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AngelQuor’toth convention - Cityofangel.com Coverage
Sue Grimshaw & Nicola Jones
Friday 11 November 2005, by Webmaster
Welcome To Our Hell
A Review of Quor’toth
f there is one thing that is guaranteed to bring rain to a British summer’s day, then it’s the mention of either the infamous tennis tournament at Wimbledon, the equally as legendary musical festival held at the mudslide known as Glastonbury or the annual Angel convention run by Starfury and held at London’s Heathrow. Glorious sunshine had cast its dazzling rays across England’s green and pleasant land until all of the events detailed above happened to fall on the same weekend (25th-27th June) leading the heavens to open and the rain to fall. Nothing could dampen the spirits of either guest or attendee though as Quor’toth opened its portal, not to reveal the entry into a tormented hell dimension, but to allow the Angel faithful to come together and party as only they know how and party they did!
During the customary opening ceremony on Friday evening, the equally as customary but far more alluring Clare Kramer acted as MC to introduce the specially assembled star crew. Finding the right mix of guests has got to be the key to the success of any fan event as attendees like to meet new faces as well as welcome back those guests who are so familiar that they feel like friends. There were a small number of new faces being presented to the fans for the first time including evil Senator Brucker played by actress Stacey Travis who made a very special plea to the crowd, “Thanks for having me," she stated, “but I’m a con virgin so please be gentle with me." Stacey’s partner in The Circle of the Blackthorn, Cyvus Vail also known as the lovable Dennis Christopher had similar thoughts on his mind, ““I’m a con virgin too," he told everyone, “but really happy to be here". The third and final convention newcomer came in the in the towering but impressive frame of Season 4 bad guy The Beast. In reality Vladimir Kulich the actor who portrayed the destructive nemesis is a gentle giant, “it’ll be a pleasure to meet you all and thank you for having me," he told everyone when brought on to the stage for the first time.
WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING INTO IS THE QUOR’TOTH
As well as the first time recruits there were a couple of 2nd time ’glutton for punishment’ guests. Sarah Thompson and the gracious Jenny Mollen both made their debut UK convention appearances during the 2004 Hyperion event. At that time Jenny had been so nervous that she could not stay on the stage during the opening ceremony but she had no such trouble this time. “I’m so delighted to be back," she enthused, “and I’ve brought my mom with me this time so I’m trying to get everyone in one the action." Sarah could do nothing but agree. The main hall had been set up a little differently for this event with more tables set up in the hall rather than the smaller number usually arranged around the dance floor. This change in arrangement did not go unnoticed by one of the most popular Starfury guests. Head make up artist, Dayne Johnson is as witty and entertaining as he is talented in his trade and it now seems unthinkable that an event should run without him taking part. “I’m thrilled to be back," he announced as he took to the stage, “and I notice there are tables now rather than Sean make everyone sit on the floor. It’s about time!" Of course where Dayne goes, the old green drag queen sidekick usually follows. The 2004 events had been a tough time for Andy Hallett as illness had forced him to cancel some appearances, his head finally convincing him that his health needed to take precedence over his heart’s ceaseless necessity to please his fans. As he stepped out to a very warm reception at the opening ceremony, Andy confirmed that business was thankfully back to usual. Looking a little bedraggled as he tried to quiet down the appreciative crew, Andy confessed that he had missed 3 flights to get to the UK. “Amy Acker and I only arrived three hours ago," he laughed, "and compared to her, look at me I look like an old dish rag." Sure enough when the beautiful Amy appeared moments later, you would never have guessed that she had just stepped off a nine-hour flight. “I always hate following Andy," she admitted though as she greeted the Quor’toth faithful, “as he always has so much to say!" Ain’t that the truth!
THE DARKEST OF THE DARK WORLDS
The first of the weekend’s autograph sessions actually happened straight after the opening ceremony with Amy, Vladimir, Dayne and Andy commanding the first slot. Amy chatted happily about how well she was adapting to motherhood although she understandably missed her little boy who was still back in the States with his daddy. Vladimir was interested to find out just how many people were taking part in the fancy dress the following day and Andy and Dayne are a lethal combination when sat next to one another as they laugh and jest with each other and generally hold the queue up with their banter. In this particular session, Dayne found great amusement in Andy’s response to some items that he had been asked to sign. A number of Dayne’s own continuity photographs had been auctioned off at the recent CoA Wrap Party in New Jersey including a rather graphic picture of J August Richards with his heart cut out. When this item was put in front of Dayne he immediately smiled and showed the picture to Andy who subsequently let out a rather loud and vulgar expletive obviously grossed out by the image. His reaction certainly caused heads to turn and Dayne signed the item with a laugh and a written comment simply stating, “This is sick!" The second group for autographs took place over the Saturday and Sunday and included Sarah, Stacey, Jenny and Dennis. Sarah was as sweet as ever as she portrayed an elegant confidence while Stacey expressed an interest in the infamous Starfury parties and looked forward to indulging in one. Jenny brightened up the room as she did the whole weekend with her friendly, amenable and effervescent manner and Dennis gave thought to each autograph he signed which was nice for the fan. He took the time to look into the face and connect with everybody in line (as he mentioned in his guest talk earlier in the day), which was good for the fan but not too good for the length of the queue.
