In London

Riverdale actor KJ Apa graces MCM London Comic Con with kiwi charm 

Sunday was the final day of MCM London Comic Con, and with it was one last big name to close out the weekend.

New Zealand actor KJ Apa, who plays Archie Andrews on the television show Riverdale, was in London to answer a number of questions at his Q&A panel.

Apa, wearing a shirt given to him by a fan at MCM, charmed the socks off the audience. The show is young (it only first began airing in January), but has already gained a dedicated audience.

Though things were easy straight off the bat for Apa. Being a New Zealander, he had to adjust to his new surroundings in America. Apa said that he needed to stop using certain Kiwi terms that his American counter-parts wouldn’t know, and said that it took the cast a little while to get their chemistry working. Thankfully they pulled it off well.

The 19-year-old actor showed plenty of affection for his television father, Luke Perry. Apa said that Perry was the one actor that he got on best with (name Jugheard actor Cole Sprouse as the second). That special relationship lead to some great acting experiences for Apa.

The final scene of the season in which Perry’s character Fred Andrews is shot, was one of Apa’s favourites to film.  Both actors received the script for the scene the night before filming, and Apa said he was thrown. But Apa said that his special relationship with Perry made that final scene very difficult to film, and they both had to stop to take a few minutes from the emotional scene.

The shooting of Fred Andrews (which may or may not be fatal) will lead to Archie becoming a lot darker as he looks to avenge his father. Apa promises that Archie will become much more intense in season 2.

As far as season 1 was concerned, Apa said that he initially thought that Jughead was the killer. The actor said he thought it would be cool, considering that Jughead is the narrator of the show. But once he dropped that idea, he moved on to suspecting Clifford Blossom. And he guessed it right early on, saying that he stunned one of the writers when he asked if Clifford was the one responsible for Jason’s death.

Perhaps Apa has a future in writing murder-mysteries.

Apa is a fairly new to acting, getting his first role when he was only sixteen. And it was something that came fairly naturally. He claims he didn’t even have to work on his American accent for Riverdale. When Apa first auditioned for the role of Archie, he brought his guitar along to his callback. Apa, who performs all of his own music in the show, said that he felt calmer with his guitar in his hands.

But a solo album doesn’t look to likely for Apa. Hopefully he sticks to acting, though, he has plenty of fans to carry him on.

 

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Firefly’s Summer Glau and Sean Maher reunite at MCM London Comic Con

Two stars from Joss Whedon’s short-lived, cult television series Firefly were reunited on Saturday at MCM London Comic Con.

Actors Summer Glau and Sean Maher (who played siblings River Tam and Dr Simon Tam respectively) joined the stage for a lengthy Q&A session with their fans. The pair completely packed the room on the sold-out Saturday, which is pretty impressive for a television show that didn’t even make it through its first season.

Despite it’s short life, Firefly has a massive and dedicated fan base. Glau and Maher agreed that it was probably this aspect that helped fans become so fanatical. But it didn’t hurt that the story and its characters were each so special.

Maher recalled how when the cast first started working together, the chemistry was both instantaneous and organic. Their sibling affection for each other helped create some of the more dynamic parts of the show. Each after sighted the other as a larger reason as to why their performances did so well.

The actors said that the filming was a unique and special experience. Glau said that she was mostly kept in the dark about the future of the show, and said that creator Joss Whedon only gave her glimpses into her character’s past – information that she wouldn’t divulge to the fans.

The subject of Glau’s ballet training came up multiple times in her responses. But her character River uses a variety of martial arts in the Serenity film. Glau spoke about how her “gangly limbs” were used to her advantage to form a unique style that was one of the more impressive aspects of the movie.

Both Glau and Maher’s characters were at the forefront of Firefly’s follow-up film (and excited about having dialogue on so many pages). Glau especially had to work on her martial arts training, which she said she began several months before filming even began.

“It became my life,” said Glau, reflecting on her training – which included lessons with 12-year-old boys who all refused to be her partner.

