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A recent conversation with Steven Moffat, the current showrunner for the beloved British sci-fi series “Doctor Who,” brought to mind an old brain teaser meant to stump school children. If memory serves, it went something like this: A man and his son were in a car crash. The man died on his way to the hospital, but the boy was rushed into the E.R. The surgeon scrubbed in, looked at the patient and declared, “I can’t operate on this boy — he’s my son.” How is this possible?
When a specific vision of gender roles in culture has long been pounded into our brains… well, one can see why that riddle still works. For some people, even in this day and age, it may take a moment to remember that women can also be doctors. And what’s true of the common ideas about doctors holds for The Doctor as well, it seems. With the next regeneration of The Doctor imminent, “Doctor Who’s” producers profess to have no idea of who they’ll cast and what specific qualities they’re looking for. Nevertheless, it’s fairly clear that the new face of the Time Lord will still require a daily shave — just like his predecessors.
Let’s back up for a moment. At the beginning of June Matt Smith, the actor currently reporting for Time Lord duty, announced that he would be leaving the series. During Thursday morning’s panel at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour, Smith and The Doctor’s current companion Jenna Coleman revealed that they are about to film their final episode together. Fans will meet the new Doctor in the 2013 Christmas special, airing a month after “Doctor Who” celebrates 50 years of being on television with an anniversary special.
There’s been a groundswell of Internet chatter posing the idea that the next Doctor could be female. Why not? In the five decades that the franchise has been in existence there have been 11 versions of The Doctor, as the role passed down through an assortment of British actors differing in age and appearance. There are female Time Lords, according to the canon, so it’s possible. Oddly enough, each new Doctor always manages to come back as male. (And Caucasian.) So why not a woman? Here’s how Moffat, who was not present for the TCA Q&A session, answered that question during a recent roundtable interview at Comic-Con, starting by addressing the question of what qualities he’s looking for in the next yet-to-be-cast Doctor.
“It’s going to be the person…who is right for it now,” he told a group of reporters. “And you try and make that judgment as best as you can on the quality and the special nature of that performer. There’s no political agenda. There’s nothing whatever except choosing the best possible person for the part.”
“Does that mean it could be gender-blind casting?” I asked. “Would you cast for a woman for the next Doctor?”
Moffat: I’m not going to talk about that. I can’t talk about anything about the new Doctor.
IMDb: I’m not looking for specifics. But would you say, for the next Doctor, if you’re trying to decide, would you say ‘We want to see both actresses and actors for this role?’”
Moffat: I don’t think that would be a sensible thing to do, no. I think you’d have to make a decision on the gender before you approached it, I would say.
IMDb: But it sounds as if, at some point, you might say, “Let’s cast for women?”
Moffat: I didn’t say that, no. Within the narrative of ‘Doctor Who’, it is possible that he could be female? Yeah. But as to whether The Doctor will be female in the future, I’m not going to comment on that.
…Except he kind of did.
Understand, this is not an attack on Moffat. As “Doctor Who’s” latest showrunner, it is Moffat’s prerogative to shape the show’s direction as he sees fit. Moffat is the kind of writer who takes care to imbue well-known source material with his own signature touches while remaining loyal to the source material’s vision. As a boy, he read and loved the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, which informs his thoroughly modern take on Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock and Watson use cutting edge tech, but they are still unmistakably Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Moffat talks about his childhood love affair with the first “Doctor Who” episodes with the same fervor.
But the problem with hewing so closely to a classic version of anything is that it can close the door to embracing the transformation of the world around that creation, and evolving it to fit the modern age. Moffat is not alone in his vision of keeping a beloved fantasy hero within the constraints of a particular trait set established long ago. Google Donald Glover and Spider-Man, and check out the fan reaction to the idea that in the modern age Peter Parker — a orphaned kid who lived with his aunt in New York — could be played by a person of color. People may love Glover, but they grew up with a Caucasian Peter Parker. Thus, we have Andrew Garfield in the movie role — not a bad choice, just not a particularly bold one.
Show business is still a business, and there’s only so much risk network executives and producers are willing to take with a franchise of “Doctor Who’s” caliber. The show went into a coma for 16 years between the old series and the new, and having been revitalized by Smith, and David Tennant and Christopher Eccleston, before him, it’s still a success for the BBC and BBC America. The most the folks at the top are willing to risk, we’d bet, would be to perhaps make The Doctor a ginger. Or, maybe, to hire an actor of a different ethnicity…but, sorry, Idris Elba is a bit busy at the moment, and frankly we’d rather see him become the first black James Bond. (Yes, OK, there are plenty of other British actors of color who would do great in the role. It’s just that we’d pay to watch Idris Elba read the entire IRS book of tax code out loud… so there’s that.)
If there’s one immutable truth about “Doctor Who”, however, it is that none of the previous rules are set in stone. The franchise has lived for 50 years. There’s no reason that it can’t continue for decades more. We may yet see the day on which a fascinating and intriguing actress gets to say, “Hello. I’m The Doctor. Basically… run.”
The celebration of “Doctor Who’s” 50th anniversary includes a special, airing November 23 on BBC America, and premiere of the original movie “An Adventure in Space and Time,” starring David Bradley as the first actor to play The Doctor, William Hartnell, also set to debut in November.
Here’s where I confess to my reason for having avoided San Diego Comic-Con for so many years. The event butts up against the Television Critics Association’s Summer Press Tour, two weeks of broadcast networks, cable channels and PBS presenting the programming they have coming up in the fall, which is currently in full swing at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California. A completely different experience, of course — Comic-Con is for the fans, while Press Tour grants journalists the opportunity to talk to the stars, producers and executives responsible for the new and returning series they hope we’ll be watching over the next few months.
On paper, and in real life, Comic-Con is a lot more fun. People do not wear Iron Man suits or Wonder Woman costumes at the TCAs. (In public, we should say. It does take place in a hotel, after all.) But to the uninitiated, going from Comic-Con to the TCAs sounds like asking a participant in the Tough Mudder to run a marathon during the same weekend. Just thinking about it can make the healthiest athlete’s knees spontaneously give out. Yet anyone who asks me about Comic-Con at this round of TCAs will hear the same thing: if you love movies, TV and popular culture, if you ever felt an electric spark at picking up your favorite issue of a comic book, this is a pilgrimage you simply must make at least once.
While it’s common knowledge and a point of pride to anyone who knows his or her way around a 20-sided die that Vin Diesel is a Dungeons & Dragons player, only at Comic-Con would you have been able to listen to him break down the mythology of Riddick in the language of a dungeon master, then watching him grin like a little boy and bounce up in down in his chair excitedly at the thought of it.
Only at Comic-Con would “Game of Thrones” fans be treated to a spontaneous panel-crashing by Jason Momoa (aka Khal Drogo) who ran onstage simply to plant a kiss on his co-star Emilia Clarke and roar to a cheering crowd, “I’m not dead!”
Only at Comic-Con could “Vikings” fans feel the room shudder as the crowd roared along with castmember Clive Standen as he recited the battle cry: “Up onto the overturned keel. Clamber, with a heart of steel. Cold is the ocean’s spray… and your death is on its way. With maidens you have had your way… Each must die some day!”
In this world of fractured viewing habits, Comic-Con is one of the few remaining places where the scene in “The Empire Strikes Back” in which Darth Vader telling a battered Luke Skywalker what really happened to his father still brings a crowd to a halt, and where one can watch the resulting awestruck smiles spread across tens of faces all at once.
And in an environment filled with lots of cool, exclusive evening events, the Geek & Sundry party provided a laid back place of refuge — and catharsis, as hostess Felicia Day declared the dance floor officially open at 9:45pm and many attending happily complied with the decree, dancing to the same 1980s and 1990s hits that were popular when most partygoers were elementary school and teenage geeks.
Yes, there are crowds and lines and lots of people in costumes, three things many TV journalists — a solitary sort by nature — would rather avoid. The difference, I would tell them, is that Comic-Con crowds and lines are composed of our people. We are all folks who love epic stories and larger than life characters, people who appreciate creativity and approach characters and plots with an incredible amount of thoughtfulness. People who are patient and understanding and enthusiastic, who know a lot about the stuff they love. We are all Comic-Con nerds at heart.
