Hollywood Shares Comic-Con Tales, Trivia and Tips
The geek convention regulars and newbies dish on their dream panels, most memorable fans and best disguises.
Comic-Con kicked off in San Diego on Thursday, where fanboys and Hollywood collide. This year, the Con features highlights from The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1, The Amazing Spiderman, Game of Thrones, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and more.
In the days leading up to the annual convention, The Hollywood Reporter caught up with a bevvy of Comic-Con veterans and rookies to talk "What-Ifs."
I'D STAND ALL DAY IN LINE FOR…
"Aliens. Actual aliens."
-- Jane Espenson, writer-producer, Torchwood, Once Upon a Time, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
"Community. I'd ask Dan Harmon the most awkward questions: "What makes you think you're so funny?"
-- Hart Hanson, writer-producer, Bones, The Finder
"Game of Thrones. I'd ask: 'Whyyyy? Why, Ned Stark, whyyyy?' Like that. it'd be really loud."
-- Nathan Fillion, actor, Castle
"Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Transformers or Thundercats."
-- Kunal Nayyar, actor, The Big Bang Theory
"Joss Whedon and Spike [James Marsters] and Angel [David Boreanaz] and Nathan Fillion … A Joss All-Stars panel, moderated by Seth MacFarlane."
-- Julie Plec, writer-producer, Kyle XY, The Vampire Diaries
"Spartacus, Game of Thrones, Children's Hospital, Robot Chicken and Guiding Light."
-- Joel McHale, actor, Community
"The Hobbit. For the last season of Lost, I waited outside for six or seven hours and slept in the grass."
-- Darren Criss, actor, Glee, A Very Potter Musical
MY FAVORITE COMIC-CON MEMORY IS …
"The comment we get a lot is: "You've made being a nerd cool. I'm not bullied anymore. When I'm with my people, if I'm wearing Big Bang paraphernalia, people accept me and think I'm awesome."
"This man in his 30s, wearing an Alienware knapsack, was trotting alongside us trying to talk to me as we were being rushed to an autograph signing. After the signing, I found him outside the double doors, and he said: "You are Hart Hanson. I am severely bipolar. What you've written many times has cheered me up. And I have not killed myself. That's all I wanted to tell you." I've never forgotten it."
"A little kid got up and asked me what it felt like to say the Green Lantern oath. I recited it for him. And just to see that kid's face light up like that -- not to be too precious about it -- was one of those moments where you think, "This is really worth all of this."
-- Ryan Reynolds, actor, Green Lantern, X-Men Origins: Wolverine
"The best was, "I'll let you live [after the Lost series finale]." (Laughs.) I remember the first time we were there, two guys came up to us in Dharma jumpsuits and asked for our autographs. It's the one place where a writer can be a rock star."
-- Edward Kitsis, writer-producer, Lost, Tron: Legacy, Once Upon a Time
WHAT MAKES A KICK-ASS COMIC-CON PANEL IS …
"Jell-O wrestling would be awesome. I don't think they've done that yet. I'd like to see the female Expendables. Anything with Sigourney Weaver; I think she'd win any fight. Or Kevin Smith up against Jon Favreau. Now that would be a panel!"
-- Lucy Lawless, actress, Spartacus, Xena: Warrior Princess
"When Disney snuck the Tron cast into Comic-Con at the end of the Race to Witch Mountain panel, it was fantastic because nobody saw it coming."
"Doing something special. One year, the King of the Hill people did a table read, but they read a Law & Order script, which is kind of funny."
-- Loren Bouchard, creator, Bob's Burgers
"It behooves you to show the same kind of passion that the fans have. be open, and beready to duck in case they throw something."
-- Stephen Lang, actor, Terra Nova
QUESTION BEST AVOIDED ON A PANEL IS …
"Questions from left field are great. Someone once asked me if I believed in God and if that influenced the way that I wrote."
-- Marti Noxon, writer-producer, Glee, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Fright Night
"Invariably I'll end up getting Star Trek questions like, "Who would win in a fight, a Borg or a Terminator?" It's a fair question but not particularly relevant. And I don't know the answer."
-- Brannon Braga, writer-producer, Terra Nova, FlashForward, Star Trek: The Next Generation
"Don't ask us to come down and kiss your kids. Don't ask us for a hug. Stop that -- I'm all out of hugs. And no dates; I'm not available for dates. And please stop getting full-color tattoos of Xena and her horse on your back."
'Why are you such an asshole on TV?' I've heard it enough now."
