There’s no bigger day at Wizard World Chicago 2018 than Saturday. The floor opens nice and early, the crowds are huge, and the biggest celebrity panels pack the rooms from dawn til dusk. Between all the amazing cosplay leading up to the evening’s cosplay competition and the big name panels we were running from the moment we set foot on the Donald E Stephens convention floor. The fruits of our labor are below in your Saturday panel catchups. Enjoy!
We started our day with the Women in Pop Culture panel, which featured Charisma Carpenter, better known as Cordelia Chase to faithful Buffy fans, and Holly Marie Combs, who we’d seen the previous day in a Charmed panel. Pom Klementieff was listed as a guest but did not make it until later that day in Michael Rooker’s panel. Charisma Carpenter and Holly Marie seem to run parallel to each other, both in their career trajectory and life experiences, and played off one another well, sharing what it was like to be a prime figure in a sci-fi staple, what a delightful surprise it is to be an inspiration to other girls growing up, and surprisingly quite a bit of back and forth about their children—Holly Marie Combs often expressing frustration at the lack of appreciation she seems to get in her own house vs. Convention halls and Carpenter relaying her dashed hopes of watching Buffy for the first time with her 10 year old son, who got bored far too soon and abandoned the mother-son bonding time she’d been hoping for.
The two also talked about talent and schooling, with Charisma Carpenter spending some time parsing the value of formal acting education while still appreciating that one can learn by doing and from other actors as they come up, much the way that she did. She did a great job of conveying the benefits of education as well as not diminishing herself or others that did not attend formal acting schools, and emphasizing the need for hard work above everything else to achieve your dreams.
At the Transmedia Panel video game writer Genese Davis, The Walking Dead co-novelist Jay Bonansinga, and Ghostbusters graphic novel writer/artist Erik Burnham talked about storytelling across different media. They talked about their experiences adapting media from different platforms, and how much freedom (or not) they’re allowed. “It’s like a marriage” according to Jay Bonansinga on his relationship with The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, “there is a mutual trust” when Jay adapts Kirkman’s work from graphic novel to novel. “People are upset if it doesn’t follow the rules of the movie, TV show, etc.” said Erik Burnham of his experiences. But whereas transmedia and adaptations were sort of frowned upon in the past, Bonansinga mused that “people expect this multiplatform exploration of big franchises through books, movies, etc.”
The first big panel of the day had many many a Claire-in-waiting queueing for the full cast Outlander panel with Diana Gabaldon, which had been scheduled after the rearrangements the cast had to make to accommodate colleagues Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe’s filming schedules. With the full cast in tow, fans got plenty of juicy tidbits, many of which we won’t share here simply due to spoilers—it was definitely a panel where you wanted to be caught up on the subject matter. That said, Diana Gabaldon dropped a few lead hints about “riveting footage” to come, which we suspect mostly has to do with the show’s main heartthrob, the “man in a kilt” we’d heard so much about Thursday, Jamie (Sam Heughan). Another interesting tidbit Gabaldon let slip when discussing the show was that because the books are ahead of the series, she sometimes ends up saving characters who might have otherwise met their demise, teasing that she’d done so this season, and causing the entire panel of fans to shout out their guesses on who might have been a goner without her intervention.
Next up, it was time to get the Ecto-Cooler out and celebrate Ghostbusters, with a special panel featuring Ivan Reitman and Ernie Hudson that we very much enjoyed. It was another packed room, and the front row was full of Windy City Ghostbusters there to pay homage. Reitman talked a lot about the filming of the movie, including how insane he thought it was how much they could get away with filming in New York City at the time. He mentioned that his crowd shots were shot with actual city crowds he’d just stand around and direct, and how when the movie got pitched, he’d mostly considered it impossible to get made, having no script and no characters, just a vague idea. Handed 30 million dollars, he immediately had to scramble to establish an effects house, since ILM was already busy on the Indiana Jones films, and figure out his casting and story with only 13 months’ time allotted by the studio as part of the deal. Reitman mentioned his original desire to cast John Candy, who he’d worked with in Stripes, and the subsequent conversation with Rick Moranis, who took the role after Reitman wasn’t able to convince Candy to play his role without a German accent and “a lot of dogs.”