OPEN THE PORTAL
Neil Davidson and Clare Kramer The photo sessions more often than not present a story to tell whether it be an amusing situation or a unique opportunity. Dennis Christopher set the tone by wearing his Cyvus Vail t-shirt proudly and you couldn’t help but make David & Goliath type comparisons when standing next to Vladimir as he is a mountain of a man standing at a colossal 6ft 5 inches. Andy again brought the laughter in to the room as he playfully complained that the fans were getting a little too familiar with him especially in relation to where they were placing their hands when posing for photographs. After several fumbles of his delectable rear, he jokingly declared, “Bloody hell! By the end of the session I’m going to probably end up having sex with one of these ladies." There was definitely a queue for that! Now if Dayne Johnson is on a Starfury guest list then there is always a chance that something a little bit special could happen. At End of Days he made up Andy Hallett as Lorne for a breathtaking and record breaking photo session and at The White Room, he adorned Christian Kane’s toned torso with the mystical symbols of Lindsey McDonald’s tattoos. For this event, Dayne brought to life the enigmatic Illyria transforming the beautiful Amy Acker into the stunning goddess. This was a strangely silent photo session as it was uncanny how quickly Amy turned from her sweet self to the demon warrior.
One second Amy was smiling and greeting the attendees with her usual warm and friendly manner and then suddenly with an abrupt jerk of her head her whole mannerism changed and the irrepressible Illyria was among us. It was impressive to watch but also quite eerie. Most people didn’t know whether to smile or strike a face of fear when posing with her. It was so inspiring that even Clare Kramer and Sarah Thompson got in on the act and had a picture taken with Amy and even they were left speechless. It was truly a testimony as to how well Amy played the role of Illyria and a privilege to be a part of. In complete contrast, there was another very special photo session. Starfury regular attendees will know the hardworking Jenny and Ian and the beautiful third member of the family, their cocker spaniel Josie. Josie can often be seen sat with Jenny by the photo sales desk waiting for people to play with her and make a fuss over her. Due to a new policy, it seemed that Quor’toth would be Josie’s last convention as the hotel had decided that dogs were no longer allowed to stay. Josie therefore had her moment in the limelight as a special photo session was commissioned. For the reasonable fee of �5 and with all proceeds going to the Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, fans could have their photos taken with the cute canine. A nice sum of money was raised for a very worthy cause and an emotional send off given to one of the convention scene’s sweetest members.
GUEST TALKS - THE MAN BEHIND THE BEAST
Guest talks are always one of the highlights of a weekend as it is through these one hour long Q&A sessions that you can find out more about the people behind the characters seen on screen. The trouble is you never really saw the real Vladimir Kulich when he appeared on Angel as his face was hidden behind a thick layer of molten rock. His impressive costume and his role as the Season 4 bad guy The Beast brought forward a lot of curious questions that Vladimir was only too pleased to answer especially with regards to the whole process of getting the costume on and how it felt to wear. “To put it all on took over four and a half hours, “ he explained, “and I figured to take it off it’d be about 20 minutes. So the first time after working for 18 hours, I’m sitting in the chair I thought I’d be out of there in twenty but it took an hour and a half to take it off otherwise your skin comes off with if they pull it too fast so that I had to put some chemical on your skin and the latex and peel it off. The first day [of wearing the costume] was terrible because there wasn’t a single deformation hole in the suit. "Bloody hell! By the end of the session I’m going to probably end up having sex with one of these ladies." Dennis Christopher sets the tone "It was like a wet suit, but a complete wet suit, and you were just sweating so for the first day or so it was horrible but after a few months you get used to it." The most impressive visual of The Beast was the sheer size of this incredible nemesis and the costume itself looked really big, but was it heavy to carry or move around in? “No the suit wasn’t heavy," Vlad confirms, “the face with the horns was 40lbs and the boots were about 40bs so the weight was at my feet and at my head so if you see the way I’m walking, it’s always a little off balance right." Well with this in mind, some actors have stated that once they put the prosthetics on then that helps get them into character but with 40lbs at your feet and 40lbs at your head, wasn’t this a bit of a distraction? “No it was the other way because you had all this weight and all this cumbersome stuff and because you had contact lenses in, you stayed inside your own walls so I did everything from inside my own wall so I was feeling very comfortable. I wasn’t feeling open. If I was there naked it would have been a whole different thing but I had all this distraction to hide behind so I just went with it."
Does it feel strange to play a character that is completely covered up so no one knows what you look like in real life? “No, it’s great," Vlad laughs, “as an actor you have to have a certain amount of confidence to do things because you know you can do them but when you are hiding behind something you feel free, you feel like it doesn’t matter, you can try anything and if you screw it up they won’t know it’s you inside. In fact when they put the contacts in that was all I needed. I didn’t even need the make up, just the contacts because it was like wearing glasses and I was separated from the world." The Beast definitely had a history as he had crossed paths with the legendary Angelus in years gone by. When Vlad was offered the role, was he given any indication on the background of the character? "No there were absolutely no instructions and there were no directions. I think they just looked at the drawing of The Beast before they hired the actor and they were just in love with the visual of The Beast and they didn’t really care what the actor did as long as he looked like that and of course he looked like that because he had to wear that, so there was never any direction. What I chose to do because I had platform shoes that were ten inches so I was already seven feet tall plus fake shoulders and that so looking really large - I chose to try not to be big." By the time Vladimir made his guest appearances, Angel as a show had been up and running for a successful four years.
