Comic-Con 2012: 6 All-Stars Talk Knife-Wielding Fans, Mortifying Auditions and How Their Shows Should End
David Boreanaz ("Bones"), Stephen Amell ("Arrow"), Joshua Jackson ("Fringe"), Ginnifer Goodwin ("Once Upon a Time"), Jennifer Carpenter ("Dexter") and Lucy Liu ("Elementary") share the secret ups and downs of working in genre TV, from children named after them to fears of being attacked.
This story first appeared in the July 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter.
Move over, Peter Jackson. Television has eclipsed film as the dominant lure to Comic-Con every July. So The Hollywood Reporter gathered these six actors -- David Boreanaz, 43 (FBI special agent on Fox's Bones); Stephen Amell, 31 (superhero on The CW's Arrow); Joshua Jackson, 34 (FBI consultant on Fox's Fringe); Ginnifer Goodwin, 34 (Snow White on ABC's Once Upon a Time); Jennifer Carpenter, 32 (chief detective on Showtime's Dexter) and Lucy Liu, 43 (Watson on CBS' modern-day Sherlock Holmes drama, Elementary) -- at Milk Studios in Los Angeles to open up about traumatic fan interactions, mortifying auditions and the way they would like to see their TV series end.
The Hollywood Reporter: Stephen is the only Comic-Con rookie in this group. Any advice for him?
Joshua Jackson: Breathe.
David Boreanaz: Just don't laugh at Wonder Woman. It's a guy.
Lucy Liu: It's a guy?
Jackson: Do you have any personal space issues? … It's the most engaged audience you're ever going to come across in your life, truly.
Jennifer Carpenter: Educated, too.
Jackson: On Fringe I experienced this. They digest these shows and live them in a way that I've never come across before. I mean, all sorts of awkward-looking babies get made that weekend.
Ginnifer Goodwin: With capes.
Stephen Amell: With Arrow, we have the comic book audience but we also have archery enthusiasts, and they are equally …
Amell: Yes. Don't have bad form! They all hate Orlando Bloom [Legolas in The Lord of the Rings]. They're all really mad at him. They call bad archery "Legolasing."
Goodwin: My advice would be, especially because your show has not yet come out, take two hours and walk around the convention center. Walk around amongst the fans and don't take a security guard -- they'll tell you that you must have a bodyguard but that's what draws attention.
Carpenter: You could wear a mask, too.
Boreanaz: Be Darth Vader.
Jackson: If I see a buff Green Arrow walking around Comic-Con, I'm going to know it's you.
Amell: Actually, the suit jacket is just a leather jacket, should I just wear that?
Liu: There's no fashion faux pas there.
Boreanaz: Except for the guy who's dressed like Wonder Woman.
Amell: I read comic books growing up, and the cool thing for me is that my sister's getting married in Mexico. She's spending a couple extra days there, and then she and her husband, who is the biggest comic book fan that I know, are starting their honeymoon at Comic-Con with me. He's never been.
THR: What's the strangest fan interaction that you've had, Comic-Con or elsewhere?
Carpenter: We shoot in Long Beach, so a lot of the same people come out all the time and get braver and braver. It hasn't happened to me but it's happened to Michael [C. Hall], where people will come up and say, "Will you act like you're stabbing me?" and they'll pull out a kitchen knife or they'll pull out chain saws and hammers and crazy things. That's wild. People ask me to cuss at them a lot.
Boreanaz: I get socks because Booth wears crazy socks.
Jackson: I'll take socks over kitchen knives.
Boreanaz: Some of them want to give me their own socks, which is a little strange. Coming from a cult show and a cult environment [on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and spinoff Angel], I've gotten, "Can you bite me?" I remember being at Comic-Con in 1999 when it first started getting big. It was a small venue, and it was bizarre to see all these interesting fans who come out and really support you, but there were some that were just a little too into it. I think you just take them for what they are -- and kind of just keep a safe distance. I've always been afraid someone's going to attack you, you know, like jump through the crowd.
Jackson: Nobody wants to be the guy who gets stabbed at Comic-Con.
Amell: Has it happened yet?
Jackson: Actually, there was a guy in our panel. Somebody stabbed somebody with a Bic pen.
Liu: Are you kidding me?
