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From its sheer size to its plethora of high-profile guests, ACen has blown away all of my expectations.
I’ve had my fair share of convention experience in the past, usually to great success. However, my time at ACen this year far exceeded any con experience I’ve had before. As such, I wanted to share some of my favorite experiences from ACen 2019.
Towards the start of the year, That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slimedominated discussion. Hence, giving them their own panel was a huge draw for me this year. Among the ACen 2019 guests were assistant director Atsushi Nakayama, Animation Director and Character Designer Ryouma Ebata, and J-Pop artist TRUE, who performed the second ending theme for the series.
The group answered a series of questions submitted prior to the panel.
Why did you get into the anime industry?
Nakayama stated that anime from his youth such as Star of the Giants and Mister Ajikko served as inspirations. In particular, he cited the peculiar taste in direction of these series as what grabbed his attention.
Ebata, on the other hand, said that he had watched a behind the scenes program on Studio Ghibli. The program gave him the idea that being an animator might be cool, and so he chose to pursue that path.
As for TRUE, she admitted that she had started in a different genre, but discovered that doing work for anime would give her longer career longevity.
What are some big challenges that you’ve faced in this industry?
Nakamura was surprisingly positive, stating that he had not faced any extreme hurdles as of yet. Ebata, meanwhile, lamented the need to make compromises and deliver an imperfect work. TRUE, as a music artist, stated that set goals don’t really exist in her line of work. Instead, the challenge comes from having to feel your way through and finding something that works.
Did the manga adaptation play a role in how the anime looked, or did you stick strictly to the light novel designs?
Nakamura stated that he liked the original designs a lot. However, the world of ReSlime is vast and has a lot of ground that needs to be covered. As such, they took inspiration from both sources to draw out the best designs possible. Ebata also mentioned that it’s not good to deviate in theory. However, a slight de-evolution in style occurred in the anime, though he declined to give more specifics.
What was your favorite episode of the series?
Nakamura picked episode 13, “The Great Clash.” In particular, he cited Gabiru’s battle with the Orc general and how much he liked the key animation work of Takashi Tomioka in that scene. Ebata favored the first episode, “The Storm Dragon, Veldora.” He greatly enjoyed the reincarnation scene and how the Great Sage character was utilized.
Around this time, Miho Okazaki, the voice of Rimuru, also joined the panel. As for her favorite episode, she picked episode 8, “Inherited Will,” and said that the scene where Rimuru absorbs Shizu proved quite moving.
Who is your favorite character?
Nakamura’s pick was Shion, Rimuru’s ogre secretary. The “looks capable but causes lots of trouble” trope appealed to him quite a bit, especially with her “cooking.” Ebata’s answer was a bit…simpler: “Rimuru’s slime form, because it’s the easiest to draw.” As for Okazaki, she has a particular fondness for Gobuta.
Is there a difference between US and Japanese fans in that regard?
Both Nakamura and Ebata expressed shock at how popular the show was in the US. Nakamura added that he hadn’t even been to a closed event in Japan as big as ACen and speculated that it might even be more popular in the US. Ebata, meanwhile, simply offered his gratitude for such a strong turnout.
Overall, a rather enlightening panel, as were many others that we’ll be covering soon from ACen 2019.
Tarantino’s films are love letters to genre cinema and Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is no exception.
There is so much to unpack in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood that I imagine people will be discussing this one for decades. Whether or not history deems this to be Tarantino’s magnum opus remains to be seen. That said, this is by far Tarantino’s most personal film to date.
The year is 1969 and Leonardo DiCaprio plays Rick Dalton a male lead in the classic era of Hollywood, alongside his stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Dalton, fights to remain relevant as his career in Hollywood starts to dwindle.
Tarantino sets the scene.
Tarantino has always had a passion for the late 60s. It’s clear that he loves the fashion, the music and, of course, the movies of the era. This is Tarantino in his element and the more you know about classic cinema, the more you with get out of this one.
As you would expect, the film is littered with cinematic references but what makes this film especially significant is the way it blends fact with fiction.
1969 was one of the most significant years in history; man walked on the moon, the Beatles made their final performance, the infamous Woodstock concert took place and the Tate murders, but more on that later.
In Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, Tarantino takes a revisionist alternate history approach to the latter event. It’s certainly a decision that works for the tone of the film, but it’s also one that might not go over well with everyone.
How is the portrayal of Bruce Lee?
According to Lee’s daughter Shannon Lee, “[her father] comes across as an arrogant asshole who was full of hot air, and not someone who had to fight triple as hard as any of those people did to accomplish what was naturally given to so many others.”
Bruce Lee certainly had a reputation for being cocky, though Once Upon A Time In Hollywood strips away much of the complexity of the martial arts legend.
Aside from his roles in the film and TV industry, Lee was also the founder of Jeet Kune Do – a martial arts style fused with his own philosophy. Many also see him as a trail blazer providing one of the few positive Asian role models in the 60s.