Is it difficult to integrate yourself into such an established cast? “Almost everything I have ever done in this business, I was the outsider just because of the way I look and the roles I get," Vlad says honestly, “I’m never one of the group so I’m so used to that. I’m very comfortable just being on the outside and because I’m comfortable I end up being on the inside. Like David [Boreanaz] likes to save dogs, he goes to pounds and saves dogs and I’ve saved three dogs so you know we became friends through our dogs. On my website there’s a picture of David and I and I’m you know wearing my costume and I have my pit-bull with me called Stanky." Vlad smiles when he recalls another moment involving his dog. “There’s quite a story about him. I told my wife you know bring him to the set one day and see if he can find me because when you’re in that suit you know our boy couldn’t find me so let’s see if Stanky can find me and I was in a corner way over there and the dog came in and just went [makes a motion of the dog going straight to the corner] and it was most bizarre because no humans knew I was inside the suit but my dog knew right away and he can’t even smell me through that suit so it was more telepathic you know."
ALL HAIL THE THIRTEENTH WARRIOR
Vladimir was happy to share a little more information about his background when asked and how he managed to get started in the profession that pays his wages, “My whole family was in the theatre in Czechoslovakia and when I was 10 years old we moved to Montreal in Canada," he tells everyone, “and in that part of Montreal there was no theatre, it was a blue-collar community, there was no art so I became a hockey player. I played professional hockey for a year and I hated it so I just took off on a motorcycle to try and figure out what I wanted and for some weird reason I started a river rafting company in British Columbia in Canada, white water, and my first customer was a producer from a TV show called 21 Jump Street“ At that point most people recognize that this is the show that brought big Hollywood A-list star Johnny Depp into the public eye. “Yeah this was before anybody knew him, about 1986 I think," Vlad continued "and they had the whole crew of about 60 people and we [TV producer] got talking and they said you should come down you know and we’ll give you a little part in something and I said well I used to be an actor when I was a kid so I should be able to do that. So I came down and that was pretty much it and I started working right away in television. The thing about if you work in Canada, your dream is to move to Los Angeles because then you have a shot there and most Canadians because they are conservative and a little bit socialist in their scope of life, they don’t want to go to America where you might starve if it doesn’t work. So I went down there because I’m not that way and I got a job right away and got my green card and I starved for three years. I got nothing and so I fired my agent and it was Christmas Eve and I got a call the next day, Christmas Day saying ’I know you fired us but they want to see you for this silly movie called ’Eaters of the Dead’. So I was desperate and I went in and I had no idea it had an eighty-five hundred dollar budget and that was six years ago and that was a big balance for six years ago. So you know I read and screen-tested and jumped through all the hoops and I got the job."
Vladimir Kulich and Jenny Mollen It is the role in ’this silly movie’ that most other people recognize Vladimir from. Renamed The Thirteenth Warrior, Vladimir took on the role of Buliwyf, The 1st Warrior playing opposite Antonio Banderas and he relayed some of his memories of his time on that movie. “The story was written originally by Michael Crichton and it was originally called ’Eaters of the Dead’ which I thought was really a nice title," he recalls, “they cast the thing in April, I got the job in May and a year later I was still working on that project. There were things like the producer and the director didn’t agree on the ending so I came back and I re-shot one ending for the producer and then I would finish on that scene and then I would go into a different studio and do a different ending for the director. It was like ’don’t tell them what we’re doing over here’ or ’what’s he doing over there?’ and this was Michael Crichton and John McTiernan you know powerful people couldn’t agree on the ending so I think it was about a fourteen month process. The funny part was when I got the job they said ’can you ride?’ I said ’yeah I can ride’. The first day on the job and I almost got killed, as I had never rode a horse in my life! And John McTiernan has a very deep voice and he walked up to me, my face is in the dirt and he says ’I thought you said you could ride?’ and I said ’yeah motorcycles’. Anything for a job you know." Towards the end of the film there is a rather impressive battle scene, was this as difficult to shoot as it looked? “It took a long time because you’re having 80 things, 80 horses, 80 different fights around you and then you have to do yours and if yours is off you have to set the other 80 in position and do it again so that can take two days so it took I think about 2 weeks to do that fight � in the rain!
The best part was actually the ending, at the very end where I die and I’m on the throne and the director says ’OK this is your big moment. How do you want to die? Do you want to die with your eyes closed or your eyes open?’ Being an egotistical actor I said open. So we did it and I didn’t realize they had rain machines and rain machines have rain that is big so trying to keep your eyes open, it was just torture and so I was looking at the camera and I realize it was a 70mm camera which means the frame is a close up, and every actor wants his close up, so they finish and they say cut and I say ’what about the close up?’ and the directors goes ’ oh don’t worry about that, we got that,’ but I go, ’but how do they know I’m dead? My eyes are open and you’re far away,’ ’Oh your dog, your dog is gonna cry.’ I said, ’well that’s great but we haven’t established a dog, we don’t know there’s a dog yet.’ He says, ’don’t worry about it.’ Anyway I went to Paris on a little holiday and I get a call from the producer’s office saying we want you to come back and do a re-shoot and do this and this and this and this and also yes you’re going to get your close up. And I was kinda cocky and said ’just tell McTiernan to get his dog to cry a little louder’ and then I called back and said I’m just kidding I’m coming right back!" Finally, what was it like to work with an actor like Antonio? “Well for a pretty looking man he’s quite good you know. I was surprised “ he laughs," he was very grounded and outgoing, he wasn’t really you know as pretty as he looks, he wasn’t that way as a person, he was much stronger. He’s very confident, confident in a way of not taking over a scene because he has confidence so he was great to work with."