Jackson: People sit for hours and hours waiting on these seats -- they basically squat. They'll sit through four or five panels that they don't want to watch just to get to the one that they do, and in our hall somebody got stabbed with a Bic. I don't know if it was because they were waiting on Fringe or something after us, but they're like, "You can't go out now, there's been an incident." They had to drag him out and shut the hall down. So don't be that guy.
Carpenter: Someone sent two knives to my house. How they got my address I don't know, but there were two really big knives from a sailor. I wrote him a letter that said, "Thanks for your service but I'm not going to sign the knives."
Liu: I've had some interesting incidents where people have requested physical violence against them by me. A lot of times at interviews they'll ask me to spank them, and it's on camera. And I've had some people say that they named their child after me.
Boreanaz: I've gotten tattoos. They come up and their forearms or their whole back is me.
THR: Josh, a couple of years ago you held your own "Pacey-Con" at Comic-Con. Who showed up?
Jackson: I sort of photo-bombed Comic-Con one year as Pacey. But to see Comic-Con fans try to put together a Dawson's Creek character, people were just like, "Who are you? What is this music? Stop it." Yeah, so I don't think anybody showed up. I did get arrested, which is always a high-water mark for me, trying to bust in to Comic-Con. The security guard was not happy.
Boreanaz: I remember that. That was big news.
Jackson: I let myself in and they took me down to a fake jail -- they have a jail with fake characters; Dick Tracy's down there. [Laughs.] They're rent-a-cops, not real cops, so they can't really arrest you, but they just sort of sequester you from the rest of Comic-Con.
THR: You're coming off of a heavily serialized genre show. As you think about what's next, would you do another one?
Jackson: Absolutely. I don't know any actor who would ever say, "That's it, I'm done. I would never work in X, Y or Z ever again."
THR: There are advantages and disadvantages to genre fare, and I think having knives sent to your house probably falls in the category of disadvantage ...
Carpenter: They were nice knives.
Jackson: I always thought that the whole notion of being typecast was a little bit ridiculous, because to get typecast you have to work, which is the goal.
Amell: It means you've been successful. You don't get typecast by being bad at something.
Jackson: I mean, we have a guy [Boreanaz] sitting here who is kind of one of the gods in these [Comic-Con] halls, and it didn't slow you down.
THR: Several of you are on shows that are near conclusion. Do you have a preference for how it ends?
Boreanaz: Wow. I do. I think everybody wants to see Booth and Brennan together. I always loved the Poltergeist ending where he just put the TV out and closed the door. It would be great to see the two of us in a motel and just close the door in the middle of nowhere and just put the "Do not disturb" sign on, and that would be the end of the series.
Jackson: That probably would not happen on Fringe.
THR: Do you have an idea for how Fringe should end?
Jackson: I do. My show being what it is, I can't tell you, but we have a really distinct ... and very cool wrapping up of the entire series.
THR: So you've been told?
Jackson: Yeah. This year, Joel Wyman, who is our executive producer, has been kind of shockingly forthcoming, because our show is usually pretty impenetrable. But this is the last year, and I guess it's a new leaf. He was like, "I want everybody engaged. I want everybody to know exactly what they're doing."
Liu: You're not leaving this room until you tell us ...
Jackson: It's big, but there's no good way to end a show and not piss somebody off. Part of what's fun about a television show is that people get to fill in the gaps for themselves of who these characters are and the stories that we don't get to see -- but once you come up to an ending, you sort of tell them where everybody finishes up. That being said, it's a big, massive sci-fi set piece at the end but with a really important finale-esque emotional center to it. I sound like a producer now, but it is true.
THR: Jennifer, do you have any ideas on how Dexter should end?
Carpenter: I do, but I don't want to say them because I have an infinitesimal hope that maybe it will happen that way. It would require that my character lives, so we'll see.
THR: David, you made news when you tweeted that after this coming season you were going to be a "free agent." If Bones gets picked up again, is your plan to come back?
Boreanaz: Would I love to come back to the show? Yes. I never said that I was not going to be coming back. I said that the options are always open, which is the truth. I think people take things and twist them a bit out of context, and they make it a little bit bigger than what it really is. But it sure was a fun day, I'll tell you.
THR: How long did it take Fox to reprimand you after that tweet?
Boreanaz: Actually, they didn't say anything to me. I mean, I think that they were just, "Oh, Boreanaz is doing that again." Look, I didn't say anything that crossed the line. I was just having fun.
