Scenes from the Steel City Con 8/13/16
1:15 p.m. — Arrive for 2 p.m. panel with Christopher Lloyd. There are still lines to get in, but the Monroeville Convention Center is nearing capacity at 6,000. Dominic Alessandria of Orangestone Promotions, who oversees the big toys/collectibles/celebrities convention is going up and down the line and getting parents with children into the shade or inside. He’s wearing a long-sleeved button-down light-blue shirt — the same type of shirt Tom Felton will later take off and get down to a white T-shirt. The artist’s area and main floor were cool, but in the Q&A room, the air-conditioning was not doing its job most of the day. They got that fixed as I was leaving, of course.
Inside, it’s a Harley Quinn attack. Every female geek of all shapes and sizes wants to be Margot Robbie in “Suicide Squad.” I spot eight in full-color outfits, hair, makeup and all, and three with accompanying Jokers. There are a lot of people in full costume, including a couple of Deadpools, and I worry about them in this heat. They don’t seem to mind.
1:55 p.m. — Christopher Lloyd arrives early, after a short film that reminds me he was the villain in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” How could I forget? He’s in a dark T-shirt and jeans, his long gray-white hair combed back and tame, as he struts up and down the stage with a wireless mic. He goes off on tangents and mumbles a bit on almost every question, in a kind of charming, kind of hard to hear Reverend Jim/Doc Brown way.
- He talks about being a New York stage actor and swearing he’d never do a sitcom when he got out to Hollywood — before “Taxi” came along.
- A fan asks him about being the only Klingon to destroy the Enterprise (a friend of mine argues that Kirk actually did the destroying, but we won’t go there) and he says he came home to his then girlfriend and jumped up and down on the bed and shouted it: “I destroyed the Enterprise!” He liked the makeup, too. He also says he had heard that “Kirk” (William Shatner) was difficult and was wary when he came to the set, but that they had a choreographed fight to do and had a grand time together.
- On “Back to the Future” (the cast will reunite in Chicago next weekend, he says as an aside), the surprise is that his favorite movie is No. 3: because it was a Western and that was lots of fun, and Doc got to have a romance. He was in a bad place when he got the initial script and threw it away, but eventually got a meeting with Robert Zemekis, “And that was it.”
- He says his first-ever movie role, as Taber in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” is something he’s never been able to find again, for the pure, stripped-down nature of it — and the danger.
3 p.m. — Tom Felton (top) is supposed to come into the Q&A room at 3, and I want to save my seat, although I haven’t walked among the goodies yet. They announce that the line for his autograph and picture is very long and he’s taking time with every fan, so it’s looking like it won’t be until 3:15 (later they say 3:30). They also announce that the air-conditioning has been cranked up, but it will take time to cool off the desert in there. I’m melting and the nice person next to me says she will watch my seat while I run for water.
In line to buy a bottled water and there is what sounds like a huge explosion — a thunderclap — and you hear lots of people mumble “Thor” (only at comic con). Then the cash register goes out and they stop taking orders, but I ask if it’s OK if we have exact change, and those of us who do (most of us) get what we came for.
3:30ish p.m. — Tom Felton, Draco Malfoy and the future Julian Dorn on The CW’s “The Flash,” arrives to a very enthusiastic crowd, and he charms them from his first “Hello, darling” to a questioner. I am angry with myself for not getting in line to ask a question, but I want the paying customers to get all of theirs in — no one asks about “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” even when asking what kind of father Draco would be. He says better than his father, having been through such a rough childhood with Lucius Malfoy. “I think you see some of that in the train station scene [in ‘Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows 2’] when he’s with [his son] Scorpius, he says.
- He says he had never read the books when, at age 11, he auditioned for first Harry, then Ron and finally Draco, and director Christopher Columbus must have known it from the answers he gave to certain questions. Asked if he ever got advice from J.K. Rowling, he says he she wasn’t around the set much, although her remembers teaching a game to her daughter Mackenzie, and “Jo and I didn’t really become friends until after it was over.”
- His favorite character — other than Draco — is Gilderoy Lockhart, the foppish fraud played by Kenneth Branagh in the film series. "I’d watch a spinoff of that," he says, with Branagh playing the character.
- He leads the room in "Happy Birthday" for a fan and points out an adorable toddler dressed up with Dobby ears. When someone asks how she might work for him, he politely says thanks, but he’s doing fine.
- He has been killed off in a few roles since the “HP” series, including a death by ape in “Planet of the Apes.” He says motion-cap actor extraordinaire Andy Serkis takes that sort of thing very seriously. "My mother hates it when I get killed," he says of his screen deaths.
- He says he has completed several episodes as Julian on "The Flash" and is very enthusiastic about audiences seeing his "spiffy" character. He likens Grant Gustin’s role on set of "The Flash" to Daniel Radcliffe’s on the "Harry Potter" films — they are leaders, and everyone takes their cues from them. He also says Radcliffe was the prankster behind the scenes of the HP movies.
Who knew Draco would grow up to be such a charmer?
4 p.m. — I am ready to melt, and run to air-conditioning before the Lou Ferrigno panel. Sorry big guy.
4:30 p.m. — Hang around where Michael Rooker ("The Walking Dead”; “Guardians of the Galaxy"; above with Steely City Con wrestling celebs) is going to be signing autographs to say hi after he had been so much fun during a phone interview. Dominic comes by, and he says how supportive the municipality of Monroeville has been to Steel City, it’s biggest convention. Although they are at capacity, he likes it here because he can keep prices down, compared to Downtown, and parking is free.
Across the row from Rooker's autograph booth are Angie Dickinson, Martin Landau and Anthony Michael Hall - a fascinating trio, right?
Rooker arrives dressed in a leather jacket and not sweating. Grrr. He greets me like a long-lost friend and insists on giving me a token — in the form of an autographed picture of his gross monster from “Slither.” He’s a hoot, and the fans lined up are in for a treat.
5 p.m. — While Rooker has made his way before the throng in the Q&A room, I am walking the floor, but my heart isn’t into shopping at this point, despite all the steampunk jewelry and action figures. I just want to look for the interesting, the weird, the inspiring. Then I see fully outfitted Thor and Loki walking together like buddies, Thor’s red cape waving behind him. They head to the water fountain. Hopefully, they also are headed to the Steel City Con costume contest Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.