GUEST TALK - JENNY MOLLEN, THE BEAUTY INSIDE THE BEAST
Due to conflicting schedules, CityofAngel.com missed a number of the guest talks that took place on Sunday with one notable and refreshing exception as Jenny Mollen took to the stage with Vladimir Kulich. As a self confessed fan of the show before she got her part in Season 5, Jenny had taken on the role of werewolf and Angel’s love interest Nina Ash. Her stay in the show was short lived considering the cancellation but how does Jenny think that her character would have evolved had there been a Season 6? "I think about that a lot because I don’t know, she answers truthfully, “As a fan it was hard for me to see Nina and Angel be a long lasting, functional relationship but I would have liked her to have to stay in the picture obviously in some capacity. I mean I hope I wouldn’t have been just a like booty call. I think that she probably well I don’t know whether she could have got a job at Wolfram & Hart or anything but I would liked to have seen her stay in his life in some capacity." As the profession." An actor’s life can sometimes be full of peaks and troughs, what does Jenny do in between acting jobs, “Cry! I sit in a ball on the floor and hate myself," she laughs, “that’s not actually that far from the truth but I’m usually auditioning so that’s what usually fits in with my day. More recently I’ve been working on a script that I have been working on for probably three years and its been like a huge endeavor and I have a lot of people involved in it and I’m hoping to go out with it later this month because it’s at that point and I can’t tell you how thrilled I am.
It’s so rewarding to hold it and be like I can’t believe I did this especially when I had like my share of cheating at school so its weird to see something so long and think ’I wrote all of this myself? I didn’t plagiarize anything?’ So that’s where a majority of my free time has been spent lately." News of the script intrigues some and Jenny is asked what her plans are for the script. Does she want to sell it or does she plan to direct or act in the project herself? “People ask me that all the time," she admits, “and I think the reason why it took me to write it is because I had to get to the point where I said � OK this isn’t you Jenny, this is not you. I found that with my one-woman show that I wrote and produced in UCLA, I did myself a disservice because of the fact that they were my words and I didn’t bring anything new to it so it’s like I was kind of short changing both the writer and the actor, and I feel like even though I’m in love with the work and I love words, that’s why I act, it’s taken me a long time for me to get to the point where I can say this is for someone else because again I wouldn’t want to be the first time directing something that is mine because I don’t think I’d have enough distance to be able to really find out what it needs."
"Alexis and I took it further than we would of gone." Amy Acker on the death of Fred Jenny seems to be an ambitious girl that knows what she wants. When she began on the road of an acting career did she set herself any targets to reach and if she did how far is she from reaching them? “Man I have high standards for myself and I don’t know if I’ve reached them," she professes, “I haven’t actually ever told anyone about this but I was in New York screen testing for something I think about five years ago and at the time I was not able to support myself acting. I was working at a restaurant and I knew I was the best one there, you know when you look around the room and you’re like ’I’m better than these people’, the actresses I mean and I don’t mean that in like a defensive way but I feel like you know when things are going to happen sometimes and it was one of those times. So I was in New York screen testing and I did beat out all the girls and then they said ’well can you come back again?’ So I went back alone and I remember I wrote myself this letter and I said I’m going to open this letter if I get this role because I just want to read it you know after the fact. It was basically you know talking about humility and all why I got into acting in the first place, the passion and all things like that and it was probably totally sassy because the point is I never actually got that role, they never cast that role like the role just went away and I’ve never opened that letter, it’s still in my suitcase. I’ve done many movies since then and I support myself acting now but I still feel in the weirdest way, it’s funny it’s like I don’t know if I’ll ever feel I can open that letter because its the further I go the more I want sort of thing but I wanted to be in a Sundance film, I remember always saying that and that happened so that was exciting."
THE MUTUAL APPRECIATION SOCIETY
As Andy has already hinted at by revealing his plans for a world takeover via the convention scene, he has attended a lot of events and so it is inevitable that a lot of the same stories would come up in conversation as they did at Quor’toth. Tales about his singing discovery via karaoke with Patti LaBelle, his ’love’ for slash fan-fiction and the demise of his doorbell have already been covered in CityofAngel.com’s features of previous events. A question did pop up in reference to Fred’s death and how Amy felt about the way her character passed on. “I think because Joss directed that episode we really got to do the scene amazingly," she says, “Alexis and I took it further than we would of gone. I think because he directed it and it came out so good. It was really exhausting because we were crying like all day." No one can possibly question the talents of Dayne Johnson except perhaps the man himself. He became unusually modest about his creations when asked about how much say he has in the creation of the demons seen in the show. “I don’t have that much input into the demons that come from Rob Hall at Almost Human and the way those demons come about is they do drawings which then get approval and it is sculpted into a mould to get a feel for it. I never had any hands on." “He is selling himself short," Andy says stepping in, "because he brings them to life," “Yeah but I don’t actually get to go to the company and say we’ll create this demon." “But you created Illyria,“ Amy intervenes, “and Lorne," Andy adds before continuing, “he does sell himself short. They can specify the outline, but there is so much detail and if you look at the close up pictures of Amy’s make up and mine you can see it"
All joking aside, it is clear that Andy, Amy and Dayne have a deep found respect for one another, not just in their personal lives but also from a professional perspective. Continuing the appreciation of Dayne’s craft, Amy turned to Andy and gave one of his secrets away, “Like you always got mad when someone else had to do your make up. If Dayne was busy he would come in and be a diva saying, ’it looks awful, look at my nose its awful’. Considering what plans may have originally have been in store for Lorne’s appearance, Andy may have had more to complain about than his nose as Dayne explained. “Joss had a lot of input into Lorne. He was like, ’this here and that there’, and we had a few versions. We had one of Lorne with stripes with it, and one with lots of veins in it. We did the make up tests at Paramount then drove to the Buffy stages to let David Greenwalt and Joss see it and they thought it was too mean looking. So we went out to the make up stages at Buffy and Todd McKintosh completely changed it. We were talking from pinks and all sorts to green." Lorne? A pink demon? Well that would have been something to see!