Plus, the costumes really are fabulous. I’d take a gaggle of people in superhero costumes over tens of executives in Brooks Brothers suits any day of the week, any time of year.
At the end of a long day of covering back-to-back press conferences and panels, I was making my way back to the hotel. In the distance, I could see a man dressed as Batman. It was an impressive costume with heavy armor, and as he walked proudly across the lawn, I wondered what it would be like to live in a world where Batman truly exists. At that moment, two young kids ran up him with their mother right behind to take a picture. To them, he was real.
I’ve been going to Comic-Con for five years now and each year and I recount my favorite moments, the fans always top the list. There is something really special about being surrounded by thousands of people who are so passionate about the comics, video games, movies, and television shows that they love. Some people dress up in elaborate costumes while others camp out overnight in order to get access to Hall H, then sit through panel after panel, sometimes all day, hoping for a chance to be lucky enough to ask their favorite star a question.
At The Hunger Games: Catching Fire panel, a young teen girl made her way to the microphone and said nervously, “Hi, I am a major fan and I am having a panic attack right now.” She struggled to ask the cast how The Hunger Games had changed their careers but she was so nervous that she could barely finish and as the room began to giggle, it looked like she might come to tears. The moderator, Dave Karger, jumped in and repeated her question, and then asked every cast member to answer. From Lenny Kravitz to Jennifer Lawrence, each person started their answer by reassuring the girl that she asked a great question, and spoke directly to her. I hadn’t noticed until that moment that I had a clear view of the girl at the microphone. The room was dark, but there was a spotlight on her, and I could see her face lit up with joy. I took a photo and she’s pictured above center.
Here are a few of my other favorite moments:
- At the “Dexter” panel, moderator Ralph Garman was pressuring Yvonne Strahovski to share a little bit about Hannah’s role this year, and she refused but then accidentally dropped the R word (revenge) and the crowd went crazy. From both her and the cast’s reaction, it seemed like a genuine mistake.
- At the Ender’s Game panel, Harrison Ford received a standing ovation and for pretty much the entire panel, everyone was geeking out about him, from his co-stars and director Gavin Hood to the moderator Chris Hardwick and the fans that asked him questions such as “What would Han Solo and Indiana Jones say to each other if they met?” and “Would Han Solo have been a good soldier for General Graff’s army?” Ford didn’t seem to be too amused but I thought it was hilarious. I was also mesmerized by his shiny earring.
- At the Robocop panel, a journalist started a question to Michael Keaton by saying, “I interviewed you when you were Batman…” He stopped her and said, “I am Batman.”
- I was a bit nervous about interviewing Aaron Eckhart for I, Frankenstein, mostly I think because of the intense characters that he often portrays. But he was such a nice man, and I loved hearing his passion for film. You can read the interview here.
- At the end of the Metallica Through the Never panel at Hall H, they announced that they would be giving away tickets to the secret show held that evening. As they started to announce the winning ticket number, the room went into a frenzy because many sections of the room hadn’t received a raffle ticket. When they started to proceed with the giveaway, fans began to chant, “We want tickets!” It was intense, but all sorted out in the end. Later that evening, Metallica performed at Spreckels Theater for an intimate crowd of 1,500 people.
- On Friday, I had a little break between press conferences and I was sitting in the hall of the Hilton. I noticed a man walking by himself in my direction, and then realized it was C. Thomas Howell. When I was in junior high, The Outsiders was my favorite book and film and I had the biggest crush on C. Thomas Howell. As he passed me, I couldn’t resist and said, “Hi, C. Thomas Howell” and gave him a little wave. He smiled and waved back. The 13-year-old girl in me sighed in delight, and I thought to myself, “When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.” Stay gold, C. Thomas Howell, stay gold.
When Fox announced it was holding a secret press conference at Comic-Con, I figured that it would likely be for the new X-Men film. Cool, sure, but not much to get excited about. When I checked in for the press conference for both Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Wolverine, I couldn’t help but notice all the extra chairs next to the stage. I knew then it must be happening, but still didn’t think it was a big deal. Then, as the entire cast* of X-Men: Days of Future Past entered, the packed room was asked to please refrain from posting the news online until after the panel had begun, so as not to ruin the surprise for the fans.
Thus began the longest 30 minutes I experienced at Comic-Con.
Have you ever tried to sit in a room with Sir Patrick Stewart, Sir Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Ellen Page, Nicholas Hoult, Peter Dinklage, Shawn Ashmore, Evan Peters, Omar Sy, along with director Bryan Singer, Laura Shuler Donner, and screenwriter Simon Kinberg… and not tell anyone? It’s really, really hard.
I wasn’t one of the lucky ones that got to go to panel to see the preview footage, but here’s a few things I learned about the upcoming film as well as the cast. If you don’t want to be spoiled, stop reading now.
Rather than the film being a prequel or a sequel, Singer dubbed the film an “in-betweequel.” According to screenwriter Simon Kinberg, the goal was to try and make a film that could bring the full cast together, so time travel was the perfect tool to use. Because the character of Wolverine is ageless, he was chosen to be used as a journeyman, and a way to tie both worlds together.
Singer addressed the rumors that if time travel was involved it would completely erase X-Men: The Last Stand. He stated, “Whenever you go back in time, and this is every bit as much a time travel movie as it is an X-Men movie, there are those risks. If you believe in certain physics and multiverses, you have to have respect for the continuity as we had. I believe certain continuity will maintain, and some things will change. It’s the nature of time travel. If you go back and mess with time, things happen…“
He continued, “This is my first opportunity to make a time travel movie and I tried my very best to make a set of rules, respect them, and stay within the continuity of those rules.”
Sir Patrick Stewart was also concerned when he first heard about this film. “I heard of this movie and immediately l was filled with such sadness because most of you probably won’t recall but I was vaporized at the end of X-Men III, and that really hurt. I hope it never has to happen to the any of you. So my assumption was that Ian, Halle, and Hugh and everyone would come back, but they won’t need me. But then something happened–which I’m not allowed to talk about, am I?” he asked Singer.
Singer jumped in, “Characters come back to life in the comics. But whenever I do something, I can’t just do it flippantly I have to at least believe that in the idea, in the conceit. In my own mind, I understand how Xavier is alive from X-Men III. “
“So does that mean that Xavier is back,” teased Stewart. Singer would only confirm, “For the moment.”
One thing that was clear from the conference was that this is a very tight knit group. When asked what it was like to be reunited, everyone spoke about the friendships they had made and maintained over the years, and the pleasure of working with the new cast.
Jackman was asked if he had to pick his favorite X-Men character, other than Wolverine, what would it be? Here was his answer:
“It’s a very (Storm) difficult thing (Storm) to (Storm)… It’s a very, very difficult thing to say (Storm) who is my favorite (Storm). But it’s also (Storm) hard to separate an actor from the part (Storm), so my general rule is to do as many (Storm) movies with Halle Berry as possible.
I am in perhaps in a unique position on this panel because the first film I did in America was given to me by this man and that was the first X-Men. It’s almost impossible to believe how everyone on this side [the original cast] feels, how incredibly unique, rare, lucky, and blessed we are to be able come back together 14 years later. If you were lucky enough in your life to be in a film with just these actors, you are about as lucky as you can be as an actor. If you look to the right [to the new cast], this is what you get paid for, to work with them. In honest truth, this movie is two great movies in one. I can’t believe the embarrassment of riches I have to work with all of them here so the truth of the matter is, you will never get me to say who my favorite is. Storm.”
If you want to hear more about the footage from the panel, here’s what our friends at io9.com had to say.
*Anna Paquin was in the True Blood Panel during the press conference but appeared on stage with the cast in Hall H.
- Michelle Bryant
Saturday at Comic-Con presented a number of tempting options for TV fans — particularly those who love fairy tales, werewolves, witches and vamps. Here are a few of the highlights and quotes from the panels and press room interviews for “Once Upon a Time,” “True Blood” and “The Vampire Diaries“.
Quote #1: “This is the first time that (Disney) princesses have held weapons. This is the first time that we’ve been able to depict a princess holding a sword. And it’s been incredibly empowering. They’re really let us modernize these characters and make them more relatable. That’s very rewarding.” Ginnifer Goodwin, on presenting a very different version of the classic character Snow White for the ABC series “Once Upon a Time“.
