I’m reminded of all the little things you forget about New York Comic Con until you’re there again. Like coming out of the Hudson Yards subway in a mass of cosplayers and geeks, all together on the escalators. Or the tiny kids dressed up as video game characters you love, the perfect size for it. Or the sheer variety of nerdy stuff there is out there. How all our con experiences are different, because we’re all obsessed with different things. When I meet up with Zanib at Cursed Child panel, we swap agendas for the weekend, and we’ve got totally different cons planned with some Harry Potter and Marvel overlap.
This is great news for TN readers, because its double the coverage from Team Normal! Here’s what we saw and did and squealed about on Thursday at NYCC 2019…
Fantastic! A Conversation With Christopher Eccleston
My day kicked off with what turned out to be the best panel I’ve ever been to in any comic con ever. I don’t say that lightly either. The next best would probably be Stanley Tucci at Philly Con with Jamie W. As a massive Doctor Who, I went into this panel not certain what to except but excited. Boy, was I unprepared. Christopher was here promoting his new book I Love the Bones of You: My Father And The Making Of Me. I haven’t read it and didn’t know much about it, but the panel was a one on one Q&A with Chris that delved into his father and the impact he had on his life and career. Let me tell you, there were times I was tearing up.
It wasn’t all heart string pulling though, as his sense of humor was dead on and frequently sprinkled in. He spoke about playing Malekeith, saying he’d love to do a movie with Taika because that was just so funny. He felt Thor 2 lacked humor (which, let’s be honest, it did), but recognized that many fans love it so he tried not to harp on that too much. My favorite tidbit I learned, however, was that his daughter calls the Daleks “garlics.”
He spoke on why he left Doctor Who, which I was expecting to come up but not expecting him to answer. There are a lot of rumors about this of course, and who knows the third side (aka the truth), but his side was that the politics were too much. He’s working class background through in through, something he even made sure would be carried into the Doctor himself (Lots of planets have a north!), and ultimately he wasn’t prepared for how political showbiz can be. When asked what work he’d learned the most from, he cited Doctor Who, saying that he really learned about himself on it, sspecifically that “if someone asked me to kiss their ass, I instead wanted to bite it.” He revealed he was blacklisted from acting work for four years in England and that his confidence suffered massively for it. It was only after playing John Lennon in Lennon Naked that he regained it. “The good thing about losing your confidence,” he explained. “Is that when you get it back, you know you’ll never lose it again.” The crowd cheered.
My biggest takeaway from this panel was how genuine and candid Christopher is. I’ve been to a lot of panels, including many with actors talking about shows they’re not on any longer and therefore are not entrenched in the promotion machine the same way, and this was the only one I’ve gone to where the starkly honest humanity of the celebrity just shone out. It was palpable in a crowd of a thousand. He spoke to Doctor Who, of course, and his more recent work on The Leftovers and The A Word. Turns out he’s a writer’s actor. He absolutely loves writers. Thinks they should be at the top of the process, not the bottom. It’s a nice thing to say (especially being a writer myself) but he kept naming the authors of any book he mentioned or an audience member referenced in Q&A. He knew them all; he cared about the author. It was important to him.
The Expanse Experience
As far as fan experiences go, this one was decent. Well laid out, plenty to look at props and costume wise while you waited in line, real set pieces once you got inside, and a photo op and freebie giveaway. They also put on a tattoo that linked to a special snapchat filter! Inside, besides the set of prat of the ship to look at, they had one of the pilot chairs that was rigged to be a flight simulator (actually it just shook a lot like a cheap mass chair), but it was pretty cool. The photo op was a green screen with you on the promotional poster for the show’s fourth season. They offered both still and moving, but the guy recommended the still to me. Check me out!
Cursed Child Behind the Movement
The Broadway production of Cursed Child stopped by to give a behind-the-scenes look at how they do some of the magic in the show. US Resident Movement Director for the play, Benjamin Wheelwright (who was James Potter in the first run), and movement captain for the cast, James Brown III (who plays Bane the centaur), were provided the nitty gritty of how the magic works while James Snyder (Harry Potter!) moderated. They called on some cast members to help demonstrate both their “cloakography” and wand movement. We got to see how rehearsed and timed literally every step is in the play, with Wheelwright explaining it all as it went. He spoke to how all the departments work together to ensure the cloaks work the way they need to in order to “magic” props and people on and offstage. As someone who is yet to see the show, I was enthralled… or should I say entranced?
The wand movement was super cool! “Just like the wizard chooses the wand,” Wheelwright explained, “We feel the wand moves the wizard.” All wand movement comes from that concept, therefore new cast members must go through wand movement training. This was fun to watch in practice, but then they pulled out a ton of the cast to demonstrate the wand dance from the show!
After that, they set up the panel and brought out Matt Mueller (Ron Weasley), Bubba Weller (Scorpius Malfoy), and Diane Davis (Ginny Potter). It was immediately clear that the cast is incredibly close. They had pre-chosen audience questions to field out, and it was honestly giving me and Zanib deja vu of our Harry Potter Hangouts! If only they told us what they were drinking…
One question was their favorite part of the play to watch, and Weller said the scene at the end of part one, which they had a clip of. This scene involves dementors and Wheelwright was quick to explain how they decided the dementors’ movement would move from the back of the neck since they sense fear as their way through life. So intriguing! A fun panel, if not a touch over-curated, but it got me feeling more pressed to go see the play.
Game of Thrones Official On-Set Photographer and Production Designer
This panel wrapped up the day, starting at a very late 7:45pm. Whew! All I’d had was a pretzel for dinner at this point! But with both the On-Set Photographer, Helen Sloane, and the Production Designer from season 4 onward, Deborah Riley, it made for some great insider content. Helen’s photos have been made into a book and the production design has as well, so both women spoke to how it felt to have their work in a book that way. Deb explained, “It feels like a family album.” and Helen agreed. With so much time spent with all these people (ten years in Helen’s case!), it makes sense. The books themselves sound incredible, and they had copies there to look at from afar. The glances I got were some gorgeous covers. They go on sale in November.
When asked about any specific moments with the cast or crew they recollected, Helen cited a time when she was shooting Charles Dance in an emotional scene. She described being crammed in with all the crew, ducking in people’s armpits and trying to get a good still, but finding the best angle was in his eye line. This is generally a no-no; great photographers are like ninjas! So she said to him, “Charles, this is my shot but it’s in your eye line. Is that ok, yes or no?” and he replied, in all his greatness I imagine, “Darling, I am an actor. I make all these people disappear. Do what you need to for your job.” She beamed at the crowd and quipped in her Northern Irish accent, “I felt like I’d been knighted.”