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Eyecon Fun and Games, Part One (contains very mild teasery spoilers!!)

Eyecon Fun and Games, Part One

I am very late in writing up my memories of Eyecon, and I’m certain that all the public fun stuff has already been covered by other people’s written accounts and videos, but what can I say; this one is probably mostly for my own memory banks. There are mild spoilers here for the documentary My Big Break, and one teensy little spoiler tidbit about episode 6 of Supernatural season four.

My Two Personal High Points

My con high point story isn’t on anybody else’s radar, though, so I’ll open by sharing that. It’s an artifact of the photo ops on Sunday morning. I had a photo with Jim Beaver, the “Hunters” photo with both Jim and Jared Padalecki, and a solo with Jared, and they were shot in that order. I was around the middle of the line for Jim, near the end of the line for the Jim and Jared one, and close to the tail end of the Jared-only line. That’s important only because it means that there was about a half hour between my photo with Jim and Jared and my solo pic with Jared.

Before the LA con, I had a friend embroider a black denim long-sleeved shirt with my online name over the front left pocket and the URL of my LJ across the back yoke, and I was wearing that over a plain black t-shirt and jeans for the photos. As I walked up to Jared and Jim for my “Hunters” photo, I was laughing with Jim about being back again, and Jared looked quizzically at my shirt and asked, “What does your shirt say?” The front flap had folded partially over the name, so I smoothed it out so he could see it and said, “Bardicvoice.” “What’s Bardicvoice?” he asked, and I answered, “It’s the name I use online.” He laughed and said, “Well, if you write bad things about me, now I’ll know who you are!” The photographer snapped the shot while I grinned and assured him that I only wrote good things. He asked me what I wrote, and when I told him episode commentaries and reviews, his face lit up, and he said, "Really?" I admitted to doing some fiction as well, and then as I stepped away to let the next person in I said, “And if you ever want to check out what I write, the address is right there,” and I pointed my thumb over my shoulder at the back of my shirt. Jared read the URL while I walked away, and called, “Bardicvoice dot livejournal dot com – I’ll remember!”

Half an hour later, as I walked toward him for my solo photo, he pointed at me and said, “Bardicvoice dot livejournal dot com!” I laughed and thanked him for remembering, we got the photo, and I left.

So, that was my one claim to fame: Jared Padalecki remembered my LJ address for half an hour on Sunday morning! I doubt he retained it for much longer, and I seriously doubt that he would ever have checked out my blog even if the words stuck in his retentive actor’s memory longer than that, but for a few minutes, I made an impression, and I’m more than content with that. (And Jared, if by some extraordinary chance you actually do visit, thanks for remembering! I really do only write nice things ...)

My other personal high point was at the Friday night cocktail party in a chat with Jim Beaver and several other fans. One of the other women was bemoaning never having seen Deadwood because she didn’t get HBO, and Jim drawled suggestively, “Blockbuster. Netflix.” I laughed and said “Red Cross!” and he cocked an eyebrow at me. I started to explain that I was a platelet donor and that my Red Cross center stocked DVDs for donors to watch during the 90-minute donation process, including Deadwood (and now Supernatural, because I gave them all three seasons of the DVDs!) – except that I never got to complete the sentence, because Jim cut me off right after the words “platelet donor.” He switched hands on his drink and reached out to shake my hand, and gave me what I think was the most heartfelt “thank you” I have ever received. He explained that during his wife’s treatments for cancer, the nurses had told them that blood donors were great, but platelet donors were special. He got very earnest and I got very pink, and finally said that it was the only way I knew I’d ever have the chance to save a life. He smiled at me every time I saw him after that for the whole weekend, and I felt like I was running under false pretenses and taking advantage. But I also felt really great. Consider this a public service announcement to contact your local Red Cross and learn about platelet donation!

Friday Night: Documentary and Cocktail Party

The two highlights of Friday night were the premiere of the documentary My Big Break featuring Chad Lindberg, and the cocktail party with all of the guests except Jared. Both of these were great!