Quote #2: “This season is about belief, (for) the first eleven episodes… that is a big theme because ‘belief ‘means something different to everyone.” “Once Upon a Time” executive producer Edward Kitsis on this season’s overarching theme
News: Season three of the fairytale drama takes the core cast of characters to Neverland to search for Henry, who was taken at the end of the second season finale. The story’s next set of adventures will be split into two 11 episode arcs, each running straight on through ’til morning — or rather, until a midseason hiatus, then season’s end.
Viewers will meet Peter Pan, Tinkerbell, Ariel (aka The Little Mermaid), and find out more about “The Home Office”. And in the premiere, which picks up right at the moment where season two ended, we’ll find out why Henry was taken by Tamara and Greg Mendel. Additionally Neverland poses a new challenge for the core group of characters, since nobody from the Fairytale Land that was is familiar with Neverland or its inhabitants beyond what they know from rumor or legend.
Kitsis offered one final detail about this new voyage: “If you remember about Neverland, it runs on belief. You need to believe to see Tinkerbell… We have a take on Tinkerbell we’re really excited about. And… she has a surprising connection to someone on our show – and not just Captain Hook.”
Season three premieres at 8pm Sunday, September 29 on ABC.
Quip #1: “I listen to some Rihanna. And once the makeup goes on, I sort of get into the mind of Lafayette. Rihanna and makeup gets me into LaLa Land.” Nelsan Ellis, on how he transforms into the fabulous, fierce short order cook/reluctant medium Lafayette on “True Blood“.
Quip #2: “Ryan made me feel like a lady that day. He couldn’t have been more gentle. Not too much tongue. And I fulfilled the dream of many ladies in this audience.” Rob Kazinsky on the “sensual grooming” scene between Ben/Warlow and Jason Stackhouse in a recent episode.
News: If you’re keeping track, the citizens of Bon Temps have had to live with a maenad, a djinn, witches and warlocks, faeries, shapeshifters, werewolves, vampires, a demigod and now, a fae/vampire hybrid. That’s a lot of supernatural beings — enough to perhaps make a person wonder (with more than a little trepidation) what’s next.
Viewers who may have been concerned that the “True Blood” world was in danger of being overrun by otherworldly beings can relax a little. Executive producer Brian Buckner, who took over showrunner duty when series creator Alan Ball stepped down, is not interested in adding any more creatures to the mix.
“The show is going to return back to its roots and it’s going to be about this gang of people who live in Bon Temps,” Buckner explained. “We’re going to try to condense the number of stories that we’re telling and really make it feel like it’s coming home.”
The current season airs new episodes at 9pm Sundays on HBO.
Quip: “Why are we pursuing higher education? We’re all murderers. Why are we studying?” Paul Wesley, star of “The Vampire Diaries“, questioning why very old undead beings have the need to keep cramming for finals once every few decades — a question this writer asked when the series first premiered.
Quote: “It’s not going to be good for her…it’s going to take a lot of getting used to.” Nina Dobrev on Katherine Pierce’s transformation from being a vampire to a human, which will include a lot of unpleasant new (again) experiences like getting a cold.
News: They may be (un)dead, but Elena and Caroline are going to be co-eds pursuing their Bachelor’s Degrees, and Caroline is hoping Tyler will join them there. Meanwhile, Damon and Jeremy will be roommates so that they can keep an eye on Elena, which should add plenty of comic relief to the mix.
Jeremy’s return came with the price of Bonnie sacrificing her life and being trapped on the other side, and sadly only Jeremy can communicate with her. However, death is not the end of Bonnie’s story on this series — she will serve to give viewers a glimpse of “the other side”.
And though the situation looked grim for Stefan at the end of season four, with his evil psychic doppelganger Silas having locked him in a safe and tossed him into the water at the bottom of the quarry, Silas may not be the worst villain Mystic Falls has to contend with. Executive producer Julie Plec hinted that although Silas will certainly be a problem when the season begins, most of the season start with one Big Bad only to have the stakes raised by a Bigger Bad — news that Wesley, who has played the good guy (even if he was lost for a time) for most of the show.
“I like being evil. I’m sorry, but I do,” Wesley joked.
The fifth season of “The Vampire Diaries” premieres 8pm Thursday, October 10 on The CW.
Yesterday at the Lionsgate panel, in addition to The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the studio also introduced the action thriller, I, Frankenstein, written for the screen and directed by Stuart Beattie, based on the graphic novel by Kevin Grevioux. Aaron Eckhart stars as Adam, Frankenstein’s monster, who has been wandering the earth for over 200 years. In this dystopian world, gargoyles and demons are trying to find the secret to his immortality so they can bring an end to mankind. The film also stars Bill Nighy, Yvonne Strahovski, Miranda Otto, and Jai Courtney.
We sat down with Aaron Eckhart to learn more about his role in the film.
IMDb: My background is in the independent film world, so I always think of you as the indie movie guy…
Eckhart: That’s good to hear.
IMDb: …so this role seems like the complete opposite from what I’d expect you to play.
Eckhart: It’s all the same stuff which is story. If I broke this down, it’s the same way I broke down Chad [In the Company of Men] or any other characters. It’s about a man who is unwanted, unloved, and unneeded. A man who is hated by his father and hated by society. If we wrote this down, it would be an independent film. Adam has to roam the Earth eternally with this curse and he has to find his purpose in life. That could be any number of a million films that have ever been made. And so it’s an archetypal, universal journey and that’s what attracted me to this role.
And now you put the dressing around it. We are in a dystopic world, there are gargoyles and demons, and good and evil. He’s a Kali stick fighter and he has no soul. But essentially it’s a story about a man who is trying to find love in life. Just like you and your husband or me and whoever I end up with.
I approach the way I look at a film and how I attack a film in the same way. I’m not trying to be a movie star. I’m trying to go in there and if somebody dies, I try to treat that death as it’s meant to be treated. If I’m in love, or if I’m being hunted, I’m trying to make it as real as possible to me because that’s the only way I know how to do it. And it’s probably killed my career, but that’s just the way I see it.
IMDb: Approaching a character in that way, Adam is a character who is composed of eight different corpses. Do you take in account all the factors of those identities to make this one man? Or do you just look at that body as a shell?
Eckhart: That’s an interesting question. I address that underneath subtextually but the script doesn’t address it in the way you are talking out it. Not that way that this corpse had a particular DNA and the hand does this but the face does this. That would get too complicated and that’s not a story point. So for me to tackle that, it would be confusing for the audience.
I learned that lesson in filming. Even if you do shoot it, while the movie is in production there are dailies. But when the editor takes it and the edited version comes out, this scene came before that one, and something gets cut out, and all of a sudden you look weird because your hand is doing this [shaking hand] and it’s never explained.
It’s happened to me. One time in a movie I was supposed to be claustrophobic. And so I did it, but then that fact didn’t make it into the movie. So in the rest of movie, I was freaking out in certain scenes and people didn’t know why. So I learned a lesson. You don’t deal with that shit. You stick to the basics, stick to what the story is about so that people understand the story.
IMDb: This was a very physical role. What type of training did you do?
Eckhart: I did six months hardcore Kali stick fighting and core training to get myself in really good shape. I had to look like I was born with two sticks in my hands. So I really trained hard for that, and I had great instruction. I also got the crap beat out of me a lot. Not bad for a 45 year old dude. I’m proud of the effort, and I’m proud of the fact that we did it. We put in the work.
IMDb: Frankenstein is such an old story that everyone knows. What makes I, Frankenstein different?
Eckhart: Well, it takes place in the modern today. It’s basically the next chapter of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It takes on a whole different life. The thematics are the same of a man looking for his soul, looking for love, but it’s done in this European metropolis any city with high-vaulted ceilings and alley ways. It’s more of a Gothic story. It’s a completely different story but Frankenstein remains the same. Adam is the Monster.
IMDb: But with no bolts?
Eckhart: Sans bolts.
IMDb: Did you miss the bolts? Was there a part of you that wanted bolts?
