I've just arrived back home after Day 1 of Armageddon! The Armageddon Expo in Melbourne, that is.
Alan Tudyk is our Firefly guest, and he's been a joy so far. He spent most of the day signing autographs and making many a Browncoat happy with hugs at the photo ops.
He spoke at 2 panels, the first at 1pm for about an hour, and the second at 5pm for about half an hour (as an extra bonus session).
Among the many topics covered in his session were his recent films, including "Death at a Funeral" which was released here this week, and his experiences in filming "A Knight's Tale" and "3.10 to Yuma" - both of which starred Australian/New Zealand actors. He spoke about learning english accents, and how there were plans at the time for a sequel to "A Knight's Tale". There were some extra lines filmed in which Watt announces at the end of the film that he has bought a ship. The plan was to open the film with the team being on Watt's ship - which had been taken over by pirates. Forced into the lower decks to row, Watts spends weeks with his only view being the back of another rower. This poor bloke has had his eyes sewn shut and his tongue cut off, and his entire back is an intricate tattoo. After many weeks, Watts realises that the tattoo is a treasure map. The only problem is that the bloke keeps getting in trouble (probably because he can't see or talk!) and gets whipped - and each time he is whipped, a bit of the map is lost. So Watts keeps trying to get them to whip him instead. Eventually, they take back the ship and go looking for the treasure.
He also shared some stories about working with Russell Crowe on "3.10 to Yuma", including Crowe's regular hosting of sports night featuring his favourite Rugby League team. However, it turns out that he would record them and then only screen them if his team won. Something which the cast and crew found amusing, to the point where they were checking the scores online to see if they'd be having a sports night or not!)
There were also many questions about his other projects, and he seemed very pleased at the range and variety of questions. These included what it was like to kiss Heath Ledger ("You should ask Jake Gyllenhal! Maybe I should call him and we can compare notes"), and "28 Days" (and how he has actually been asked to sign posters for "28 Days Later"!).
He had some great stories to share about the alternate ending for "28 Days". Originally, his character's story resolution was a scene where Sandra Bullock was on her way to a baseball game and went past a public theatre where a wall was plastered with posters for Gunter's one-man show, "Fragile Package". The poster showed Alan wearing a cardboard box with "This Way Up" arrows pointing towards his crotch. When testing the film, audiences wanted more resolution, and so they filmed the scene in the plant shop. You can see Alan wearing a shirt with the his face on the back - a promo for the gig. Alan laughingly said that there are only 2 shirts in existence - his sister has one and he has the other... somewhere. And his mother has one of the posters up in her house!
He also spoke about his experiences in "Spamalot", and had a lot to share about the challenges of "I, Robot". This included lots of discussion on the challenge of green screen acting, motion capture and the preparation that he undertook to take on the role.
He shared some background on how he got into acting, and the kinds of challenges he has faced. And about how formal training in acting is one of the best things an aspiring actor can do. He spoke fondly of his time at Julliard, and credits this experience with his success today.
He did shed a little more light on the recent Serenity sequel rumours, and clarified that the sales of the Serenity Collectors Edition are very strong and that this is making Universal happy - happy enough to be thinking about the possibility of revisiting the verse. But we need to keep up the sales of this and other officially licenced products, as money talks.
He spoke a little about his recent work with Halo 3, and had some funny tales to tell. He was asked if he could tell us which lines are his and he mentioned that he had lots of statements such as "Tank - over there" and so forth. When he compared notes with Nathan afterwards, Nathan stated that his lines were commands for the troops and other captainy things. Alan's were more like "run away!". Seems to have been a little typecast ;)
Probably the best thing about his panel was a special little piece of footage he shared with us.
After trying to find a home movie at his parent's place recently, he came across a tape that he and Nathan had made during their time on Firefly. It was an introduction to Firefly for his parents and their friends. His instructions were to screen it 20 minutes before the first episode premiered. There was lots of behind the scenes footage of the filming of "Jaynestown" including brief interviews with extras ("So how did they apply the mud?"), riding the mule without permission ("We don't have clearance to ride the mule" *Alan looks shifty*), Adam speaking to camera (directed to Alan's dad) about how Alan has clearly been led astray with his leftist leanings, and some mock hissy fits between Alan and Adam, who shared the same trailer (albeit with separate halves).
Alan has given a copy of it to Joss and it is hoped that it will one day find it's way into the light of day. However, he specifically asked that the screening not be recorded, as they did not have all the necessary clearances. So if you see anything like it online, he asked that we all do as a good Browncoat would, and ensure that the culprit is publicly humiliated as punishment (he left the particular form of humilation up to us) ;)
He also mentioned that he won't be attending the Creation con in Burbank in October, as he has a conflicting work schedule. However, I can't recall what that work was. :(
I'm sure I've missed lots, but it's late and we've had a busy day with our very first "Browncoat Booth". Alan has one more day with us, signing autographs and posing for pictures.
Our booth is doing really well, and we are definitely outshining our fan club neighours! The booth is pretty much 2-3 deep at all times, and we're raising lots of moolah for our charity, Motor Neurone Disease Association of Victoria.
So far, an excellent Day 1. :D