-- Michael McMillian, actor, True Blood
"Someone said there was a Gollum porn site, and asked would I get involved in that.I told them I'd have to get in touch with my agent to see if it was a good idea."
-- Andy Serkis, actor, The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit
"Will you come to my barbecue? We'll all be dressed as Shrek."
MY DREAM PANEL INCLUDES …
"I'd like to see everyone who's ever played Batman, going back to Adam West."
-- Zachary Levi, actor, Chuck
"Rod Serling alone onstage."
"Han Solo, Michael Jordan, Gollum, Rainbow Brite, whoever the lead guy from Splinter Cell: Conviction is, the new Ghost Recon soldier and the female leader of Germany. Plus Nicki Minaj and Edgar Wright."
"Grant Morrison [X-Men, Fantastic Four], Alan Moore [Watchmen], Warren Ellis [Red], and Joss Whedon in there for some levity -- and maybe George Lucas, directly from 1978, right after he's made Star Wars, before he's made The Empire Strikes Back, which is the best one. But let's get him before he knows that any of this stuff is actually happening."
"Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, moderated by J.J. Abrams."
-- Kevin Williamson, writer-producer, The Vampire Diaries, Secret Circle
"Indiana Jones, Han Solo, two or three Doctor Whos, Captain Kirk and a couple of Ensigns from Star Trek that died."
Bela Lugosi, Klaus Kinski and Chewbacca."
-- Jonah Nolan, writer, Person of Interest, The Dark Knight
IF I COULD BE A SHOWRUNNER ON ANOTHER SERIES I'D RUN …
"I would love to see Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd from Modern Family go run Mad Men for an episode. I want to see Jon Hamm as a sitcom dad."
I love Downton Abbey, and I'd make it into a Comic-Con-type show. It's set in 1911, and I'd bring in a Chuck action sensibility: Anarchists should take over the mansion and plant explosives throughout it, and the loyal manservant has to disarm the bombs in a real-time, action-packed episode."
-- Chris Fedak, co-creator, Chuck
"Justified. I'd find a way to bring Margo Martindale and M.C. Gainey back and put them in scenes together. We've brought characters back from the dead before."
-- Jeff Pinkner, executive producer, Lost, Fringe
"I would choose Glee over anything. I'd also pop over to Nikita and have Nikita [Maggie Q] take on Klaus for a Vampire Diaries-Nikita crossover episode."
"Three things I would do for Game of Thrones: I would a) not kill Sean Bean; b) not kill Sean Bean; and c) get winter here a little sooner."
-- Manny Coto, executive producer, Dexter
"Phineas and Ferb. I'd put their mom and Perry the Platypus together and do an all-black-and-white episode."
-- Craig Silverstein, producer, Nikita
"Glee. If I ran The Good Wife, there would be more robots."
"Three things I'd do on TV now: have more Eric the Midget on Fringe. I would have more 'manlihood' on the Bachelorette. and I'd definitely do an Alcatraz-themed talk show."
-- Elizabeth Sarnoff, executive producer, Alcatraz
"I want to tackle a procedural, an adult drama or another genre show, maybe sci-fi. The Faculty is as close as I've gotten to sci-fi, with the aliens. I'd like to dabble in that again."
"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, just so I could watch Danny DeVito. And Chuck -- we'd have more naked people and move it to cable."
-- J.H. Wyman, executive producer, Fringe
THE SHOW I'D MOST LIKE TO REBOOT IS …
"Bonanza. M*A*S*H would be a great one, too, and you could do Three's Company in an interesting way because they just had to touch on things so much then, and you could really get into it now."
-- Brad Falchuk, executive producer, Glee
"I would do a Diff'rent Strokes movie, but in fantasy."
"Quantum Leap. It's one of the best story vehicles I've ever seen."
"Freaks and Geeks. It didn't get its due."
HAVE YOU EVER DRESSED IN COSTUME TO AVOID FANS?
"Sam Raimi gave me a Zorro mask and a red bandana once, and I walked the convention floor for about 45 minutes. A couple people recognized me, but mostly they don't even look."
"I once tried wearing a mask so I could go explore the convention floor, and it got so hot and really sweaty. It was a featureless black mesh-type mask that covered my face, like an Evil Jawa kind of hood. I scared the crap out of Neil Patrick Harris. If I were to do it again, it'd be something grand, with space to carry comics, posters and jackets. I'd go as Boba Fett with some kind of cooling system, and his rocket pack would be my backpack."