Eckhart: I tried to get the bolts in there but I wanted them to come out of my forehead instead. I said the neck thing is done, let them come out of my ears. Or have it come right out of his nose, or even make his nose a bolt.
IMDb: Did you ever think you would fight demons when you first started acting?
Eckhart: No. I thought I’d fight the mob. I thought I would do cowboys and indians type of stuff. But movie-making is, every single day, a different deal. I’ve always just wanted to be an actor that fought my wife and loved my wife, and loved my kids and fought my kids. Just do movies about domestic dynamics and being a father, that kind of stuff. I never really saw myself in any other way. Of course I grew up watching Harrison Ford, Steve McQueen, and Robert Redford and I always loved those movies. It’s changed. In the movie industry, you are looking at a worldwide audience so the considerations are totally different and money is coming from different places. Domestic box office is no longer the driving force behind material. And then television is sometimes better material. All the directors and actors are going to television. And all the money is in television now.
IMDb: Are you considering a shift to television?
Eckhart: Oh, I have been heavily offered that. I just turned down some stuff. You know, look, if it’s the right thing and I am the creator of it, which I’m looking to do, I will consider it. But I grew up in film. I’m a photographer, I still shoot film. And so, I just hate to see it go away. And I hate to see drama go away.
Eckhart: Well, taste doesn’t change. It’s not like you are going to go into television and have worse taste.
IMDb: They are still just telling a story.
Eckhart: Even if you go into genre. I did Towelhead with Alan. And then he’s got “True Blood”. They are totally two different genres. If you have good taste and you’re a good writer, that’s going to bridge any gap. I don’t know how I feel about. Television is going to go away soon too. Most people will be watching on their computer screen. I do it.
It’s taking a little longer for me to come to terms with it. I am in the Seventies watching Steve McQueen and watching Three Days of the Condor. I admire “Game of Thrones” and they have taken over here [at Comic-Con]. And movies are the ugly step-child now. Or almost.
I just had a huge meeting with a studio about television, and they’re saying it’s basically a 90-hour movie, and you really need to get in there. But I still think there’s magic about film. There’s magic about being in a dark room with other people. And I don’t think television can compete with that. Because I can get up and go to the kitchen and maybe come back. But in a movie theater, I am there. And I’m allowing myself to eat popcorn and Milk Duds and drink Coke. It’s a license to fantasize. You just don’t have that in TV. I’m a believer, and I’m not giving up.
You might be wondering, why was Metallica, one of the most influential rock bands, at Comic-Con? The band rocked Hall H yesterday as part of Comic-Con’s “At the Drive In” series with Metallica Through the Never, directed by Nimród Antal, starring James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, Robert Trujillo, and Dane DeHaan. The film that will be released exclusively in over 300 IMAX 3D Theaters on September 27, 2013.
This isn’t just your average concert film. The band wanted to make a film, but didn’t want to duplicate the experience of Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, the award-winning documentary by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky. So the band brought on Charlotte Huggins, a producer who works exclusively in 3-D, including Journey to the Center of the Earth and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.
Huggins reached out to her frequent collaborators James Cameron and Vince Pace for the best 3D camera equipment and technology, but they were still missing a key factor. A director with a unique narrative vision for the film. Enter Nimród Antal.
When I heard that Antal was the director on the film, I was immediately intrigued. If you aren’t familiar with his work, make sure to check out Kontroll, his award-wining debut feature film that earned him the Award of the Youth at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004. I spoke to Antal years ago about his debut film and remember him mentioning that much of his creative inspiration came from his love of metal music, especially Metallica. It seemed like a perfect fit.
In the film, Dane DeHaan stars as Trip, a runner for the band who is sent on an errand to pick up a mysterious package and must return before the end of the show. As he steps out of the arena all hell breaks loose, literally, and he finds himself in this post-apocalyptic world being chased by one of the four horseman. Growing up, DeHaan wasn’t allowed to listen to Metallica. Whenever he wanted to buy a CD, his parents would listen to it then give their approval–Metallica didn’t make the cut. But when he started preparing for his role in The Place Beyond the Pines, director Derek Cianfrance gave him “Master of Puppets” as an album and the band he felt DeHaan’s character would connect to. Just a few months later, DeHaan received the offer for the role.
They screened a trailer and an extended clip of the 3D footage, and if I had to pick a word to describe it, it would be “intense”. There’s not much dialogue, you are just following Trip on his nightmare journey as the band performs on this incredible stage that includes coffins, crosses that emerge from the stage, and an oversized toilet that Hetfield personally emblazoned “Metal Up Yer Ass”.
This is a must-see for Metallica fans.
As Friday’s Comic-Con events draw to a close, here are a few of the most memorable quotes and news items from the panels for Riddick, Kick-Ass 2, AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and History Channel’s “Vikings“.
Quip: “I’m wearing like, a gimp outfit in this movie!” Christopher Mintz-Plasse, on his character’s costume, um, upgrade?…in Kick-Ass 2.
Quote: “Science fiction fans are the most loyal fans in the world. They will watch things that you should give them their money back for. “ Katee Sackhoff, co-star of Riddick, on the continued dedication of the people who have followed her career since “Battlestar Galactica“.
News: Riddick star Vin Diesel hinted during the panel that rumors of his joining the Marvel Universe in some capacity may soon be confirmed, grinning mischievously as he teased, “There is some very big news coming at the end of this month.” Riddick opens in the U.S. on September 6.
Quip: “I’M NOT DEAD, GEORGE!” Jason Momoa, crashing the “Game of Thrones” panel to plant a kiss on Emilia Clarke and thrill the fans.
Quote: “Thankfully no one, to my knowledge, threw their television set into the fireplace.” “Game of Thrones” author and co- executive producer George R.R. Martin, on viewer reactions to the famous wedding scene in penultimate episode of season three.
Quip: “I just want to hold on to my other leg.” Scott Wilson, on Hershel’s survival motivation in the upcoming season of “The Walking Dead”.
Quote: “I would take over a hotel, spray myself silver, run around in circles naked and watch ‘South Park‘.” Norman Reedus, aka Daryl from “The Walking Dead,” on what he would do in an actual zombie apocalypse. (Panel moderator Chris Hardwick finds it optimistic that Reedus believes “South Park” will still be airing after the apocalypse.)
News: It was announced today that the fourth season of “The Walking Dead” premieres at 9pm on Sunday, October 13.
Quip: “Why did I cheat on her? I have no idea. It was in the script.” Travis Fimmel, on his character Ragnar Lothbrok creating marital discord with his shield maiden wife Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) in “Vikings”.
Quote: “I don’t know if I’d call it a love life, but she’s definitely going to be busy!” “Viking” star Jessalyn Gilsig, giving fans a hint at what’s in store for her power-hungry character Siggy following her sharp reversal of fortune during season one.
News: In the new Comic-Con season two trailer for “Vikings,” it appears that a key character will soon be entering Valhalla. Don’t click on this link if you don’t want to know which actor’s character seems to be in peril. Yes, that’s a spoiler alert. The second season of “Vikings” is currently in production and will premiere in 2014.
Back in 2011, when I was at Comic-Con covering The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Summit took the opportunity to introduce the writers for their upcoming projects in the middle of the press conference. Veronica Roth took the stage by herself and shyly answered a few questions about her recently released young adult novel Divergent, about a teenager in dystopian Chicago who tries to break free from a society that divides people based on human traits. No one had really heard of her or her book at the time, so most of us just waited patiently for the next group of vampires and werewolves to arrive.
Fast forward two years; Divergent remains on the YA best-seller list and is the highly anticipated first film of a trilogy that is already being compared to Hunger Games. Veronica is back at Comic-Con, this time joined by director Neil Burger and cast Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Miles Teller, Zoe Kravitz, Maggie Q, Ansel Elgort, Mekhi Phifer, Ben Lamb, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Christian Madsen, and Amy Newbold.
The film just completed filming two days ago, so some of the footage they revealed truly had never been seen before. I couldn’t help but compare it to a Hunger Games, with its dark vibe and kids training in a bunker type facility, but after watching scenes of teens scaling the subways in Chicago, and jumping off trains and buildings, I was definitely intrigued and am adding the film to my watchlist.