Though Bruce Lee is only in the film briefly, his scene has already divided fans by asking the question; could the legendary martial artist, take on a fictional stunt man with military combat training and win?
Tarantino has since doubled down on his depiction of her late father as seen in the following clip.
Speaking to Variety, Shannon Lee responded saying, “He could shut up about it. That would be really nice. Or he could apologise or he could say, ‘I don’t really know what Bruce Lee was like. I just wrote it for my movie. But that shouldn’t be taken as how he really was.’”
Did Tarantino speak to other non-fictional people that were included in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood?
Sharon Tate, who was a successful model, upcoming actress and wife to director Roman Polanski appears in the film played by Margot Robbie. She was murdered in real life, along with five others by the Manson family cult.
Tarantino is on record for consulting with Debra Tate, the sister of Sharon Tate. She was reported as saying, “Tarantino came to see me and he was extremely respectful.”
Controversial film director Roman Polanski, however, was not consulted. Polanski briefly appears in the film alongside Sharon Tate.
Polanski’s current wife Emmanuelle Seigner has spoken out against the film, quoting “I am just saying that it doesn’t bother them [in Hollywood] to make a film about Roman and his tragic story, and make money with it… while at the same time they have made him a pariah. And all without consulting him of course.”
Polanski himself remains in exile living in France having fled the US to avoid sentencing after being charged with a few heinous crimes.
Aside from all the controversy, is the film any good?
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, like most Tarantino films, will not appeal to everyone. His movies are slow burns with a strong focus on character. For much of the film it’s the characters who drive the narrative and even then, a great deal of the nuance is shown with subtlety rather than spoon-feeding.
I’m not going to make the claim that this is Tarantino’s best movie to date, I would certainly rate it higher than much of his more recent output, but what I will say is that it warrants attention. It’s essential viewing for anyone that is a fan of the filmmaker or a lover of classic cinema.
The only question you need to ask yourself is whether or not Tarantino’s revisionist approach to history appeals to you within the context of a fictional movie or if it rubs you the wrong way.
The first trailer for Jumanji: The Next Level has dropped.
Jumanji: The Next Level has the heroes of the first film, along with a few unexpected new companions, return to the world of Jumanji to retrieve Spencer (Alex Wolf), who has become lost within it once again.
The trip gets off to a bad start, as aside from the missing Spencer, the group also loses track of Bethany (Madison Iseman).
Where have the lost teens ended up?
A few months ago, Karen Gillan, who plays Martha’s in-game avatar Ruby Roundhouse, posted a cast photo to her Instagram page with a caption implying that all was not as it seemed. With the release of the trailer, the meaning behind this caption has become more clear.
Coming face to face with Smolder Bravestone upon her return to the game, Martha initially believes she has found Spencer. As fans will remember, Bravestone was Spencer’s avatar in Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle. Instead, she is dismayed to discover the Bravestone avatar inhabited by Spencer’s grandfather, Eddie.
Moose Finbar, the avatar originally belonging to Fridge, has been taken over by Eddie’s friend Milo, with Fridge now appearing as Shelly Oberon, Bethany’s Avatar from the first film. Bethany joins Spencer as missing in action.
Where are they? Most likely, they have inhabited new avatars.
Where is Spencer?
The most likely explanation for Spencer’s whereabouts is that he is now working under the avatar of Jefferson ‘Seaplane’ McDonough, used by Alex Vreeke in the first film.
Spencer seemed to enjoy the strength and ‘smoldering intensity’ that came with being Bravestone. Why, then would he choose a different avatar for his second run?
One possible explanation is that, like Eddie, Milo, and Fridge, Spencer did not get to choose his avatar. Another possibility is that Spencer hopes to prove himself by taking on Jumanji with an avatar more similar to himself. Smaller in stature and with a list of weaknesses including allergies, Seaplane is much closer to Spencer in real life than Bravestone is. Beating Jumanji as someone closer to himself could improve Spencer’s self-worth. This was something he struggled with during Welcome To The Jungle.
What about Bethany?
The whereabouts of Bethany seem a little more complicated at first. After all, it seems that all of the avatars from the first film are accounted for. However, this does not necessarily mean that all of the avatars in the whole game are accounted for.
The answer may lie in the movie’s title, Jumanji: The Next Level. Specifically, the ‘Next Level’ subtitle.
Most modern video games have extra playable characters able to be unlocked as players advance. Bethany may be inhabiting a new avatar the characters unknowingly unlocked when they completed the ‘first level’ in Welcome To The Jungle. This new avatar may be the character played by Awkwafina, who features on the film’s main cast list.
Of course, a lot of this is just speculation for now. We’ll know more when Jumanji: The Next Level hits theaters in December.
2019 marks 20 years of Angel, the much loved spin-off series to the original Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
Angel, starring David Boreanaz as the titular vampire with a soul, was a rare spin-off that managed to match the quality of its parent series. The show ran for five seasons, a great achievement as far as spin-offs go.
