Now in its 23rd year, FAN EXPO returned once again to Toronto this weekend at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre celebrating fandom and bringing fans close to their idols of past and future. The extravaganza continues to pull-in upwards of 129,000 people from around the world with panels, exhibits, signings and photo ops galore. There’s even Speed-Dating for the geek-minded.
Cosplayers were out in full festive force with several paying tribute to the likes of The Joker, Harley Quinn, Wonder Woman and Doctor Who.
A major highlight this year was the reunion of the original ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW Cast including a seldom-seen Tim Curry, who was available for photo ops and also pre-signed memorabilia. His Castmates Meat Loaf, Nell Campbell, Barry Bostwick and Patricia Quinn also made their way to Fan Expo.
A hot ticket item this weekend, selling-out, was photo ops for the Cast of STRANGER THINGS including Finn Wolfhard, Caleb McLaughlin and Gaten Matarazzo. The former also appeared with his fellow Castmates from another production in which he stars, hotly-anticipated Stephen King Remake IT, out next week.
This year, Fan Expo‘s Guest List was heavy on talent filming in the City including Cast members from STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, which sees a premiere on CBS this September including Sonequa Martin-Green, Anthony Rapp and Doug Jones.
Meanwhile, returning favourites Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead), John Barrowman (Arrow), Nathan Fillion (Castle), Stephen Amell (Arrow), Anthony Daniels (Star Wars) and Matt Smith (Doctor Who) also proved popular.
THOR: RAGNAROK EXHIBIT
Among the several dazzling displays and exhibits at Fan Expo Canada this year was an exhibit for eagerly-awaited THOR: RAGNAROK from Marvel, giving fans get an exclusive first look at the costumes and pieces seen in the Movie.
In this third Thor Movie, our hero faces his toughest villain yet, Hela played by Cate Blanchett, and her costume makes the villain even more daunting. A black and green costume with a 3D printed headpiece that resembles something similar to a creature from nightmares it truly is a sight to behold. As well the headpiece was never actually worn in the film but rather carried afterwards in very careful placement to fit the Film.
Next is Karl Urban’s Skurge and without giving away too much information about the character he seems to be a forced to be reckoned with as well. A double-sided axe that is truly remarkable accompanies his costume. As well his costume is made of actual steel and fabric, making it one of the more impressive costumes.
Loki’s (Tom Hiddleston) costume takes its final form in this third Film. There are little tidbits of goodies in the costume as well, if we remember the first Avengers Film, the necklace Loki wears has a small piece in his costume this time around as an ode to that other appearance.
Next we have hotly-anticipated Jeff Goldblum’s The Grandmaster whose fabric costume is so much more impressive in person that anyone could have ever imagined. The layers of fabric and costume it self really stands out and boasts the character.
Two really cool props from Ragnarok are from the Hulk Vs Thor scenes where we get a first up close look at Hulk’s sword and hammer that he uses in the fight. These props are massive and certainly a dream come true for fans to be able to see these props up close and personal.
One of the most impressive pieces at Fan Expo’s exhibit this year was Thor’s costume itself, as it is a mish-mash of different pieces. While he is away from Asgard and fighting, he acquires different pieces of his costume and writing on his costume that shows his journey. However the most interesting piece for fans would be Thor’s helmet, which many fans have dreamed of seeing since the first Movie came out.
Photos from the THOR: RAGNAROK Exhibit. Hover cursor left and right below to navigate.
Our Justin Waldman and Siobhán Rich had the pleasure of sitting-in on some of the hottest panels at Fan Expo and deliver us that scoop!
This gorgeous star of X-Men, Taken, The Wolverine, The Blacklist, How to Get Away with Murder, The Blacklist and Hemlock Grove, the latter filmed right in our City, returns to Toronto again once again. She tells her fans at her panel about her experience working with Hugh Jackman who would go on to be in the widely-acclaimed LOGAN. “It’s impossible to envision anyone else playing that role”, she says about her Co-Star. “I’m grateful to have worked with him.”.
On Game of Thrones’ Sophie Turner playing a role she helped shape in upcoming X-Men: Dark Phoenix, she says “I think she’s amazing. She reached out to me when she got cast as Jean Grey and asked what pointers I had for her and I told her she’s amazing and to just follow your gut and that’s what she did.”.
You know you’re iconic when your Films are remade and your roles are reprised. This iconic star of Rocky Horror Picture Show and the original Pennywise in Stephen King’s IT, which is projected to make a huge splash next weekend at the Box Office, made a rare appearance at this year’s Fan Expo treating fans to an intimate panel.