I also can’t deny that they have a really strong cast. Shailene Woodley and Theo James have great chemistry, both on and off the screen, and Miles Teller is a name we will be hearing a lot in the near future.
For fans of the series, Veronica revealed the final book of trilogy would be told from two perspectives, Tris and Four. Divergent will be released in theaters on March 21, 2014.
One of the joys of Comic-Con is seeing how infectious the sensation of wonder can be.
This is true of both the fans and the talent. Comic-Con is a place where everyone goes to have fun, where people of all ages can revel in their enthusiasm and casts, and writers and producers soak up the love and appreciation, because aren’t those the reasons they got into this business?
Thursday afforded the opportunity to reminisce with the cast and writers of a legendary genre series as part of “The X-Files’s” 20th Anniversary Panel; to coax intriguing hints about the upcoming season of “Sherlock,” airing on PBS, out of its producers; and to enjoy a chat with the stars of “Strike Back” prior to the new season’s premiere on Cinemax in August.
We’ll share a lengthier account of “Strike Back’s upcoming season closer to premiere. In keeping with the spirit of Comic-Con, let’s focus on one of its main stars, Sullivan Stapleton, and the fact that this may be the last Comic-Con that the Australian actor can walk through one of the exhibit halls as a regular guy.
Check out our image list to read the highlights of Thursday’s conversations with the producers of “Sherlock,” “The X-Files” panel and Stapleton.
At this point in the game, it feels a little odd for a media professional to admit to being a San Diego Comic-Con noob. Yet, here I am, a first timer at SDCC. Greetings, TV and movie fans. Hello there, noble cosplayers. I stand among you at long last and just from what I’ve seen on preview night…wow. Why did I resist the pull of the Con for all these years?
Turn a corner, and there’s Iron Man and Superman, life-sized and rendered entirely in Legos. A few steps later, we came across a crew of ragtag pirates in support of the upcoming Starz series “Black Sails“. There are enough costumes, masks, action figures and collectibles to make the geek girl within feel as if she had fainted and awakened in Valinor.
And we haven’t even officially hit day one yet.
From a TV perspective, Comic-Con is bursting at the seams with possibility. Networks flock here to stoke the fires of fandom for veteran shows and gauge people’s hunger for new entries to the schedule. The aforementioned “Black Sails”, a pirate-themed drama premiering in 2014, has a huge presence here because Starz hopes its epic plot and ambitious visuals will bring it the kind success HBO enjoys with “Game of Thrones” and that AMC has in “The Walking Dead“. As prominent as “Black Sails’s” presence is, it is untested and sits in the shadow of “Walking Dead’s” Rick Grimes — literally. Rick’s mannequin likeness is perched in a replica of a prison tower near the “Sails” display, grimly watching over happy convention-goers as actors portraying zombies shamble about below him.
That’s just a slice of the experience in the exhibition area. In the days to come, there will be plenty of panels to dive into, with fans greeting the stars of their favorite shows and getting sneak peeks of clips from upcoming seasons and an assortment of special surprises. Among the many options to choose from, I’m most curious to chat with Sue Vertue and Steven Moffat, the executive producers of “Sherlock,” to find out what’s in store for the great detective and Watson in the upcoming season. There’s also a panel to mark the 20th anniversary of “The X-Files” that promises to be nostalgic and entertaining. Both of those, as well as a meaty slice of time spent in close quarters with “Hannibal,” are scheduled for Thursday.
Friday is especially exciting, with “The Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones” taking center stage in Hall H, in addition to panels for a slew of terrific series including “Vikings,” “Orphan Black,” “Banshee“, “The Following” and “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” We’ll be there for the “Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones” panel, and will be chatting with stars from “Vikings,” “Banshee” and “Orphan Black.”
Saturday brings the stars of “Grimm,” “Revolution” and “Once Upon a Time” to Comic-Con, as well as the popular “True Blood” panel, which we can’t wait to report from before mingling with members of the cast later on at the “True Blood” party HBO and IMDb are co-sponsoring. Topping everything off on Sunday is a chat with the producers and cast of one of my favorite shows, “Supernatural“.
So take the ride with us as we navigate this wild, weird wonderland…starting with our photo gallery from Preview Night.
Comic-Con 2013 kicks off today and once again, IMDb will be heading down the cover the event! Starting today, Wednesday, July 17th – Sunday, July 21th, I (@IMDbMichelle) will cover all the film events, and our TV editor Melanie (@IMDbMelanie) will check out all things television. Follow our coverage on IMDb and IMDbTV on Facebook, as well as @IMDb and @IMDbTV on Twitter, for photos, event updates, and more! You can find our full coverage of all the nerdy festivities in our special Comic-Con section at http://imdb.com/comic-con/.
For the past four years I have primarily covered television, so I’m excited to be spending my days in Hall H, checking out all the major film and TV events. Now that the Twilight craze is over (and The Hobbit is taking the year off), I am guessing that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire will be the hot ticket this year. I am looking forward to the introduction of the new cast after getting a sneak peek at the Quarter Quell posters.
But Hunger Games isn’t the only YA game in town. Both Ender’s Game and Divergent will be in San Diego with the full cast in tow. In addition to the panel, Ender’s Game will have a Fan Experience, giving attendees the opportunity to experience the world in an elaborate exhibit created with the original film and set pieces from the movie.
There are a lot of big film titles in town this year, including The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Robocop, The World’s End, Godzilla, Thor: The Dark World, and I,Frankenstein. I’m very excited I’ll get a chance to chat with Aaron Eckhart star of, I, Frankenstein, Stuart Beattie‘s adaptation of the Kevin Grevioux graphic novel. Fox has yet to announce their full-line up, so I’m also eXcited to see what they have planned.
On Saturday evening, IMDb staffers will mingle with faeries, vampires, werewolves, and our favorite shifter at the exclusive IMDb/HBO “True Blood” party. Check back on Saturday for photos and highlights of the event.
You can find the full schedule on the official Comic-Con site and keep checking back over the week for more photos and updates. And let us know what you want to see!
Warner Bros. Pictures has released a new Comic-Con poster for 300: Rise of an Empire, the first in a series of character artwork titled Protosamurai (Immortal). This film is the prequel to Zack Snyder’s 300, and stars Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, Callan Mulvey and Jack O’Connell.
300: Rise of an Empire will be a part of Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures preview at Comic-Con on Saturday, July 20, in Hall H from 10:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
For more photos, check out the film’s gallery page.
300: Rise of an Empire will be a part of Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures preview at Comic-Con on Saturday, July 20, in Hall H from 10:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. For more photos, check out the film’s gallery page.
Lionsgate confirmed that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire will be at 2013 Comic-Con in sunny San Diego on Saturday, July 20 in Hall H. Some cast will attend (but they haven’t announced names) but they guaranteed they will show previously unreleased footage and a brand-new trailer.
Check back for more info!
Well, it’s been four eventful days but alas, Comic-Con 2012 has come to an end. Here are a few of my favorite moments this year:
My fellow editor Heather thought it would be a fun idea to count the number of people dressed as Slave Leia because it is always a very popular costume each year. I really expected to see more, but my final #slaveleia count was a mere eight. Either they were in hiding, or Lady Captain America is the new Slave Leia.
My first day on the showroom floor, I saw a girl with a Chewbacca backpack with a little pink barrett in his hair. I had never seen anything like this before, but then the next day, I saw one for Spider-Man. And thus began my hunt for character backpacks. Here’s a full gallery.
I tried my best but didn’t make it into the “Firefly” reunion panel. However, I was able to make it to the press conference and the room was packed! I also posted this on IMDbLive, but my favorite moment was when Joss Whedon was asked about his strong female characters and responded, “In everything I do, men who are comfortable with powerful women are more powerful men.”
From the larger than life trolls to the press conference, I am more excited than ever to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in December. It was surreal to listen to the details of the film production and to hear Sir Ian McKellen’s defense of 3D technology.
On the first day of Comic-Con, I stumbled upon the collection of Batmobiles on display on the lawn in front of the Hilton Bayfront Hotel. As you can imagine, it was an amazing sight to see. I found myself returning to the display every day to stare in awe, as if I was looking at a piece of history. On one day, they started up the Tumbler from The Dark Knight Rises and I captured it on video.
