GalaxyCon Richmond 2024 | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, May 21st, 2024  

GalaxyCon Richmond 2024

William Shatner, Brent Spiner, Anthony Michael Hall, Dolph Lundgren, Ron Pearlman, Cristo Fernández, Lou Diamond Phillips, The Mandalorian, One Piece, Star Trek, and More

Apr 05, 2024 Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern Bookmark and Share


I have attended GalaxyCon Richmond for several years now, alongside my wife Wendy and our daughter Rose (now 11), and every year without fail William Shatner is there and each year he is one of the highlights of the event. We were at GalaxyCon in at the very end of February and the start of March 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was starting to flare up. It was our first GalaxyCon (and only their second year in Richmond). I remember Shatner musing onstage about the virus from China that was now starting to show up on the West Coast of America and wondering if his planned trip to the UK—where he would screen 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and would then speak to fans afterwards—would go ahead. Only 10 days later the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic and soon after Rose’s school was closed and GalaxyCon ended up being the last big event we attended before going into quarantine.

William Shatner
William Shatner
William Shatner
William Shatner

Just like my daughter’s school, GalaxyCon went virtual, with online Q&As, and was cancelled in 2021. But the in-person event returned in 2022 and we were there again, as well as in 2023. So was Shatner. Unlike most convention appearances, Shatner doesn’t have a moderator. He simply gets up onstage and speaks his mind for a while and then takes questions from the audience. This year, it was only a few days before Shatner’s 93rd birthday. When he first took the stage he did complain about having a frozen shoulder and that no doctor could give him a definitive answer as to why. Apart from that, you’d have no idea that the actor was in his ninth decade.

Shatner’s main topic of conversation was his new film You Can Call Me Bill, which was released in theaters on March 22 and directed by Alexandre O. Philippe. “It’s a documentary about the most interesting subject I can think of. It’s about me,” he joked. Shatner said he had turned down documentaries in the past because he worried that it signaled the end of his life. “I hate talking about me or looking at me,” he admitted, adding that he hasn’t watched all of his Star Trek movies and episodes for that reason.

After Spock actor Leonard Nimoy directed Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Shatner sat in the director’s chair for 1989’s Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, but alas the experience was less than ideal and the film was poorly received. “I think of Star Trek V as perhaps the most disappointing thing in my life…well maybe not the most disappointing, but it’s up there,” he said. Shatner still stood by the original concept for the movie, in which the crew of the Enterprise search for God. “People have died by the billions over this invention of God,” he pointed out. But the studio worried that the concept might alienate some viewers, so the premise was changed to an alien pretending to be God. “That’s what making a movie is, it’s a series of compromises,” said Shatner, explaining that he compromised too many times making Star Trek V.

After that, Shatner ruminated on the end of life. “How do you know you’re in the last throes of your life?” he asked, pointing out that you could die at any minute. And while that’s true, the actor seemed to still be going strong and showed no signs of slowing down. I expect he’ll be back again on the GalaxyCon stage next year.

Anthony Michael Hall
Anthony Michael Hall

Shatner appeared on the Saturday of GalaxyCon, but things kicked off the day before. We got our daughter out of school almost three hours early on Friday to make the two-hour drive to Richmond and got there in time for the first Q&A of the weekend—Anthony Michael Hall. Wendy grew up watching Hall in various John Hughes teen classics in the ’80s. You likely know the ones—Sixteen Candles (1984), The Breakfast Club (1985), and Weird Science (1985). Not long after playing iconic geeks in those films, Hall bulked up and by 1990’s Edward Scissorhands we was portraying a jock bully. It was for the 1988 comedy Johnny Be Good, where Hall played a star high school football player being courted by various college football teams, that a friend of Mike Tyson’s trained him. Once questions were taken by the audience, Wendy asked Hall about his 1986 action thriller Out of Bounds, in which Hall’s character Daryl Cage is wrongly accused of murder and he is on the run in Los Angeles, trying to clear his name. The film was never released on DVD or Blu-ray and wasn’t available on streaming until more recently, so a few years ago I found a laserdisc copy on eBay and bought it for Wendy for either Christmas or her birthday. “At that time, what I was trying to do, and I was probably overcompensating to some level, I wanted to separate myself from the John Hughes world that he welcomed me into,” said Hall about his action hero role in Out of Bounds.

