Monday, 27 February 2017

Supanova Brisbane 2016, Recon Report Part 3 - Celebrity Guests

Voice talent celebrities at Supanova Brisbane, November 2016.

Main highlights of international western pop culture conventions include celebrity guests from film, television, comics and literary works. Supanova Pop Culture Expo in Brisbane brought in a number of American celebrities from various fandoms spanning the last 2 decades over the 3-day convention last November at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre.

See our previous blog articles for more on what took place at Supanova Brisbane: Part 1 - Event Hall & Cosplay Sightings, Part 2 - Creative Arts.

Celebrity actors from the cult supernatural series, Charmed (1998-2006)

Kicking off celebrity guest panels on Friday were Holly Marie Combs and Brian Krausse from supernational TV series Charmed (1998 to 2006). Holly was one of the principal cast playing the good witch Piper Halliwell for 8 seasons. Brian Krausse was one of the supporting cast members playing Leo Wyatt, a guardian angel to the witches and Piper's husband. After a few movie trailers from sponsors, a convention emcee briefly introduced the two Charmed alumni and proceeded to field questions from the audience.

Holly Marie Combs as one of The Charmed Ones, Piper Halliwell
When asked about how she prepared for the role, Holly shared that she initially studied wicca and demonology at the start of the series. However during the first couple of seasons viewers sent feedback that the witchcraft practices depicted were either too accurate or totally wrong. The producers then hired a resident demonologist to consult on these supernatural elements in the show.

Brian Krausse as Leo Wyatt, Piper's love interest.
Holly also shared that when the series launched the network itself did not expect Charmed to do well. So there was no preconceived expectations by the network and therefore Charmed surpassed all expectations producing 178 episodes over 8 seasons.

Enver Gjokaj (left) and Nathan Fillion talk about their time in the Whedonverse.

The celebrity panel Wonders of the Whedonverse was up next showcasing one of televisions most prolific stars Nathan Fillion (Firefly / Serenity, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Castle) together with Enver Gjokaj (Marvel's Agent Carter, Dollhouse).

Nathan Fillion, the leading man of Firefly (2002-2003) and Castle (2009-2016)

A fan handed Nathan a fan as he was getting hot in the panel room.
Like Charmed, Nathan shared that when Firefly was launched there were no expectations. But unlike the hit supernatural drama series, this sci-fi drama series was cancelled after only 14 episodes in 2002. Nevertheless in that short time the series garnered a cult following which lead to the cast reuniting for a feature length movie Serenity in 2005.

Nathan also said that back in the day everything that he had ever wanted to do on television he achieved in the Firefly pilot: fly a spaceship, ride a horse, shoot bad buys, get shot, etc.

About Agent Carter, Enver praised that “everyone is great” on the show. The Marvel mini-series also presented him an opportunity to be part of a main cast instead of odd roles as “the Russian guy being punched”.

Both actors praised Joss Whedon having given them opportunities in lead roles without having prior experience as leads simply by telling networks “I want this guy”. Nathan termed it nicely saying “Joss Whedon elevates you” and “If Joss has a role, say yes”. On the latter remark, Nathan did exactly that by agreeing to Dr. Horrible without realising it was a musical comedy.

When asked on how they portray their characters, Nathan replied for Castle he played on his flaws, such as vanity. About playing funny roles, he pointed to timing of jokes and his experience on Two Guys, a Girl & a Pizza Place. He also took Matt Le Blanc from Friends as an example of not trying to be funny but instead pretending Joey to be smart for jokes to get across. For Enver, he advised that when the lines are good, just “play it straight and don't over-act”.

Towards the end of the panel session, Nathan offered a joke: “How does a Reaver clean his weapon? He runs it through a Wash”. For those who didn't get it, go watch Serenity.

Squad Goals with Karen Fukuhara.

Fans of DC's Suicide Squad last year would not have missed the deadly Japanese sword-wielding heroine Katana. Her real-life alter-ego is Japanese-America actress Karen Fukuhara from Los Angeles. Whilst super-serious Katana was a woman of few words, Karen was all bubby and excited to be in Australia speaking in American English without stereotypical asian accent.

Karen shared that she auditioned for Katana in Los Angeles without knowing what was the role for. However she did find a martial arts instructor to show her some moves for the audition. She found out later the audition was for Katana when meeting the Director David Ayer and given DC comic books to study.

About filming Suicide Squad, she was grateful to Will Smith's efforts to cheer-up the cast during long hours of shooting, especially when they suffered through the rain scenes. About other cast members, she loves the Aussie accent as spoken by Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn) and Jai Courtney (Captain Boomerang). The cast also bonded well and for parting gifts Karen was given some adult toys, much to the shock of her mom when opening her luggage after returning from shoot; Karen still lives with her parents.

Well-known as Matt Parkman from Heroes (2006-2010), Greg Grunberg has more recently appeared in two mega sci-fi franchises: Star Wars The Force Awakens as Temmin “Snap” Waxley and Star Trek Beyond as Commander Finnegan. This was Greg's first time in Australia and he's terrified of encountering scary spiders. He's currently publishing his first kids graphic novel Dream Jumper based on his son's dreams as a superhero in other people's dreams. Greg would really like to add the Marvel Cinematic Universe to his credentials.

Alumni of the 2 biggest sci-fi franchises: Rebel X-Wing Pilot and Starfleet Commander.

About Star Wars, he's known JJ Abrams since 4 and told JJ he would take on any role offerred in the saga. He got to meet the cast of The Force Awaken in London where during his first scene off-camera the late-Carrie Fisher walked up to him grabbing his @$$ with “Welcome to Star Wars”.

On the set, Greg had a blast in the full-sized X-Wing cockpit with fanboy moments repeating all lines from Jek Porkins of the original Episode IV, A New Hope. He was only given schematic for the flight controls 5 minutes before shooting in the cockpit and laughed that the buttons fall out. He also shared that Oscar Isaacs playing hotshot pilot Poe Daemoron was actually on the verge of throwing up after 5 minutes in the motion-simulated cockpit.

"Sorry for Heroes Reborn."

Touching on the recent Heroes Reborn (2015), Greg apologised to fans for it. He shared that he was originally called back to the series as really evil Matt Parkman so he initially declined returning unless Parkman got a redemption scene. However after shooting started for the series, that redemption scene seemed to have been forgotten.

On the final day of Supanova, Nathan Fillion held a solo panel packed out by fans. When asked on what was his most challenging experience, Nathan replied that it was carving out a career in acting because there are not enough jobs available.

Who are fans of Malcolm Reynolds, or Richard Castle?

Some of his other responses to questions from the audience include:

  • Most embarrassing scene: ripping his pants while lifting up Jewel Staite (Kaylee) on the set of Firefly.
  • When filming on Saving Private Ryan he was too nervous around the big name to cry for his scene.
  • Voice acting is a very different form of performance.
  • He's not much into boardgames and prefers video games.
  • When making Serenity, they felt it necessary to up the stakes from TV to film and so determined which characters would die.
  • Joss Whedon's bad guys don't think they are bad guys.

Full house panel with Nathan Fillion.

Celebrity guests were available at scheduled times during the convention for photo opportunities with fans and autograph sessions; fees charged.

Check out Supanova's official website for this year's celebrity guests at their conventions throughout Australia in Gold Coast, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide. For western pop culture fans in Malaysia, these Australia cities may be our closest destination to catch American acting talents in person. Of course, let's hope some day these will visit our shores.

Previously Supanova Brisbane 2016, Recon Reports:

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