While Buffy remains the more well-known of the two series, Angel is equally worthy of being remembered. Here are some of the most memorable elements of the show.
The quest for redemption
One of Angel’s overarching themes is a journey to redemption. The most memorable examples of this are Angel himself, and Faith Lehane, the ‘Dark Slayer’.
However, almost every major character in Angel is searching to redeem themselves in one way or another (Cordelia for her catty high school persona, Wesley for his many mistakes as Faith’s Watcher). However, in a much more realistic portrayal, it is shown that finding true redemption is not easy.
The quest for redemption is a theme that continues right up until the show’s final seconds.
Amazing character arcs
Apart from Angel himself, and Spike in the final season, only two other major characters make the permanent leap from Buffy over to Angel in the show’s early days. In the first episode, Angel rescues Cordelia Chase, who has moved to LA in the hopes of starting an acting career. Later in season one, the pair encounter Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, the former Watcher now trying to make a living as a rogue demon hunter.
Neither of these characters end the series as anything resembling the same person as when it began. Cordelia, carrying on a running joke of reminding Angel to collect payment from their rescued ‘clients’ early in the series, eventually becomes a true champion for the forces of good, at one point even elevated to a position as one of the Powers-that-be.
Wesley begins his tenure on the show with a very black-and-white worldview. After spending time with Angel, he learns to see in shades of grey. A lot more jaded, but ultimately a better man for his experiences.
Their journeys alone make Angel a series worth revisiting.
Complicated, likable villains
The ultimate ‘big bads’ of Angel are the demonic Senior Partners of law firm Wolfram & Hart. The Senior Partners are never seen, instead pulling strings from behind the scenes, working through their employees. The two most often seen through the series are Lindsey McDonald and Lilah Morgan.
Both characters are much more complicated than your average black-hat villain.
Lindsey at least has some form of moral code, with lines he will not cross, such as allowing a group of psychic children to be slaughtered. On this and a few other occasions he works with Angel against Wolfram & Hart. Unfortunately, Lindsey often struggles to resist the perks the company offers him to keep him.
Lilah, dubbed ‘Queen of the Grey Area’ by Cordelia, is much more loyal to Wolfram & Hart. However, she too shows her redeeming qualities, particularly after she finds herself unexpectedly falling for Wesley.
Ultimately, Lindsey and Lilah fly a little too close to the dark side, both meeting tragic ends. But when those times came, most fans were at least a little sad to see them go.
As mentioned earlier, the main premise of Angel is the central character’s quest for redemption. However, two major setting changes over the course of the series allow the show to reinvent itself while still keeping this premise intact.
Angel begins the series posing as a hole-in-the-wall private detective, keeping the more supernatural elements of his occupation on the down low. The ending of the first season sees Angel’s first office destroyed, and in season two, Angel Investigations moves its base of operations into the much larger Hyperion Hotel. From this point, the series truly kicks into high gear, and Angel can be more open with the truth of what he does.
Angel’s second reinvention comes in the show’s fifth and final season. Angel Investigations closes down, with Angel and his team taking jobs within Wolfram and Hart. They do this with a view to bringing down the baddies from the inside. The result is a season with a whole new feel, yet still the same Angel fans came to love.
Angel might never have reached quite the heights of popularity that Buffy enjoyed, but it is still a brilliant series in its own right. It is well worth a look for anyone looking for an older series to sink their teeth into.
Happy 20th anniversary, Angel!
A Marvel Comics preview image has renewed interest in Sam Raimi’s cancelled Spider-Man 4.
The image most likely alludes to a team-up comic between Spidey and the Fantastic Four, possibly to build interest now that Marvel has the film rights to these characters back in-house. However, some fans believe the image may be teasing a comic book adaptation of Sam Raimi’s cancelled Spider-Man 4.
The first two of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films, starring Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker, are considered classics of the genre, credited with bringing comic book films back into mainstream pop-culture. The third film is well known for dropping the ball.
Spider-Man 4 was hoped to be a return to form, meant to spawn a new trilogy. Sadly, Raimi could not promise to deliver the film by Sony’s proposed release date without sacrificing quality, so the film was cancelled.
However, the film was quite deep into its planning stage before this cancellation occurred. Storyboards exist, and casting decisions had supposedly been made.
What would we have been in for if Spider-Man 4 reached theaters?
The Return Of Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst
Tobey Maguire, who played Peter Parker, and Kirsten Dunst as love interest Mary Jane Watson, were set to return. Rumours at the time suggested that both actors had signed on to appear in three more films. This supports Raimi’s idea of a full second trilogy.
Current Peter Parker actor Tom Holland has gained a slew of fans for his take on Spidey. Though going a slightly less traditional route, fans are also beginning to warm to Zendaya’s new take on MJ. However, Maguire and Dunst remain sentimental favorites for those who grew up with the Raimi films.