Wendy also asked what it was like working with Siouxsie Sioux, whose legendary goth band Siouxsie and the Banshees performs in one club scene in Out of Bounds. “She was just really cool,” replied Hall, explaining that they hung out at an after party when filming had wrapped that day. “She had great advice for me. She really cared. She was looking out for me and telling me things to look out for, just in terms of being in show business. She was really gracious and cool. I have some photos from that day that are cool. But she was great. And I love that song too, ‘Cities of Dust.’”

Hall said he initially got interested in acting by making his family laugh as a kid at funerals and other occasions, where he would imitate various family members. “I started when I was eight years old, I’m 55 now.” He’s had a long and varied career, including 1983’s National Lampoon’s Vacation and the TV show The Dead Zone (adapted from the Stephen King novel), and currently he’s on the Amazon Prime show Reacher. In general he seemed humble and down to earth and simply enjoyed still working. He also seemed to appreciate his fans. “If there’s no audience, there’s no us,” he said. Hall said he still kept in touch with Robert Downey Jr. (his co-star in both Weird Science and Johnny Be Good) and was happy for his friend’s recent Best Supporting Actor Oscar win for Oppenheimer (and Hall has also previously worked with that film’s director, Christopher Nolan, when he had a role in The Dark Knight).

Next, we caught the end of a Q&A with 20-year-old actor Jack Dylan Grazer, who played Freddy Freeman, the main character’s best friend in the two Shazam! movies and was also in the horror movie It (another Stephen King adaptation). He too had nice things to say about meeting Downey Jr., but said that Eddie Murphy was mean to him when they met. He also spoke favorably about working with Paul Rudd again on the upcoming film Friendship, having previously worked with Rudd when he was a child actor (although he joked that Rudd doesn’t have the best breath in the world). “I love to act because it’s a compulsion,” Grazer said. He also gave sincere advise to an aspiring actress in the audience.

Evan Evagora
Evan Evagora

Twenty-seven-year-old Australian actor Evan Evagora discussed his role as Elnor in the first two seasons of Star Trek: Picard, going into detail about the audition process and how he landed the part, and how just before filming the first season he lost his passport when trying to confirm his U.S. work visa. Picard was shot during intense COVID protocols, where they were tested daily. One day Evagora tested positive and he worried, “I’m going to be known as the guy who killed Patrick Stewart.” Luckily it was a false positive. Evagora said that he grew up watching Star Trek thanks to his mother and hoped that, even though his character wasn’t in season 3 of Picard, that he’d continue on at some point. He said he believed in UFOs and that aliens have interfered with us and he’s recently made a short film about it.

Writer/producer Terry Matalas began his career as an intern on Star Trek: Voyager in the 1990s and was a writer on Star Trek: Enterprise in the early 2000s, but he returned to the Federation, as the co-showrunner of the poorly received season 2 of Picard and the sole showrunner for the beloved third and final season of the show (which brought back most of the original cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation). Matalas was interviewed at GalaxyCon by the hosts of The Inglorious Treksperts Podcast, Mark A. Altman and Daren Dochterman. Matalas spoke about assisting producer Brannon Braga on Enterprise and how the opening titles to that show were originally cut to U2’s “Beautiful Day,” which worked much better than the eventual theme song, Russell Watson’s “Where My Heart Will Take Me” (which was very much hated by Trekkies). Paramount simply didn’t have the rights to the U2 song, which was too expensive.

When writing season 3, Matalas asked himself, “What is the last unexplored relationship [for Picard]?” That led to him creating Jack Crusher, an adult son Picard never knew he had with Beverly Crusher (played by Gates McFadden). Matalas said that he was worried that fans would say he was ripping off Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, in which William Shatner’s Captain Kirk reunited with his long lost son, but the difference was that in that film Kirk chose not to have much of a relationship with his son, whereas Picard wasn’t even aware he had a son.

Ian McDiarmid
Ian McDiarmid

The final Q&A of the day was with Scottish actor Ian McDiarmid, who played Emperor Palpatine (aka Darth Sidious) in various Star Wars films, starting with Return of the Jedi. He was only in his 30s when he first played the role, but the extensive makeup made him look much older, which has allowed him to play the character as recently as 2019’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The actor said that as a kid he always wanted to play the villain because it’s more fun and because he’s always been fascinated by the devil. He initially got the role when the original actor, who was much older, couldn’t get insured and McDiarmid had recently impressed audiences by playing an old Howard Hughes in a play. He said the Emperor Palpatine makeup helped get him into character and that he fell asleep when he was first getting the makeup done and when he woke and first saw himself in the mirror as the Emperor he screamed. He initially didn’t get recognized much on the street because of the makeup, but that changed when he was in the Star Wars prequels, where he appeared with his regular face. He’s always surprised when fans come up to him and say, “we love you,” considering how evil his character is (“well I’ve totally failed,” he joked). McDiarmid was very forthcoming and said his character’s catchphrase “do it” several times. He said he was open playing Palpatine again. “It’s been a very important part of my life,” McDiarmid said.

