Sunday, June 7, 2015

When Fantasy Meets Reality - Celebrity Actor Panel Highlights from Phoenix Comicon

Coverage by Daniel Blunck
For any Comicon, there are obvious highlights about which everybody wants to tell their friends and to brag that they were in attendance.  For Phoenix Comicon 2015, the special live guest panels fit the criteria for bragging rights, especially with the individuals this year.  On Saturday, we were fortunate to see Jason Momoa, known for his roles in Game of Thrones, Stargate Atlantis, and Conan the Barbarian.  The highlight for Sunday was Karl Urban, who is known for his roles in Star Trek, Almost Human, and from The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

For Jason Momoa's guest appearance, the giant West Ballroom was packed to capacity. There was a line of people outside hoping somebody would leave just so they could get in. Seated to the left of me was a young lady dressed as Katniss from The Hunger Games. She had been nice enough to notify me that the seat next to her was unoccupied. Perhaps she took pity on me as I pathetically walked to and fro looking for a place to sit. To the right of me was a lively group cosplaying as the crew of the U.S.S Enterprise. I, for my part, was horribly underdressed in a V-neck and shorts.
Jason Momoa, Photos provided courtesy of Phoenix Comicon 2015


Jason Momoa, Photos provided courtesy of Phoenix Comicon 2015

To the obvious delight of the attendees, Jason Momoa addressed the crowd in the fictional Game-of-Thrones language of the Dothraki as he walked out onto the stage. The muscular, 6-foot-4 actor, known for portraying intimidating characters, showed the audience his playful and comedic side from the onset of his appearance. 

Showing his solidarity to the viral protest to oppose a thirty-meter telescope from being built on a location considered sacred to native Hawaiians, Jason wore a "We are Mauna Kea" t-shirt. He spoke often of his Hawaiian ancestry, and of his pride in representing all Polynesian cultures in film and television. Perhaps the most touching moment was when he called his personal friends (the owner of Love Cycles in Phoenix, AZ, and his family) to the front row to sit with Jason's mom, Coni. He told the crowd, "its all about ohana." [Ohana is the Hawaiian word for family]

As with every panel, much of the time was spent with the Q-and-A portion. Jason was thoroughly engaging with audience members as they asked him questions. He was visibly embarrassed by some of the questions, and jovially refused to answer a few, citing that his mother was sitting in the front row. Most entertaining was when an audience member dressed as Daenerys Targaryen, or more commonly known to casual fans of the show “Game of Thrones” as Khaleesi, asked a question. She started by speaking to Jason Momoa in the aforementioned language of the Dothraki. He responded in Dothraki, and continued to speak to her that way. The poor girl became so giddy that I had my doubts as to whether she'd be able to remember the question she was going to ask. 

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When you go down the hallway to enter a panel and the first set of doors to the ballroom where the presentation is being are closed, and then you continue walking and the second set of doors are closed, and you keep walking and the third set of doors are closed.  Finally, upon the fourth set of doors, you are able to enter, you know you have reached your destination.  It couldn't be more exciting to walk in and see what you've been waiting for.  Karl Urban had a wall to wall attendance for his panel at Phoenix Comicon and it was definitely worth finding a seat for.  Not only was he humorous, but extremely entertaining.  
Karl Urban, Photos provided courtesy of Phoenix Comicon 2015

Karl Urban, Photos provided courtesy of Phoenix Comicon 2015

He talked with the audience as if we were good friends and just gabbing on a relaxing Sunday afternoon with coffee in hand.  He was very inviting and engaging with his responses to questions from selected participants.  He spoke jovially about his experiences and he shared the prankster side of his personality with his closest acting "compadres".  The best one story he shared was the time he was interviewed in Spain in advance of another friend arriving and he told a little fib about his friend having purchased a goat farm.  The next day when his friend arrived, that little fib had turned into national news so when his friend was interviewed, they didn't really pay attention to why he was there for another film, but they all wanted to know about the goat farm he had purchased and his thoughts about that.  

It goes to show you, if you are friends with Karl, you need to be prepared for paybacks if you ever think you might prank Karl.  In addition to the great stories he shared, Karl also spoke about memorabilia he "acquired" from particular movies/series sets he was on and he greatly liked.  Three of the best items were 1) a coat from the film "Bourne Identity", 2) a helmet from "Lord of the Rings" saga, and 3) his prized possession, a gun from the series "Almost Human".

For future attendees of any comicon, you want to make sure you plan accordingly to check out these type of panels.  They are most informative and you can obtain the real essence of the actor or celebrity beyond what you read.  Plus seeing them live and in person is a total bonus.  The panels tend to get filled quickly so be sure to arrive early and plan to stay the whole time, otherwise you might be called out as some guests were as they stood up to leave before Karl Urban was finished and he called them out jokingly, of course.  That was absolutely priceless.  

For more information on either of these celebrities check out their IMDB for details.

Jason Momoa - IMDB

Karl Urban - IMDB

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