|Report by Anthony Sword, Photographs by Emily Eggan and B.S. Walker|
Greetings fellow geeks! I had the honor of representing FOG! at this year’s Saturn Awards held, as always, at The Castaway Restaurant in the hills of Burbank, CA. The day was warm and the sky as blue as ever. The view of the Burbank was stunning, but ultimately eclipsed by the excitement of the geek-fest underway.
Accompanying me was frequent FOG! contributor BS Walker, who played photographer for the evening. We checked in at the press table and to my complete and utter horror we somehow scored us THE FIRST FRIGGIN’ SPOT IN LINE. Talk about pressure.
It was my first time covering the awards (regular correspondent Dean Galanis was otherwise occupied for the the evening) and was more than a tad nervous. Fortunately, the cavalry arrived! Emily Eggan, veteran FOG! Saturn Awards photographer arrived and she immediately set us at ease, explaining how laid back the event was.
While we waited for VIP’s to hit the Red Carpet, we were treated to a fun surprise in the form of a feisty blue and white Astromech. Fully functional, complete with sound effects, it set the tone.
First to arrive; Continuum’s beautiful Lexa Doig. While discussing her various roles, she said,
“I do like playing characters where I get to wear natural fibers.”
She was down to Earth and happy to be involved in another Canadian show, Arctic Air, where she gets to wear those natural fibers playing a mom and “not a future time traveling terrorist.”
Also representing Continuum was Eric Knudsen who plays the young version of William B. Davis’s (AKA Cigarette Smoking Man) character. And he’s a dead ringer! So, I had to ask him how much his likeness of Mr. Davis played into his casting:
“I think it was a coincidence. They got a picture of him when he was younger and he was identical to me. He’s got the same kind of smirk and we met up with each other and we picked up on the same kind of things, and it was just lucky.”
Next up, actual, honest-to-God FOG! fans writer-director Adam Green and his wife, actress Rileah Vanderbilt of Team Unicorn, promoting the just released Hatchet 3 and upcoming Holliston Season 2. Fans can also expect Adam’s new project Digging Up the Marrow, a monster documentary, sometime next year. They were as excited as we were to be there.
The impeccably dressed (and tall) character actor Doug Jones was a showman. I had just watched John Dies in the End and told him as much, complimenting him on his eccentric performance.
“Oh, Thank you. What a fun ride that is, huh?
In case you didn’t know, Doug was also one of “The Gentleman” in the landmark Buffy episode Hush. He's also joined the cast of Falling Skies Season 3 as one of the new aliens, and after that he’s playing himself in the upcoming project Monster School.
“I’m the headmaster of a school that teaches kids to hone their inner monster.”
My first surprise guest came in the form of legendary producer Gale Anne Hurd, accompanied by fellow The Walking Dead producer David Alpert.
When asked how long they see the show going, Gale replied, "Robert Kirkman is continuing to write fantastic comic books, they’re on (issue) 113. We figure that at some point, Rick will die, Carl will take over the show, he’ll have kids, and we figure that about the time that his grandkids get too old, that may be the time the show will end. We see no reason that season 50 or 60 can’t go on.”
David agreed, “We’re shooting for The Simpsons!”
While chatting with Ellen Green, better known as Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors, my peripheral vision spied this guy named Joss passing by.
Yeah, Joss FREAKING Whedon! I’ve crossed paths with him several times however, I never actually met the man and it looked like I never would once again. Then, he made his way backwards in line!
I admire Joss as a storyteller, so it was natural to ask him about the process and what better project to ask about than Avengers 2?
“When do you start writing it? Is it always percolating in the back of your head?”
“I really, really didn’t think I was going to make it. The story I’m telling, I pitched the first time I ever sat down with (Marvel Studios President) Kevin Feige, ‘For Avengers 2, you know what you should do?’ And then, when we started talking about a deal, I said, ‘okay, I’ll think about this - creatively’ and I had been clearly thinking about this the whole time. And I started whiting stuff down, and it just. Kept. Coming.”
Despite a full schedule with his new film Much Ado About Nothing and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D for ABC television, a first draft is complete. “It’s a little first drafty, but very much the story we all want to tell.”
Emily asked about the “missing” special features on the DVD/Blu-ray release of Cabin in the Woods that would have showed the footage telling the various stories on the screens at the end.
“There wasn’t? A lot of it, he (Drew Goddard) just doesn’t want to show you. Doesn’t want the mystery broken. The one thing I wish we had was the full compliment of things that Ron the intern held up. Some of my best work.”
Then a familiar angelic voice intruded, “Don’t believe anything this man says.” It was none other than Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Ming-Na Wen! “He lies, aaallll the time.” And after a few minutes of playful banter, the duo wandered off.
I turned around to find Danny Elfman standing right in front of me! After calming my inner geek, I asked, “With such great body of work, what’s the project you’re most proud of?”