John Malkovich as The Vulture
In 2016, storyboards for Spider-Man 4 emerged. The storyboards had Spidey doing battle with the Vulture. John Malkovich was attached to the role. The Lizard was also considered, but at the time of cancellation, The Vulture was said to be the film’s main villain.
The Lizard appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man reboot, but The Vulture did not get another shot at the big screen until Spider-Man: Homecoming, Spidey’s first solo MCU adventure. There, he was played by Michael Keaton. Keaton will reprise the role in Spider-Man: Far From Home.
Anne Hathaway as Felicia Hardy
At one point in development, Anne Hathaway had apparently signed on for a role, most likely Felicia Hardy.
While in comics Hardy is known as the thief/anti-hero Black Cat, the movie would have dubbed her ‘Vultress’. From this, we can assume that she would have been working with Malkovich’s Vulture. This character re-branding was probably done to avoid any unfavorable comparisons to DC’s Catwoman.
After Spider-Man 4 was cancelled, Hathaway went on to play Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises. Felicia Hardy has yet to appear in a Spider-Man film, but with increasing popularity in recent years, and the character currently leading a solo comic title, we can probably expect to see her make her big screen debut sometime soon.
Bruce Campbell as Mysterio
Finally, Bruce Campbell, a frequent collaborator of director Sam Raimi, had been cast to play Mysterio.
One of the biggest complaints about Spider-Man 3 was the cluttered feel caused by trying to introduce too many villains at once. Raimi would have been unlikely to repeat such a mistake, so Campbell’s appearance as Mysterio would have been a small tease to set him up as the major villain of Spider-Man 5, had the full sequel trilogy gone ahead.
Mysterio is now set to make his big screen debut in Spider-Man: Far From Home, played by Jake Gyllenhal.
The chances that Marvel’s preview image has anything to do with Raimi’s Spider-Man 4 are, in reality, very small. However, the talk it has sparked proves that interest in the cancelled film is still high.
Time will tell whether Marvel or Sony choose to act on that interest.
After eight groundbreaking seasons, Game Of Thrones has aired its final episode.
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
The series finale saw the North become an independent Kingdom under the rule of Sansa Stark, Arya Stark sailing away to explore the unknown lands west of Westeros, and Jon Snow banished back to the Night’s Watch after being forced to kill the now mad Queen Daenerys.
For fans, one of the most surprising developments was seeing Bran Stark elected as King of the remaining Six Kingdoms. However, there have been a few hints through the series that this may happen.
Let’s take a look back.
In the Name of the King
In the very first episode of Game Of Thrones, Ned Stark takes his sons Robb, Bran, and the supposed bastard Jon Snow on a trip outside Winterfell. The reason for this trip is for Ned to carry out one of his duties as Warden of the North: executing a deserter from the Night’s Watch.
As Ned declares his intent to execute the man in the name of the ‘King of The Andals, The Rhoynar, and The First Men, the camera pans over to where Ned’s sons are standing. Many fans believed this shot focused on Jon, hinting at his identity as true heir to the Seven Kingdoms. But who was standing right next to Jon in this shot? Bran, the man who ultimately becomes King.
Getting in Early
There is a second hint at Bran’s fate in the show’s first episode.
One of the first things we learn about Jaime Lannister is his unfortunate nickname, ‘The King-slayer’. This was a title he earned through betraying and murdering King Aerys Targaryen, later revealed to be a noble act as he did it to stop Aerys from burning the people of King’s Landing.
In the closing moments of episode one, Jaime lives up to his name by making a valiant attempt to kill the future King, Bran, years before there was any talk of him taking the crown. Nice foresight, Jaime!
Spreading The News
With Daenerys Targaryen missing, Tyrion Lannister runs the city of Meereen for most of season 6. In her absence, Tyrion’s first goal is to gain extra support for his Queen.
He aims to do this by spreading Daenerys’ story to the people, reminding them of her status as the Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons.
This section of the series takes on extra significance in light of events in the Game Of Thrones finale. While it demonstrates his belief in Danerys as the next ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, it also foreshadows Tyrion’s belief in the importance of a good story.
Why is this is so important, you might ask. Let us highlight some of the events of season 8.
“You must have a good story.”
The second episode of Game Of Thrones‘ final season was a time of quiet reflection and discussions between characters. One of these discussions occurred between Tyrion Lannister and Bran Stark.
Tyrion asks Bran to tell him his story. Bran remarks that the story is long, but Tyrion doesn’t mind. The rest of the talk happens off-screen, so we do not know exactly what Bran said to Tyrion at this point. However, after his discussion with Bran, Tyrion seems a lot more positive about the upcoming battle against the Night King.
“I cannot be Lord of anything”
A second discussion between Bran and Tyrion occurs in episode four of season 8, after the Battle Of Winterfell has been won.
Tyrion believes that Bran must be happy now, as he will be the Lord of Winterfell. Bran replies that he cannot be Lord of anything. At the time, we are led to believe that this is because he is the Three-Eyed Raven.
