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Robert Rodriguez on Sin City: A Dame to Kill For's Score
I cannot tell a lie, folks — the cool Sunday evening air of Seattle felt particularly good upon my return from San Diego Comic-Con. Sure, the Con was fun. It always is. But spending four days pretending to be the Millennium Falcon navigating an asteroid field can be draining — and this year’s swarm of slow-moving convention-goers seemed particularly thick, leaving less room to maneuver.
Comic-Con 2014 was something of a paradox: it felt bigger while seeming to offer fewer of the charms that made past Comic-Cons special. The entertainment industry’s presence felt more pervasive, and panels for the biggest TV series were packed. To echo the observation made in a previous post by my colleague Michelle Nelson, after Thursday night, it became tougher to find extraordinary cosplayers on the floor that weren’t sponsored or professionals such as Yaya Han.
Granted, there were a few Con-goers whose costumes showed a level of ingenuity that blew my mind, like the “Supernatural” fan who constructed fully expandable angel wings that were to true to scale. (Thanks to TVLine West Coast Editor Vlada Gelman for sharing that photo on Twitter.) Or the guys dressed in functional Transformer costumes, including one whose Optimus Prime was taller than a pair of elevator doors.
Or the family attending the small child on a tricycle smoothly pedaling along while dressed as Jigsaw‘s puppet. Afterward a few of us debated whether that kid’s mother and dad were the greatest parents ever, or the worst. And, Powdered Toast Man? Whoever you are, thank you for being you.
San Diego Comic-Con has been dominated by the entertainment industry for years now, and considering that plenty of films and television series are based on comic book, video game, science fiction and fantasy franchises, I get it if there are fewer people choosing to go all out with their costumes. The Con ceased being merely a geek event eons ago. More everyday movie and TV fans are buying tickets for a chance to be in the same room with their favorite stars.
It’s also understandable if fewer devotees to the artistry inspired by these films and series bother to construct intricate costumes from scratch, dress up, and baste in their own sweat while fighting their way through the increasingly crowded corridors. Should this perceived trend continue, and the Con grows to be even less about celebrating the artists who create these works of popular art, something beautiful will be lost … to San Diego at least. Comic book conventions in other cities appear to be growing in popularity, including one right here in IMDb’s backyard, Emerald City Comic-Con. For geeks who want to keep plenty of comic books in their ‘cons, this is a welcome sign.
It must be said that San Diego Comic-Con’s tightening embrace of the entertainment industry isn’t entirely a terrible thing. I can’t think of any other large-scale environments where so many viewers who think deeply and critically about their favorite shows can speak directly to the people who make them, and have that dialogue witnessed live, without the anonymity and filter of the Internet. There’s value in that face-to-face interaction.
This leads me to recall one of my favorite moments of this year’s Comic-Con, when I happened to cross paths with “Hannibal” creator Bryan Fuller following his show’s well-attended panel. Where other showrunners were coy about sharing too much information with fans, Fuller wondered aloud whether he had given “Hannibal’s” Comic-Con panel attendees enough details about the upcoming season. They wait in line for hours, he said, and he was concerned about doing everything he could to honor that kind of devotion.
At that panel were plenty of cosplayers and many others who weren’t dressed up, but everybody seemed content to be there with hundred of fellow “Hannibal” fans. There was a sense of openness and belonging in that room, which is what Comic-Con should always be about at its heart.
For the past couple of years when I’ve recounted my favorite Comic-Con moments, the fans and cosplay are usually at the top of my list. But this year felt different. There didn’t seem to be as many people dressed up, and there were many times when I did see a cool costume, only to discover it was a paid actor promoting a film or TV show. On more than one occasion I saw people taking photos of people dressed as a pack of gum or a mobile phone (both were promotions). There certainly was a blurred line between commercial promotion and the celebration of our favorite characters. Despite this noted difference, I had a lot of fun this year and was very impressed by the footage that was revealed.
Here are a few of my favorite moments:
If an hour can be a moment, the entire Hobbit panel tops my list. I am still smiling. A few highlights that stand out were hearing Andy Serkis use Gollum’s voice to answer a fan question, the outtakes reel, and when Stephen Colbert asked Cate Blanchett if she wore any of her original costumes from the Lord of the Rings in the new film. She misheard him and thought he asked if she wore any underwear beneath her costume. Apparently she did not!
“The Walking Dead” is one of my favorite shows. I don’t care what the haters say, I loved the last season: “Claimed!” and “Just look at the flowers” now have regular use in my everyday conversation. I always look forward to covering the “Walking Dead” events, not just because I’m a fan, but because the cast and crew seem so genuinely happy to be there. At the “Walking Dead” BBQ, they were taking selfies and signing items for fans. Norman Reedus and Greg Nicotero also judged a Comic-Con costume contest, and Nicotero gave tips on their costumes. This makes me like the show even more.
I had assumed that The Boxtrolls was a CG-animated feature. I found the panel so fascinating as they shared how they created this world in a hybrid of motion-capture and visual effects. My favorite part of the panel was when Elle Fanning told the story about the first time she visited the animation studio with her sister, Dakota, when she was filming Coraline. While there, she met the woman who knit the tiny little sweaters for the characters, and as she described watching her work, her eyes just lit up with delight.