Ever so classy, his immediate response was “This right here, my daughter,” the gorgeous red-head standing beside him.
Next up was Amy Acker of Person of Interest, Angel and this summer's Much Ado About Nothing answered the question that most actors would kill to learn: How one gets to be in Joss Whedon’s stable of performers.
“Bribe him with really good Chardonnay. That’s the key.” She was delightful and more beautiful in real life that any of her on-screen personas. I kid you not.
I spoke with legendary screenwriter and Iron Man 3 director Shane Black about making changes in characters from the source material, specifically his take on the Mandarin, knowing full well you’re going to take A LOT of flack from the comic book community.
“Marvel helps. You talk over the idea. The Mandarin seemed like a good story idea, to take a character that, in the 60’s, represented what to people then was the most frightening thing they could imagine. A Chinese Communist. Then transplant that to today. Using the climate of fear to coble together a think-tank version. ‘What can we do to create the most fearsome terrorist today?’ And, also, Mandarin, meaning, the king maker, the original definition, the guy whispering in the king’s ear, seemed to fit Killian so well. The guy who writes the checks and writes the lines because he wishes he could say it himself. It’s burning to get out of him. He wishes he could take the credit and say ‘I’m the Mandarin!’ And I thought that it was such an interesting notion and we all fell in love with it. I’m sorry that it didn’t hit everybody’s happy button.”
His next project? Adapting thirties pulp hero Doc Savage…
“It’s currently in the hopper. We’re writing it as we speak. Yesterday we were watching movies, and sitting down to try to generate and break the story. Breaking story is hard. People don’t realize. You finish one movie, it’s like, you dig this ditch, 30 feet deep, dirt’s piled a mile high and then, when it’s over, it’s over. Then they hand you the shovel and they say, over there. Start again. It’s back to the grind, man. It’s going to fun. We won’t make it otherwise.”
Sam J. Jones aka Flash Gordon was next, who was thankful for getting cast in a role that people remember fondly. Next up? Reteaming with Seth McFarlane for Ted 2.
Master of Ceremonies Lance Reddick looked sharp and relaxed and had this to say about Fringe, “What I loved about Fringe so much was that I felt it was real people in situations that were extraordinary.”
Jonathan Banks may have been knocking it out of the park as Mike Ehrmantraut on Breaking Bad recently, but, I still love him as John Whorfin’s orderly in Buckaroo Banzai. He told me:
“I’ve done this (acting) for 46 years, and I could do Mike for another 46 years.”
I was excited to meet the filmmakers of Safety Not Guaranteed, Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow, and asked how they got their next gig, Jurassic Park 4.
Colin did all the talking. “Steven (Spielberg) really enjoyed the film. We had a great conversation about it and he gave us the opportunity to step in to see if we could even begin to fill the shoes that he had been wearing for a long time. We don’t think about anything but dinosaurs for the next two years.”
Enter Person of Interest's Michael Emerson.
Michael, a former Saturn winner, was presenting this year. We talked about Lost, it’s following, and it’s impact on his life.
“People still stop me every day to talk about Lost which says something about how that writing got under people’s skin. I can’t fully explain it except that there’s some magic in those genre programs, you know? I’ve been puzzling today, trying to think, what it is about it that collects the fan base that it does. I think it inspires awe, and terror, and it’s thought provoking, also.”
I asked if when he was cast as Henry Gale if he knew he would be becoming Ben Linus:
“No. But, I remembered that day I found out something was up. That was a great day. The director came and said something about the way I was playing the role. He said ‘be less sinister,’ or something like that. I said ‘I can play it however you want, but wouldn’t it be cool if I actually turned out to be the head guy?’ He said ‘I can’t discuss that.’ And I thought, ‘Oh, I gotcha!’”
I heard Keith David's unmistakable voice before I saw the beloved character actor.
I've loved his work ever since John Carpenter's The Thing. I mean, how can you not? (And a fun little factoid, before that, he spent a year on Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood!) Even with his huge body of work across all genres, Keith is astounded with the current state of video games, for which he does tons of voice work.
“It’s great doing games because now-a-days, the quality of the animation is like another movie. It would be my wish to make one of those, like Mass Effect, (into) the live version, so I could actually get to play some of these guys and work with some of these guys I’d like to work with.”
My final chat of the day was with Barry Bostwick, there to present Vince Gilligan with the Dan Curtis Legacy Award. You’d think Rocky Horror would be a go-to question. But, I needed to dig a little deeper. Okay, a lot deeper.
It was undoubtedly my geekiest question of the night:
“Megaforce 2. When’s it happening?”
“Never!” he grinned.
I told him I watched Megaforce every single time it was on when I was a kid.
“How’s it hold up?” he asked.
“No idea. Haven’t seen it in 30 years.” And I seemed to open up a can of worms, for all I could hear down the line with Barry was Megaforce. Sorry, Barry!