For years, I have carried a grudge against Kevin Williamson. Williamson adapted Lois Duncan’s best-selling novel “I Know What You Did Last Summer”, but in my eyes didn’t give her credit for his second film, Teaching Mrs. Tingle. Duncan wrote the novel, “Killing Mr. Griffin“, and was one of my favorite childhood writers. And so I have boycotted most of his work, and what I did watch was with arms crossed. But… after hearing him talk so passionately about his writing process on “The Following” and “The Vampire Diaries“, I have decided to let it go. I forgive you, Kevin.
I am still coming down from the excitement I felt at the “Fringe” panel and pressroom, and I’m officially counting down the days to the season premiere. If you missed it, check out my previous blog post on my love of “Fringe”.
At the Pacific Rim press conference, Guillermo del Toro said this film production was the most fun that he’s ever had with a group of actors. Charlie Day then stated, “You say this was one of your best experiences working with actors, but you tortured the f*ck out of us.” del Toro giggled and replied, “Yeah, that was fun.”
And, I have to agree. See you next year!
As I watched the trailer for the final season of “Fringe“, I started tearing up. To say that I am a fan is a huge understatement, yet I still had to laugh at myself, and figured this was just more proof that I am a genuine nerd. I soon learned that I am not the only one who was moved by this incredible show. Shortly after the cast took the stage, hundreds of fans in the audience held up sheets of paper with a white tulip drawing. And when describing their favorite scenes on the show that they themselves weren’t in, Jasika Nicole, Anna Torv, and even Lance Reddick were moved to tears.
Maybe this show hasn’t won awards (though John Noble and Anna Torv were robbed, robbed I say!) but “Fringe” is a show with a dedicated fan base, and a cast and crew who are grateful that they are still here as a result of that fan dedication.
After the panel, I suddenly felt very lucky to be able to go and speak with the cast and J.H. Wyman, the show’s executive producer and showrunner. So I asked my fellow “Fringe” fans on Twitter what they might want to learn about the upcoming season. I didn’t get answers to all of their questions, but here are a few:
@FraggleBerlin asks “What did they feel when the fans held up the sheets with white tulips?”
J.H. Wyman: “That meant a great deal to me personally because that image came to me in a dream. I was trying very hard to get what was in my head on to the page, and I think I did. It meant hope, and that it’s okay. It was this concept of I don’t know what the hell is wrong with the world but there is some method of peace that I can find, and belief in something good. I was really adamant about getting that out. So I was very moved because what started as something in my imagination has touched people. It was beautiful.”
@fringefridaynet asks “Is Georgina Haig coming back?”
Georgina Haig appeared in the scenes for next season so I think its safe to say yes, she should appear in some episodes.
@xasilaydying asked “Does Anna Torv still have a job? Olivia was a bit missing in Letters in Transit.”
Yes, Olivia will definitely be in the final season.
@orpheus_E asked “Will we see the alternative universe again?”
From the panel and press rooms, it seemed pretty clear they have said goodbye both to the alternate universe and their alters. But as Lance Reddick said, “This is Fringe. Who knows what could happen?”
@cau7bishop and @millertime1976 asked “Can we expect any surprising guest stars during the last season?” and “Will Henry Ian Cusick be back?”
J.H. Wyman was asked and chose not to answer if Henry Ian Cusick or any other guest stars would be in for the next season. He said he wanted to keep it a surprise because each episode is like “presents on Christmas morning.” In the press room, John Noble mentioned he heard a rumor that Robin Williams wanted to guest star on the show. I think he would be a great Observer.
@ShaNay_Nay asked “Which does John Noble prefer playing, Walter or Walternate?”
Moderator Damian Holbrook asked which version of their character each cast member liked to play. John Noble mentioned he enjoyed playing the Walter when we first met him, straight out of the insane asylum.
@kevrah94 asked “Any exact date for the start of the new season?”
The show is scheduled to return on Friday, September 28th. J.H. Wyman confirmed there will be 13 new episodes.
@Zorknot asked “Is Anna Torv going to do any new characters this season?”
They didn’t hint at any new characters but here’s what Anna Torv had to say about Olivia this season:
“I haven’t had Olivia to myself for awhile. I haven’t been able to have her and I, 100 percent, with all my heart focused on her for a couple of years. I think instead of bemoaning, well, I set this up or set that up, I am just going to make her who I want her to be. Because she isn’t there yet. So that’s my personal challenge for this season, no matter what I am given: I am just going to make her who I want her to be.”
@Keinesvonuns asked “Is there any chance the future Fringe division will turn into a spin-off series?”
There was no talk of a spin-off but John Noble is trying to spread the rumor of a “Fringe” film so it can become a reality. Fans, let’s get to work!
Thank you to everyone who contributed questions and to all my fellow fans who have helped keep the show going for this fifth and final season. Perhaps we can start a support group after the series finale?
Guillermo del Toro : The unofficial mayor of Comic-Con unveiled the best trailer of the event, his stunning, giant-sized first look at Pacific Rim, which aims to seamlessly fit together human emotion, smart science, and smarter CGI/visually effected moviemaking into one of the top event films of next year. After catching glimpses of del Toro’s robot vs. kaiju action, pretty much all other monsters (aside from Godzilla, but more on that in a sec), looked off in scale and purpose. Please don’t hate me, Milla.
Wreck-It Ralph: Much has been said about Disney’s acquisition of Pixar since that deal was inked in 2006, but Wreck-It Ralph, a story set in the world of classic video games, is showing indications of how Disney Animation Studios can create increasingly resonant movies by looking to Pixar’s standards. During the Con’s “trailer park” panel — an interstitial event where trailers are shown between live presentations – Wreck-It got the most applause each time I was present.
Joss Whedon: With a post-Avengers glow, our favorite male feminist hung out with fans the night before the emotional “Firefly” reunion, announced that “Dr. Horrible’s” will air on the CW, and seemingly is in position to do whatever he wants next, which may or may not be an Avengers sequel.
Iron Man 3: Robert Downey Jr. dancing up the aisles to a Luther Vandross song kicked off a presentation that offered a glimpse of Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin and gracefully let Jon Favreau sound off on his participation in the third chapter of Tony Stark’s saga. I never thought this franchise would earn lazy comparisons to Transformers, but let’s just say Stark and company will rebound after a questionable second outing.
After Earth: Apparently you don’t need Will Smith, his son, Jaden, or director M. Night Shyamalan to pack a conference room with news of a sci-fi/adventure story set 1,000 years after our planet’s destruction.
The Campaign: Initially I bristled at the inclusion of this comedy during the Warner Bros. presentation, but an improved second trailer and the Will Ferrell vs. Zach Galifianakis banter fully won me over. And I still can’t believe it every time I see that baby get punched in the face.
“The Big Bang Theory”: Being somewhat naive about this show, its graduation into Hall H made me realize how much of a true fan connection has been developed over its 5 seasons. Also, Kaley Cuoco should be hired for more comedy films.
Django Unchained: Of course Quentin Tarantino motormouthed his way through the script’s development and its myriad movie inspirations, and the footage was full tilt; however, it was the ways in which Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington articulated their respective connection to the material that made me feel this might be QT’s first important film.
Godzilla: A 2-minute tease of Monsters director Gareth Edwards‘s take on the kaiju icon proved what we already know: Edwards is an emerging talent who could help reshape what it means to make an event film in Hollywood.
Two Season Threes: “The Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones” held two of the biggest panels this year — both in Hall H, and both as we await their respective third seasons. Universes will expand, characters we love (and otherwise) will die, and fourth seasons are a given, so let’s get to it already.
“The Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones” announced their respective return dates to 6,000+ ecstatic fans in Hall H on Friday. These two genre-changers capped a major day for television at Comic-Con; personally, each panel reminded me of the tipping point that occurred here at the height of “Lost”‘s popularity, when there was a clear an indication that the small-screen gives us more to invest in in terms of character- and plot-line development. You know, the qualities Steven Soderbergh has cited as he prepares to leave the world of film for TV.
Both panels delivered wildly entertaining previews into their respective third seasons.