In the Sin City: A Dame to Kill For panel, what stood out to me the most was the amount of respect Robert Rodriguez and the entire cast have for Frank Miller’s work. It was expressed repeatedly that the primary goal in production is to stay true to his original vision. Miller told a story about how he had drawn a storyboard for Jessica Alba’s character, putting her in an action pose that he knew wasn’t realistic, but that he drew in his usual style nevertheless. One day on set, he was surprised to see Jessica in this impossible pose. He stopped her and said, “What are you doing? How are you getting like that?” Jessica answered, “That’s what you drew.”
Every year Entertainment Weekly hosts a series of specialty panels, and this year I checked out the Women Who Kick Ass panel, with Katey Sagal, Sarah Paulson, Tatiana Maslany, Nicole Beharie, Maisie Williams, and Natalie Dormer. I learned so many interesting facts from each of the panelists, but there were two standout moments: listening to Sarah Paulson describe her transformation into a 77-year old Lana Winters in “American Horror Story: Asylum,” and Tatiana explaining that she has different music playlists that help her get into each of her “Orphan Black” clone characters.
While waiting in a line for a panel, a little dog drove by in a Superman convertible with “Kryptonite” playing on his stereo. There was so many people you couldn’t tell who was operating the remote control. You can see the photo on our Instagram: http://instagram.com/p/q7U67ctnVu/
What with all the hoopla surrounding new and returning TV titles at Comic-Con, it helps to be reminded that more than a few series made a splash here just once, never to return. I could list a few of those titles as examples, but I honestly can’t recall any off the top of my head because their lifespans were short and unsung.
I bring this up because on Saturday and Sunday, the casts and producers of “True Blood” and “Sons of Anarchy” appeared before their faithful viewers at Comic-Con for a final time. Tears were shed during each panel, and heartfelt moments brought attendees to their feet to give the actors and producers standing ovations. These long-running series appeared regularly at Comic-Con through their runs, and each of their casts poignantly thanked the fans by acknowledging that they owe their long lifespans to their passionate viewers.
Fan favorite Kristin Bauer van Straten cried frequently during “True Blood’s” panel. By her report, she was one of the biggest weepers on the set whenever she experienced the “last” of anything. But surprisingly enough, on the “Sons of Anarchy” panel, the person who lost it was none other than the show’s hard-boiled creator and executive producer Kurt Sutter, moved to tears by a heartfelt expression of gratitude by the series’ go-to director Paris Barclay and a standing ovation by the fans in Hall H.
Saturday and Sunday also brought panels for “The Vampire Diaries” and “Supernatural”, the latter of which is entering its 10th season and will air its 200th episode. Each show has a reputation for drawing particularly enthusiastic, devoted fans to its panels. “Supernatural” usually panels at the end of Con, so the people who show up are not only deep fans of the show but Comic-Con diehards, which created the air of a particularly joyous family reunion on Sunday morning.
Keep reading for highlights from these panels and details about what’s in store during the upcoming seasons and episodes of these shows.
“True Blood” airs the sixth of its final 10 episodes this week, and Saturday evening’s panel had a uniquely celebratory vibe to it. Even Rutina Wesley showed up although her character, Tara, is officially among the dearly departed. Or, we should say, she’s left Bon Temps … but according to showrunner Brian Buckner, we have yet to see footage from the very last scenes Wesley filmed on the show.
However, both Buckner and Anna Camp teased that what’s in store for Sarah Newlin, one of the main figures responsible for helping to create and spread the fatal Hep V virus to vampires, will be particularly awful/awesome. “I think I get what I deserve,” Camp told fans.
Buckner added that the day that they shot Sarah receiving her “punishment,” Camp’s boyfriend was on the set and he had to explain to the man, “She deserves this, she deserves this!” Oh dear.
Saturday’s vampire weekend treat began earlier that afternoon with “The Vampire Diaries” panel, which kicked off with a funny spoof video that picked up from the finale’s fade-to-white cliffhanger by showing Kat Graham and Ian Somerhalder, both of whose characters were presumably zapped out of existence, turning up on an empty soundstage with no clue as to what happened to them. Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley and Candice Accola, meanwhile, acted as Graham were huge divas behind the scenes and they were glad to have them gone.
Naturally, Graham and Somerhalder then took the stage to eardrum shattering screams because, honestly, did you really think they’d kill off one of the Salvatores? Executive producer Julie Plec confirmed that the pair would be back but, of course, did not say how that would happen.
What Plec and the cast did reveal is that the time jump between the finale and the premiere is four months, and that in the coming season Matthew Davis, who plays Alaric Saltzman, will return as a teacher at the university.
Sunday’s “Sons of Anarchy” panel did not offer many details about the coming season – Sutter likes to play his cards close to the cut – but those assembled in Hall H did get a first look at the opening montage of the season which included the usual riveting moments of beauty, brutality, tragedy and as the cherry topper, a little bit of D.I.Y. dentistry. “I think we’re gonna break a lot of hearts this year,” said David Labrava, who plays Happy. “Get your handkerchiefs ready.”
The end of the series does not mean the end of its story, however. A novel titled Bratva comes out this fall, with the action taking place during the events of season four, in which the club tangles with a Russian gang. Sutter also updated fans on the status of a “Sons of Anarchy” prequel currently being developed. He said that it could be a miniseries or a regular series commitment, and will explore the club’s origins dating back to John Teller’s era and his relationship with Piney.