However, it is possible that Bran could not be a Lord because he already knew he was destined to become King. It would not be the first time Bran has shown possible knowledge of the future. Back in season 7, he gave Arya the Valyrian steel dagger that she eventually used to kill the Night King.
Bran The Broken
When the surviving Lords of Westeros gather to choose a new King, Tyrion almost immediately suggests Bran. Not just because of Bran’s own impressive story, but because Bran, as the Three-Eyed Raven, is the keeper of all the great stories in Westeros.
Bran is the right person to guide the Kingdoms into the future, because he can look back and see exactly what went wrong in the past. With this knowledge, he can keep the same mistakes from happening again.
All hail Bran The Broken, First of His Name, King of the Six Kingdoms! And all hail Game Of Thrones, which will go down in history as one of the greatest television series of all time.
Arya Stark became the saviour of the living after slaying the Night King in Game Of Thrones.
Some fans were surprised to see Arya get the kill. Many believed that the moment would belong to Jon Snow, or possibly Daenerys Targaryen. Both of them did make valiant attempts to kill the Night King, but both ultimately failed.
When you look back through the show, however, there have been plenty of hints that this would be Arya’s time to shine.
Arya and Syrio
The Battle of Winterfell featured a few throwback moments referencing Arya’s time with her first Sword Teacher, Syrio Forel.
The most notable was her exchange with Melisandre, repeating a saying Arya first heard from Syrio in season one: ‘What do we say to death? Not Today.’
The other moment is a little more subtle, and possibly open to interpretation. At one point, one of the White Walker Generals turns at what seems to be a gust of wind, later revealed to be Arya slipping by.
Some believe this is a reference to Arya’s studying cats in the early episodes. A swordsman, like a cat, needs to be quiet as a shadow, and light as a feather. Arya was both in her efforts to reach the Night King.
Protected By The Lord Of Light
Arya has come under the temporary guardianship of many characters throughout the show. Beric Dondarrion and The Hound are notable examples.
Most of these characters have come to Arya through following ‘The Lord Of Light’. The Hound survives his Trial by Combat against Dondarrion due to the fact that, according to Dondarrion, the Lord Of Light still has plans for him. At least part of these plans involve The Hound protecting Arya.
Beric, too, was resurrected in order to one day protect Arya, in order to, as Melisandre subtly reveals, keep her alive for her confrontation with the Night King.
Meetings in the Godswood
The last two seasons have featured multiple moments foreshadowing Arya’s heroic moment.
When they reunite in season seven, Bran Stark gives Arya the Valyrian Steel dagger once used in an assassination attempt against him. He states that she will get more use out of it than he would.
During her reunion with Jon Snow in season eight, Jon expresses surprise at Arya sneaking up on him.
Both of these exchanges occur in the Godswood, where the final confrontation takes place. And both the dagger, and her skill at being sneaky, are vital to Arya killing the Night King.
Even Arya’s name offers a possible clue to her importance.
After her defeat of the Night King, many fans believe Arya to be Azor Ahai- A legendary hero set to save the world. Notably, Arya is the only major character in the series to have a name beginning with a letter A. Her name is also four letters long, just like both halves of Azor Ahai’s name.
Fans have also begun speculating that Arya may be the ‘song’ in ‘A Song Of Ice And Fire’, the title of the book series on which Game Of Thrones is based. While spelled differently, Arya’s name is pronounced the same as ‘aria’- A type of song.
Has Arya Stark been the true protagonist of Game Of Thrones all along? We’ll need to watch the final three episodes to find out.
By now, every Game Of Thrones fan knows the prophecy that supposedly predicts Cersei Lannister’s fate.
WARNING: Spoilers for Game Of Thrones Season 8, Episode One.
Of course, there are a lot of ‘little brothers’ running around on Game Of Thrones, many of whom would like to take down the Queen.
Let’s take a look at the likely suspects, and a new contender Cersei has placed in the race through her own manipulations.
The Likely Suspects
Cersei initially believed the prophecy to refer to her own ‘little’ brother, Tyrion Lannister. After her younger twin brother/lover Jaime’s betrayal in Season seven, it has probably occurred to her that he is also a candidate. This realisation may be behind her decision to hire Bronn to assassinate both brothers.
However, there is one important point that Cersei has failed to take into account, the prophecy never specified that her little brother would be the killer, just a little brother. And as mentioned earlier, there are plenty of little brothers in Game Of Thrones.
With news of his true parentage, Jon Snow has been revealed as the little brother of murdered royal children Rhaenys and Aegon. We also have the Hound who is the little brother of The Mountain.
Another important thing to note is that Valyrian terms aren’t often gender specific. This brings the little sisters of Game Of Thrones into play as well. One popular theory is that Arya Stark, possibly wearing Jaime’s face, could be the one to get the kill, crossing one of the final names off her list.
Then, we have Cersei’s not so beloved new fiance..
The Trouble with Euron
Euron Greyjoy is the ‘little brother’ to Balon Greyjoy, whom he murdered in order to claim the Salt Throne as his own.