"If I had an unlimited budget, I would hire a team to make me Mystique from X-Men: First Class -- the same people who did Jennifer Lawrence."
-- Nina Dobrev, actress, The Vampire Diaries
"I'd probably have to go with Buffy's Willow. Not bad Willow but dorky Willow because I know I definitely have plenty of dorky patterned sweater-vests in my closet."
-- Julie Plec
"I could go in my Jeff Winger costume, or I'd go as Rob Corddry from Children's Hospital, or Sean Bean's character in Game of Thrones, or anybody from Vampire Diaries. Name a character, and I'm in."
"Maybe I'll come out onstage dressed as a Jedi at the panel. But if no one else does it, then I'll be that guy. Everyone wants to see us in those Justice League costumes."
"Lara Croft from Tomb Raider, so I could feel empowered. As much as I think the Sailor Moons are really cute, I'd feel a little vulnerable."
-- Amanda Tapping, actress-producer, Sanctuary
"For a Dark Knight viral gag, I ditched my Stormtrooper mask and painted my face up as the Joker and went running around the streets of San Diego with a few other kids for a few hours."
"Boba Fett from Star Wars. I'm in San Antonio sitting in my bedroom that I grew up in, and I have four Boba Fetts in here. I have an irrational childhood love of Boba Fett. (Laughs.) Ever since I watched the movie, I always wanted to be a bounty hunter. I always remember the scene where Han Solo is dying, and I just got the sense that Boba Fett was really cool. I always wanted to dress up as him. And he had that great rocket on his back. That must be it: I always loved the Rocketeer, too!"
-- Jared Padalecki, actor, Supernatural
"I got a latex mask that looked like a wrestling mask and wore that with my street clothes. I didn't want my costume to be too extravagant that people would still want to pose for photos with me. It was just mask enough to hide who I am. I'm still trying to figure out what to wear this year. It'd be great if there were a good Incredible Hulk costume. I remember dressing up as the Hulk when I was a kid, in a green sweatshirt that my mom drew pectoral muscles and abs on."
-- Jorge Garcia, actor, Alcatraz
"I would probably dress up as Papa Smurf. I used to do that occasionally for my kids. I had a big beard back then, and I'd put on one of my wife's nightgowns, did a Kiehl's blue facial mask and put a pair of white BVDs on my head. I looked like a dead ringer for Papa Smurf. I'm sure I'm going to regret having told you that, but that's probably who I would go as."
"Captain Jack Sparrow -- I wouldn't need the eyeliner."
-- Nestor Carbonell, actor, Ringer
"Dr. Zaius from Planet of the Apes.
"I'd go as an aging David Boreanaz."
-- David Greenwalt, executive producer, Grimm, Angel
"I don't know if Tinkerbell would be at Comic-Con, but I always wanted to be her. She's not necessarily a superhero, but she can fly."
-- Piper Perabo, actress, Covert Affairs
-- Additional reporting by Lacey Rose, Borys Kit and Philiana Ng
HOW A TRUE BLOOD STAR WENT UNDERCOVER AT COMIC-CON: Actress Deborah Ann Woll reveals in first person how she hid in plain sight in 2010
My boyfriend, E.J. Scott, and I like to go to panels and meet the artists, and we couldn't do that with me getting mobbed by fans of the show. I figured a good way to have my own experience there would be to dress up and get in the spirit of Comic-Con and hide.
We wanted to come up with something that would cover most of my features but also be comfortable because it's a long day, and you're sitting in these rooms listening to people talk for hours. We had seen Kick-Ass and loved it and thought Hit-Girl was a fun character for me to do. We ended up getting a good purple wig and black mask.
People wound up taking pictures with me as Hit-Girl, having no idea that they were also taking pictures with Jessica Hamby from True Blood, which I thought was a cool double surprise. It was fun to be anonymous and have people enjoy the costume, rather than the celebrity of it. We went Wednesday through Sunday, and the only day I didn't dress up was the day of the True Blood panel. My favorite panel, RiffTrax, was after True Blood, so I rushed backstage, changed into my Hit-Girl outfit, stuffed my designer dress in a duffel bag and ran out.
A lot of people figured it out; they got that I was trying to be incognito and be able to pursue the Con without having to stop every minute to talk to fans. It gave most of them a fun memory -- like that they figured it out, and they had pride in that. It was an effective idea and I'll do it again, but it won't be Hit-Girl. I've got a new costume that I don't think anyone else will have. I won't reveal it, but it's related to both film and television.