GUEST TALKS - HERE CONVENES THE CIRCLE OF THE BLACKTHORN
Dennis Christopher and Stacey Travis
There are a couple of interesting things that came from the Q&A session involving Dennis Christopher and Stacey Travis on Saturday afternoon. The first is that the lack of any real questions involving the roles they played on Angel (especially as Dennis had been responsible for the death of one of the show’s principal characters) and the other is their very real and intelligent perception of how Hollywood works in this day and age because of the experiences they have encountered during their years in the business. Between them, both Dennis and Stacey have chalked up and impressive resume of work. Being actors a little more mature in years, have they found it more difficult to get a more varied type of role as they get older? Dennis is a very thoughtful and expressive speaker and when he speaks (and he does like to talk!), his opinion is compelling and he has a lot to say about age and the acting industry. “In LA you get less opportunities because oddly enough in New York, they have bigger imaginations. I mean you can play any range of ages on the stage but in film for some reason their imagination is so limited that they kind of want the character to walk through the door. In New York when someone walks into an audition, they want the person to get the part in LA when you walk in the room they are looking for all the reasons why they shouldn’t give you the part. My contemporaries, people that are friends of mine in the business, I’m 46 now so the deal is that all the people that I know, all the guys my age that I know that are working, they’re all rather round and bald because that ’s sort of the American standard of what a middle-class dad would be like and I’m not putting that down at all. It’s just that I could never get into that even if I tried so what do you do � do you bend yourself to try and fit the norm or do you try to be yourself and be a genuine person that is really offered something and you’re not all pretext so it’s weird how to know how to handle someone’s opinion of you the minute you walk through the door."
When someone mentioned that Rosanna Arquette had made a documentary called All We Are Saying which tacked this very topic and how attitudes of the film industry’s hierarchy changes once an actor hits 40, the whole ageist topic continued. “It’s worse on women I think," Dennis replies in referral to the documentary, “but it’s for men and women alike and I think Stacey would agree that part of the reason we became actors was to betray other people and its almost like you don’t feel right in your skin, you feel right playing someone else that looks another way, that talks another way, that walks another way, that has another way of thinking than your own, that’s what we really want to do and we’re in a business that can give us that opportunity. The people in charge of that business will not give us that opportunity. They want the personality to walk in the door so in Hollywood, they hire personalities, not artists, not actors. In New York, thank God they still hire actors." Stacey Travis agrees recalling her own experiences, “I also remember about four years ago I got a pilot and the pilot was about this young girl who had psychic powers that kind of came on to her when she was 14 and I got cast and then when we went to do the show they cast this unbelievably beautiful knock-out model looking girl and she was 19 and she looked 24 and at the time I was thinking I couldn’t have had this kid, I wasn’t old enough at the time and TV has gotten that way a lot. If you watch The OC and stuff, there’s parents on there playing parents of people where they couldn’t have had a kid unless they had a kid at 14 so they want the kid to be hot and they want the mom to be hot and that leaves out, as Rosanna was talking about in her documentary, a lot of women in their forties."
“You know if you look back in film history though it’s not that much different because you have Anne Bancroft playing Dustin Hoffman’s paramour when she was just six years older and even earlier in film history, you were made to think you were washed up at 30 so Garbo and a lot of people would retire because the lights and the camera techniques were harsh and horrible on your skin and you stopped looking good on camera so I don’t know if that has changed so much, maybe its always been a youth obsessed medium." “That’s what nice about shows like this," Dennis adds, “Because when you go for casting of shows like this, they are using their imaginations. I mean when I went to audition for this it was a room of really genuinely old men, all over 65, and I go ’what the hell am I doing here?’ and I ended up with the part. I felt a little guilty because of all these old geezers that were there and there’s not a lot of parts available for them. One man came with a walker and I thought give him the part, he’s already old. He’s got his real breathing apparatus and to be a guest star on Angel when he’s in his sixties, it’ll be like gold for him you know what I mean. There are other opportunities for me around but they gave it to me and then after four and a half hours in make up I thought this man would be dead. You know they’d get him all done in the plastic and try to wake him up out of the chair and he’d be expired you know what I mean."
