Star Wars at Wizard World Philadelphia 2012
This past weekend Wizard World came to Philadelphia. Being a fan of all things pop culture and since Philly is right in my back yard, I of course had to attend. I went to Wizard World Philadelphia last year as well. Last year’s con was fun but not the huge event that cities like Chicago and New York get. I think the biggest celebrity we got was Bruce Campbell of the Evil Dead movies. This year promised to be a much bigger event with celebrities like Chris Hemsworth and Stan Lee attending. All five of the Star Trek Captains also appeared together for the first time including legends William Shatner and Patrick Stewart.
There wasn’t a huge Star Wars presence at the con but we did get a few celebs. Sam Witwer, from The Force Unleashed video game series and most recently the voice of Darth Maul in The Clone Wars, was in attendance and had his own Q&A session. Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett), and Nick Gillard (stunt coordinator) were there as well and had a joint Q&A. Nick Gillard also did his lightsaber master class at various times throughout the convention.
Mayhew, Bulloch, Gillard Q&A
This Q&A started out as just Mayhew and Bulloch and Gillard joined eventually. Here are some of the highlights.
Mayhew and Bulloch recounted how they met for the first time at a supermarket, “…above the shelves there was only one head going around and I went up and said, ‘Hello Peter.’ Little did I know that a few weeks later I was gonna be cast as Boba Fett.”
When asked about what it was like to be a part of something as big as Star Wars Mayhew said, “Half the time you can’t believe that there are hundreds even thousands of people waiting to get your autograph, talk to you. It’s a really wonderful experience. Something that changes your life.”
In reference to changes that Lucas has made to the films Bulloch said, “Some I agreed with like Cloud City opening up and some I didn’t… I don’t think he needed to touch again.”
Bulloch said in Empire Strikes Back he was told that Boba Fett was a human. He also said that it was nice that Fett got a backstory in the movies but they never should have shown his face. He did not like the idea that Boba Fett was a clone and thought he should have stayed an individual.
Who shot first?
Bulloch immediately said “Han.”
Mayhew said, “I have no opinion on this… but it does make an interesting conversation.”
Gillard said, “I wasn’t there but I would always shoot first.”
What was your favorite movie to work on?
Bulloch, “I think Empire Strikes Back had everything you wanted. Perfect film.”
Mayhew said that Empire was also his favorite and gave a lot of credit to Irvin Kershner.
Gillard said “Sleepy Hollow” which got a big laugh from the crowd.
When asked to comment about George Lucas retiring to his garage to make small independent films Nick Gillard said, “I’ve been to his private garage… Last time I was there he said ‘Look what I just bought for Christmas’ and he pressed a button and two of the doors came up and there was a yellow Ferrari and a red Ferrari. There’s not much room to make a movie, it’s full of Ferraris.”
Nick Gillard was the stunt guy inside of the alien queen costume in Aliens. He told a story about how hot and claustrophobic it was inside of the costume and how one day James Cameron was drinking tea in front of him and Nick used the arm of the alien costume to knock the tea all over Cameron.
Gillard talked about how much of the choreography gets cut out of the films. He said he had choreographed a fight where Obi-Wan “fought against six guys with double ended lightsabers” (I think he may have been referring to Grievous’ magnaguards). It took 3 weeks to choreograph and Lucas decided to cut it and just have Obi-wan pull a crate down on them.
Sam Witwer Q&A
Sam Witwer has a number of Star Wars credits but is probably more popular for his roles in shows like Smallville and Being Human. Much of his Q&A covered other parts of his career but there was some talk about his Star Wars roles.
Witwer spoke very fondly of his time working on The Force Unleashed games. He also said you will have to ask Lucas Arts about if there will be a third game in the franchise.
He was asked if he ad libbed any of his lines as Darth Maul in The Clone Wars. He gave an example of a line where he was supposed to say “Your Master, Qui-Gon Jinn. I killed him while you stood helpless and watched. How did that make you feel, Kenobi?” Witwer decided to change it to “Your Master, Qui-Gon Jinn. I gutted him while you stood helpless and watched. How did that make you feel, Obi-Wan?” He thought that adding the word “gutted” and calling Obi-Wan by his first named made it more personal.
Witwer mentioned a number of times during the Q&A that he would love to eventually work in the Star Trek franchise. “I’m not sure how to get that done. Maybe ask Simon Pegg.”
A couple of times he did his Darth Maul voice and it was very impressive to see and hear it in person.
There was a funny moment when an enthusiastic fan asked if Sam had considered ever doing voice work for The Clone Wars. Sam played along and said he would love to do it someday before finally coming clean to the fan and informing him that he had already done and is still currently working on The Clone Wars.
Lightsaber Master Class
Of the four Star Wars celebrities, Nick Gillard was the only one that I had a chance to talk to one on one. Very nice guy and as you can tell from the Q&A answers above he has a great sense of humor.
Seven different times throughout the weekend Nick taught his Lightsaber Master Class. This class was an extra cost above the convention ticket price and I decided not to spring for it. The class was taught right in the middle of the convention floor so I was able to watch it. His skills were very impressive to watch. I was surprised to see that in a very short amount of time he was able to show his students complicated lightsaber moves and they were able to successfully complete some of the fight sequences. In the end they could almost pass as Jedi. Almost.
Wizard World Philadelphia obviously had a lot going on other than just Star Wars and there were many highlights for me personally.
I’ve never watched an episode of Lois and Clark but Dean Cain’s Q&A was very entertaining.
Chris Hemsworth’s Q&A was packed and he was great with the fans. He was by far the most current big celebrity in attendance.
I had my picture taken with someone in a very official looking Chewbacca costume.
I found a Jango Fett to add to my Mighty Mugg collection. I failed to find a Hulk one for my friend.
The Five Star Trek Captains panel was great. As a Trek fan myself I was excited to see all five actors together in the same place. Three of the captains were engaged with the audience (Mulgrew, Bakula, Stewart), another not so much but was funny when he talked (Shatner), and the other (Brooks) looked like he wanted to be anywhere else.
Overall the convention was great. A lot bigger than last year but also a lot more organized. I can only imagine that next year will be bigger and better.