One of Sunday’s top TV destinations at Comic-Con, “Supernatural,” opened with series star Jensen Ackles introducing the season 10’s version of the signature “The Road So Far” recap reel before treating fans to a scene from an upcoming episode he directed. After co-stars Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins and Mark Sheppard joined him onstage, Ackles and Padalecki told fans about the coming season’s central conflict between Sam and Dean… rather, Sam and Demon Dean.
Ackles explained that his demon version isn’t a meat suit, but a twisted, tortured version of his soul. In the clip, Dean taunts Sam with his past actions, asking Sam whether he is any less monstrous than his demon brother. Showrunner Jeremy Carver also said that in the first few episodes, Dean enjoys being a demon while Sam searches for a way to save him.
Season 10 also brings “Supernatural’s” 200th episode, which the panel teased would be the show’s version of a musical episode featuring “big hair bands.” In fact, Ackles said, we’ll discover that Dean enjoys karaoke.
Carry on, wayward sons.
The Marvel panel was the most anticipated panel of Comic-Con, and I realize now I was setting myself up for disappointment. They have been in the news so much the last two weeks, I was expecting to learn more about the five upcoming mystery films, or at the very least who would play Doctor Strange. No such luck. The first thing Kevin Feige said when he took the stage was that the panel would focus on 2015. I had to remind myself of that at the close of the panel as I stood confused thinking, that’s it?
That being said, there was still a lot excitement. For Ant-Man, they made no mention of the troubled production and revealed Evangeline Lilly is confirmed to play Hope Pym and Corey Stoll will play Darren Cross aka Yellowjacket. Lilly and Stoll joined director Peyton Reed, Paul Rudd, and Michael Douglas. When Paul Rudd shared this was his first time at Comic-Con and Lilly said, “Oh, you’re a Comic-Con virgin?”, prompting a woman to scream, “Let’s pop his cherry!” This lead to a whole line of cherry popping jokes when finally Kevin Feige asked, “Can we please stop talking about popping cherries, this is a family event.” Hardwick laughed and replied, “But that’s how families are made!” The film hasn’t started shooting yet—Lilly said she still hasn’t received a script—but they did show a short mostly CG clip with voiceover from Rudd and Douglas.
Next up was The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Joss Whedon wasn’t able to make it this year because he just had knee surgery and was told he couldn’t fly. They showed a montage of all of the Iron Man and Captain America films and even then mixed in Guardians of the Galaxy at the end. Robert Downey Jr made a grand entrance dancing out to Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough”, followed by Jeremy Renner, Paul Bettany, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Cobie Smulders, and Samuel L. Jackson, along with Aaron Taylor-Johnson, James Spader, and Elizabeth Olsen. The highlight of the panel was when Hardwick asked Hemsworth if there was anything he’d like to do as Thor that he hasn’t done before. Hemsworth stated, “Turn him into a woman. I don’t want to jinx it, but I think it could be my Oscar.”
The extensive trailer they screened opens with a funny clip of the Avengers sitting around drinking while each of them tries to pick up Thor’s hammer. Then Ultron breaks up the party and all hell breaks loose. The footage was phenomenal—this is the first time I have ever seen a trailer get a standing ovation. The crowd was still cheering so loudly when they brought out Josh Brolin to announce he’s Thanos, I think most people missed it.
To close, they played a video clip with director James Gunn and Chris Pratt who announced the sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy will be released July 28, 2017. Mark your calendars!
I have been coming to Comic-Con for five years, and I have to say that the Warner Bros panel provided the most fun and excitement I’ve ever experienced in Hall H. As they pulled back the curtains that ran the length of Hall H, revealing super-sized screens, moderator Chris Hardwick kicked off the event by saying, “You know Warner Bros. likes to do everything big!” Graphics for Batman appeared on the left, Superman on the right, with the Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice logo on the main screen. The room went nuts.
Zack Snyder took the stage and said they were still in production, but he did have some footage to share. The very short teaser opens with Batman suited up in heavy armor on a Gotham rooftop, during a dark and stormy night. He turns on the bat signal, revealing a pissed-off Superman hovering in the sky with his eyes glowing red. And that was it. After the teaser, Snyder brought out Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, and Gal Gadot, but said, “I’m not giving them a microphone because I don’t want you to ask them anything.” Just before they were whisked off the stage, Hardwick took a quick selfie. It was short and sweet, but awesome.
Next, Channing Tatum took the stage by himself, representing The Wachowski’s Jupiter Ascending. They showed an extensive trailer but it felt very similar to the footage we’ve seen before.
If you’re worried that Mad Max: Fury Road is just another remake, don’t be. The panel began with a video retrospective celebrating the original Mad Max films. Then George Miller chatted with Chris Hardwick both about the original and upcoming release, which stars Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron. It’s clear that this was a way to show fans that this is not just a reboot, but more of an extension of those original films.
Last but not least came The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. True Tolkien fan Stephen Colbert took over as moderator, wearing his costume as the Laketown spy in The Desolution of Smaug. For the panel itself, Peter Jackson and Phillipa Boyens were joined by Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Luke Evans, Lee Pace, Graham McTavis, Elijah Wood, and Andy Serkis. Fans were treated to lots of footage: a montage of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and first two Hobbit films; a hilarious outtakes reel compiled from scenes shot over the years; and of course, new footage from The Battle of the Five Armies. Peter Jackson also announced a contest in which 75 fans (plus one guest per winner) will be flown to New Zealand for a screening of the new movie. Two unsuspecting winners were chosen from the audience, but have no fear, they will pick 73 more. The official contest opens on August 25th, and more information can be found at http://www.thehobbitfancontest.com/.