GUEST TALKS - THE ANGELIC THREE STOOGES
Q&A’s are especially entertaining when you get the right combination of actors on stage. There was standing room only in the main hall when Amy, Andy and Dayne stepped up for their guest talk on Saturday afternoon. Dayne and Andy are notorious for picking on one another as they are such good friends and Amy has been known to join in too and let everyone in on Andy’s lovable flaws. After commenting on the chairs being used on stage and before any chance of a question being asked, the wonderful camaraderie kicks in with Andy sharing with everyone a comment his friend had just said to him, “Amy just said why is your tongue blue?" Now considering that Amy has come on stage, all clean and fresh from her special photo session earlier that day, it was kind of a weird question to ask although Amy did come up with her own possible explanation, "I said maybe you messed with the photo shoot for Illyria," “In fact maybe he helped clean you," Dayne suggested to a clearly outraged response from Mr. Hallett. These playful digs at Andy continue as soon as the first question is asked. One of the attendees wanted to know why Andy hadn’t brought out an album considering other genre actors had done so with varying degrees of success. Andy stutters for an answer and so Amy sees her chance to intervene. “I can probably answer that," she smirks, “Andy has been working on a video for me since 2003 and he claims about once a month when I get a call that he is going to bring it over to my house, but I’ve never seen it so I’m sure in about 2020 we’ll get his debut album." "I think Andy’s also working on trying to get over to Amy’s house," Dayne chips in, “doesn’t he call you every two weeks to say he will be over at 5pm to see the baby, but he hasn’t shown up yet. He doesn’t know if it’s a boy, girl or any of that." Amy seeing another chance to tease Andy continues, “Just so you know, we live pretty much walking distance away from each other." Poor Andy can’t do anything but try and defend himself, “I try so hard," he insists, “my intentions are there to go over like you have no idea how many times I have been dressed, no undressed and ready to go with keys in hand and something happens to throw me off like...," Andy starts stuttering again.
Taking obvious humor in Andy’s plea, Amy continues, "and apparently there’s been a robbery where the baby gift that he said he has, has been stolen." Andy can’t help but interject with his innocence, “I swear to God it has been stolen, I think a valet has stolen it, either a valet or I have a shady neighbor. The last time I was supposed to go to Amy’s, Sean Harry was in town and we were actually going to meet at Amy’s house and things didn’t go according to schedule as I recall. I was out the door and the last I knew the gift was in my truck and when I went up there it was not there but in the meantime in the past two months two different people had used my truck to move, my friend Omar who is about reliable as a cheap fortune cookie and my Doctor who is reliable. Anyway this is the story..." before he continues Andy turns to Amy, "wait can I tell them what I got you for your wedding? I did get you a gift for that right?" Amy smiles as she continues the story, "I think you made the two year zone," she teases, "Well Andy has been working on this line of clothing that’s called Con Robes by Lorne and he got some terry cloth robes engraved that say Con Robes by Lorne with a martini glass and made matching robes for my husband and I." “"Because those guys were always teasing me saying that I was gonna be running my own conventions in every state there was," Andy explains, “and that I was going to come up with this whole line of convention everything, convention clothes, convention tables, chairs, glasses, shirts, hats whatever and that I was going to saturate the entire world with Lorne-wear and so that’s where the robe thing came from. After I gave them the robes I thought it would be a good idea to get Jack a robe that matches mom and dads. So I had to find a place that would make a custom robe you know this big [gestures the size of a tiny baby] and still say Con Robes by Lorne which is not the easiest thing in the world to do because a lot of those companies only let you put your initials never mind a martini glass and a cigar. So I had to go right into the heart of Beverley Hills and I got robbed on the price, so there were two robberies, and I paid through the nose for this thing that’s why I’m so upset about the robe. His robe cost more than both of yours and they wrapped it up nice and it was in the back of my truck for a while and all I can think is s one of those people that borrowed the truck took it and has it or the valet theory is still there. So I still owe a gift and the DVD." Touched by his big story and his big gesture, Amy soothes Andy by simply stating, “No, just come over once in a while."
HOW DOES AN INSTRUMENT OF EVIL UNWIND?
Sarah Thompson Although Dennis had commented on the quality of questions being asked, there was the rather intriguing enquiry made as to what question they would ask each other. This provoked deep thought before Stacey turned to Dennis to broach her subject, “I sometimes think of actors when you do have down periods, or you just lose a job that you were desperate to get, or you really loved the character and you didn’t get it or you just came off a job and you’re really sad it’s over � you have to find something that like feeds you or brings you a lot of joy or kind of gets your equilibrium back with all the stuff doesn’t matter and actually this is what I like to do in life � what is it that thing for you Dennis that is like OK I’m just going to go off and do this and all that other will go away and I’ll forget about it?" Dennis waits a short while before speaking, “The quick fix?" Stacey nods, “Sex!" The crowd laughs it’s approval before Stacey adds, “Did you notice he said quick?" Eager to change the subject, Dennis turns the question on Stacey who is stumped as she had been searching for inspiration and tips from Dennis’s answer. Eventually she come ups with something, “I would say sometimes I’d go to the movies if I’ve had a bad day. I’ll go in the middle of the day by myself and get transported for a couple of hours," “But what if the movie sucks?" Dennis enquires, “I still get transported even if it sucks. There’s usually somebody in it I’ll go ’oh they were good’ or ’I like that’ or there is always some scene that’s worth it.