Brent Spiner
Brent Spiner

Day two of GalaxyCon Richmond 2024 began with a Q&A with Brent Spiner, best known for playing the android Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Spiner, who first pretended his microphone didn’t work, joked about being first on the Saturday schedule. “So nice to see a full house today,” he said to a half empty room. “Half the people aren’t even in the building yet.” And it’s true that on Saturday there was an incredibly long line to get into the Richmond Convention Center (luckily our press passes allowed us to go into the VIP entrance). “Are you awake yet? I’m not,” joked Spiner. He started off discussing Star Trek: Picard, and talked about how Patrick Stewart gathered the main cast of The Next Generation for dinner to announce—Spiner relayed this via an amusing impersonation of Stewart—“I’m going to do this show and none of you are in it.” Data did end up appearing briefly in season one of Picard, before having a bigger part in season three alongside the rest of the main Next Generation cast. “I didn’t watch season two, but I heard it’s kind of screwy,” Spiner admitted.

“I was reluctant to do the show at the beginning,” Spiner said about the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, way back in 1987, “because I thought, ‘I’ll never get to do anything else.’” Spiner said that he did indeed get a bit pigeonholed as an actor, but that ultimately he’s okay with it.

Besides, Spiner did have other notable projects outside of Star Trek, such as playing Dr. Brackish Okun in both Independence Day movies and appearing in Night Court and Penny Dreadful: City of Angels. And then there was 2002’s The Master of Disguise, a vehicle for comedian Dana Carvey. “It’s truly one of the worst movies ever made, but not the worst movie I’ve made,” Spiner joked. He also reflected on the two albums he made, 1991’s Ol’ Yellow Eyes Is Back (a reference to Data’s eye color) and 2010’s Dreamland, recorded with Fiona Apple’s sister, Maude Maggart. “I’m intending to do another CD as soon as I’m ready to lose more money,” Spiner joked.

Returning to Star Trek, Spiner said every night after filming The Next Generation he would go home, order a Domino’s pizza, and make sure he had learned his lines for the next day by the time his pizza was eaten. He said that working with the cats who played Data’s cat Spot was a pain (“cats are wonderful, but the worst actors in the world”) and replied to a fan who pointed out that in inconsistency that Spot was initially referred to as a male cat, but then later gave birth to a litter of kittens: “Star Trek has always been ahead of its time. Spot the cat is a non-binary cat,” he joked.

“I think history will be kinder to Nemesis,” Spiner remarked, referring to the poorly received final Next Generation film. He said if the show was to ever be rebooted, “I think Tilda Swinton would make an amazing Data,” but said he was open to playing the part again, perhaps in a spinoff show centered on the character. Throughout his panel, Spiner was the funniest of any GalaxyCon 2024 guest.

Jaleel White
Jaleel White

The aforementioned William Shatner panel followed and then we caught a bit of Jaleel White, best known for playing Steve Urkel on the sitcom Family Matters for nine seasons, from 1989 to 1998. When he started on the show he was 12 years old. “You’re watching my puberty,” White said. “That’s my childhood too.” Urkel was one of the most iconic nerds in television history and the breakout character from the show. White said he avoided bulking up in the gym when he hit 16, unlike many other boys his age. “If I go in there, this show will be cancelled,” he remembered thinking at the time. He also kept his same Urkel haircut throughout the show.

Lou Diamond Phillips
Lou Diamond Phillips

Veteran actor Lou Diamond Phillips remembered coming to Richmond in the 1990s with his band The Pipefitters. Phillips reflected on 1988’s Stand and Deliver, which was a true story about an inspiring math teacher and a film that was shown to many high school students over the years. He also discussed the two Young Guns films, saying he prefers 1990’s Young Guns II. “The first one was trying to an MTV western,” Philips said. “They shot the trailer on the first day of Young Guns, which was rare at the time.” Whereas the sequel was more of a classic western. He said there have been rumblings about a third Young Guns film and he’d be happy to return. Like Anthony Michael Hall, Phillips seemed grateful for his long career. He joked that “employment” was his favorite genre to work in, before adding that he enjoyed being in westerns and sci-fi films because you really get to create a world. “There’s no tenure in Hollywood,” he said. “The dream gig is to keep doing what I’m doing.”