- Michelle Nelson
Friday was busy for TV fans attending San Diego Comic-Con, with a schedule full of panels for “Orphan Black,” “Vikings,” “Outlander,” “Bates Motel,” “Arrow” and many more — far too many for one mere mortal to cover, largely due to the fact that the most popular ones happened to occur at the same time. It was a day of making all kinds of Sophie’s choices, if you will. In the end I focused my efforts on hanging with the folks who write for television’s favorite nerds; finding out a few details about what’s coming down the road for the citizens of Westeros and Banshee; and discovering whether our favorite gang of survivors will make it out of Terminus. Please bear in mind that this is a report from the heart of Nerd Central, so if you are SPOILER averse, please stop reading now.
“The Walking Dead’s“ cast and producers know that Comic-Con people are its biggest boosters, and executive producer Gale Anne Hurd took a moment to acknowledge that as they revealed season five’s premiere date – Sunday, October 12 at 9pm – and unveiled the new preview trailer to the folks assembled in Hall H. If you haven’t seen it yet, ask yourself why you’ve decided to miss out on some of the finer things in life. Then have a look as soon as possible. It is perhaps the most spoiler-heavy trailer AMC and the show have released to date, but it’s also the most exciting one, featuring a newly invigorated, super bad-ass Rick Grimes.
“This is a very dangerous, very different group of people,” said creator and executive producer Robert Kirkman, explaining that now that the group has lost Hershel, all bets are pretty much off.
Among the things showrunner Scott Gimple teased are that we’ll see the story of how Terminus came to be, and the answer to the question of what happened to Beth Greene. Yes, Emily Kinney was present for the panel and assured us that Beth has gotten a lot fiercer. The time spent with Daryl (Norman Reedus, who is a Comic-Con deity at this point) helped her learn a new set of survival skills. “She’s taking a different kind of strength into season five,” Kinney said.
In casting news, Gimple joked that producers are committed to hiring as many of the actors who graced “The Wire” as possible (a nod to Chad L. Coleman, who plays Tyreese) before telling us that Seth Gilliam will appear in the upcoming season in the role of Father Gabriel.
“Game of Thrones” unveiled its lengthy list of cast additions, but mainly the panel served as an outlet for the actors to ham it up for the fans. (Behold the season four blooper reel.) The person who made the seating arrangements cheekily placed Rory McCann between Gwendoline Christie and Maisie Williams, also known as the woman who dealt the blow that would eventually end The Hound, and the girl who left him on a hillside to die. McCann playfully moaned about how brutally The Hound was beaten in his deathmatch with Brienne, to which Christie purred, “I thought he got off lightly.”
“Nasty b-tch,” McCann growled in reply, and without missing a beat, Williams asked, “Which one: Me, or her?”
Later, a questioner asked the panel to answer the eternal question of whether they’d choose direwolves and dragons. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays Jaime Lannister, answered “Direwolves.” An odd response, given the enmity between Houses Stark and Lannister. But then he added, “Easier to kill.” But fan favorite Pedro Pascal, whose much-loved character Oberyn Martell met his demise last season, had the best answer when his time came: Asked to choose, he calmly answered, “Snakes.”
Every major panel includes a surprise guest star appearance or two; “The Walking Dead” brought out Chandler Riggs eating pudding from a giant can, while “The Big Bang Theory‘s” writers and producers welcomed Wil Wheaton to the stage. But “Big Bang” provided an unscripted thrill for the fans attending its panel, though the larger shock was felt by moderator Craig Ferguson. We’re not talking about the producers’ galaxy-shaking statement that when “Star Wars” icons James Earl Jones and Carrie Fisher met on the show, it was the first time they’d actually met in real life…although that fact is truly mind-blowing.
Instead, the moment came when a woman in the audience stepped up to ask the writers why they hated Aquaman so much. Mind you, “The Big Bang Theory” is not alone in maligning Aquaman; he’s been the butt of many a pop culture joke. Even Dave Chappelle knocked him in one of his earliest bits. So you can’t blame Ferguson for taking this opportunity to riff and running with it.
“BECAUSE HE’S NOT A REAL SUPERHERO! THAT’S WHY! THAT’S WHY THEY HATE HIM!” the comedian bellowed, making the audience erupt in laughter. The questioner was not pleased. Once the room died down a bit, Wheaton stepped in and asked the woman to reveal her identity. She calmly answered that she is the granddaughter of Aquaman’s creator, Paul Norris.
The audience lost it, and Ferguson looked appropriately horrified as he apologized profusely.
Later in the day, at the much more intimate panel for ”Banshee,” fans queued up to ask questions of the castmembers present, including the very sweet and kind Geno Segers, a tower of a man who joins the show in season three to play the fearsome, vicious gang leader Chayton Littlestone. But one questioner wearing a red fez stopped the discussion in its tracks as he asked about whether the gang of white supremacists featured in season two would return in season three.
Antony Starr demanded the questioner remove his hat, and it turned out to be Demetrius Grosse, a central member of the cast whose character Deputy Emmett Yawners met his end in the second season finale. Starr descended from the dais to give Grosse a hug. Later fans lined up to take selfies with the man who played the dearly departed Deputy Yawners before everyone disappeared into the throngs filling the streets on Friday evening.