Reitman also explained his concern about the Marshmallow Man, which we’d at thought first might be due to the physical size of the thing, but turns out to be because he thought that while the movie should be humorous, he might lose the audience making it a bit too silly by adding the iconic Stay Puft scene.
Ernie Hudson spoke a bit about how he got started in film, after a career in the Marines, a marriage and subsequent divorce and a move to LA. Hudson didn’t get as much panel time as Reitman, but it mostly seemed like it was due to his interest in Reitman’s tales about how the film got off the ground. Later on, Reitman talked about bringing Ernie on as Hudson to be a sort of “man on the street” that everyone could relate to, telling the audience that there had to be A brain, a heart and a mouth, and they could figure out who was who. Perhaps the most exciting part of the entire panel though was Reitman’s big teaser at the end of the panel, when asked what he was working on. Reitman gave a big grin and told fans at the panel that they could expect “very big things” in the near future, and teased even further, not confirming or denying the host’s suggestion that another live-action film could be on the way, when the 2019 Ghostbusters Fan Fest in California was brought up.
We continued our evening by sticking around the main panel room for Michael Rooker vs. The Audience. Pom Klementieff made a surprise appearance on the Rooker vs. the Audience panel, but in a way, Michael Rooker did too when he snuck up on the audience and posed as a regular attendee asking a question in an awkward way. That’s where everything went off the rails, and they never got back on, as topics covered ranged from Slither, to Guardians of the Galaxy and Infinity War, while even touching on Michael Rooker’s breakout debut in Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer, which he tried to prepare for by reading books on murders and watching interviews with serial killers—the latter having the most profound affect. Rooker also complained about having to sit for long periods of time for make-up in Slither (over seven hours) while his Yondu makeup took only around four—Pom lucked out with her one and a half our application for her role as Mantis in Guardians of the Galaxy. Highly energetic, Rooker decided on a blitz question-and-answer session to make sure everyone who had been standing in line got a chance to ask a question, even humoring his fans with a yell of “I’m Mary Poppins, y’all!”
The X-Files panel had David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson giving their normal comic-con performance full of dry sarcasm and occasionally insightful answers. David Duchovny spoke about how he got into acting. When asked about his origins as a writer, Duchovny joked, “I had handwriting, so I was a writer” but then went on to explain that he really wanted to write plays, and he started to study acting so he could get that perspective and it just stuck. When Gillian Anderson said that she didn’t know that, Duchovny offered his outstretched hand to her and said, “Hi, I’m David.” Gillian, on the other hand, wanted to pursue a career in film before ending up on TV, “it was a different world back then,” Gillian said and went on to explain how film roles were taken more seriously while TV is not as desirable as it is today. Anderson seemed pretty apologetic about the way X-Files ended up, herself– “I’m sorry” was a consistent refrain. When asked if the actors as they were now were able to go to their younger, season one X-Files counterparts, what advice would they give them, David dismissed the notion, while Gillian just said, “don’t do it!” When asked to elaborate on what she meant, she said, “then I would have to apologize for how it turned out!”
David and Gillian were both asked if they saw any real-world impact of Mulder and Scully when they went out into the world. “Sure,” said Duchovny jokingly, “I used to go out and notice all the men wearing suits, just like Mulder, and I thought, I did that. It caught on because of me.” Gillian had the same sentiment in regards to polyester pantsuits Scully was known for wearing. When asked if the fun X-Files episodes were as fun to make as they were to watch, David explained that those episodes were sometimes not fun because he felt the pressure—either they were going for a new bar, or there was just the pressure to be different in a way that is amusing to the audience and true to the show. When asked if there were any celebrities they would meet, David smiled and said that he finally got to meet Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek’s Uhura. Gillian Anderson said that after she saw the Venom trailer, she’d line up for Tom Hardy. It was everything we’d come to expect from this duo, including the easy, barbed back-and-forth chemistry that made them shine on the X-Files, and we enjoyed it thoroughly.
Our final seat of the night was at the Wizard World Chicago Cosplay competition, as is tradition on Saturdays, but we’ll bring you all the details and photos from that another time. For now, check out our Saturday cosplay gallery and look forward to another full day of fandom, celebs and cosplay with tomorrow’s reports!