Giancarlo Esposito, Katee Sackhoff, and Emily Swallow
Giancarlo Esposito, Katee Sackhoff, and Emily Swallow

Back on the Main Stage we found four cast members from The Mandalorian—Giancarlo Esposito (Moff Gideon), Emily Swallow (The Armorer), Katee Sackhoff (Bo-Katan Kryze), and Paul Sun-Hyung Lee (Carson Teva). They paid tribute to fellow castmate Carl Weathers, who died on February 1, 2024 but was originally scheduled to be at GalaxyCon this year. Swallow praised that Weathers was an eternal student and always willing to learn. Esposito got the most audience questions. “There’s no fans in the world like Star Wars fans,” he exclaimed. Later he said, “Star Wars was something on my dreams when I grew up.” In his youth he said he was inspired by Sidney Poitier and George C. Scott.

Sackhoff is no stranger to sci-fi fandom, having starred in the successful 2004 reboot of Battlestar Galactica, but she said that prior to that she was pigeonholed in dumb blonde roles. “One of my favorite things is doing stunts,” she said. “I grew up a bit of a tomboy and love being physical.” Hence she was excited to land the role of a tough female character like Battlestar’s Lieutenant Kara “Starbuck” Thrace. She said that doing stunts was like dancing and that dance lessons helped prepare her for stunt work.

Sackhoff’s Battlestar Galactica costar, Edward James Olmos, was next on our agenda, appearing on the much smaller Super Stage. Like Lou Diamond Philips, he was in Stand and Deliver, and also discussed that film being shown in high schools. A few years prior to that, Olmos played Gaff in the sci-fi masterpiece Blade Runner. At GalaxyCon he said he wrote the character’s iconic line, “It’s too bad she won’t live, but then again who does?” Olmos also spoke extensively about how he booked the role of Lieutenant Martin “Marty” Castillo in the 1980s TV show Miami Vice. The show’s creator, celebrated film director Michael Mann, called Olmos personally to offer him the part, but Olmos wasn’t initially interested and turned down the role. His family was distraught, as they needed the money at the time and the offer was a good one. “It was more money than my father had made in a lifetime of work,” Olmos remembered. But the actor didn’t want to be tied to an NBC contract that would prevent him from also acting in passion projects, such as independent films, and he also wanted creative control over the character. Mann kept calling back that night, upping the offer each time, and Olmos kept saying no. Finally on the fourth call, Mann offered a non-exclusive contract and creative control, and Olmos finally said yes.

Emily Rudd
Emily Rudd
Jacob Romeo and Emily Rudd
Jacob Romeo and Emily Rudd

Back on the Main Stage was one of the Q&As my daughter was most excited about, with two of the actors of Netflix’s live action adaptation of the long-running anime series One Piece. At the urging of two of her friends, and in preparation for GalaxyCon, we had recently starred watching the live action One Piece. On stage were Emily Rudd (who play’s the show’s main female character, Nami) and Jacob Romeo (aka Jacob Romeo Gibson), who plays Usopp. A kid in the audience asks what was the most trouble the actors got into when they were kids. “I plead the fifth,” replied Romeo. “But I obviously turned out okay. And I did stay in school and drank lots of water.” Rudd, whose brother was in the audience, admitted that she used to fake her parents’ signature to get out of school early. She also said that another animated character she’d like to play in live action is Princess Mononoke.

Richard Dean Anderson
Richard Dean Anderson

Back at the Super Stage, Richard Dean Anderson, best known for playing the title character in the hit ’80s show MacGyver, wanted all the main lights in the room turned on so that he could better see the audience. He then spent quite a lot of time detailing the trials and tribulations of getting from California to Richmond—due to flight delays it took him 16 hours to get here. Anderson spoke about his childhood and how his English teacher father constantly corrected him. His dad also directed school plays and Anderson used to attend rehearsals. When he noticed that the actors got free Twinkies, that also made him want to take up acting. We had to leave early to check out a conflicting Q&A, so alas we didn’t get to hear him talk about MacGyver, just flight delays and dessert snacks.