Friday bonus: A “Vikings” Food Fight. Part of covering Comic-Con includes attending a series of press rooms, which can be a challenge as tens of reporters fight to ask questions of the few actors assembled for a limited amount of time. Noise levels drown out many of the answers. This was particularly true in the press room for “Vikings,” which cultivated a party atmosphere by serving reporters fruit, beer and wine, and handing out drinking horns. After that, Katheryn Winnick, Clive Standen, Alexander Ludwig and Travis Fimmel were brought to the roundtables to chat. In theory. Mid-interview, Ludwig, who had poured water over Fimmel’s head prior to sitting down with Winnick, got biffed by a projectile thrown by Fimmel, who would later sit down with us and surgically aim green grapes at some poor soul at the table behind me. One should expect nothing less from a gang of Northmen who know how to party.
This morning after I tweeted about my experience of watching The Hunger Games: Mockingjay teaser trailer, I was accused of shameless promotion. But I didn’t include the tag because of an ad buy or promotion. I did so because of my own amazement of how I had just watched the trailer for the one of the most highly anticipated films of the year. Not in Hall H on the large screen, not surrounded by screaming fans. I was in a guarded room, wearing headphones, holding a tablet while eating Panem salt water taffy. They say this is the future, that one day there won’t be anymore movie theaters and we’ll all watch films on our various mobile devices. I hope that’s not the case because as much as I enjoyed the new teaser trailer, I can’t wait to see it on the big screen, the way I believe films are meant to be seen.
I spent the majority of the rest of my day at the press conference and panels for Fox’s upcoming films. First up was The Maze Runner, based on the young adult post-apocalyptic novel by James Dashner. The author was joined onstage by director Wes Ball and stars Dylan O’Brien, Will Poulter, and Kaya Scodelario. This is the debut film for Wes Ball, who got the attention of the studios with his sci-fi animated short Ruin. If you’re thinking, “How someone can score such a high profile film with an animated short?” you can watch it here: https://vimeo.com/38591304
The biggest moment in the panel was when a fan asked Dylan what the most difficult scene was to film. He answered with a huge spoiler that made the room gasp. He may have been able to play it off but then he said, “Oh man, I’m going to get yelled at,“ and had his head in his hands for the rest of the panel. We won’t reveal it but just know, the spoiler is out there.
I’m also looking forward to seeing Book of Life, the animated feature directed by Jorge Gutierrez, produced by Guillermo del Toro, featuring the voices of Channing Tatum, Christina Applegate, Ron Perlman, as well as Zoe Saldana, who wasn’t at the panel. The animation is inspired by the Dia de Muertos (The Day of the Dead), a holiday celebrated in Mexico which is a day for friends and family to remember the ones they have lost. This day has always been important to Gutierrez: he was married on this day because he wanted his best friend, who had died, to be his best man and this was the one day he could come back to do so. Much like an animated Moulin Rouge, some of the dialogue from the film is from modern songs including Radiohead’s “Creep,” Ice Cube’s “Today was a Good Day,” and Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend.” Biz Markie made a surprise appearance at the panel and sang his classic hip-hop song.
I ended the day at “The Walking Dead” BBQ, held in a makeshift Terminus. There was a woman slicing a bloody hand next to the grill filled with “sausages”, and there were zombies wandering around. The cast made an appearance on top of the Winnebago, and cheering fans threw up hats, toy guns, badges and t-shirts that the cast happily signed. If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure to check out new trailer for season five.
- Michelle Nelson
If you recall the events that transpired during season four of “Game of Thrones,” you probably may have guessed that the citizens of Dorne are a tad miffed at the Lannisters right now. Dorne intends to answer! As such, on Friday afternoon HBO announced a number of additions to the already-sizable “Game of Thrones” cast, many of them relative newcomers. After all, it’s not as if there aren’t spots coming open on a regular basis.
Among the better known actors joining the cast are Alexander Siddig, last seen guest starring on “Da Vinci’s Demons.“ Siddig will have a major story arc as Doran Martell, the ruling lord of Dorne and older brother to Prince Oberyn Martell. (A moment of silence for The Viper, if you will…) Also joining the cast in season five is Jonathan Pryce as the High Sparrow. The press release describes the High Sparrow as a devout and pious man who came to King’s Landing to serve the poor, the downtrodden and the infirm, and has amassed a large following in the process. “His fellow believers have swarmed over the city, ministering to the lowest and decrying the corruption of the highest.” Look out, Cersei.
Season five also introduces Oberyn’s formidable daughters, known as the Sand Snakes. Rosabell Laurenti Sellers will play Tyene Sand, daughter to The Viper and his final paramour Ellaria. According to HBO’s press release, “Tyene is fiercer than she looks, especially with her twin daggers.” The role of fearsome warrior Obara Sand was won by Keisha Castle-Hughes, who earned critical acclaim and an Oscar nomination at a young age as the star of Whale Rider. Lastly, Jessica Henwick has been cast as Nymeria Sand, a.k.a. Nym. The press release describes her as the child of an Eastern noblewoman “who brought Nym up to be cultured, graceful and deadly with a whip.”
Additionally, Toby Sebastian will play Prince Doran’s son, Trystane Martell, who is betrothed to Myrcella Baratheon, the eldest daughter of Cersei Lannister and the late Robert Baratheon (wink, nudge), who will now be portrayed by Nell Tiger Free. Areo Hotah, recognizable to readers of George R.R. Martin ‘s novels as the captain of Doran Martell’s palace guard, will be played by DeObia Oparei. And Enzo Cilenti will fill the role of Yezzan, an extremely wealthy slave trader who may have issues with the changes Daenerys Targaryen has made.
The new season of “Game of Thrones” is scheduled to air in 2015.
As I watched the extensive of footage for The Giver at the Hall H panel, I must admit my first thought was “Wow, that really looks a lot like Divergent.” While it will be very easy to dismiss this film as just another copycat, Lois Lowry‘s 1993 novel was actually the inspiration for the current YA dystopian craze. Jeff Bridges discovered the novel almost twenty years ago and optioned the book with the intention of directing the film with his father, Lloyd Bridges, in the role of The Giver. Now years later, his dream project has finally made it to the screen. We sat down with Jeff Bridges, the star and producer of the film, author Lois Lowry, and stars Brenton Thwaites, Odeya Rush, and Cameron Monaghan to learn more about the making of the film.
Jeff, you first optioned this novel almost 20 years ago with the intention to direct. What was it about this book that made you not give up on the project?
Jeff Bridges: I loved the story. And that kept me involved in wanting to see it made into a film. And also my partners, Neil Koenigsberg and Nikki Silver, who were along for the whole ride, we kept inspiring each other, saying come on, we can do it.
At what point did you decide to not direct the film?
Lois Lowry: When you got old enough to play The Giver?
Bridges: Yeah, when I got old enough…[laughing] Gee, I don’t know when that actually happened. I’m not really sure, I know when it got closer and closer to getting made and as we started to get into the story, I started to feel maybe this wasn’t the movie for a first-time guy. There’s a lot of stuff to do. For a while, we were trying to pitch it and get finance as a very big budget movie. But a lot of movies are ruined when they have too big of a budget. It’s kind of a shame, but the mid-budget movies aren’t really made anymore. You’ve got either low-budget movies or big 200 million dollar movies. So when it started getting down to this is going to be a low-budget film, I thought whoever is going to have to direct this is really needs to know his stuff.
Lowry: And he did.
Bridges: Philip Noyce is so creative and smart, but his work ethic—God, he could work us all under the table. I happily bowed out from that position and turned it over to him.
Lowry: Would you have directed yourself? Could you have directed it and played the role?
Bridges: That would have been tough I think. I don’t know how that would work. My brother’s done that before. I know what a director has to do and what that means, and that’s a lot of work.
Are you still interested in directing?
Bridges: Yeah, sort of. What really peaked my interest in this project was the material that I loved, but it was also working with my dad, I wanted to do something with my dad for my kids. I might but I’m not chomping at the bit like “I have to direct. I don’t have that kind of urgency and maybe that’s what you need as a director, because I know there’s so much work. It’s easily a year out of your life.
Brenton, your character is the receiver of memories and you were playing opposite Jeff Bridges who bestows this knowledge to you. As an actor, what did you learn from working with Jeff?
Thwaites: I learned so much. He has a great language and he uses these very collaborative, creative words to describe the work. Like, when we’re jamming on set with our dialogue and our acting, it’s like we’re jamming with music. He also taught me the importance of relaxing and playing around on set. He teaches you to go in with a certain attitude: lighten it up, have fun, and trust yourself.
The movie is part black and white, and part color, and you are one of the few people to see that color. What was your approach with these scenes knowing that your character was seeing something no one else could?
Thwaites: For my approach I used sense memory, and I learned it from a teacher of Eric Morris, who has a studio in Los Angeles. One of his students was my acting teacher, Charles Allen. He was very strict on sense memory because it’s a very hard thing to find. To smell something and focus on it for an hour is a hard thing to do. To ask yourself questions like, [taking a deep breath] “What am I smelling now in the room?” And you try and suggest things. Say you were working for the memory of a hat, “What was it like when I smelled my hat for the first time?”
With color it was a visual, so I would ask myself questions like, “What was it like to see New York for the first time?” “What was it like to jump out of a plane and see the world in a dome shape for the first time?” It’s insane, these feelings create emotions inside of you. I had a bunch of different choices that I would work for and try and recreate on set, connecting it to what I have experienced.
The Giver is being compared to other YA dystopian films, like The Hunger Games and Divergent. How is this film different?
Thwaites: Well, for starters, the main hero in this film hasn’t got an M16 or a knife-throwing skill, or any physical advantage over anyone. His main power is knowledge. And I think in our world, knowledge is so easily accessible. We have that at our fingertips, but how do we access that within ourselves? What choices do we make, and what do we study? My character learns a bunch of memories from The Giver. Those memories and experiences teach him to follow his heart and trust his instincts. And I feel like this film is a tool of the same sort.
Cameron Monaghan: This is one of the originators of this trend of YA sci-fi novels. It was the inspiration for Divergent and I’m sure you can say the other ones. What’s amazing about this story, while it still has action and excitement and all that stuff, at the end of the day it’s a really beautiful story about love and humanity. Not to diss the other ones, but they are a little more focused on the action side of it. I like people, and this story is about humanity.
Lois, how does it feel to finally see your book come to life? Did it take a new form or do you see it as the original story you wrote?