The documentary showcases the lives of four young actors who shared a house in Hollywood with the young director as three of the actors actually began to experience significant success and attracted jobs and critical acclaim while the fourth didn’t. It started off in lighthearted fashion but became steadily more serious, particularly as the successes began to learn that fame came with a price and no guarantee of a future, and the one who didn’t succeed became more frustrated and distraught. It was hard to watch in spots because you were seeing people transforming or even disintegrating under pressure, tasting self-doubt and fearing the constant uncertainty of work and ever-present threat of failure. This is a cautionary tale that should be required viewing for anyone with stars in their eyes dreaming of making it big in Tinseltown. It was searingly honest and packed an emotional wallop, and may never be able to find a commercial distributor because the Hollywood machine finds it too critical and disturbing for words. I will caution that it contains full frontal nudity and is definitely not suitable for kids.

For my money, the cocktail party and the Q&A sessions with the guests were the most informative and enjoyable interactive features of the con involving the celebrities (meeting people I’d been blogging with was the other big draw, and never got old!). Jim Beaver, Nicki Aycox, Fred Lehne, Chad Lindberg, Tony Zierra (the director of My Big Break), A.J. Buckley, and Travis Wester all circulated around the cocktail party, chatting casually with all and sundry. There were no time limits and no organized structure, and people simply wandered where they would. I spent most of my time chatting with Chad, Tony, and Elizabeth, one of the producers of the film about My Big Break, and just enjoying listening to Jim Beaver being sociable. I have no particular stories to relate, except to say that Chad and Tony were both relieved and delighted with the reception that the film got from the convention audience, and talked very openly about their fears and concerns both with the film and their lives. The film had revealed Chad’s bankruptcy after his initial success paled and his ultimate decision to go through with plastic surgery in order to pursue more leading man roles, and Tony’s bout with depression and substance abuse after his first attempt to produce the documentary five or six years ago tanked, and they both talked about the dark periods in their lives as well as the joy in what they did that always kept them coming back in spite of it all.

I didn't do the Jason Manns concert after the cocktail party, because I figured I really needed my sleep!

Saturday: Jim Beaver

Jim started off the Q&A sessions. He told us what little he could about the new show he’s on, a mid-season CBS series called Harpers Island, about which the network is being really secretive. He laughed that CBS must be fairly desperate because he’s almost the best known person in the show. Katie Cassidy is also in the cast, and he reported that she’s no longer blonde and said that the blonde was too much trouble. Concerning his inability to tell us anything substantive about the show, he said that the whole show is based on the audience not knowing what’s going on, so it’s the most spoilerphobic set he’s ever been on. He said that he’d had to sign confidentiality agreements before as part of his contract on shows, but for this one, he had to sign three separate confidentiality agreements. The show is shooting in Vancouver, which has made coordination easier. He said he’d been nervous about taking it because he was worried about it interfering with his ability to be on Supernatural, but said that it hasn’t been a problem so far and that both shows were willing to work with him to make his needed appearances happen. He warned that the commitment meant that he wouldn’t be as available for Supernatural as he’s been up to now, but reassured both himself and us that Harpers Island has only 13 episodes, so he’ll be finished shooting on it in January, while Supernatural will still be going full steam. Given his schedule, he said that he expected we’d see a lot more of him in the second half of the season than in the first.

Asked about how his daughter Maddie was adapting to second grade, he laughed that she was working on her advanced degree in dictatorship. He said that he hates being away from her, but that he talks to her a lot. He also shared that he’s got a program that lets him operate her computer by remote control but she doesn’t know it, and that after the cocktail party on Friday he’d pulled up the program and discovered that she was playing some game on her machine, and he had lots of fun driving her insane by moving her cursor around!

Asked what he’d like to see for Bobby in the show, he immediately responded, “Hot tub!” Amid the resulting laughter, he said that he didn’t know if anybody but him would really like to see Bobby in a hot tub, though, so that probably wouldn’t happen. More seriously, he said he’d like to see whatever the writers want to do that doesn’t involve Bobby’s dying words, because he wants to be able to keep on playing him.

Asked about his recent other work, he mentioned an independent film called Dark and Stormy Night, done by the same guy behind The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra. He said that he plays a big game hunter, a guy as far from Bobby as you can imagine, and said it should be hilarious. He said he hopes it will come out next year, but noted that indie films spend most of their time trying to get distributed (think of Ten Inch Hero as a case in point …).

