Wizard World Philly Interviews With Kai Owen, Jeremy Bulloch, Peter Mayhew, And AMC’s Comic Book Men
In my last bit of coverage from last weekend’s Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con, I’m going to share with you some of the interviews that I conducted over the course of the weekend. Thanks to the Wizard World PR team (especially Jerry), I was granted some time to speak with some personalities from some of the most popular fandoms in science fiction and pop culture today.
Peter Mayhew and Jeremy Bolloch Interview
For starters, I’ll give you my interview with two of the most iconic characters in movie history: the feared bounty hunter, Boba Fett, and the ever-loyal and lovable Chewbacca. That’s right, ‘Star Wars’ fans. I got to chat with Jeremy Bulloch and Peter Mayhew.
How has your comic con experience been this weekend?
PM: Very nice. We’ve had plenty of fans. It’s been just a great experience.
JB: Philadelphia’s been a great show and I’m very fortunate to have been invited because I played this iconic character, I suppose.
What’s one of your favorite things about doing conventions like this?
PM: You meet people. You meet all the critics. And you can iron out reports of things that aren’t quite true that people read in the newspapers and just put them right in a friendly way.
JB: There’s always excitement because you never know what’s going to happen. There’s always something different.
What do you think of George Lucas stepping back from making the bigger blockbuster movies now?
PM: I haven’t talked to him about it, but as George says, “It’s my movie and I can do what I want with it.” After all, when you think about how long it’s taken him to get those movies done, he can do what he wants to.
JB: I understand exactly why he’s doing it. He’s been involved with it for many, many years. He’s terrific at his job, but he needs a break. He needs a rest to concentrate on something less. He probably thought, “I probably won’t do Episode 7, 8, and 9, so it’s time to stop.”
If George gave you a call and asked you to suit up once more, would you do it?
PM: Well we did it for ‘The Clone Wars’.
JB: I’d probably be 106 by then, but if I could still jump around and move… No, I would love for George Lucas to say, “Jeremy, I want you as an aging bounty hunter sitting in the corner just giving advice.” It would be quite nice to do a cameo role exploring where Boba Fett is. I think he owes a lot of money to other bounty hunters and Jabba the Hut.
Which one of the ‘Star Wars’ movies was your favorite to work on?
PM: Empire. ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. It’s the best one of the three. Or the best one of the six rather, but the first three [the prequels] we don’t count because they’re for a different generation. The newer ones are for the kids and the older ones are for the big kids.
JB: ‘Empire Strikes Back’. I think ‘Empire Strikes Back’ had everything. I mean, I enjoyed all of them, including Episodes 1, 2, and 3. I enjoyed them… But the earlier ones were better.
Both of these men were great to talk to, and it was an honor for me to speak with two characters that I loved growing up as a little ‘Star Wars’ fan.
Kai Owen Interview
The next man that I got to interview plays Rhys Williams from ‘Torchwood’ and Bob from the original ‘Being Human’. Since readers of ScienceFiction.com love to talk about ‘Torchwood’, I definitely couldn’t pass up an opportunity to talk to Kai Owen.
How’s your con experience been thus far?
KO: Yeah, it’s been very good. I’ve had a great time. It’s been very busy, but I’ve enjoyed sitting here people watching and enjoying the sights. It’s been good.
What are some of your favorite parts about attending cons like this?
KO: I enjoy the guest panels a lot. The Q&A’s are excellent. I’m always happy to talk to fans and give my opinions on the show and hear their opinions on the show.
As one of the three original cast members left on ‘Torchwood’, you’ve seen a lot of changes to the show. What did you think about the format change from case of the week to the mini-series?
KO: Personally, I think that the case of the week/alien of the week was good. I enjoyed the first two series, but ‘Children of Earth’ was probably the best. That one long story arc over five nights was incredible television. I did like ‘Miracle Day’ as well. It did work, but not as good as ‘Children of Earth’, in my opinion, but yeah, they can do whatever they want with ‘Torchwood’. It’s constantly evolving. Who knows? If it comes back, it might come back in a different format again.
ScienceFiction.com recently listed Rhys and Gwen as one of the top ten couples in science fiction and fantasy. If you get to do another season of ‘Torchwood’, where would you like to see the two of them go?
KO: I don’t really know. I mean, I love what they have now. I don’t think that Rhys should ever become a member of the Torchwood team. He should be the way he is all the time. I do like it when he gets a little bit of action, like when he and Gwen go on a little mission. I love that, so maybe a bit more of that would be good. But as a rule, I kinda like him as the way he is.
Do you have any updates at all as to when we might see another season of ‘Torchwood’?
KO: Absolutely not, I’m afraid. Sorry to disappoint you. It’s all up in the air at the moment, so who knows?
Moving away from ‘Torchwood’ for a minute, you were in the original ‘Being Human’. What do you think of the SyFy version of the show?
KO: I’ve never seen it, so I couldn’t comment, I’m afraid. I know that the Americans enjoy remaking stuff, but I’ve never seen it.
Where can fans see you next?
KO: They need to subscribe to some British television. Back home I’m in a BBC program called ‘The Syndicate’. I’m also doing some Welsh language television and I also just did some theater, so to see me, you’d have to come over to the UK.
Throughout the whole time that we were talking, Kai was totally laid back. I even recall at one point during the weekend when I passed his booth, he was talking with another guest and enjoying a beer. This man does comic cons correctly, my friends.
