Denver Comic Con 2017 was another successful event for the entertainment and media patrons of Colorado and beyond. There was a wide assortment of talent on display, particularly in the cosplay and artist realms. While the horror was limited this year in the panels, we were able to catch some time with Nathan Fillion (Slither), Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things), and Michael Chiklis (American Horror Story).
Millie Bobby Brown
There are two routes kid actors take when they reach stardom. They can't take the pressure of the fanbase and crumble psychologically, or they embrace their fanbase, adjust to the media presence, and eventually thrive via the understanding that they're just people like everyone else. Brown has the aura of an individual who thrives in the environment she is in by retaining a steady flow of humility in her thought processes. She connected with fans in a way I've never seen in a panel. She refused to stay seated, and instead marched across the stage to be as close to fans asking questions as she possibly could.
She appears to have no fear, on stage or on screen. Apparently even the Demogorgon from Stranger Things didn't frighten her. When she first saw it, she said it was creepy. But then they told her she'd be killing it, and it took all the intimidation away from the monster for her. That wasn't true of all cast members. Some of the younger cast were told little white lies that the monster was nothing more than a creature from Monsters Inc., despite looking nothing like anything from that children's animated film.
Much to the surprise and humor of the crowd, Brown admitted to having no clue her character on Stranger Things had powers until she was on set. When she was auditioning, she competed against 300 other girls with little more than a commercial or two under her belt. After four rounds of auditions and a Skype interview with the directors, Brown was sent for a screen test and head shave and had the job the next day.
Currently filming for the new Godzilla movie, Brown had to fly back and forth from the set to the con, having done a scene for the film just last night. In between scenes and algebra, the mature-beyond-her-years actress supports several foundations and loves interacting with her fans. Her down-to-earth personality is reflected in her treatment of everyone, right down to quickly giving a hug, and even singing a tune to hundreds, upon request from a single fan.
Chiklis in person was exactly as I pictured: a commanding presence with an aura of personable touch. Chiklis, like most celebs of DCC, just loves interacting with his fans and it showed in his panel. His passion really shined in his unrelenting desire to share the details of his career and life with the fans, occasionally chasing squirrels and running on tangents to deliver exactly what fans want to hear; insight. Chiklis apologized on numerous occasions for "rambling", but admitted that he was trying to give us exactly what we wanted, and he did.
Probably unsurprising to most, Chiklis' worst experience as an actor came in the first Fantastic Four film. However, it was with the sentiment that most might think. He felt those two films were for fun, and who could argue? And while they are generally panned across the board, I can't argue with his lighthearted nature towards the material. But he did mention that the Thing suit was his worst experience as an actor. The suit from the first film in particular had him admitting he almost quit after the first day. With about 5-inch thick latex around his core, 12-16 pounds of weight on each hand and foot, a 5-hour prep time, and 12-hour shooting schedule...it's no wonder Chiklis considers the experience a nightmare. He literally visited a psychiatrist to see how he could mentally tackle this assignment. He received the advice of focusing on elements of his environment to take his mind off of the suit's claustrophobic imposition. He also repeated a mantra that reminded him that he is still in control of his mind, body and senses. It was a good reminder for those of us that struggle with anxiety that even a celebrity can have moments of overwhelming stress and there are solutions that can at least help a little in quelling the anxiety.
Chiklis was asked if he preferred playing a villain or hero, and he responded that it's fun to be the bad guy, to which he received laughs and applause. But he quickly got serious saying that he feels his hero roles are more important, especially today. He said that he thinks the world, including America, needs heroes right now. Heroes in real life and heroes on screen. While I love my villains and I stand by my sentiment that villains make the hero, I think his words were a refreshing reminder for me that without heroes, the world becomes a dark place. Even the real world needs heroes, even fictional ones that remind us how the world should be.
Unsurprisingly, Chiklis said his favorite all-time role was as Vic Mackey from The Shield. It is most certainly his defining role as an actor and the one he is most generally associated with. You could tell he was truly attached to the role and the story, calling the series a 100-hour movie. That is what they set out to do. Make a movie in a TV series. They also wanted to make the finale something outside of the conventional. They didn't want a victorious Butch Cassidy blaze of glory, and they didn't want the clank of prison bars either. They wanted a proverbial purgatory. A truly artistic approach to the conclusion of a great series.
Chiklis' role as Dell Toledo from American Horror Story Season 4 was my personal favorite performance from the entire series. He briefly spoke on the role in regards to the show as a whole. He loves the team-oriented style of AHS, relating it to the team-oriented nature of the New England Patriots. It isn't about a couple of A-list actors with huge parts, but rather a communal effort to deliver something amazing as an amalgamation of talent. Also, he thought Kathy Bates was an absolute joy to work with. I would imagine so.
A couple of years back, Alan Tudyk graced DCC with his presence. I recall a handful of jokes he made referring to himself as the poor version of Fillion. I took that to heart and held it in my consciousness throughout Fillion's panel to see if I agreed. I would have to say I do. Fillion carries himself with the personable charisma of Tudyk and the sarcastic ego of Bruce Campbell. He truly cares about his fans, but doesn't mind the persona of being "hot stuff" in the most ironic of ways.
Many of the questions fed off of this facade, like, "do you like being an action figure?" Of course his answer was, "Yep!" But not before delving into his love for his fans. He said something to the effect of, "I can't imagine my life where I don't have you guys" in reference to the crowd. There were brief moments like that where you saw Tudyk come out in Fillion's "Captain Awesome" exterior, and you could tell what kind of celebrity he really was.
The most hilarious moment had to come when Fillion responded to a fan question by attempting to call up Tudyk on the phone in front of everyone. The phone went to voicemail, and as the automated message played, Fillion held the phone to the microphone. But instead of repeating Tudyk's voice, it began to recite his phone number through the microphone. Fillion quickly pulled the phone away as the crowd lost it in laughter. Eventually when the automated message had reached the voicemail portion of the call, Fillion cracked about accidentally making Tudyk have to change his number. It was a moment that gave a practical glimpse into their close friendship. It is that friendship, for many such as me, that defines them as celebrities and why they are adored by their fans.
For more DCC '17 coverage, check out our sister site AEIther.net.