He formed an alliance with Cersei in season seven, however Euron has proven a little less open to her manipulations than she would usually like. That won’t, it seems stop her from trying.
Ken Hall has won the Canadian Comedy Award for Best Breakout Artist, as well as multiple Canadian Comedy Award nominations.
Aside from that, his jump into film and television has landed him with many titles under his belt, including Netflix’s TheUmbrella Academy and Polar, just to name a few.
We were given an amazing opportunity to ask him a couple questions about his background in improv comedy, as well as his prominent roles in Netflix properties.
How did you get your start in comedy?
I’ve always been a huge fan of comedy growing up. There was a very iconic Canadian show called SCTV with a lot of alumni from the Second City, which is one of the word’s largest schools of improv and sketch comedy that we have here in Toronto. So growing up I was very influenced by that show.
I never really made that connection that “Oh I’m gonna be a comedian”. That was just something very distant, but I discovered improv when I was about 29 or 30. I got into it later in life, and I had never done any theatre or anything like that, even though it was something I was really excited about, I was always a pretty shy and scared person growing up.
For a variety of reasons, I wanted to make a big difference in my life and do something creative in my late twenties. As soon as I found that, I never stopped. Those principles of improvisation I learnt very quickly about saying “yes” in improv scenes or exercises helped me say “yes” to other things in life, and in doing so, I opened up more opportunities for other parts of my life. This was something really exciting for me, and for whatever reason I was making people laugh. It just felt really good to me and it’s been such a great constant for me.
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to start stand-up comedy?
I would say give it a shot. It’s a scary thing because it’s a form of public speaking, and it’s quite challenging because you’re standing up in front of people and trying to make them laugh. But there’s also the fun challenge of doing that. How you approach stand-up or comedy specifically is that you have got something to say, and you have a cool way of looking at things. Just having some faith that if you are able to share what’s funny for you, and if it makes you laugh, chances are it will probably make an audience laugh as well.
If you never do it, it’s never gonna happen. So just give it a shot, and so much of my career and training is to be okay with failure and risking failing, especially in front of other people. The more you can be comfortable with doing that, the more you develop a really thick skin, and you can laugh at yourself. If you have a joke that doesn’t work, well that’s okay because there’s other jokes.
If anyone out there wants to try something, then absolutely just give it a shot. You have nothing to lose.
How different do you find filming with a script? Do you find your ability to improvise curbed or do you still sneak some bits in?
Improvising is definitely my strong suit and it’s what I feel the most comfortable with. It’s funny when I’m actually handed the script, I feel a lot more inhibited. So when the script has much more nuance that I have to be more aware of, I need to reflect it back in an honest, authentic and real way.
That being said, I have been using improv ever since I started doing film and TV. I do it for auditions, and for example at the end of a scene, I’m like “Well I’ve said the script, I can go off and the stuff I say is usually comedic in nature. So quite often, I can get in a little zinger out there, and you know I’ve been pleasantly surprised that stuff that I’ve improvised in an audition or on set actually made it into the final cut. It’s always a nice feeling to know that you, in essence, wrote that part. It’s also nice to work with directors and casts that are very comfortable with that, and even seek that out.
So, in People Of Earth, you had to wear a prosthetic costume. When you compare that with the motion capture work for Pogo in TheUmbrella Academy, which would you prefer? The prosthetics or motion capture?
To wear a motion capture suit is easy because it’s fit to your measurements, so it takes you two seconds to get in. Not only is it two hours to get the big prosthetic suit on, but then you literally have to wear it for the entire day (14 to 16 hours sometimes), and of course afterwards there’s that time to take it off.
There’s nothing better at the end of the day when you can take it off and smell fresh air again, it’s very exciting. That being said, I love doing prosthetics, and it’s such a fun thing pretending to be an alien or a monster, you look so cool. So for ease and comfort, for sure a mo-cap. But again I’ve been very lucky to play some pretty cool creatures and that’s an opportunity that I’d still love to do.
How familiar were you with The Umbrella Academy comic book series before being in the Netflix show?
Once I found out that I booked it, I thought, “This is really cool” and I began to trace it back and read as much as I could. That was my first exposure to the world, thinking it was so different and cool, and I’m very pleased with what the Netflix show did.
It’s such a beautiful extension to the world, and there are differences for sure, but it is pretty remarkable. Netflix did a great job with it, and it’s a beautifully shot show.
One of the best things about the series is its awesome soundtrack. Do you have a song on the soundtrack that you love the most, or that you’re personally attached to?
Well, it was really cool when we watched the screening of the first two episodes in LA back in February. I didn’t realise how much of the soundtrack really added to the show as well. One of my favourite moments in the whole series is in the first episode when everyone comes back to the house after many years and they’re all in their own place listening to Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now”.
I really feel like the music is almost like another character to the show. It’s one thing to read the script, but to see it all come together, I just feel like it really adds that much more to it.