Comic Book Men Mike Zapcic & Ming Chen Interview
Finally, the last guys that I got to interview are from ‘Comic Book Men’, the recently renewed AMC reality show from writer/director/nerd royalty Kevin Smith. While they were taking a break from podcasting at their booth, I had the opportunity to talk with Mike Zapcic and Ming Chen, two of the four cast members from the show.
How did you guys get started working at the Stash?
MC: Kevin actually called me. I did a ‘Clerks’ fan site when I was in college back in 1995. He stumbled on it and gave me a call at home. I didn’t believe it was him at first when he asked me to do a website for his production company. Apparently I impressed him. I thought about it… Nah, I said yes immediately. How that led to ‘Comic Book Men’ and us sitting here at a con, I’m not really sure. If you hang around Kevin long enough, weird things happen.
MZ: I didn’t annoy the crap out of Walt Flanagan. I’m one of the few people on the face of this planet who doesn’t, so that’s how I got my job.
Kevin has an annual Hall H panel at San Diego Comic Con. Are you guys planning on hopping onto that panel or are you going to have your own big Hall H presentation this year?
MC: I don’t know if we could fill Hall H just yet, but we got to get to San Diego first, which hopefully happens. Season 2 of ‘Comic Book Men’ was just announced, so—
MZ: Yeah, can we bum a ride? Are you going out there?
I wish! I’d really love to.
MZ: Well, if you are, I’ll kick in for gas money.
I will gladly go along and be your lackey. If you guys need another Asian guy to boss around…
MZ: You know, I don’t think [Brian] Johnson has enough Asians to boss around, so we’ll keep you in mind.
MC: Yeah, Kevin owns Hall H though. We’ll take Hall Z. What’s that, like 10 people?
MZ: Yeah, I could fill that.
Recently, Kevin started the Simulcast Internet Television station. Will we be seeing anything from your podcast ‘I Sell Comics’ on that channel?
MC: We haven’t been asked yet, but usually the things that happen out west trickle out east. Mike and me have spent some time in front of a camera, so why not? What would we do, Mike?
MZ: I don’t know. What are we doing now?
MC: I don’t know. We could do something exciting like live comic book grading. Or action figure digest where we talk about paints and sculpting.
MZ: We’ll figure out something better, folks. Trust me.
MC: Well, we could hurt ourselves.
MZ: I know a lot of people who’d like to see that.
MC: Right now, Kevin’s got a huge library of video to show everybody, so I’m gonna give it all to him right now, but if it comes east, we’re ready.
Ming, there aren’t too many Asians represented in mainstream media today. What does it feel like to be a potential role model for other dorky Asians like you?
MC: Role Model? That’s such a weird thing. So far, I haven’t had any little kids try to follow in my footsteps, but I guess every little bit helps. You know if I can get up to Bolo Yeung status. I don’t even have to be Bruce Lee or Jet Lee. Just Bolo Yeung or Sammo Hung. Especially Sammo Hung because that guy is badass but still looks like he can eat a lot. Maybe one day when I get my own ‘Martial Law’ and kid’s want to follow in my footsteps, then by all means.
Follow up question: How many times have you been confused with Steven Yuen from ‘The Walking Dead’?
MC: So far, none. But I would love that. That would be the pinnacle.
MZ: (mouthing the word) One.
MZ: It happened once. It was on the podcast. They called you Steven Yuen.
MC: Oh… Welll, yeah. I would love to get confused with that guy. It would be great.
He is a pretty badass guy.
MC: On the show, yeah. I’m not sure about real life. I follow his tweets. He talks about stuffed animals and Korea. But Korea is pretty badass.
You guys were only around for one day (Sunday, June 3rd). Did you have a chance to look around since arriving this morning?
MZ: Oh yeah. We went over to Artist Alley. Very cool and always fun to do. We snuck by and watched [William] Shatner eat a snickerdoodle, which was also pretty cool. He didn’t chew it. Ate it whole. Just swallowed it. Unhinged his jaw. It was freakish, but still pretty cool. We glad-handed a lot. There were a lot of people coming up to us and wanting to get pictures, which was really cool.
MC: Hold on. Are you telling me that Shatner eats like a duck?
MZ: More like a platypus.
MC: Alright. Well, I just love seeing the vintage toys and comics. Today I’m looking for a Miyazaki’s Totoro stuffed animal. She’s really into that right now.
Lastly, where can fans find you next before the next season of ‘Comic Book Men’?
MC: We’ll always be on Smodcast.com podcasting up a storm, and we’re always at Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash.
MZ: Yup. Always. You can always catch me, Walt, and Ming there. Johnson sometimes.
MC: It’s weird. Some people come up to us and ask if we really work at the store. Yeah, we don’t just do it for the show. That’s how we eat. So come by and see us.
Very much like talking to Kevin Smith himself, like I did for my very first article for ScienceFiction.com, a conversation with Ming and Mike had many enjoyable tangents. It was very much like chatting with old friends about whatever’s going on.
Earlier in the day, I sat in on their panel where they shared some behind the scenes stories from the show and just talked about random pop culture things. One thing that they revealed was that there are some toys in the works that depict the Comic Book Men as seen in the opening credits of the show, but I completely forgot to ask about them in the interview. Regardless, I still had a great time talking to them and I think the interview still turned out nicely.
I had a great time talking with all these guys, and I had an even greater time all throughout the weekend at Wizard World Philadelphia. If you missed my other coverage, be sure to go back and read my overview, my panel recap, and my experience while I tried out Sci-Fi Speed Dating. I cannot wait until the next con rolls through town so I can do it all over again.