Please don’t put me in the barn for saying this, but “The Walking Dead” is an almost-there show. What I mean: Now that we’re beyond the Frank Darabont dismissal drama and the shaky start to season two, true greatness awaits in season 3 as the Ricktatorship senses a mutation in the zombie epidemic and encounters a seemingly abandoned prison that pits them against pure evil in human form. I’ve had issues with the Rick Grimes character over the second season, and Andrew Lincoln seemed aware of Rick’s abrasiveness and questionable decisions. The same goes for his wife, Lori, played by the radiant Sarah Wayne Callies. (“I’m not a homewrecker, I play one on TV,” she offered.) Together, Lincoln and Callies offered sound defenses for their characters’ past actions, and Callies’s assertion that she’d ultimately done right by her husband and family was better articulated than most of Lori’s dialogue. I was like: hey, Robert Kirkman, perhaps she should be in invited into the writers’ room? At the end of the table sat Danai Gurira, who appeared at the end of season two as the katana-sword wielding Michonne, and David Morrissey, who will psychologically terrorize audiences as The Governor. Both actors kept their statements brief, but it’s clear they’ll be more front and center at Comic-Con 2013. And what else is there to say aside from the fact that Merle, the survivalist redneck played by Michael Rooker, appeared at the very end of the season 3 preview trailer.
George R.R. Martin himself moderated the “Game of Thrones” panel; one cool thing about Martin is the fact that he’s been doing the sci-fi/fantasy convention rounds for years, so he was most interested in truly interacting with his cast and the audience without being anything but his sex-and-violence-focused self. He had no filter – it was like hearing your cool grandfather swear, and the crowd loved it. They also loved each time Emilia Clarke and Richard Madden took a question; there was a serious Team Daenerys/Team Rob vibe happening. If I had to gauge who should win the throne from the Hall H reaction, it would be a Targaryen world. The season 3 casting announcements were thorough surprises; personal highlights were brief testimonials from Diana Rigg (who looks amazing) and Mackenzie Crook and his whole Rhys Ifans/I don’t really sleep look. This upcoming season is going to be such an all-star game it will be hard to back a single contender.
Today I checked out the pilot episode and Q&A for “666 Park Avenue“, the sinister new series starring Terry O’Quinn, Vanessa Williams, Dave Annable, and Rachael Taylor. At first, I was a bit reluctant at the idea of watching a full TV episode in the middle of Comic-Con craziness, but it didn’t take long for me to get sucked in.
Here’s the premise: A young eager couple — Jane Van Neen (Rachael Taylor) and Henry Martin (Annable)– have just arrived to New York with a lot of hope but no cash. So they take what seems like a dream gig as resident managers of luxury high-rise building on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The building is owned by the mysterious Gavin Doran (O’Quinn) and his wife, Olivia (Williams), who are happy to help others fulfill their dreams, but at a price. Shortly after Jane and Henry take the job, they realize that there may be more to this building than meets the eye.
I had heard rumblings that the show was a cheap version of Rosemary’s Baby, but I found it to be intriguing. If you were a fan of “Lost“, you are aware that O’Quinn can play the side of darkness with a twinkle in his eye. With this series, he takes his dark side to a new level. It’s unclear if he’s the Devil or a demon, but O’Quinn described his character as “pure evil”.
“666 Park Avenue” has many of the elements that pulls me into a TV series: a great cast, decent writing, and a supernatural element that is spooky and dramatic. At the very least, it intrigued me enough to keep watching this fall.
Cooler temperatures, successful crowd-dodging maneuvers, and a genuine feeling of starstruckness made it a perfect first day at Comic-Con 2012. Here are some highlights:
- Assessing the individual and collective maturity levels of the kids, who have grown up in front of the press over the past years and are keenly aware of the credit due to Stephenie Meyer, the franchise’s directors, and the worldwide fan base who have turned them into icons. And sensing there might be truth to the notion that Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson are indeed a couple by the way he devotes full attention to her.
- Watching a kid in a Nintendo controller mask, a DIY construction made of cardboard and magic marker, get more attention than his older brother’s Batman costume.
- John C. Reilly saying to a reporter, “You’re at Comic-Con, man, do your homework” in response to the question if he played the video game Wreck-It Ralph as a kid.
- Talking with comedienne, Wreck-It Ralph co-star, and fellow New Hampshire native Sarah Silverman about Funspot, the arcade in our home state that used to give you five free tokens for every “A” you received on your report card (and 3 tokens for every “C”).
- The Scooby Doo kids.
- Holding brief, nearly back-to-back audiences with Tim Burton and Sam Raimi, both in similar all-black ensembles. It was good to listen to and speak with Burton about a project to which he’s long been connected, the feature-length expansion of his short, Frankenweenie. Raimi, though graceful, already seems weary of all the Spider-Man reboot questions and the misinterpretations of his Oz: The Great and Powerful project (and he didn’t seem to dig my question of whether he discussed directing techniques with James Franco, which I will be overanalyzing for weeks).
- Seizing up as Michelle Williams approached and realizing I was thoroughly starstruck. Instead of asking about Oz: The Great and Powerful, I just wanted to look at her hair, patterned dress, complexion, and shoes from a respectful distance. It’s a bit odd to see a queen of independent dramas in this setting, and I didn’t think it was the place to talk with her about Meek’s Cutoff and how she was robbed of an Oscar nomination there.
With all the talk of Comic-Con becoming too Hollywood-centric and mainstream, sometimes all you need is a photo of Batdog to help you turn down the background noise.
As I’ve mentioned before, this is my fourth year at Comic-Con and all day I found myself reflecting back. My first and last events were the same as that first year: The Twilight Saga and “Dexter“. For “Dexter”, I clearly remember the first question of the press panel: “So why are you here?”
I don’t know who asked it, but it was in a tone that was not friendly or even sarcastic. It was challenging the fact that this show and many others were realizing Comic-Con is a great place to promote their show/film. Everyone in the room was taken by surprise and as you can imagine, it made for a very awkward panel with dotted silence.
Boy, what a difference four years make. From the loud gasps after they showed the exclusive clip of the first two minutes of the season premiere, to the cheers when the cast walked on stage, there is no question of why “Dexter” is at Comic-Con. It’s a fan favorite. I even saw someone dressed as our favorite serial killer. Throughout the panel, they were very elusive about the fate of Deb and the role of Yvonne Strahovski, but they did let it slip that her name is Hannah. All I can say is save the date for the premiere– September 30th–or at the very least set your DVR.
I would really, really love to tell you more about the clip but I am afraid that I might give something away and I will be hunted down. Spoiler alert!!!
My first exposure to Comic-Con’s unique superpower, the ability to launch a pop-culture phenomenon, coincided with the Twilight panel four years back; this year, that saga comes to a close with a Hall H curtain call for Breaking Dawn – Part 2 on Thursday morning, preceded by an industry party the night before, where Michelle (@IMDbMichelle) and I (@IMDbArno) hope to snap some candids for you before the Con officially kicks into gear for 2012.
It’s an expected start to a year that has one major day of movie presentations — with The Hobbit, Django Unchained, Iron Man 3, Pacific Rim, Man of Steel, and others turning Saturday into the day everyone’s focused on. But let’s acknowledge the two studios who are missing from this year’s roster: Paramount will sit out 2012, and Fox’s barely-here presence has film bloggers wondering aloud if the Con’s special abilities are waning. I wouldn’t say a Hugh Jackman PR stunt to hype The Wolverine would change the prevailing opinion that the industry might be falling out of love with the event, but it would be a welcome surprise in a year that features more than a few notable absences.
Jackman’s Con history is in sharp contrast with someone like Will Smith‘s, who’s no longer Mr. July and isn’t scheduled to appear during the After Earth panel on Saturday. The presentation for the summer 2013 sci-fi flick won’t be graced by Smith’s son and co-star, Jaden, nor director M. Night Shyamalan. The panel isn’t even being held in Hall H. It’s all so curious that I feel as though one, two, or all three of them have to put in a surprise appearance.
Sci-fi fans will be treated to panels with Guillermo del Toro and Neill Blomkamp. The lovable and profane del Toro will unveil bits from his robots-versus-sea-monsters creation, Pacific Rim; Elysium, Blomkamp’s follow-up to District 9, could emerge as the buzziest Con revelation.
