Monday, 15 May 2017

Weekly Update: May 7 to 13 (With Photos from Ottawa Comic Con)

Weekly word count: 3600

Another quiet week, moving more towards a productive time.  I spent the first part of the week dealing with the aftermath of Ad Astra (counting inventory, ordering more swag, doing my giveaway draw, etc.).  It's always a bit of a bittersweet process for me.  On the one hand, I really enjoy the conventions but it's always an effort to get myself organized afterwards so that I'm not scrambling at the last minute for the next one.

Then there was the big event this weekend: Ottawa's Comic Con.  This is one of the highlights of my personal year: an opportunity to geek out and get the behind the scenes info from some of the actors from my favourite shows and movies.  (Wish list: more writers at Comic Cons.)

Gates McFadden: aka, Dr. Beverley Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation
I started off with Gates McFadden and John Billingsley, sharing their Star Trek memories.  John was super-excited and constantly moving around the stage.  Gates was more reserved but shared a witty sense of humour.  For example, John had a bag of candy for the most embarrassing question and Gates replied that she would give away a Range Rover for the best question.   

John Billingsley, aka Dr. Phlox from Star Trek: Enterprise
Both of them talked about how they often can fly below the radar without being recognized but people tend to figure out who they are when they speak.  Gates shared a funny story about how the entire cast was on a plane and the stewardess asked for everyone's autographs except for her.  And when Brent Spiner prompted the stewardess, the response was: "Oh, yes, I'd love your autograph, too, Mrs. Spiner."  Gates signed the autograph: Lots of love, Mrs. Spiner.  She also talked about her work on Labrinyth with Jim Henson and about his hands-off, jump-into-the-deep-end approach to management.

John Cusack: do I really have to list everything off?
Saturday started off with John Cusack, who seemed a little tired and uncomfortable with the crowd, until we started talking about music.  That was where his real passion shone.  He spoke at length about how he feels people reveal themselves through the music they create or like.  So he likes being very involved with choosing the music for his films.

John Barrowman: aka Captain Jack Harkness from Doctor Who and Merlin from Arrow/Flash
 John Barrowman was the highlight of the con.  Exuberant, funny, prone to breaking into song at random moments and a relentlessly dirty mind, he's made my top five wishlist of people I'd like to have dinner with someday.  He shared a bunch of great stories, like when he ran into a friendly rival from his school days and got to enjoy a bit of a triumphant reveal that John was now the lead dancer while his rival was in the chorus.  Or during the futuristic game show episode of Doctor Who, where he did one scene completely naked and surprised an unsuspecting crew member.

But in between the dirty jokes and salacious stories, there were also touching moments.  Several people shared how John's openness helped them to come out of the closet as LGBTQ+.  One girl began to cry and John brought her up on stage, telling her that he could understand her being emotional, but from now on, he didn't want her to cry any more when she was telling people who she was.  "Never cry for who you are," he told her as he gave her a big hug and then prompted the audience for a round of applause.

He lead the entire audience in a sing-a-long of "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You", letting me cross "Sing with a Broadway Star" off my bucket list.  His voice is amazing and he's still an impressive dancer (especially since he just turned 50).  I'm still laughing to myself at some of his stories and if any of you have the chance to see him in person: do it.  You will not regret it.

Peter Capaldi: aka, Doctor Who.
On Saturday evening, there was a special Doctor Who panel with Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman and Alex Kingston.  All of them were gracious and took the time to make sure that the audience's questions were fully answered.  My favourite question was: what crossover would each of them like to see with Doctor Who.  Peter would like a Game of Thrones crossover, Alex would like Lord of the Rings and Jenna would like Gilmore Girls.

Jenna Coleman, aka Clara Osmund and Alex Kingston, aka, River Song, both from Doctor Who.
Jenna talked a bit about her experience playing Queen Victoria in the recent PBS/BBC series and Alex Kingston talked a lot about how she interpreted her character, River Song.  She greeted every cosplaying Doctor with a "Hello, sweetie" and "You're my husband, too."  She said it took her a little while as an actress to wrap her head around the idea that the Doctor's spirit is the same no matter whose body he's in and that's who River is in love with.

Robin Lord Taylor, aka, Oswald Cobblepott, the Penguin, from Gotham
On Sunday, Robin Lord Taylor showed he was very different from his mob-boss role as the Penguin.  He was charming and witty (and I swear he was looking right at me for most of his panel).  He gave full credit to Gotham's writers for keeping his character sympathetic while also keeping true to being a villain.  He said he'd like to finish the character arc by becoming completely irredeemable.  He wants the Penguin's final scene to leave the audience ready for Batman to take him down.  

Alex Kingston, again.  Because one hour was not enough.
Alex had her own panel again on Sunday, which was wonderful because she was a delight to listen to.  She talked about her experiences on ER, including some of the pranks that George Clooney would play on the cast.  She also talked about how, although she loves the character of River and isn't ready to finish up with her, she also likes having the flexibility to take different roles.

She also shared a great story about the importance of consent.  She was doing a production of Much Ado About Nothing and at the end of the play, her character and another were supposed to share a very chaste kiss.  However, her counterpart kept trying to stick his tongue down her throat.  She told him that she didn't like it, and didn't think it was appropriate for the characters.  He persisted.  She told him that if he did it again, she was going to bite his tongue.

He did it again.  So she bit his tongue.  They did their final bows and she headed off to unwind at the pub.  The next day, she noticed he was only having soup and asked him what was wrong.  He replied that he'd just come back from the doctor and now had stitches in his tongue from where she'd bitten him.  She said she knew she should apologize but instead felt rather satisfied at having stood her ground.  She got much applause at the end of that story.

Matthew Lewis, aka Neville Longbottom from Harry Potter.
I ended the con with Matthew Lewis' panel.  He began acting very early as a child, and said he remembered feeling sad that he'd been born too late to participate in Star Wars and that his generation wouldn't have that kind of defining epic.  Then he began to read the Harry Potter books and got very excited about them.  Then there was the announcement that there was going to be a movie and he, as a 10 year old boy, was going to be exactly the right age to participate.

He went to audition and said that although he was hoping to be Harry, he just wanted to be a part of the film, even if it was only as someone in a crowd scene.  Then, when he found out he was going to be Neville, he was really pleased.  And as we found out more about Neville's role in the wizarding world, he was feeling pretty excited about the whole thing.

One thing I liked was how he talked about the importance of the audience.  He said that the writers conceive of a story, the actors and other film people try to recreate it, but it's the audience that truly bring it to life.  The audience and fans are the ones discussing it, thinking about it and making it into more than just a few hours of fantasy fun.

It was a lovely weekend, despite the poor weather, and I'm glad I got to go.  I'm definitely looking forward to next year.  

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