Glau and Maher also discussed the string of cancelled shows they’ve both been on. Maher especially felt jaded after having a number of his shows axed by the same network on multiple occasions. But if the success of Firefly proves anything, its that there can still be love for a show that is gone too soon.

But mostly, both actors look back fondly on their time on both Firefly and the follow-up film Serenity. Both actors have worked with Whedon on multiple occasions. Whedon himself mostly lives in the realm of movies these days, but a full-fledged return to television would always be welcome.

Minor note, but bonus points for Glau’s super-adorable little girl. She could be heard chatting away during the entire hour. And is apparently a big fan of The Jetsons.

MCM London Comic Con brings out the legends on day one 

MCM London Comic Con was back again for its 2017 Spring edition.

The convention, at ExCel London, started its three-day weekend celebrations with some of the biggest and most-loved names in pop culture as well as some new British-bred talents.

Included in the morning’s schedule was four of the Power Ranger‘s most familiar faces. Original rangers Austin St. John, Walter Jones and David Yost were joined by former Yellow Ranger Karan Ashley.

The four old friends discussed their times on the much-beloved television show, including reminiscing about favourite episodes and moments. Though the conversation veered more to the serious side when they began to talk about the difficulties of getting good contracts in Hollywood and what they view as unfair treatment by their bosses.

Though all four actors said that they will be appearing in the film The Order in the future with several other former Power Rangers. It’s a show that has quite a loyal and fanatical fan base, and sure to give The Order the attention it needs.

The convention’s big name of the day was kung fu icon Donnie Yen. The Chinese actor sat with The Modern School of Film’s Robert Milazzo to discuss the icons of the genre as well as Yen’s own upbringing in both China and the rough streets of Boston.

Up-and-coming English director Tom Paton took the time to promote his new film Redwood while sharing his experiences as a young, indie director. The film, which stars Buffy alum Nicholas Brendon, is Paton’s second feature-length film following the success of 2016’s Pandorica.

Closing the day out with both the best of indie success and iconic names was the panel with Lloyd Kaufman of Troma with Essex Spacebin director David Hollinsworth.

Essex Spacebin, which is distributed by Troma, premiered at Prince Charles Cinema back in February paired up with the Troma classic Tromeo and Juliet.  But while Essex Spacebin is certainly Troma-inspired (Hollinsworth named Combat Shock in particular), its certainly a British film.

It’s a strange (to put it lightly) story of a woman trying to access a stargate… or something. It’s almost utterly explainable but worth watching just for the spectacle. The film was mostly shot on 35mm film and stars an actress who largely had never done any acting before.

Troma picked up the film after the creators emailed Kaufman. But Troma always strives for the unique and basks in the anti-establishment. It certainly doesn’t win all the fans in the world, but there are barely any fans that are more fanatical.

Kaufman was recently at the Cannes Film Festival to promote the new Return to Return to Nuke ’em High Volume 2. And looking at the Troma twitter page it looks like they all had a fucking blast causing a scene.

And that’s what is so great about MCM London Comic Con. It offers both big names and established icons but also makes sure to celebrate British talent. Troma being at the con is going to be a personal highlight of the weekend. Always happy to see Lloyd when he comes to London. Nothing is more infectious than passion and investing what you believe in.

There have been a lot of changes to this weekend’s schedule, including both cancelled appearances and additional panels. Always keep up with MCM’s twitter page and check those signs! If you haven’t bought your tickets, tough. Saturday is now entirely sold out.

A merry goodbye to 2016

A happy New Year’s Eve from American in London (actually back in London and nearly over severe jet lag). It feels pretty damn good to say farewell to the shit show that was 2016.

Thanks for sticking around for another year. May your 2017 be filled with good memories and new adventures.

(Also, here’s hoping you’re not stuck watching New Year’s Evil – just don’t do it.)