Asked his opinion of this season’s mytharc, he said he “thought it kinda cool they got the angel stuff in there. Three years of demons, gotta figure there’s a flip side.” With a devilish grin of his own, he said that when he was lying on the floor after Castiel put Bobby out, he actually took a nap on the floor, “… listening to Jensen go on and on and on … Yeah, he’s great to look at, or so I’ve heard, but he does go on!” He said that he hadn’t seen the second episode yet, that he had it Tivo’d at home but probably wouldn’t get home for a month.

He said that the panic room set was built right next to the barn set where they met Castiel in the season premiere, and that the crew were really excited with it and pulled him in to take a look while they were building it. He said that once it was lit, it looked really cool. Of course, it wasn’t really iron. He laughed that the handle on the door kept breaking when he had to pull it open because it was just made of plywood or something similarly flimsy, but that the set guys did a really great job of painting stuff. He said that even when you were on the set in person, not just looking through the camera, it really looked like iron, but if you leaned against it – whooo!

Asked about whether he creates back stories for his characters, he said that he rarely builds up a big back story, and likes instead to let the writers fill it in. He figures if there’s something important, it’ll be in the script. And with Bobby, he was originally hired for only one episode, Devil’s Trap, so he didn’t initially think about anything more. He said he likes being surprised, likes picking up a script and saying, “Oh, that’s why he did that!”

When someone asked him about the pinup of Bo Derek on the wall in the panic room, he laughed wryly first that he thought Bobby would have had more class, and then laughed for real that, given the general youth of the crew, he was surprised that the guys on set even knew who Bo Derek was!

Asked about what was his favorite scene involving Bobby so far, he said that when he was asked that question before, he had said that it was his scene in the junkyard with Jensen in All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 2, where Bobby confronted Dean about having sold his soul. He thought for a moment, and then said that there had been lots of scenes since then, but he thinks that’s still his favorite – “Jensen was great, and I was fantastic!”

Jim shared a good laugh about the second episode, saying that a few weeks after they had finished shooting it, and while they were working on another episode, he got a call to come in and re-record the dialogue from the spellcasting scene because there had been a sound problem during the shoot. According to Jim, the sound guys said, “You remember the lines, right? All you have to do is say them again.” They didn’t have a copy of the script handy and just assumed that he could spout off the dialogue again, but as he put it, “That spell was in Aramaic! I didn’t remember it when I went home that night!” He said that they looked high and low, and finally found a copy of the script, and he spoke the lines. He was wondering how that scene came out, “because it was weird!”

Asked if he’d gotten back at Jared yet for the prank he pulled on Jim during Dream a Little Dream of Me, when Jared had tickled his feet and pulled on his toes outside of camera range while he was giving a serious speech, Jim said that he did have a plan, but it might take a couple of years to set up. “He’s a six foot four baby, he thinks he’s in kindergarten, and he should be! All kinds of silly, disgusting things happen when he’s around, most of which I can’t talk about in mixed company!”

Asked how he’d gotten the role, he said that when he did Devil’s Trap, he already knew and had worked with Kim Manners and the real Bob Singer (“For whom I’m accidentally named – there was no last name for Bobby in the script, and someone in the art department just put up that ‘Singer Salvage’ sign, and it stuck!”), and got a call. He said that the whole company is a really great bunch of people, and that the crew is just like Jared and Jensen – “really radically wacky people. Smart!”

Asked how many times he’d gotten to throw water in Jensen’s face in Lazarus Rising, he instantly said, “Not enough! Probably no more than four or five times. Anything I can do to mess up that mug even for a minute is worthwhile!” He said that for him, the hardest thing is to play surprise, so he had a hard time doing that scene of opening the door because he knew that Jensen was on the other side, but Bobby didn’t have a clue that Dean would be standing there, and giving a real reaction, not one over the top or one that would telegraph what he knew, was really hard to do, and particularly hard to do more than once. He laughed that it was fun watching Jensen be real – four or five times! – getting hit in the face with the water. He said that the take they used in the show was the very last take they did, when Jensen did the spit, which he hadn’t done on any of the earlier takes. He chuckled that he was pretty sure the sound got messed up on that one, because the whole crew was laughing!