On which of his projects he considers his favourites, Curry says “Well, I guess one of them is Clue where my part was as big as the Bible. I also love Muppet Treasure Island.“.
On his phenomenal voicework in Animation, he says “I love it. I’ve never been a contortionist. The day is young and one day I hope to be.”.
While he is the idol of many who attended his panel, he cites Alec Guinness as being someone he looks up to.
This star of Doctor Who, Desperate Housewives, Torchwood, Legends of Tomorrow and of course Arrow is loved by many a fan. He reflects on the fun he has had on the latter. “A lot of things happened and part of what I like to do is making people crack-up by doing something from across of them. Stephen (Amell) is really easy to crack-up”.
In what will be the most talked-about moment of Fan Expo Canada 2017, Barrowman was asked by a fan at his panel whom his best on-screen kiss was with. A fan who went by the name Montana then rushed the stage to the shock of the crowd and Barrowman, and the two embraced in a kiss which had the fan going shirtless. The crowd went ecstatic. David Tennant, his Doctor Who Co-Star was his favourite kiss, by the way!
Those of us who grew-up in the ’80s have fond memories of Turner‘s work in classics like Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Peggy Sue Got Married, Romancing the Stone and TheJewel of the Nile. Turner reflected on her beginnings as an actress with her fans. She claims “I didn’t see many films. I always felt like Film happened to me.”. “Most of my imagination was satisfied by reading. This is how I always thought I wanted to be an actor”, she says. “This is my 40th year in my profession and it is still absolutely thrilling to be doing it. I am now entering my fourth profession and I will be doing Cabaret. I can sing.”.
In addition to its presence being felt largely this year with several fans dressed as Dr. Who, Matt Smith returned to Fan Expo once again this year. On his eventual exit from the beloved Series, Smith says “Yeah, I always knew I was going to stay for another year. Maybe I would’ve stayed on for another year. But then I thought I couldn’t get too comfortable. It’s a difficult show to leave because it’s such a brilliant character but as an actor you have to continue to do things that frighten you and make you uncomfortable.”.
Smith currently can be seen in Netflix‘s acclaimed The Crown as Philip.
See some Snaps from Fan Expo Canada 2017. Navigate by hovering cursor over left and right of gallery.
A few things you need to know about brand new Netflix Original Series Hemlock Grove: 1) It’s perhaps more a 13-hour Movie than it is say, a Mini-Series 2) It’s neither exclusively a Horror about Werewolves nor Vampires 3) It’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
Upon hearing news of Eli Roth being attached to the Toronto-based Production last Summer, I rummaged the Internet for details and learned vaguely about the Novel which it is based on. After Binge-Watching (a mini-Binge if you will) Hemlock Grove‘s first three episodes this past weekend, I learned that it actually is nothing like what I was expecting. Its tone is unique in that yes, obviously it is a Horror due to its graphic, gory nature, but it actually reads more like a Drama which focuses on the odd, intense relationships between the Residents of Hemlock Grove, changed forever after a brutal killing of a Girl is discovered. At the center of it all are two young Men from opposite sides of the tracks, privileged Heir Roman Godfrey and Werewolf/Gypsy Peter Rumancek, brought together to solve the mystery behind the Murder.
The Team and Cast behind Hemlock Grove reunited this week in the City where it all began, Production having taken place here between last June and December. I had the opportunity of sitting down with its Writers Brian McGreevy (Author of Novel) & Lee Shipman, Director/Producer Deran Sarafian &Mark Verheiden and of course, its Stars: Kandyse McClure, Joel de la Fuente, Aaron Douglas, Lili Taylor, Freya Tingley, Landon Liboiron, Bill Skarsgard, Penelope Mitchell, Dougray Scott and Famke Janssen.
With a vast amount of Mythology behind the Series, one might wonder just how much research went into preparing for these roles. Kandyse McClure who stars as Dr. Clementine Chasseur, an Animal Expert who is called upon to assist in solving the Murder(s), admits “It took three hours for Brian to get-out all his ideas about Chasseur‘s world. There was a lot of random, odd research, but not about Werewolves or Vampires.”. Aaron Douglas, who worked with McClure previously on Battlestar Galactica in Vancouver says, “It’s more for me about the dramatic Human Interaction, how people are to each other and here they do some horribly awful things to one another.”. He stars as the pensive Sherriff Tom Sworn, teaming together with Dr. Chasseur.