THR: If you could switch places with another actor on TV today, whose role would you take?
Amell: I always wanted to play a villain, so it's kind of ironic that I'm doing the opposite of that. I want to play the crazy villain in Dexter.
Carpenter: You've got one more year ...
Jackson: It turns out he's the one that sent you the knives. [Laughter.]
Goodwin: I would love to take over Maggie Smith's role in Downton Abbey.
Liu: Oh my gosh, I was going to say, "A role in Downton Abbey would be amazing!"
Carpenter: I want to be a girl on Girls when I'm done with this. Oh, that sounded bad. I want to be one of the girls on the show Girls.
Jackson: Now we know what the headline is going to be when this comes out! [Laughter.]
THR: What about you, Josh?
Jackson: I would like to be a girl on Girls. No, I'd like to be on Breaking Bad, actually. I love that show.
THR: What's the part that got away? The role you wish you had either auditioned for or been offered?
Jackson: Oh my lord, that's a long list.
Amell: I got really close on Spartacus and I was upset that I didn't get that, only because it just would have been so cool. The other unfortunate thing is, once you get that close, I can't watch the show and enjoy it anymore.
THR: Is that the same for all of you? Can you watch things that you auditioned for and didn't get?
Jackson: I don't know about anybody else's batting average, but if you get two out of every 10 jobs, you're doing well. So if you couldn't watch things that you didn't get, you …
Boreanaz: Would have nothing to watch. [Laughs.]
Amell: I'll fire through Spartacus on DVD one day … I usually book a job after a terrible audition.
Goodwin: Well, you stop trying so hard.
Jackson: I'm sure we've all had this experience where you walk out of a room and you're like, "Well, that sucked, I'm never going to hear from those people again." And then 10 minutes later it's like, "Congratulations, you got the part!" When I had to audition for Dawson's Creek, one of the guys in the audition fell asleep at the studio level. Literally, I'm in the middle of reading and this guy's like [snoring noise].
Carpenter: At every studio test, I pack a cooler with food so when the competition sits down, I say, "Do you want anything?" I feel like I'm collecting good karma, and my blood sugar is not going to drop.
Boreanaz: So you're coming to the door with a cooler?
Carpenter: Yeah, because they're going to keep you waiting forever. It just keeps it interesting. That's my trick.
Goodwin: I've been told -- and this breaks my heart -- that I am not a pleasant person to audition with.
Carpenter: I've auditioned with you.
Goodwin: And this is probably why -- I put on headphones. Because I'm: A) terrified; B) I don't want to affect anyone else; and C) I don't want anyone else affecting me. And so I seriously become a hermit inside myself. I don't know who I'm sitting in rooms with. I hear girls throwing each other and I just never want to be a part of that. What I'm trying to do is be courteous and keep myself focused, but apparently it's really unpleasant because I seem so cold.
Carpenter: I never would have said that, having auditioned with you.
Boreanaz: I had a horrific commercial audition when I first came out to Hollywood. It was for Doublemint gum. You have to watch this video for like 10 minutes, and they show you how to put the piece of gum in your mouth and then you have to pair up with people. Well, at the time I went in for the audition, I just got over this horrible breakup with this girl. I was in love, I got totally destroyed, and I go in and, lo and behold, who walks in the door for the Doublemint audition?
Goodwin: No ...
Boreanaz: My ex, and she's like, "Hey!" I'm dying inside, you know, and she's like, "We've got to pair up. Would you like to pair up with me?" And they have to be two people who put the gum in their mouth and kiss afterward. I'm like, "Yeah, sure, OK." So now we go into the room and not only can I not get the piece of gum out of the wrapper -- I'm shaking -- but then I had to kiss her and I hit her cheek with the gum. It was a complete disaster, and she was like, "Oh my God, really? I always book these spots." And I'm just standing there with a broken piece of Doublemint gum.
Goodwin: Sounds like a bitch, no offense.
THR: And did you book the commercial?
Boreanaz: No. I couldn't put the gum in my mouth! [Laughs.]
THR: Ginnifer, we're told they call you "the admiral" on the Once Upon a Time set. Why?
Goodwin: That's funny. It's the "admiral of the fun army" because I really like planning field trips. I'm big on organizing large groups of people to go to events. I don't mean events like Hollywood events, I mean like Disneyland. I like a museum exhibit, or to play at the science center.
