I started off in Middle Earth with a reunion panel of Billy Boyd and Sean Astin, got a surprise guest of Vincent D’Onofrio in Marvel’s Cup o’ Joe, and celebrated 20 years of Wizarding World fun at Mugglenet’s nighttime exhibition.
Road to Mordor: Hobbit Reunion
Billy Boyd and Sean Astin had the room rolling with laughter as they delved into set stories, memories of cast mates, and what they’ve been up to lately. As many TN readers will already know, Billy is in Outlander now, playing Gerald Forbes in Season 4. He talked about filming season 5, so clearly his character will return.
Noting how intimidating it is to come onto a show that’s already well established, he explains you just want to fit into their system. He praised the production and how lovely everyone was. Being Scottish, he was very happy with all the Scottish historical elements woven in.
Sean remarked that working on Stranger Things was a similar experience. He laughed as he marveled at how focused the creative team is, saying, “How can they stay so focused with such success and so long between seasons? I’d go buy yacht or something.”
That seems unlikely with the amount of civics and activism Sean’s engaged with. When asked about this, he cited growing up with labor union parents and just being formed by that. He feels ab it like Samwise in that he thinks there’s still some good in this world and it’s worth saving.
Billy went into detail on how he wrote the song Pippin sings in the Lord of the Ring films. After singing drunk at a bar, they asked him to sing it. Then composer Howard Shore asked him to write it because he wouldn’t be able to in time for the filming of that scene. Billy did basically overnight and performed it the next day. Since there was so much noise while shooting, he had to rerecord the song later. He ended up having to do it at Abbey Road in London!
Marvel Cup O’ Joe: Vincent D’Onofrio
Quickly becoming a NYCC must-do, this annual panel with Marvel’s Joe Quesada is always a treat. He brings on an unannounced special guest who never disappoints. Least year it was Charlie Cox and this year it was Daredevil’s antithesis, Kingpin himself, Vincent D’Onofrio!
Vincent started out quiet, an introverted guy overall—painfully so as a child. “At my sixth birthday party, I wouldn’t come out from under the bed. People had to come lie on the floor to wish me a happy birthday.” he said. Magic is what eventually got him out of this shell. He grew up in Brooklyn, NY and a couple opened a magic shop in his neighborhood. “I would get trick instructions and have someone make a copy, then and give it back to them because I couldn’t afford the actual tricks.” he explained. By age thirteen he was putting on Houdini style magic shows in his backyard for the cops that his mom met at her job at Denny’s.
After being put into a play while visiting his dad in Colorado, he realized it didn’t make him nervous to act, so it was probably something he’d be able to do. He put himself through acting school in NYC by working odd jobs building stuff like cabinets for people. From there he worked a plethora of jobs, much of the time as a bouncer or bodyguard.
Finally, while working the door of Hard Rock Cafe, he ran into an acting school classmate, Matthew Modine, who had already been cast in Full Metal Jacket. He told Vincent to send Kubrick a tape because there was an un-cast role. Vincent figured out where to send the tape, got a camera and a friend to film him. They went to a stoop in the city and shot his monologue. When he finally go the call from Kubrick, the accent was Brooklyn Jewish and he’d thought Stanley was British, so he hung up the phone assuming it was a prank from his bouncer friends who teased him about trying to be an actor. Thankfully, Stanley called back. Vincent had to put on eighty pounds for the role, which apparently is still the record for any actor. “It wasn’t a lot of fun.” he commented on this.
He spoke more on Kubrick before Joe led the discussion back to Wilson Fisk. As a method actor, he has to keep the emotion up. In the jail scene with Matt Murdock from season 3 of Daredevil, Vincent had them roll camera nonstop while he would go out of frame to “kill a chair” and get his rage level back up, then come back into frame to continue the scene. Joe laughed, saying how he was there for the filming of this scene and after the “Cut!” Vincent very casually said hello to him. “It was terrifying!” Joe laughed.
Mugglenet’s 20th Anniversary Celebration
Friday culminated with the 8pm panel put on by Mugglenet. As if I wasn’t already exhausted enough! It ended up being absolutely worth staying for, as the staff of Mugglenet did not disappoint. Upon entering (this was still at Javitz, mind you), they gave everyone four raffle tickets. You put one in the Giveaways envelope and three in the games, improv, and scene reading envelopes. Let me tell you, I’m glad I didn’t end up having to do any of the games! They were hard!
I did end up winning one of the giveaways at the end, which I never ever win anything (seriously, never!) and got to pick from the beautiful Harry Potter Film Vault series by Insight Editions. I chose the Diagon Alley, Hogwarts Express and the Ministry. The books feature exclusive conception art, so they’re worth a look if you’re into that sort of thing. Really nicely done.
The 90 minutes of fun continued with Eric from Mugglenet as the Master of Ceremonies bringing on three hosts throughout to speak to the three periods of Mugglenet’s history. It began in 1999 when only the first three books were out and none of the movies. It’s hard to imagine that far back, but when they put up the original website’s design, it was hilariously 1999. As it all grew, JK Rowling herself would go onto the site, and gave them an award with a lovely note (similar to what Stephenie Meyer wrote to Letters to Twilight). She even admitted to voting in the “Who is the Half-Blood Prince?” poll—which is rather hilarious when you think about it.
While I personally did not go on Mugglenet much at all over the years, they focused on tons of general fandom stuff that everyone loved, including “The Mysterious Ticking Noise” from Potter Puppet Pals! Click here if you’ve not seen it, it’s truly the best. They divided the audience into groups and had us perform the tune. What a blast!
It wouldn’t be comic con without some surprises! Andy Miller from the cast of Puffs showed up for charades and Dan Fogler who plays Jacob Kowalski in the Fantastic Beasts movies came to judge the erumpent dance-off competition. He told a great story about when they filmed the scene. Apparently in the first move, Eddie Redmayne injured his groin pretty badly. Being Eddie, he soldiered on to get the scene, but Dan recounted through peels of laughter that at the end of the takes he would kneel to the ground James Brown style and the crew would have to put a blanket around him and carry him off. It sounds less funny as I write it out, but Dan’s storytelling is superb.
It was a great time overall, full of laughs, and lots of great fandom memories. It made me super proud and happy to be a big Harry Potter nerd!