Joel de la Fuente stars as the feared Dr. Johann Pryce, who might hold the key to the answer haunting everyone in Hemlock Grove stating “We actually were given scripts as we went”, hinting at the perpetual element of surprise as none too much was given away by Series Writers at any point. Even to this day, de la Fuente reveals that he is the only member of the Cast to have seen the Series’ final episode and that only happened out of necessity, completing some ADR (Dubbing) work recently.
With Internet-based Television being such a new thing with few Benchmarks established, I had asked Writers Brian McGreevy & Lee Shipman what they would consider a success for Hemlock Grove. McGreevy already is happy with the recognition this 13-hour Movie/Series has received telling me “I was invited to speak at Howl Con, so as far as I’m concerned it’s already a success! I think when you’re doing something creative, the only Benchmark is whether the Show resonates with your Audience”. He adds, ” How Netflix plans to quantify that, that’s a mystery to us.”.
With such a unique Story Line, curiosity lingers about McGreevy‘s creative inspirations. He says, “I grew-up in an economically-depressed community, but a very Liberal household. The Town of Hemlock Grove is a re-fractured version of what I grew-up with.”. In fact while filming in Hamilton, Ontario, he could not help but feel an odd sense of familiarity with its Geography – as if he knew his way around. “I took Monsters, Werewolves and Dracula and put them in High School as if to resolve feelings about my own adolescence.”.
Lili Taylor certifiably is a Cinematic Veteran (who could forget her in Mystic Pizza?) and Executive Producer Roth has not been shy about his admiration of her Work. On getting involved with the Project she recalls, “I was really interested in what Netflix was doing. It reminded me of the ’70s and Robert Evans (Chinatown, The Godfather) – the freedom Writers and Directors were having.”. “This almost felt like an Independent Film… like Mom and Dad weren’t around, but in a positive way – not in a way we get messed-up. Netflix got out of our way and let us do our thing and that was liberating.”. Taylor plays the Lynda, the Mother of LandonLiboiron‘s Peter, a deeply loving and maternal Woman living the Gypsy lifestyle with her Son.
Degrassi Fans fondly will recall Liboiron, but may be in for a surprise as he takes his share of risks in Hemlock Grove. His Defining Moment, which will have Horror and Sci-Fi Fans alike in awe comes late in Episode Two, where we see his mesmerizing Transformation as a Werewolf. He reveals, “They tried to make it as organic as possible. I don’t think the CGI was used as a crutch. They actually used raw pig flesh, skin and prosthetics. They completed it over series of months, doing inserts as they needed. They definitely took their time with it.”.
Much of the Series centers on Peter‘s unlikely Alliance with wealthy Roman and in making that fraternal bond believable he says, “We rehearsed a bunch of times, got it down and just started talking about love, relationships and some really personal shit. There was no barrier. Creatively, we saw eye to eye and I think it showed in the Screen Test. Bill is an incredible Co-Star.”.
Bill Skarsgård is a Descendant in a Line of Swedish Acting Royalty which boasts Father Stellan and Brother Alexander and hegets a proper North American introduction in Hemlock Grove. And a daring one I might add. He does admit having filmed scenes with Nudity prior and actually filmed his first Sex Scene at the age of 16. I questioned why it is his Roman is so drawn to Liboiron‘s Character Peter, seemingly being such polar opposites. “It’s kind of an unspoken connection and understanding. It’s almost like falling in love with someone, but it’s Supernatural, which is funny but I can relate to that.”, he tells me.
Porcelain-skinned Australian Actress Freya Tingley plays young Novelist Christina Wendall, and like Roman is drawn to Peter. “She’s intrigued by him. He has something in himself that she aspires to have in herself also. He’s this free Character who’s comfortable with who he is”, she believes. We learned also that in mastering her perfect American accent, she would speak it non-stop and apparently even dreamed in it according to others.
One interesting dynamic about the Series is the element of underlying Sexual Ambiguity. At times the Characters are involved so intensely with their Family members that there might even be a feeling of incestuousness. A bookish (she majored in Literature) and well-spoken Penelope Mitchell, who like Tingley is an Australian Export to Los Angeles, plays the role of Letha, Roman‘s Cousin. She becomes an Obsession of sorts to him. On their relationship, she sums it up, “It’s one of those relationships that you don’t want to discuss too much because it kills the magic. There’s so much ambiguity and tension about a Teenager. Those boundaries are so blurred here and that’s what makes this Show so fascinating.”.
