We’ve finally reached the end of the biggest pop culture, comic and entertainment event within city limits, and this year it was bigger than ever, with Saturday selling out entirely and Friday and Sunday being close at its heels. There were big name guests, great exclusives and more stuff to see on the show floor than we’d ever seen before, including a special section just for Chicago-area vendors selling their unique goods, and it was all very exciting. Here’s a look at what happened on Day 3 of C2E2 behind closed panel doors.
For many, some of us at Third Coast included, the David Tennant spotlight was the highlight of the con. While we were somewhat bummed that Matt Smith canceled at the last minute, seeing one of our other favorite Doctors was more than enough to put us over the moon on Sunday.
Much like his Time Lord character, Tennant himself has boundless energy. He ran out on stage to greet a completely full room, jumped on the couch more than once, and spent the next hour cracking jokes, reliving his time as the Doctor and some of his other characters like Killgrave on Jessica Jones, and generally giving everyone a lot of laughs.
Tennant said he initially wasn’t even trying to play The Doctor, but rather just wanted to be a character on the show when Russell T Davies was working on the reboot with Christopher Eccleston playing the 9th Doctor. Tennant said when Davies eventually asked him to come by his house for dinner to watch some early edits of ‘Rose’ and ‘Dalek’ and dropped the question about stepping into the role he was stunned.”
“Totally out of the blue,” said Tennant. “I thought I we were sort of having you know, snacks, and watching a video. I think it was on a VHS – that’s how long ago it was. It was extraordinary. I laughed. I actually just laughed. Then I said ‘can I have a really long coat?’”
Tennant also said he wasn’t even sure at first the show would become the incredible success it has been.
“I never really entertained the possibility of being offered this part,” he said. “Part of it is that it had been off the telly for years – it wasn’t a thing that was really out there. It had just come back…it didn’t really feel like anything that was going to be out there.”
Tennant said he waffled a little when thinking about accepting the role, but ultimately took the part of playing the 10th Doctor because as a lifelong fan of the show, who wouldn’t?
“It’s one of those things where you have to confront your 8 year old self,” said Tennant. “You fantasized about this as an 8 year old and now it’s here, is that a bit weird? Russell was saying this because it was his experience. He was a lifelong fan and he was asked to reinvent the show and he did it and was very enthusiastic about it but at the same time he felt, as the responsibility dawns on you that you’re going to be responsible for this thing that you loved so much, that you’re so invested in, it takes on a slightly different flavor…For a couple of days I kind of turned it down I said I’m not going to do this it feels like too big a deal, it doesn’t feel right. And then I thought ‘oh who are you kidding’ because if I do that I have to watch someone else do it knowing I could’ve had a show and turned it down? That wasn’t going to work either. So in the end I just took a deep breath and got on with it.”
In talking about subsequent actors that have gone on to play the role, Tennant said that while he didn’t give advice to current 13th Doctor Jodie Whittaker and didn’t for either Matt Smith or Peter Capaldi, the group did often talk about how playing The Doctor gives an incredible amount of fame and recognition to an actor, and how that affects their lives.
“I have no advice to tell her how to play the role or how to choose your costume or what the sonic screwdriver does – that’s all nonsense,” said Tennant. “That’s up to her, it’s hers now and she must decide those things and she’s far too experienced, adept, and creative to need advice from me about that. That’s her thing to take and get on with it. You’re part of a very small sort of self help group. It’s quite a specific attention that the show gets – it’s lovely, humbling, and a privilege to be in the middle of it but it does take a bit of getting used to, so that’s what we all talked about and continue to talk about as it unfolds. It’s a show that has an international appeal and you find yourself just about wherever you go. There’s hardly a corner of the world where someone doesn’t go ‘it’s Doctor Who.’ That takes a bit of getting used to because there’s not many other acting jobs that are that ubiquitous, that are that sort of loved. It’s nice because it’s a lovely show to be known for because people feel affectionate towards it.”
Certainly the affection was well-earned, with Tennant being at once humorous, heartwarming and intelligent in a discussion that the packed room couldn’t get enough of.
Keeping the Sunday panel lineup going strong, Ming-Na Wen took to the Main Stage following the Animaniacs. As Clark Gregg was not able to make it to Sunday’s panel, Wen joked that her spotlight should’ve been renamed to just “Agent” of S.H.I.E.L.D. Despite flying solo, Wen’s humor, enthusiasm, and bright personality was more than enough to elicit a sea of smiles.
The actress shared that she had been a geek since childhood, finding solace in comic books, entertainment, and fan culture while living in a heavily Caucasian and monolithic suburban neighborhood. Wen stated that it’s been an especially fun journey becoming a part of the Marvel universe as she’s now involved in something that she’s been a fan of since her youth. She also expressed that it’s been nice to be a part of a community and share this experience with others.
It wasn’t long before the conversation shifted over to the topic of shipping. Wen was asked about her reaction towards season’s big finale and the canonization of the fan-favorite pairing “Philinda,” to which she responded by thanking the fans for making it happen and that she supports it wholeheartedly. The actress showed her full support for the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fandom, revealing that she sometimes reads fanfiction and admitting that it makes her blush. There was a memorable moment when a fan approached the mic and asked Wen a question that many fans might’ve been wondering: did Melinda May and Phil Coulson “go out with a Bang?” A bashful Wen squealed that there are children present before relenting with a playful “OH yeah.”
That rounds out what we saw at C2E2 this Sunday. Are there any great panel moments we left out? Feel free to share them with us and other readers in the comments below.
Contributing authors: Aaron Cynic, Marielle Bokor, Pearl Shin