The Man in the High Castle European premier (or the night I had “one glass” of wine)

If you’re a familiar hear, Virginia‘s name shouldn’t be new to you. My friend, former classmate, Comic Con partner-in-crime and co-worker now has a fab new job at loaded mag as a features writer.

And if you can’t live your own dream of becoming a journalist, make sure you have a friend that can.

Earlier this week, Virginia invited me to attend the European premier of the first episode of season two of The Man in the High Castle. This was one of the first press events I was able to go to that didn’t absolutely bore me to death. Plus free canapes, wine and bottles of fancy water.

Actor Rupert Evans, who plays Frank Frink in The Man in the High Castle at the show’s European premier

The show itself was one I was oh so hesitant about. Much of Philip K Dick’s original novel was covered in the first season. And really, few people have managed to surpass the man himself (the one exception being Blade Runner and they’re even attempting to ruin that).

But after watching episode one, I’m happy to report that I was wrong in my original hypothesis. This show has so much potential, and it’s pretty damn clear that the showrunners are ready to explore that.

While the first seasons tells the story of an alternate history, season two is taking a more decidedly sci-fi avenue. When the last episode of season one ended with the same way as Dick’s novel, it needed a way to explain that away while keeping true to the point of the story.

Though I won’t be writing about The Man in the High Castle. Virginia will be, though. I won’t keep my jealousy a secret, especially after living through yet another insane week at my office job that I’m rather unenthusiastic about. But nothing pleases me as much as seeing truly talented friends achieve their dreams – especially when bottomless free wine and a great show is included.

You can check out Virginia’s review here. Keep an eye on her, kids. She’s certainly someone to watch.

The Man in the High Castle season two is now available to stream on Amazon Prime.

How to nurse a Halloween hangover


What? What’s that? Halloween is over?

No it isn’t. Of course it’s not. I mean technically Halloween occurs on the 31st of every October, but I’m not willing to admit to myself it’s over.

I love Halloween season for many reasons. I love that people get dressed in costume. I love that children get to trick-or-treat and share in that excitement. I really love that this is the one time of the year where people allow themselves to get a bit spooky; shops are done up in (fake) spiderwebs, normally weak-kneed people watch horror films, and shops sell bat socks.

BAT. SOCKS.

And it’s really a damn shame when it’s all over.

But this year, I’m not letting it die. Instead, I’m going to fill my life with the bits that allows me to relive Halloween every day. Since the UK doesn’t have Thanksgiving, there isn’t a buffer time between Halloween and Christmas (though not many people in the States believe in Thanksgiving anymore either, apparently). I’ll gladly cling on to the fact that Autumn is still here and Christmas is very, very far away.

How to help get through the post-Halloween season:

  1. Read something really good

I read a lot for my job. I read a lot in my real life. Unfortunately, I suffered a rather prolonged reading slump after readingimg_2119 an excellent string of novels in September. Though there were many plans to read some novels that fed into the Halloween spirit, it simply didn’t happen.

But that doesn’t mean that ghost stories aren’t great year-round. And I even think that November may be a better time. While October is beautiful and crisp, it’s really the month of November where things get cold, and things, well, die. The trees stop being gorgeous, vibrant warm colours, but become brown and soggy because there’s no such thing as crisp leaves in England.

This year, Penguin Classics have released a new series of books called Penguin Orange Classics. These books look like the original Penguin Classics with the iconic orange covers, but they’re a bit more detailed with drawings inspired by the book. I’m digging into We Have Always Lived in the Castle by America author Shirely Jackson. I read The Haunting of Hill House back in January. So good.

Also, I just finished the sixth and final volume of Locke & Key by Joe Hill illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez. So good. If you haven’t read this graphic novel series yet, stop everything and do it now.

2. Buy everything horror-themed and do it now.

img_0122

One of the best things at MCM Comic Con last weekend was this excellent stand that sold some horror movie related gifts. They were one of the very few stands that did, and they certainly did it in style.

Alleycat Graphics do a load of excellent horror movie themed items from posters to pins to a Ghoulies sticker for your toilet. Everything you need to fill the small parts of your life with everything horror.