And if I manage to get a split second with Quentin Tarantino, who will unveil more of Django Unchained, I’m going to ask him if he prefers fast or slow zombies and, since he has some TV experience under his belt, to sound off on “The Walking Dead” since Frank Darabont‘s unceremonious dismissal.
Comic-Con 2012 begins this week and once again, IMDb will be heading down to San Diego for the event! Starting Wednesday, July 11th – Sunday, July 15th, we will have full coverage of all the nerdy festivities in our special Comic-Con section at http://imdb.com/comic-con/. Arno (@IMDbArno) and I (@IMDbMichelle) will be posting photos and updates on IMDbLive on Facebook, on Twitter at @IMDBLive. Here’s a few things I’m looking forward to:
When I first went to Comic-Con four years ago, my first event was the Twilight press room. The first film hadn’t been released yet and I don’t think any us of knew just how popular it would be, but when I posted my first photo, it got so much traffic it broke the blog. It seems almost fitting that my first event this year will be the press room for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2. Regardless if you are a Twi-hard or a Twi-hater, this final film will be the end of an era.
The event I am most excited about: the Walking Dead Escape: San Diego, presented by “Walking Dead” creator/writer Robert Kirkman and Skybound.com. They are transforming Petco Petco Park into a zombie obstacle course and participants will get to choose to be a walker, survivor, or a spectator. No offense to spectators but it’s not every day you get hands-on practice for the zombie apocalypse. Just saying.
On Thursday, my first big TV event will be “Dexter, with featured panelists Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, and Yvonne Strahovski. They are promising to premiere the first two minutes of the season premiere, so hopefully we can get an idea how the hey Dexter is going to react to getting caught by Deb. I just hope that one of them isn’t dreaming. That would be lame.
I’ll be covering several TV panels and events including “Community“, “Vampire Diaries“, “The Walking Dead“, “True Blood“, “Spartacus: War of the Damned“, and “Fringe“. In addition to these fan favorites, I’ll check out a few upcoming shows including “666 Park Ave“, starring Terry O’Quinn, Vanessa Williams, and David Annable, as well as “The Following“, starring Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy. I am going to try and charm my way into the “Firefly” reunion panel with Joss Whedon, Nathan Fillion, and crew. Wish me luck.
Although I’m mostly covering TV, I am beyond thrilled to be covering a few film events, including The Hobbit, with Peter Jackson, Sir Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, and Richard Armitage, as well as Pacific Rim with Guillermo del Toro, Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, and Ron Perlman. As of right now, Idris Elba is not confirmed to be there but I have my fingers and toes crossed that he will make a surprise visit.
Make sure to check back for photos and updates throughout the week!
The complete schedule for this year’s Comic-Con was released today, and we’ve finally got an almost complete look at what to expect when Comic-Con begins a week from tomorrow (that seems simultaneously really close and altogether too far away).
Click through to the official Comic-Con MySched site to create your own personalized schedule for each day.
So it begins! The official Facebook page for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey announced this morning that there will be a special look at the upcoming film at Comic-Con on Saturday, July 14th, in Hall H. Director Peter Jackson and producer Philippa Boyens are confirmed to attend, along with Sir Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, and Richard Armitage.
These photos of an animated Stan Lee from the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man video game essentially sum up our growing enthusiasm for Comic-Con 2012.
Okay, now we’re really excited. Science Channel announced today that there will be a “Firefly” panel at this year’s Comic-Con, celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the series. Joss Whedon and Nathan Fillion are confirmed to attend, along with Alan Tudyk, Adam Baldwin, Sean Maher, Michael Fairman, and writer Tim Minear. The panel will be held on Friday, July 13, at 12:30 pm PT in Ballroom 20. Shiny!
If you have been (im)patiently waiting to see how Dexter was going to explain his extracurricular activites to Deb, you might want to head down to Comic-Con.
Showtime announced today that “Dexter” will headline opening day at Comic-Con 2012 on July 12th. Featured panelists will include Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, and guest star Yvonne Strahovski (of “Chuck” fame), along with executive producers John Goldwyn, Sara Colleton, and Scott Buck. Attendees will be the first to see an exclusive two-minute clip from the season premiere. We’re sure the clip won’t reveal too much, but at the very least it may hold us over until the season premiere on September 30th.
A funny thing happened to me this year at Comic-Con. After running around all day for back-to-back panels, I found myself with a spare hour before my next commitment. It was a beautiful, sunny day (compared to the usually dreary Seattle where I live) so I decided to walk over to the park between the convention center and the Hilton hotel. Keep in mind, this is the third year in a row I have attended Comic-Con, so imagine my surprise when I looked up to discover the crystal blue marina, just steps away from all the activities. It occurred to me that in all my experiences at this event, I had never slowed down enough to really stop and enjoy my surroundings.
In a nutshell, this is the perfect way to describe the vibe at this year’s Comic-Con. The pace was a bit slower and there was room to walk through the main floor of the convention center without feeling like a herd of cattle. It seemed like there were fewer people dressed in costumes, but the ones who did dress up really took the time to perfect their characters. From my perspective, everyone I encountered, from the fans to the celebrities, appeared to be in good spirits and took the time to enjoy the moment.
Here are a few of my favorite moments:
- Josh Jackson getting a standing ovation when he made a surprise appearance at the “Fringe” panel. It looks like he will indeed be featured next season. He stated “I think the Peter we see this season will be a very different man than we’ve met before”. Hint, hint: he was dressed as an observer.
- At the end of the “Alcatraz” press panel, I asked director Jack Bender (who also directed “Lost“) what was the name of the man in black. He answered “Barry”.
- Running into the legendary film director Werner Herzog.
- Attending the star-studded world premiere of Cowboys & Aliens. In addition to Jon Favreau, Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, and Olivia Wilde, we spotted Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, Johnny Galecki, Danny DeVito, and Joel McHale.
- Riding the elevator with a pair of Clone Troopers. These were the most impressive costumes I saw this year.
- Interviewing Taylor Lautner on the terrace of the empty Petco Park. Regardless if you’re a Twilight fan, he’s a genuinely gracious young man who seems humbled by his success.
- Spotting Alexander Skarsgard at the Wired Café. No further explanation is necessary.
- Listening to director Frank Darabont and make-up/special effects wizard Gregory Nicotero describe how they cast for zombies for “The Walking Dead”. Nicotero said, “There are two kinds of people in the world. One sings with a hairbrush in the front of the mirror, and the other does the zombie walk. I look for the latter.”
- At the “Warehouse 13” panel, a young fan asked Allison Scagliotti if she was on “Drake & Josh”. She didn’t seem too thrilled by the question but stated “You know, IMDb is a great resource for those types of questions.” Go team!
- Stumbling across a group of people dressed as superheroes relaxing in the shade by the Marriot. When they noticed us smiling at them, they started to get up, but my co-worker Arno stopped them and said, “Even superheroes need a break.”
See you next year!
I just left a special presentation of The Darkest Hour, director Chris Gorak’s follow-up to the underseen Right at Your Door. Summit Entertainment is keeping a lid on this sci-fi survival tale for good reason: it looks too promising to spoil with a flood of advanced footage.
Gorak has worked with writer Jon Spaiths (who has a bit of a say in Prometheus) and producer Timur Bekmambetov (and his visual effects team) on a Russia-set story of people — Emile Hirsch, Rachel Taylor, Joel Kinnaman, Olivia Thirlby, and Max Minghella — who survive a global alien attack where our energy supplies are the primary target. The hook for me was when Gorak said he hopes the film turns the genre on its head since it proffers a scenario where the daytime is scarier than the night. Combine that with Bekmambetov’s instantly engaging visuals and seemingly humanistic story elements, and I’m happy to feel my sense that the film might be a unique take on the overworked alien-invasion premise seems on point. In other words, this movie cannot be breezily dismissed as Battle: Russian Federation.
The trailer, which I will remain tight-lipped about, was as promising as the set photos and storyboards we glimpsed. And we were told the trailer will be out within the next few weeks. Welcome back to the big big-screen, Emile Hirsch; we’ve missed you.