Didn’t Stanley Kubrick have this quote ’there’s never a bad movie, you’ll always learn something from every film.’ I also like to sail and I don’t get to do it as much as I want but in LA there’s a marina you can go out in the summer and if I can go get on a boat even if I just go out for one hour I come back and it’s OK, it doesn’t matter, I’m OK, I feel kind of cleansed." With the opportunity to think more about his answer, Dennis comes up with another option for his release, “The other thing I like to do and this sounds so in the other direction but I really like to � garden. I get my hands in the dirt and I like groping and I like to see it change every day, I like to nurture stuff. I’m a big animal person too so I like the immediate thing - not the immediate thing with plants where you get to see the evolution you know what I mean, you get to see time, you get to see life, you get to see death, you get to see the whole cycle but with the animal thing it’s the unconditional love that I like that comes right back at you immediately. “In film we have to wait such a long time to get any kind of fame from our work and usually by the time the movie or the TV show is on, it’s not really our work any more, it’s the director’s work. You know the only time you get an immediate sensation is when you do theatre so that would be my professional answer. Whenever I start getting lost in LA, I head back to New York and try to get in theatre or try to do some theatre in Los Angeles because that makes me grounded and that brings me down and that’s the reason why I started this in the first place because I didn’t start this to become a famous person, I started this to become a better person."
During their hour on stage, both actors had expressed to a degree the reason why acting had appealed to them in the first place. When trying to get in other people’s skin, as Dennis had described it, what is the best way of getting inspiration as to how to portray someone? Is it by sitting in restaurants and people watching or by watching films and getting ideas from how other actors do it? “No because then you’re imitating actors imitating people," Stacey explained, “But people watching, yeah I’ll do that. I’ll go to restaurants by myself all the time because I love the eavesdropping and you learn a lot. I’ve played a couple of trophy wives so I go to Neimans in Beverly Hills and I sit and eat lunch and I listen. I did that for like a week in New York once. I went to Berghof-Goodman and just roamed around the jewelry counters for a few hours and I would see women come in and they would pick out what piece of jewelry they wanted, work it out with the saleswoman that the next day or that week, they’re going to bring the guy back and they want her to show a really expensive piece at first, freak him out and then later show the piece that they wanted to buy and I was like Oh my God � that is so genius!" “There is something that I later realized out about myself when I was older but was able to use this skill," Dennis says in response to the question raised, “and it’s like some kids are great at sports or great at whatever, I always had an ability to notice everything and to kind of see everything. Another thing that gets me grounded is like really looking in people’s faces and just taking a second because there are so many people that just flash by your face and your eyes everyday and with y’all I just try to take a second and connect to the eyes of the person because you can get something from there, to know where you are or where that person might be or what you can give or what you can take sometimes. I’ve always been able to notice things and I realized that I’ve always noticed a lot of things about people. I might not always remember their names but I can tell you what was in their face or what they had on or something like that and that served me later and was one of the things that made me realize ’yeah I am an actor!’"
ONCE A BAD GUY, ALWAYS A BAD GUY!
As mentioned previously, Dennis and Stacey have racked up between them an impressive filmography of work. Is there any genre of film or television work that still eludes them or they would like to do more of? “You know I started out in this and I don’t know where I went wrong but I want to do more comedy," admits Dennis, “I did an off Broadway show a few years ago and it was like post modern Neil Simon and it was a great character and just from the writing alone I started with audience in the palm of my hand because I was making them laugh. Then I started to be able to make them life in between the lines with just like what I was doing physically. When you get them so there then you can make them cry at the drama ahead because they trust you because you’ve given them the gift of laughter, you’ve released them so that then you can really work on their emotions and really get them with you emotionally. It’s because I’ve played these killers, I don’t understand now why it’s so impossible for me to crack comedy, you know I’m like knocking on the door and they won’t let me in. All the early stuff that I did were musical comedies on stage, and Breaking Away was a comedy, California Dreaming was a comedy � I mean there were all these things but I guess I killed too many people." “No I think they don’t have a lot of imagination," suggests Stacey, “I think just whatever they’ve seen you done last is what you do best or that’s what you do. To answer that question I did a lot of drama when I was starting out and then I did a lot of comedies and I think now yes I would like to be on a TV show where I can break down doors and arrest bad guys or something but they just see you as ’oh you were funny in that movie’ or ’you’ve done comedic things’ and that’s what you do so it’s kind of hard to break out of whatever you last done to get the opposite job which is more fun for the actors to do." "I’ll go in the middle of the day by myself and get transported for a couple of hours." Stacey Travis finds an escape Seeing the logic in that explanation Dennis adds, “ It’s ironic just like I said for an industry that is be based on imagination there is so little of it because such big figures are fought price wise that people are scared to death they’re going make a mistake so they go with the safe bet time and time again." With people like Dennis Christopher and Stacey Travis around, perhaps the powers that be in Hollywood should take a gamble more often. As always Saturday night is one of the most important nights for attendees. For those wanting to pay homage to their favorite characters and exhibit their skills of costume making this is the night! However before the evening’s festivities kicked off, Sean made the announcement of two future Starfury events. The first event announced was the first ever convention to be run in support of The L Word to be held in London from 25th-27th November 2005. Guests announced for this event include Rachel Shelley, Lauren Lee Smith and Angel’s own Laurel Holloman. The second was the last ever Starfury Angel event called Not Fade Away to be held in May 2006. Confirmed guests for this convention are J August Richards, Christian Kane, Amy Acker with two additional guests Adrienne Wilkinson and Sophia Miles (Underworld) and tickets for both events are currently on sale. While he had the attention of the crowd, Sean also announced that another special guest had been mingling amongst the fans. KANE manager Eric Griffin had made an appearance at the event and he had brought with him exclusive copies of the acoustic set that Christian Kane and Steve Carlson had played at The White Room. Only 1000 copies of this limited edition CD had been made and they were very much in demand.