I picked up a couple cards from their stand at Comic Con. One is a They Live! birthday card and the other is a Basket Case birthday card for a loving brother.

Do I have a brother? No. Does it matter? No it doesn’t.

Another company I have discovered over the course of the last month is Creepy Co, a collectibles-based brand out of Chicago. I did have to pay a bit for international shipping, but look at these two babies. How could anyone resist? The pins are really high quality. And while the pumpkin has been retired for the season, my Final Girl pin remains on my jacket opposite to my Jason Voorhees hockey mask pin. Subtle, but it makes the point.

img_01173. Reminisce the fuck out of the past Halloween

After the hectic weekend of Comic Con, I was not willing to go anywhere if I didn’t have to. Plus I had a week-long of horrendous headaches that made me useless to writing, reading or watching anything. So my husband and I had an incredibly low-key holidaimg_2112y.

But if there’s anything that helps you get over the Halloween-blues, it’s remembering the Halloween you had. We had to miss the Prince Charles Cinema’s viewing of Halloween, but we did watch Insidious for the first time. I’m a big fan of James Wan’s Conjuring films, this was one of my less-favourite of his films I’ve seen. Though it did cause my husband to have nightmares that night. So that’s pretty great.

Oh and we made bat-themed cupcakes and blew up ghost and pumpkin balloons. There may not have been any trick-or-treaters, but we did live it up on Halloween. And though the day itself might be over with, I can at least eat the cupcakes.

 

Day three at MCM Comic Con London brings Smeg Heads, Actives and (not) Cylons

Red Dwarf panel

Red Dwarf panel

Day three was a massive day for MCM Comic Con in London with several of the guests appearing in some of television’s biggest names like Game of Thrones, the DC universe, Agent Carter and for some thing a little closer to the UK – iconic science fiction television show Red Dwarf.

Sunday’s Game of Thrones panel was longer and filled with more guests than Fridays short Q&A. Joining Friday’s guests Ian Gelder and Ian Beatter were yet another Ian, Ian McElhinney and Eugene Simon. The four actors revisited their time on set as well as further explaining some of their favourite fan theories.

Following was actor Enver Gjokaj from the popular Marvel TV show Agent Carter and cult-favourite Joss Whedon show, Dollhouse. 

Gjokaj shared some of his favourite back scene moments with the fans, including several of the pranks he was subjected to and the ones he had a hand in (poor Dominic Cooper).

According to Gjokaj, the biggest pranksters at Agent Carter were the writers. They had a particular love of getting unsuspecting people to run into tape strips.

When speaking about the short-lived show Dollhouse, Gjokaj said he loved having the challenge of playing so many types of characters, something that he was grateful to have the opportunity to work with some talented writers.

Agent Carter actor Enver Gjokaj

Agent Carter actor Enver Gjokaj

After Gjokaj, Battlestar Galactica star Jamie Bamber came on stage for his panel. Echoing what Gjokaj said, Bamber expressed how much he loved working with such great writers. Though despite much of his success coming from the small screen, the actor mentioned that he hoped to one day get back into stage acting, something that he considered his first love.

Like Edward James Olmos at the con last year, Bamber was really great with questions and fans. Although he said he didn’t want to recollect his time on set (he wants to be surprised when he revisits it with his children in the future), Bamber still gets a kick out of the word “fracking” despite the unfortunate contemporary meaning.

Following Bamber, two panels followed about three of televisions biggest shows. Flash actress Violett Beane was joined by surprise guest Michael Rowe, who played Deadshot in Arrow. But the big draw of the day was Red Dwarf, a panel that was only thirty minutes long. but was mostly photo-ops and an great excuse for actors Chris Barrie, Danny John-Jules and Hattie Hayridge to mess about together on stage.

It was a rather full day on Sunday and it was all great quality. A way to end another fantastic (and tiring) con on a high note.

Slideshow from this weekend’s MCM Comic Con London 2016 in October: