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The Geek Life: First Impressions

Meeting celebrities for the first time

By Robert T. Trate     March 21, 2012


The Geek Life is a weekly look at what is going on in the Geek Culture. Movies, Comics, Books, Video Games, and TV Shows encompass more than just release dates and reviews. This week the Geek Life shares his first impressions.
At Wonder Con last week I had the chance to sit down and do a few interviews with cast and crew of a few up in coming films. The three films ranged from “Yes!”, “they made a 5th one?”, and finally “Never heard of it”. When I was done with the interviews I was a tad more excited for Yes!, thought I would probably see the 5th one, and cannot wait to share with you the “Never heard of it”. Those are not my first impressions. Actually my first impressions came from a conversation I had about meeting the talent involved. I was asked what a certain celebrity was like. After I thought about it for a while I realized: damn, I have met a lot of celebrities. My first impression of him was…
Now to be fair to both you, the Maniacs, and the celebrities these first impressions range from press junkets to meetings during one-on-one interviews. These individuals are technically working and really not their true selves. Yet, as the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Tim Roth

Celebrity Photos

You never forget your first and the first celebrity I ever interviewed was Tim Roth. It was during The Incredible Hulk junket and he walked right up to me and said hello. We shook hands and I was immediately intimated, despite having 5 inches on the guy. This was after all Mr. Orange, Thade and just an all around great actor. He was happy to be there and had a great disposition about him; a class act in every sense of the expression. Minutes before we spoke I heard other members of the press ask the same boring questions over and over again. I wanted to be different and thankfully I was (read the interview here).
David Tennant

Celebrity Photos

His term as Doctor Who was just about to expire. Tennant walked into the room and it was if a tall skinny geek (complete with Millennium Falcon t-shirt and track jacket) had arrived. He was a joy, tentative, and laughing the whole time. I told him a story (not in the interview) about seeing his look alike the previous year and his producer (Julie Gardner) backed me up. In all honesty I felt like singing ”I feel pretty” after I left the interview.
Kenneth Branagh

Celebrity Photos

Literally British acting royalty was sitting directly across from me. I jumped at the chance to get an interview with him and it did not disappoint. Branagh was doing the Thor press junket but what I got from him, as well as the cast members, is that he thinks everything thing through. He was an utmost professional and was well prepared to talk with geeks about his movie. It was never beneath him (see interview). Out of all the directors have I met he was the one I felt would deliver the most rewarding working experience.
Frank Darabont

Celebrity Photos

I have had the opportunity to interview Frank Darabont twice for Mania. The first time was for the premiere of The Walking Dead. Frank had a great pride about the show. It was a baby that he had nurtured and could not wait to bring it out into the world. I had never seen someone so excited about a project before. He got me excited even more as I could see the love for what he had brought to life. A few of my colleagues told me to remember they (directors and actors) all get like this for a project they are promoting. This time, however, the end results were more than worth it. Whenever I think about The Walking Dead I get a little sad and hopeful it can go on without Frank (see interview)
Tom Hiddleston

Celebrity Photos

If you aren’t a big genre fan you are probably saying, “Who?” He is Loki in both Thor and The Avengers movie. A relative unknown, Hiddleston sat down among the press and wowed us all. Questions started firing off about recent events in the comic revolving around Loki (being a woman and such at the time). Hiddleston fired back with jokes and humor and open acknowledgement of how much research he had done. He was one cool dude and immediately the god of mischief won us over.
Chan-wook Park

Celebrity Photos

This might have been the most intimidating interview I ever had. Park was sitting in a cabana near a swimming pool surrounded by scantly clad women. His translator invited me into the cabana and I immediately got to work. It was interesting to watch the man listen to my questions twice. He had time to respond and was very humble in the regard in which he was held. He was a decent fun fellow (the opposite of his characters in: Oldboy, Lady Vengeance, and Thirst) who was hoping to get a Twilight autograph for his daughter (see interview).
Natalie Portman and Kat Dennings

Celebrity Photos

I have simply must group these two together. While I was at the Thor press junket they paired Natalie Portman and Kat Dennings. Besides Thor this might be the only other time in the world this will ever happen. It was a fanboy’s dream to see Natalie Portman up close. She was a like a frail doll, though, and not the strong Queen of Naboo or Evey from V fro Vendetta. What totally brought this Harvard grad down 100 IQ points was her proximity to Kat Dennings. Dennings had little clue how to answer a question coherently. It actually made many of us feel agitated as we were trying to figure out whether or not she actually answered our question. If you look at my Thor interview, she is absent.

Celebrity Photos

Say what you want about the man’s films and his body of work, but I never met someone more engaging. McG was open about his fear of flying and threw out a Star Trek crack at one of the press member’s expense (he cell phone went off during the interview). He had a great sense of lets get this done and do it big. I was reluctant on Terminator Salvation but after meeting with the man I was all for it. Yes, the film was disappointing but for once I was (and still am) interested in seeing how it could have been with all those alternate endings. Perhaps McG is a victim of his own hype or charisma? Out of everyone I’ve interviewed I never met someone more excited and enthusiastic about what they were working on (check out the interview here).
This is only a sample, of course, of the people I have met while working at Mania. If I had a wish list of people to interview it would be the following: Andy Serkis, Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner, Kermit the Frog, Frank Oz, Ridley Scott, Michael J. Fox, and of course Sean Connery.
Robert Trate writes three weekly columns for Mania: the DVD Shopping Bag, the Toy Maniac, and The Geek Life. Follow Robert on Twitter for his for Geek ramblings, Cosplay photos and film criticisms.


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jedibanner 3/21/2012 5:45:11 AM

Ahhh, I wanted dirt on who's a scumbag or not.

But seriously, the list of people you interviewed seemed interesting and look like class act all the way.

Must be nice to have your job Robert...

Wiseguy 3/21/2012 6:30:06 AM

LOL at your Kat Denning comment. Maybe she really is the airhead she played in THOR. I do however find her more attractive than the bony Portman.

Nice to hear the Tim Roth is a classy guy. He's such a great actor and the actors he plays best usually are scumbags, glad it's really his good acting skills coming across and not his personality.

Glad to see that most are good sports. It's a funny thing but sometimes their rep if bad can really cloud some fans' opinions of their work and that includes me too. I really rather be able to either root for the individual or at worst be ambivalent and let his work win me over.

swisshammer 3/21/2012 8:34:18 AM

Wiseguy: Denning more attractive than Portman? Surely you jest.

McQuestion 3/21/2012 12:50:35 PM

I'd take Dennings over Portman every day of the week (and five times on Saturday night).

ObiWannaJones 3/22/2012 6:12:14 AM

Portman and Jennings: make me an ObiWanna Jones Sandwich

NDorado 3/22/2012 9:59:30 AM

Name dropper.  Hahaha.  Just kidding.  I'm a celebrity interview whore myself.  But I only get the Z-List.  Fine work!



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