Asked whether Jared had helped him in the scene in Lazarus Rising where Bobby wrestles Sam away from Dean, since Bobby is so much smaller than Sam, he chuckled that Jared really didn’t help him a lot. “I’m almost 33, not as strong as I used to be …” He teased that the hardest thing was waiting to shoot, since they didn’t do that scene as one continuous take, standing with his arms around Jared, “… hands on his pecs … I was never so glad to hear the word ‘Action!’ in my life! We’re engaged …”

Asked about Bobby’s car, the Chevelle, he said that it was pretty cool, but he wished it had a better paint job. He also said he wished it had a different shift lever, because the one it has is a custom job that mashes his fingers on the dash every time he has to put it into park, and it doesn’t always want to go there. Still on the topic of cars, he gleefully and conspiratorily told us that in episode 6, “Bobby drives the Impala! I think Dean forgives him, under the circumstances …”

Asked whether he prefers or finds it easier to play characters like or unlike himself, he observed that it’s hard to do a character that he can’t get his head into, but he can usually get there. He noted that his character in Harpers Island is very different from Bobby; that he’s much more internalized, but then, he’s got secrets to keep.
Asked whether it’s easier to get into character for a contemporary fantasy like Supernatural or a historical drama like Deadwood, his immediate response was, “Judas priest, I loved shooting that show!” He said that he felt his character in Deadwood was the single character he was born to play. He added that he was starting to feel that way about Bobby, but that he had loved the Deadwood character from the moment he saw the script. He added that it’s the nature of the character more than whether it’s contemporary or historical. However, he observed that he would love to do something set in the 1940’s, what he grew up with, and he wished people still dressed in suits.

When someone congratulated him on his engagement to Jared, he deadpanned that they were registered at Home Depot, and the whole place broke up!

Asked what had been the most chaotic scene to shoot, he said it had to be the spellcasting scene from Are You There, God? It’s Me, Dean Winchester, because it included lots of people, heavy special effects, shotguns going off, windows blowing in. He said it was like the final fight scene in Tall Tales, with the babes and the guy with the chainsaw, and people appearing and disappearing, but even bigger.

Jim asked whether anybody had caught the fact that Bobby’s study now has a kitchen, and a lot of us laughed pretty hard. He noted that the layout of the set for Bobby’s house, which was established in Devil’s Trap, got changed for Dream a Little Dream of Me. He said that he’d asked about it at the time, saying that there wasn’t a kitchen there before, and that he was told “It’s okay; it’s a dream.” But the dream ended, and Bobby’s study still has a kitchen in it! He said that he knew the audience was smart and paying attention and would notice the difference. (And I’ll observe that the director on Dream a Little Dream of Me, Steve Boyum, was the same one who took the spotlights off the Impala so that he could mount a camera, and then didn’t put them back on …)

He closed with a bit of a chuckle, quoting Marlon Brando’s definition of an actor as someone who, if you’re not talking about him, isn’t listening. But he clearly was listening to us!

At the end of his Q&A, the Fandom Rocks folks presented him with a shirt that a lot of us had signed, which was a “thank you” for Jim having made things right with the military coin presentations to Jensen and Jared to make up for the false presentation made by the imposter at the Creation con. Looking at the shirt, the second one he was given at the con (the other one was a silly piece from the woman behind the “Shallow Graves” magazine, with a logo that proclaimed, “I’m a Bobby Girl!”), Jim laughed that this one didn’t call him a girl, and recalled that at the last Eyecon, he wore a shirt that proclaimed “I read John/Bobby,” and said that he didn’t know what it meant … and now he does. He gave the room a significant look and said, “You’re sick puppies,” and we all broke up, and that was the end of his session.

I’ll keep working on setting down my Eyecon memories over the next few days, in between work and episode commentaries and whatnot. I hope you enjoy them! Next up will be the Ghostfacers, A.J. Buckley and Travis Wester, who did their Q&A as a team; Fred Lehne; Nicki Aycox; and Jason Manns … soon. Sometime.

Tags: cons, jared padalecki, jensen ackles, jim beaver, real life, spoilers, television production

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