Lowry: It feels true to the original book, but I knew from the get-go that it would have to be different, because a book and a movie are different things. So I think if I had been a writer who wanted to cling to the book, I should have just stepped aside because it would have been difficult. But I was willing and eager to see it expand into what a film becomes. And to watch it take different forms and go in different directions. But it’s still very true to the intention of the book. I don’t think readers who loved the book will be disappointed at all in the film.
What was it like introduce the film here at Comic-Con to a huge audience of fans of the book?
Odeya Rush: It’s so exciting because when you look out into that crowd you see how many people share the same love for this film and this story as you do. It’s kind of exhilarating. Sometimes you do a movie and nobody knows about it so there’s a lot of anxiety. I mean, there’s anxiety about this one not knowing how people will react to it. But just seeing how excited people are about it just gives you a level of comfort.
Lowry: I’ve never been to this convention and I didn’t really know that much about it, but my grandchildren do and they told me how cool it was going to be. Sitting up there on the panel with an audience of I think they said, 6100 people, we couldn’t see them. With the lights it was like looking into darkness. So we didn’t get a sense of the magnitude of that audience but there was a good feeling from the room.
Bridges: I remember, I asked the question, how many of you guys out there read the book in school, and over half the audience raised their hands. Most of the questions were for Lois and they were fascinated fans of the book. It’s such a great asset of the film to have a book like that.
Lowry: And to be so passionate about the book as it was clear the audience was, it was good to assure them that they are going to love the movie just as much.
The Giver opens in theaters on August 15, 2014.
- Michelle Nelson
Here’s how we know NBC’s “Hannibal” is doing something right. During the most gruesome parts in the highlight reel shown in Ballroom 20 at Comic-Con, people emitted “oohs” and “aahs”. Some even whooped with delight. Psychopaths? Hardly. When the time came for people to ask questions of executive producer Bryan Fuller and members of cast, the tenor of the conversation was quite cerebral. If Dr. Lecter were on the hunt for rude people to eat on Thursday afternoon, he would not have found them in that room.
A huge part of Comic-Con’s thrill is to sit among scores of fans that think deeply about challenging shows like this and Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful,” which paneled directly after “Hannibal”. Both fit in the horror genre although surprisingly, the ballroom seemed a bit emptier during “Penny.” More’s the pity for those who missed that conversation. As the panel’s Dreadful of a moderator Aisha Tyler put it, “So many feels!”
If the “Hannibal” panel felt like an intellectual exploration of a television show, “Penny” struck emotional chords. Creator John Logan spoke about the heartfelt connections he had with the plight of the classic literary monsters whose stories he played with during the show’s first season. I could hear the people around me murmuring in empathy with his observations. Even when fans put him on the spot about the show’s depictions of sexuality (which, in the case of Eva Green‘s character Vanessa Ives, came across as troubling at times) his answers were profoundly thoughtful.
Another major reason people show up at these panels, though, is to get scoop on what’s to come in future episodes. So if you haven’t watched these shows, you might want to stop reading now because details that follow include spoilers.
You have been warned.
“Penny Dreadful’s” panel allowed Tyler to indulge her (and our) deepest questions about the nature of the relationships at play in the show, including the crazy, carnal love scene between Josh Hartnett‘s Ethan Chandler and Reeve Carney‘s Dorian Gray. Logan was very frank in answering that as a gay man, he wanted to deal with all aspects of sexuality in this show. “Let’s face it, it’s 2014. We can have people be true in a sexual way,” Logan said.
Beyond that, the majority of the questions had to do with the finale revelation that Ethan Chandler is, in fact, a werewolf. Logan said that season two would begin to explore Ethan’s background, much in the way viewers got a view into Vanessa’s past in the first season. Indeed, Logan says that the main relationship he is spinning out in season three has to do with the bond between Ethan and Vanessa, and that next season would also reveal more about the theological underpinnings that drive Ethan and influence other stories on the show.
But the biggest reveal of “Penny Dreadful” panel was that Helen McCrory‘s Madame Kali will be season two’s main antagonist. Logan showed a scene that was cut from season one which featured McCrory brilliantly delivering a monologue that hinted at her having wicked designs on messing with Miss Ives. It let us know just how devilish the dark Madame can be, and I can’t wait to watch.
Meanwhile, the ”Hannibal” panel included Caroline Dhavernas, Scott Thompson, Aaron Abrams … and Raúl Esparza, whose character Dr. Chilton took a bullet to the face in season two. While it’s not uncommon for dearly departed co-stars to appear on Comic-Con panels to bid farewell to fans, in this case, Esparza was present because he’s returning in season three. We’ll also see Eddie Izzard, although he’ll be appearing in flashbacks because, well, there ain’t no coming back from what happened to his character.
Season three of “Hannibal” takes place a year after the events of the second season finale, and will take its time letting us know the full extent of who lives and who died. We won’t get the full details of the fateful night’s outcome until episode four; Fuller explained that he wants to take time looking at Hannibal’s life on the run, and the development of his relationship with Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson). Fuller further pointed out that the blood red suit he was wearing was Italian — which was a clue about one of the settings for the next season.
The executive producer also let slip that Gina Torres‘s character Bella Crawford is returning, for what that’s worth. The new season also will introduce a number of new characters from Thomas Harris‘s novels, including Francis Dolarhyde in episode eight (which kicks off the Red Dragon arc of the story), as well as Inspector Pazzi and in episode three, much-loved character Lady Murasaki. Fuller did not have any casting announcements to share for these upcoming roles, but he did say, “I think Murasaki is going to kick all kinds of ass.”