DUELING SWORD FIGHTS, ILLYRIA’S DOMINEERING PRESENCE AND HEY BAD NINA!!!!!
There has always been a high standard at Starfury conventions with regards to the imagination and ingenuity of the costumes paraded at the fancy dress and for this review we thought it would be interesting to view the competition from the eyes of one of it’s entrants, Andy Thorogood "This would had have been my third time entering in to a fancy dress competition. Like my last entry for the Serenity convention, I wanted to do something different to the usual lot of stuff. I know there were going to be Illyria’s and other major characters being entered in to the fancy dress competition but what could I do was the important question. It wasn’t until I was watching the last episode of Angel S5 on DVD that it dawned on me. Wolfram and Hart were being destroyed; major characters were dying or going their own ways and where did it all start from; It was at the start of S5 when they took it over and decided to sack the evil employees of the firm. That is where the idea of mine comes from; I should become a revengeful ex employee of Wolfram and Hart, whose only desire in the world is to kill Angel and the gang. It wasn’t until I went down to my local fancy dress shop I managed to find all the stuff I needed for my idea, lab coat, wig and green mask. I had to go to a few other places to get the final bits of my costume, and then I had the task of putting it all together. Once I had finished doing it, it was the Thursday before Quor’toth and I felt there was something missing from it.
(l-r) Illyria, Angel Puppet and Darla stakes Angel The costume looked good, but how would people know that I was a revengeful ex employee. I needed to have a hit list on display, I decided the best place to have it was on my back. It was Saturday evening, and I headed over to the staging area to register and then I waited, and started to get nervous. I was getting more nervous as people in front of me was going around, and then it was my turn. ’Andy Thorogood as W&H ex employee.’ Once I exited the doors in to the main hall I felt ok. The atmosphere in the hall was electric it felt brilliant. I was walking around, photos being taken and then I got around to the guests table. Andy hadn’t seen that I had Lorne’s head in my hands, but the other guests did and told him to look around and he was shocked at what happened to Lorne, I carried on going and then exited the hall. God that was over, but I know we had to do one more lap of the hall before the judges. I felt nervous again, but this time we all were out there at the same time and then we want back and waited for the judges decision. During the party in the evening attendees were asking to take pictures of me, which I liked and I talked to some of the guests afterwards, and again on Sunday and they all congratulated me on my costume."
Of course in order to be a competition there has to be more than one entrant and the line up was as impressive as ever. An army of Ilyria’s started to dominate the parade and Amy beamed with delight as each one came out. Angel and Darla broke out into an impressive sword fight that took fans and guests by surprise but added to the wonderful magic that is Fancy Dress. Pylean Fred carefully maneuvered the Angel Beast away from the guests without injury and a flourishing group of Furies came to ’Mmmm’ us all. A rather injured and battered Angel puppet was also suddenly brought in attached to the vicious claws of the werewolf Nina! As the werewolf slashed and hacked at the puppet the crowd applauded at the costume and Jenny Mollen was so enthralled she just had to grab a photo opportunity. Harry Potter made an adorable appearance ahead of the new book’s release along with other entrants such as Wolverine or The Blues Brothers. Picking a winner must be a nightmare but the honors went to Harry Potter in the Best Child Category, The Furies in the Group category and in reverse order Pylean Fred and the Angel Beast in third, werewolf Nina complete with obliterated Angel puppet in second with Clair North being declared the winner with her ’too real for our liking’ version of Illyria. Of course the fancy dress competition just kick starts the party. Jenny Mollen was an absolute diva on the dance floor as she encouraged those normally too shy to dance a step to groove with her and her mom. The memories some of those people must have taken home with them. For those die-hards who just can’t go to bed before any party is over were rewarded with the confirmation Andy Hallett back on form as he entertained the 4.30am stragglers with his trademark rendition of Lady Marmalade as well as Lionel Richie’s All Night Long. He didn’t care if he forgot the words and happily confessed that is why he sings karaoke so much as he didn’t have to remember them as Patti LaBelle can attest to.
THE FISSURE HAS BEEN CLOSED
We report this in every review, but it is a drag when events finish just as they are kicking into overdrive. Quor’toth was no different and no sooner had the guests said hello but they were saying their farewells. Although each guest gave a heartfelt goodbye, we are going to leave it to the words of Jenny Mollen and Dennis Christopher to close this feature. First Jenny, “It’s so overwhelming and it means so much to me. This is the only place in the world where I get this kind of feedback so I am absolutely flattered. Angel meant so much to all of us and I think I said last year it’s not just the people who worked on it, it’s the gaffers, the make-up artists, it’s all of us and that’s why it’s so strong and that’s why every time I hear that theme music it makes me choke up because it’s something greater than that, it’s so powerful and I thank you all for joining us and paying homage to that. Thank you." And finally Dennis, “It’s really funny for someone like me not being able to speak but I had no idea when I got that funny little job what would happen. Anyway I’ve never experienced anything like this and I’ve experienced a lot of stuff but you guys just like I don’t know it’s like finding a tribe I kind of belong with. I sort of stumbled into this and I’ve never been so fully embraced by so many people it’s just been unbelievable. I thank you from the bottom of my heart and I will never forget anybody I met or saw or just looked into the eyes of because you’ve all been incredibly special. I hope I see you all in a room very similar to this and I hope you all have a really wonderful life."