Bringing much Star Power to Hemlock Grove are major Stars Famke Janssen (for once and for all, it’s pronounced “Fem-ka Yen-sen“) and Dougray Scott (pronounced “Doo-gray“) who play Sister and Brother-in-Law Olivia and Norman Godfrey, whom for several years have engaged in a passionate Affair. The devastatingly-commanding Janssen jokes, they are the “Sexual Anchors” of the Story. I ask her whether or not she feels her manipulative Olivia is in fact a Monster. She replies, “Who isn’t a Monster, really? I mean well, other than Mother Theresa.”. She adds, “Norman at first glance would seem like a good Person, but is a conflicted Person who does things that are seen as bad also, which is interesting to me when I look back at others I’ve become Friends with over time. Some people you judge at first glance and can be spot-on, but sometimes you can be totally wrong. Most of the time you have to give people a chance.”.
I asked Scott also what he feels would be deemed a success for the Series and he says, “That is a great question. What do you regard as being a ‘Success’ because they don’t have the history of Networks? We are very unique if you think about it. I mean you have House of Cards which is based on a British TV Series, so you’re gonna get some people who watch that Series and also Arrested Development, picked-up from another Network. This is the first truly original Series Netflix has done in this Format. The first ever in the World!”.
One of the Series’ six Directors Deran Sarafian consistently is credited by the Cast as having been their “Rock” throughout the entire duration of Production and he talks to the challenge of making an Internet-based Television Series. “You can set things up and not pay them off for a while. It’s not like Network Television where you have a Killer and have to explain who he is at the end of the episode”, he reveals. “If you’re Binge-Watching, you would remember that happened just four hours ago. We didn’t have to play to those expectations in making the Show, to simplify it so that you could remember what the hell is going on.”.
It was learned that Sarafian prior had worked closely with acclaimed Filmmaker Roman Polanski and still calls him on occasion for advice. To bond with his Cast, he would throw parties at his Home, playing Films of Polanski‘s such as Rosemary’s Baby. He recalls one unforgettable piece of advice Polanski gave him as Director, “If you’re gonna do something scary, make sure you can laugh at it. That was his thing and maybe the best advice I’ve ever gotten.”.
Listen to excerpts from my Chat below (contains Explicit Language):
Netflix releases all 13 episodes of ground-breaking Series Hemlock GroveFriday, April 19, 2013.
Kicking-off the launch of upcoming Netflix Original Series Hemlock Grove, the Ensemble Cast came out to where it all began today here in Toronto to brace us for the 13-episode release of the Series. Having filmed in the City last Summer, wrapping shortly before Christmas, the Series from Executive Producer Eli Roth, sees the release of its entirety this Friday via Netflix. Be ready to binge!
I had the pleasure of chatting with the Team and Principal Actors behind the Series at length including Bill Skarsgård, Landon Liboiron, Freya Tingley, Penelope Mitchell, Lili Taylor, Dougray Scott and Famke Janssen. The Interview will be posted later this week, but below is a Teaser – so incredibly honoured to get to interview such amazing talent! Stay tuned.
See our Snap below:
The Hemlock Grove Team will be here tomorrow in the City also, walking the Red Carpet for the Series Premiere tomorrow night.
Some new Artwork and a Trailer has surfaced for Toronto-filmed Netflix Original Series, Hemlock Grove and it just looks all sorts of twisted! Following the success of popular Horror Series American Horror Story, Director/Producer Eli Roth brings the screams to your Living Room through your streaming device with the Series, which is comprised of 13 episodes. If House of Cards is any indication of the caliber of Programming we can expect from Netflix, expect this to be superb.
Hemlock Grove centers around a young Girl who is found killed near the Godfrey Steel Mill. Two Prime Suspects, the poor Peter Rumancek (Landon Liboiron) and the wealthy Roman (Bill Skarsgård, yes Brother of Alexander and Son of Stellan) decide to take matters into their own hands and find the Killer themselves. Famke Janssen, Dougray Scott, Penelope Mitchell and Lili Taylor also star.
Watch the Trailer below:
Check-out this brand new Poster for the Series:
All episodes of Hemlock Grove will be available via Netflix on Friday, April 19, 2013.
Of course, I had the opportunity of meeting most of the Cast including: Landon Liboiron, Penelope Miller, Eli Roth, Famke Janssen, Bill Bill Skarsgård and Lili Taylor, while they were in the City last Summer.