I’m sure you’ve heard Spielberg’s statement a while back about how Netflix movies shouldn’t be eligible for Oscar awards. I’m curious to hear your opinion as someone who acts in Netflix films.
The work is the work, and the stories speak for themselves. Look at all the amazing possibilities and potential. I feel like whether it’s on a TV or a cinema, it’s kind of, we’re still creating really good art and that kind of author should be acknowledged even if it’s just in a different format for people. I want it to be very accessible because people do incredible work on Netflix.
How do you think streaming services like Netflix has helped paved the way for more creative freedom when it comes to projects or even comic book adaptations like Polar or The Umbrella Academy?
It’s great, we’re living in a really great time in terms of what’s possible for streaming services or even TV. It’s not formulaic anymore, they’re like little movies and the production is so fantastic and eclectic. As an actor, you’re like, “Wow this is great, there are so many stories and genres for people to tell their different stories”.
It was an absolute pleasure to interview Ken Hall. You can watch him on Netflix’s TheUmbrella Academy or Polar now.
Most prominently known as ‘Amenadiel’ in the Netflix drama Lucifer, Woodside has been added to Oz Comic Con’s already jam-packed lineup.
We at Digital Fox love going to Oz Comic Con. There’s nothing better than going to a convention, meeting some like-minded geeks, looking at the cool cosplays or booths, and seeing some of the biggest stars in pop-culture.
In the past, we have been lucky enough to catch up with some of these guests, such as Dominic Keating (Star Trek, The Orville) and even Jason Momoa, believe it or not.
So, it’s not surprising that with a few months to go, Oz Comic Con has already announced a huge lineup of special guests.
D.B. Woodside is also known outside of the Lucifer series as ‘Jeff Malone’ in Suits, ‘President Wayne Palmer’ in the critically-acclaimed hit show 24, as well as the son of the original slayer ‘Principal Robin Wood’ in the fan-favourite Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
If you want to meet, get an autograph or even take photos with Woodside, Oz Comic Con is the place to be.
Joining Woodside is fellow cast member Tricia Helfer (Lucifer, Battlestar Galactica), Alexander Calvert (Supernatural, Arrow), as well as actors Dominic Sherwood and Alberto Rosende who star in the ever popular TV series Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instrument.
In the coming weeks, Oz Comic Con will be revealing more guests in their already incredible lineup, so we cannot wait to hear what big star they have coming Down Under in 2019.
You can now book tickets to attend Oz Comic Con Melbourne in June.
Poke-fans around the world are excited by the announcement of Pokemon Sword and Shield for the Nintendo Switch.
Sword and Shield will be the first main series of Pokemon Games to be released on Nintendo’s major console.
Let’s take a look at the real-life locations that have inspired the other Pokemon Regions.
Kanto = Kanto, Japan
Kanto is the first region introduced in the Pokemon franchise. It serves as the primary location in all Generation I games and their Gen III remakes, as well as the recently released Switch titles Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee!
Kanto becomes available to visit in Pokemon Gold, Silver, and Crystal, but only after the main story is completed.
The Kanto region is inspired by and named after the real life location of Kanto in Japan. Like its fictional counterpart, the real life Kanto is a hub for technological and scientific pursuits.
Johto = Kansai, Japan
The Johto region is situated just west of Kanto, and North of Sinnoh. It serves as the primary location of Pokemon Gold and Silver, and its remakes, HeartGold and SoulSilver.
Johto seems to present a greener, healthier landscape as opposed to the Kanto, with a much more laid back atmosphere. The people of Johto choose to put their energy into farming and agriculture. Berries grow easily in Johto, while Kanto berries often struggle.
This reflects the real life region of Kansai, on which Johto is based. Kansai is known for its rich, volcanic soil.
Hoenn = Kyushu, Japan
The Hoenn region is just south of Sinnoh. It serves as the location of Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald, and the remakes OmegaRuby and AlphaSapphire.
Hoenn contains more water-based routes than the locations that came before it. When on land, the weather is quite a bit warmer than other Pokemon Regions.
In game, the reason for this is likely the influence of Kyogre and Groudon. However, the climate and water based routes are likely inspired by Kyushu, the Japanese island that served as Hoenn’s inspiration.
Sinnoh = Hokkaido, Japan
Sinnoh serves as the primary location of Pokemon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum.
Sinnoh is one of the larger Pokemon Regions. It is divided down the middle by Mt. Coronet.
The Sinnoh region is mostly based on the Island of Hokkaido, with some inspiration from the nearby islands of Sakhalin and Kunashir. Many of Sinnoh’s towns and cities are positioned based on real life locations in Hokkaido.
Mt. Coronet, which divides the two halves of Sinnoh, is based on the real-life Ezo mountain chain.
Unova = New York
Unova is the main setting of Pokemon Black and White, as well as their sequels. It is considerably far away from the first four regions.
Unova has more cities than any of the other regions. It is also the most highly populated region, with nine hundred and forty nine citizens.