THR: What other fun things do you guys do on set to liven it up?
Amell: When we were shooting the pilot [in Vancouver], we did a pub crawl.
Boreanaz: Josh, do you do pub crawls?
Jackson: No. I'm mostly in church on the weekends. [Laughs.] Yeah, I've done a little bit of drinking on the weekends. But it is important to get the cast and crew together. You spend so many hours working together that I think a lot of times the inclination for everybody -- actually, I've never shot in L.A., so I don't know how it is here -- but the inclination for everybody is to just sort of, poof!
Boreanaz: Disband. Yeah. I'm not big in the whole planning, let's all woo-ha together on the weekends. I enjoy the time because it's like your second family, but also, I have a family, I have two children.
Jackson: We do a softball team in the summer and a hockey team.
THR: So many shows shoot in Vancouver now. Do the casts of the different series hang out?
Jackson: We see each other a lot in the beginning of the season and then not at all through the middle of the season because everybody wears down, and then a little bit again at the end.
Goodwin: And everyone starts socializing again during pilot season when everyone starts showing up at the Sutton hotel.
Jackson: Oh God, the Sutton Place. It was nuts.
Goodwin: It becomes like a college campus for actors.
Jackson: The bar is just ...
Amell: There was one night where four or five different shows -- all pilots -- were all at the same bar in Gastown. It was insane. We were all playing pool against each other.
Boreanaz: I just wish they shot more in America. I really do. Especially in Los Angeles. It's so ripe, and it's a shame that they don't have tax incentives ... to produce the shows. It's a shame. It really is.
Amell: You're exactly right.
Boreanaz: I mean, I think it's great for the people where they're shooting these shows. I just think we need more jobs in America.
Jackson: What upset me about Fringe moving [from New York to Vancouver after season one] was that our show -- like so many shows in their first year -- was kind of a disaster, frankly. We were working crazy long hours, and in my opinion nobody behind the camera ever gets enough credit on a TV show. And we just broke that crew, and then we got picked up [for a second season] and they all got pink slips. I just think that's not an honorable thing.
Liu: One of the reasons I chose to do [Elementary] is because it's shooting in New York.
Jackson: I'm a little jealous. I'm not going to lie.
Boreanaz: Hey, you know what? You're a free agent!
Jackson: Exactly. I'm twittering it up right now. [Laughter.]
Amell: You're going to do Lucy's show and then I'm going to do Dexter and it's going to be awesome.
Carpenter: And I'm going to do Girls.
THR: Josh, your co-showrunner, Jeff Pinkner, has left Fringe for the final season. This is a little change for you, yes?
Jackson: We didn't have a little change in the showrunner, we had a massive one. It changes a lot. Jeff Pinkner is part of the creative DNA of the show, but because our show is ending I think it's less dire than it would be if the show was sort of ongoing. I think they, Jeff and Joel, have probably spoken quite a bit about where they thought the show was going to end up, so the blueprint was already there, and because it's those 13 episodes, there's a clear ending to the story this year. I'm sure Joel would like to have Jeff there to share the workload because suddenly he's cranking out 13 by himself, but I think we're going to be OK.
THR: How did you find out?
Jackson: Jeff told me. It wasn't acrimonious with any of the actors on the show. He's a man, he has a family, he has a mortgage, and to take a pay cut was not something that he wanted to do.
THR: The issue of actors being overworked came up recently with Lindsay Lohan being late to the set of the Lifetime movie Liz & Dick. Do you guys feel like the hours you work are fair?
Goodwin: I'm a big union girl. We are truly protected by our very good union. And without passing judgment on -- or without expressing my judgment I'm passing in my head on other people's sets [laughter] -- I think we all have a responsibility to get enough sleep and take care of ourselves and show up on time.
Jackson: I'm going to take the counterpoint. You can't show up late. But ... if you're burning your crew at 14, 16 hour days for seven, eight, nine months of the year, I do think it's diminishing returns. People are burnt out, and I certainly felt it in Dawson's Creek. I feel it in Fringe.
Liu: Now the media is so pervasive and invasive, there is no room for mistakes.
Jackson: Does anybody really give a shit if Lindsay Lohan fell asleep or didn't show up for work? Does that matter? It doesn't really matter, right?