From there we moved on to the second half of the evening, the pressroom. But sadly, Emily had to leave us. She had been a real morale booster and all around great company. It was an opportunity to interact with not only the winners, but also a number lot of VIPs who had skipped the Red Carpet.
A few more of the special moments:
I had to ask Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan about the use of one of my all-time favorite Monkees songs, Goin’ Down, in a season 5 episode. “It was all director Tom Schnauz.” He replied. “It was his first episode directing. He did a great job and brought in the song which we loved.” Too bad they cut out the awesome sax solos!
Bryan Cranston was in a hurry. One of the press photographers yelled out “Heidelberg!” Heidelberg? That’s Heisenberg you… Cranston, quick as ever, retorted, “Heidelberg, Germany!”
In an idle moment, I noticed Moon Bloodgood standing right beside me. She’s just… Wow. And all I could say was, “The Sessions… Wow.” Her face brightened. “Oh, my God. That’s my favorite thing I’ve done so far. Thank you.”
The room exploded when Quentin Tarantino entered, and he geeked out meeting Vince Gilligan!
After Laurie Holden won her award for Best Supporting Actress on Television, she did me a solid and granting me the interview I missed on the red carpet. “You’re not bummed at all that you didn’t get zombified?”
“Not remotely. It was really important for me to wrap up the story and have Andrea not go out as a victim. I feel like she went out on her terms, her way, a gun in her hand, to her head. I couldn’t ask for a more dignified death.”
The evening was all but over when Lance Reddick came in to do his press pictures and portrait.
“Have good time?” I asked in passing.
“Yeah, but I’m glad it’s over. The butterflies are gone.” He said with a bright relieved smile, the antithesis of just about every character he ever played.
As Lance finished, I heard the Saturn staff photographer ask him, “You mind? I’d like to get a picture with you.”
Lance was more than happy and I pointed to him and said, “This entire night, you’re the only person he geeked out over.” Both smiled huge smiles and SNAP! the final picture of the night was captured. A sweet end to an incredible night.
I wanted to close with my only regret of the day. As we all knew, the legendary Richard Matheson sadly passed away the Sunday before the event. His son, accepting his Visionary Award, told everyone how much he was looking forward to attending. Myself, I was eager to share something personal with Mr. Matheson; that both of my daughters, Grace, 13, and Alyson, 9, are HUGE classic Twilight Zone fans, and that Alyson’s hands down, all time favorite episode is Nightmare at 20,000 Feet. I can’t think of any better illustration of the power of this genre that we all love and adore.
Science Fiction is ageless.
Below check out the full list of award winners along with more photos from the event.
Best Science Fiction Film: Marvel’s The Avengers
Best Fantasy Film: Life of Pi
Best Horror/Thriller Film: The Cabin in the Woods
Best Action/Adventure Film: Skyfall
Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey (Killer Joe)
Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games)
Best Supporting Actor: Clark Gregg (Marvel’s The Avengers)
Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rises)
Best Performance by a Younger Actor: Suraj Sharma (Life of Pi)
Best Director: Joss Whedon (Marvel’s The Avengers)
Best Writing: Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained)
Best Production Design: Dan Hennah (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey)
Best Editing: Alexander Berner (Cloud Atlas)
Best Music: Danny Elfman (Frankenweenie)
Best Costume: Paco Delgado (Les Miserables)
Best Make-Up: Heike Merker, Daniel Parker, Jeremy Woodhead (Cloud Atlas)
Best Special Effects: Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams, Dan Sudick (Marvel’s The Avengers)
Best Independent Film Release: Killer Joe
Best International Film: Headhunters
Best Animated Film: Frankenweenie
Best Network Television Series: Revolution
Best Syndicated/Cable Television Series: The Walking Dead
Best Presentation on Television: Breaking Bad
Best Youth-Oriented Series on Television: Teen Wolf
Best Actor on Television: Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Kevin Bacon (The Following) – tie
Best Actress on Television: Anna Torv (Fringe)
Best Supporting Actor on Television: Jonathan Banks (Breaking Bad)
Best Supporting Actress on Television: Laurie Holden (The Walking Dead)
Best Guest Star on Television: Yvonne Strahovski (Dexter)
HOME ENTERTAINMENT AWARDS
Best DVD/BD Release: Touchback
Best DVD/BD Special Edition Release: Little Shop of Horrors: The Director’s Cut
Best DVD/BD Collection Release: Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection
Best DVD/BD Television Series Release: Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 1 & 2
SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS FROM THE ACADEMY OF SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY & HORROR FILMS
The Lifetime Achievement Award: William Friedkin
The Dan Curtis Legacy Award: Vince Gilligan
The Visionary Award: Richard Matheson
The Life Career Award: Jonathan Frakes
Theater Showcase Award: Silence! The Musical