Unova is based on New York, both the city and state. This makes it the first region to be inspired by a location outside of Japan.
Castelia City is based on Lower Manhattan, and Nimbasa City is inspired by Broadway.
Kalos = Metropolitan France
Kalos is the main setting for Pokemon X and Y. In the anime, it is far enough away from the other regions that Ash has to travel there via plane.
The Kalos region is inspired by the northern half of Metropolitan France. Santalune Forest is based on the Forest of Fontainebleau, France’s biggest Tourist forest, while Lumiose City is based on Paris.
Alola = Hawaii
Alola is the main setting of Pokemon Sun and Moon. Rather than a single solid region, Alola is an archipelago of islands.
The culture in Alola is vastly different than the other Pokemon Regions. Alolans share a deep, almost spiritual bond with their Pokemon. Rather than the Gym Challenge of other regions, Alolan trainers must undertake a series of Island trials.
Alola is based on Hawaii. This makes it the second region to be based on a U.S state.
We can’t wait to see what U.K inspired locations are featured in Pokemon Sword and Shield when the games are released later this year.
Fans of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are finally getting a film on the brains behind the series.
The old, lovable Oxford professor J.R.R. Tolkien receives an upcoming biopic depicting his earlier years. After a long wait, we finally get to see a trailer for the movie that’s set for release in May.
The Mind Behind Middle-Earth
The mind behind the fantasies and languages of Middle-earth, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien’s tale was inspired by many of the various aspects of his life. The war was a tragic one which, once the images of battle became ingrained in young John’s mind, inspired the descriptions of many of the battle scenes which play out in his novels.
Any reader of The Lord of the Rings, or Tolkien’s poems about Tom Bombadil and his love Goldberry, know how well Tolkien was able to weave romantics. It was a knack he had. He allowed the love of his own life, Edith, to penetrate and further enkindle in him his passion for creativity.
As young John tells us in the trailer, the epitome of his literary work is a story “about adventures…about what it means to love and to be loved…”
A master of the craft of creativity, Tolkien knows where his heart lies: in telling stories. In as short a trailer as it is, it seems to capture many of the highlights and lowlights of Tolkien’s walk through his early days.
We are most likely to meet C.S. Lewis, the bosom companion of Tolkien, who would go on to become a great fantasy author himself. We shall experience Tolkien’s early family life, his education, his time in battle, and, perhaps most crucially, his relationship with Edith Bratt, his wife-to-be.
What the Trailer Actually Tells Us
Fans such as myself would have loved to see a trailer with a longer runtime. It ends up feeling more like a teaser. Nevertheless, it’s done its job. We’re hyped! This trailer introduces us to Tolkien himself, his fanciful imagination, his trauma, and his quest for love.
Another one of Tolkien’s loves was for things that grow. He had a fascination for arbores, gardens, and the English countryside. Already from the trailer, highlighting a towering bright-barked tree in one scene, calls to mind the White Tree of Gondor.
It promises to be something somewhat similar in style and execution to 2017’s Charles Dickens film The Man Who Invented Christmas. A moderately well-done biopic, The Man Who Invented Christmas focuses on one period of Dickens’ life but includes flashbacks, as well as the inclusion of his fictional characters in the real world.
In this regard, Tolkien seems like it shall be similar – but way more spectacular. This is because Tolkien’s fantasy, at numerous times, is much darker and more threatening than Dickens’. While Dickens meets Scrooge and some of the ghosts, Tolkien (as the trailer imagines it) sees his monstrosities coming to life on the battlefield.
One particularly engrossing scene from the trailer shows the face of the formidable Balrog springing out of the flames of an explosion in the battle in which John is fighting.
The Tolkien film looks to be taking the iconic characters from Lord of the Rings and placing them within Tolkien’s actual surroundings. Viewers will have to keep both eyes peeled for this – as often as they can spare them!
Background and Anticipation for the Picture
In recent years, we have been seeing a number of remarkably well-funded biopics from Hollywood. The Social Network, Darkest Hour, and First Man are just a few. The modern biopics have covered everyone from Stephen Hawking to Freddie Mercury.
Even The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson is getting in on the biopic scene, having recently released that he will be working on a film about The Beatles. (And let’s not forget Tom Hanks’ untitled Mr. Rogers movie that’s apparently being released later this year.)
With all these biopics rising to the screen, it was only a matter of time before Tolkien got his own. Directed by Dome Karukoski, Tolkien looks promising, as vibrant as the verdant grass of the Shire. Nicholas Hoult from Mad Max: Fury Road heads the film in the title role. With him is Lily Collins as his girlfriend and eventual wife Edith.
As with any biopic, the ultimate hope of any fan is that the filmmakers and actors portray the characters authentically, especially since they were real people. For example, we don’t want to see Tolkien doing or saying stuff Tolkien would not have approved of.
It’s that simple.
All that said, it looks like it will be an entertaining flick on the legacy behind the forging of Middle-earth.