"I think it has certainly helped me," Panabaker told ComicBook.com. "I think that's one of the reasons that really made me want to direct as well, because having been on the show for so long and having paid attention, I felt that I probably had a leg up on any new directors who were coming in. It's a very specific language, and I understood it just by the fact that I have been around for so long and have been paying attention. I think it also did help me with the cast because they know that I've been in the trenches with them, and I also intimately know their storylines in a way that, again, a new director coming in has probably seen a dozen or so episodes, and I lived them with them in a very different way."
Panabaker has said that Tom Cavanagh, who directed the series' hundredth episode earlier this season, has served as something of a mentor to her throughout the process, but also that executive producers Todd Helbing and Greg Berlanti were instrumental in helping her navigate the process. Warner Bros. TV put her in a course last summer that helped her sharpen her skills and prepare for the process.
"I feel like that was one of the things also that I took from Tom was to really be as prepared as possible going into every day, and also try to communicate what the plan was for every day, so we were all on the same page," Panabaker said. "It's just playing with a different skill set. It's playing with a different set of toys. What fun cameras can we use? How often can we use the crane? What could we do visually to help tell the story? It was fun."
She added that it was a treat for her as a first-time director to direct Cavanagh in the iconic role of Eobard Thawne. "It was an unbelievable experience, and he's so talented, and it was just about giving him the space to play and really getting out of his way, quite frankly."
The Flash airs on Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW. "Godspeed" will debut tonight.
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