Missing from the panel were “Hannibal’s” central stars Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen, although both sent taped messages for the fans. Mikkelsen ended his with, “Hopefully next year I’ll see you for a quick lunch.”
On Tuesday evening, when someone asked what I was most excited to experience at this year’s Comic-Con in San Diego, I flatly replied, “That moment on Sunday when I hear my homeward-bound airplane’s pilot say, ‘Flight attendants, please prepare the cabin for departure.’”
Just kidding. Well, sort of. Understand, this is the statement of a person who is coming out of the thirteen day marathon of the Television Critics Assocation’s Summer Press Tour in Los Angeles, only to plunge straight into a four-day long sprint between Hall H, Ballroom 20 and everything in between. But one would truly have to be Lady Stoneheart to be immune to the magic and fun of San Diego Comic-Con. Between Wednesday, July 23rd and Sunday, July 27th, my partner in crime Michelle Bryant (@IMDbMichelle) and I (@IMDbMelanie) will get a chance to geek out with the casts, producers and fans of some of our favorite shows. That only scratches the surface of what Comic-Con promises.
At last year’s Comic-Con, I got a chance to witness firsthand the passion and devotion of “Vikings” fans. They are smart, funny, inquisitive and rowdy — exactly the kind of people you’d want to hang out with. This year I’ll have the unique opportunity to talk to the cast about what’s on deck for season three, which reportedly take Ragnar Lothbrok and his fierce warriors to raid in France. Indeed, as tired as I am, I let out a joyful whoop each time I received notice that I’d been cleared for press rooms like this one, although the panels are where the joy of Comic-Con really becomes electric.
Among the ones that won’t be missed this year: “Game of Thrones“, where Jason Momoa brought the house down last year by dropping in unannounced to plant a kiss on his Khaleesi. This year, although I know it’s wrong, I kinda hope George R.R. Martin flips us the bird — playfully and lovingly, of course. “The Walking Dead” and “The Big Bang Theory” are on my list, as are panels on shows featuring two kinds of vampires: the disgusting ones on “The Strain,” which has just arrived on FX, and the sexy if purple-veined posse on “True Blood“, currently in the midst of its last season on HBO.
Then there’s the stuff outside of the panels that adds to Comic-Con’s good times. Yes, there will be a BBQ courtesy of “The Walking Dead”. No, I don’t know whether the meat is people; AMC would neither confirm nor deny it when I asked. (Yes, I actually asked.)
“Gotham” is sponsoring a zipline between the Convention Center and the Hilton Bayfront, which will be fun to witness. And in the Petco Interactive Zone, Comic-Con goers can participate in the “Sleepy Hollow” Virtual Experience, in which Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets are supposed to frighten the bejeezus out of people.
Of course there are parties, like Thursday night’s “Penny Dreadful” shindig sponsored by Showtime, along with an event tied to Sin City and other after-hours fun. That’s all fine and good, but really, the best part of Comic-Con is the cosplay watching. The creativity on display is always astounding, and we’ll be taking plenty of pictures to share with you. So be sure to follow our live coverage on Facebook, as well as @IMDbLive and @IMDbTV on Twitter, for photos and event updates. And of course, check out our special Comic-Con section at http://imdb.com/comic-con/ for trailers, clips, newly released posters, blog posts and much more.
San Diego, here we come!
Comic-Con 2014 kicks off this week, and once again, I (@IMDbMichelle) and IMDbTV Editor Melanie (@IMDbMelanie) will be heading down the cover the event! Starting Wednesday, July 23rd – Sunday, July 27th, follow our live coverage on Facebook, as well as @IMDbLive and @IMDbTV on Twitter, for photos, event updates, and more! And make sure to check out our special Comic-Con section at http://imdb.com/comic-con/ for trailers, clips, newly released posters, blog posts, and more! Here are a few things that I’m looking forward to:
Out of all of the events, I think I’m most excited about the Marvel panel. I was already looking forward to seeing footage from Avengers: Age of Ultron, but after all the Marvel announcements last week–the female Thor, and Captain America, plus the release dates for the five mystery films– I have a feeling there’s even bigger news to come.
I was expecting The Hunger Games: Mockingjay to dominate at Comic-Con this year, but no big panel has been announced (so far). But fans will get to see a new trailer. Lionsgate is teaming up with Samsung to release the trailer to Galaxy Tab S users on Thursdays. Or you can head down to the Hard Rock Hotel on Thursday at noon where “cast members” will introduce the trailer premiere. I will place bets there will also be a “surprise appearance” in Hall H.
Two Comic-Cons ago, one of the my favorite displays was the larger-than-life stone trolls from the Hobbit in the Convention Center. Now that they are returning for The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, I can’t wait to see which characters they have on display this year and to see some new footage at the Warner Bros. panel on Saturday. We’ll also get our first look at Mad Max: Fury Road. As of right now, only George Miller is confirmed but fingers crossed Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron will also make an appearance.
Even though I mostly attend film events, I will also get to cover two of my favorite shows. “The Walking Dead” press conference never disappoints and this year they are also having a BBQ–seriously. I think it’ll be a safe bet to stick with the veggies. “American Horror Story” will make its first appearance at Comic-Con and I am so excited to get a sneak peek at Freak Show.
You can find the full schedule on the official Comic-Con site and keep checking back over the week for more photos and updates.
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.