Dolph Lundgren
Dolph Lundgren

The Main Stage called to us again, this time to see an interview with Swedish action star Dolph Lundgren. He spoke a lot about his role as Russian boxer Ivan Drago in Sylvester Stallone’s 1985 film Rocky IV, a role he reprised in 2018’s Creed II. “The Rocky movies are iconic,” Lundgren said. “They live and will live. 50 years from now people will still be watching these movies.” He added that “the Creed and Rocky movies are some of the few where you can’t use a stunt double” because of the so many close up shots of the boxing matches. James Brown played himself in Rocky IV, singing “Living in America” before one of the big fights in the film. Lundgren said the soul legend showed him some dance moves in the dressing room and revealed that Brown also had real trouble lip-syncing when shooting his scene. Lundgren says he was reluctant to return for Creed II, for fear of messing with his character’s legacy, but then he read the script and was convinced. Lundgren also spoke about other costars, such as Jean-Claude Van Damme (“very charming guy”) and the late Brandon Lee, Bruce Lee’s son who died in a tragic onset accident while filming The Crow. Lundgren starred with Lee in 1991’s Showdown in Little Tokyo. “What a nice guy he was. What a talent,” Lundgren observed, adding that Lee’s mother was Swedish, meaning that Lee spoke a little Swedish, which helped the two actors get along.

Lundgren said that he and his wife were “kind of homebodies,” but that he does still work out at Gold’s Gym twice a week.

Decades before the MCU, when Marvel weren’t making blockbuster movies yet, Lundgren starred in 1989’s The Punisher. The movie was meant to get a splashy theatrical release, but ended up going straight-to-video in America due to financial difficulties with New World Pictures (it was released theatrically in some other countries). When asked if he’d play the part again, akin to Michael Keaton reprising his role in Batman (also 1989) in last year’s The Flash, Lundgren responded, “Why not?”

Cristo Fernández
Cristo Fernández

Our last Q&A of a very packed Saturday was back at the Super Stage and with Mexican actor Cristo Fernández, who is best known for playing Dani Rojas in the Apple TV+ football comedy series Ted Lasso. He actually got his start as a football player (or soccer player if you must), but turned to acting after some injuries. Fernández joked that he’s always giving his parents heart attacks with his career choices, as there are no athletes or artists in his family, but said that his parents have been supportive. He had lived in London, where Ted Lasso is filmed, for three years before landing his part. Originally his character was meant to be Icelandic, but then they tailored it to Fernández. “My biggest inspiration is Guillermo del Toro,” Fernández said, praising one of Mexico’s best known and most acclaimed film directors. He also said that the films Rocky and Good Will Hunting inspire him because the stars of those films also wrote the screenplays and thus created their own roles. Hence he’s started his own production company to generate his own projects.

Ted Lasso has been an amazing experience,” the actor said, adding that real life is like the show, in that they are family and that there was no acting in the scene in the series finale when all the characters were crying, they really were all that emotional. Fernández said he never thought football would come back into his life the way it did with Ted Lasso and he seemed grateful for the show’s success and optimistic about his future.

We ended our Saturday GalaxyCon adventures by attending the big Cosplay Competition on the Main Stage. It’s always impressive to see how much work cosplayers put into their costumes each year.

Tara Strong
Tara Strong

After the non-stop parade of Q&As on Saturday, Sunday’s schedule was thankfully chiller. The day kicked off with voice actor Tara Strong, who was late for her panel because no one came and got her to lead her to the Main Stage from the convention floor where she was signing autographs. To stall for time, the moderator did an amusing, and age-appropriate, standup routine and even did a flip on the stage. Strong got her start in the 1980s and is one of the best-known voice actors. Notable roles include playing Raven in the Cartoon Network shows Teen Titans and Teen Titans Go!, voicing Batgirl is various cartoons (including Batman: The Animated Series and DC Superhero Girls), playing Harley Quinn in various shows, being the voice of Twilight Sparkle in My Little Pony, and being the original voice of Bubbles in The Powerpuff Girls, among countless other parts. “You’d be hard pressed to find a voice over actor who isn’t kind,” Strong said. “We’re all just so grateful,” she added, pointing out that there’s less catiness compared to live action acting as it’s not about your looks. Strong was asked about the impact of AI on the entertainment industry and she responded that she had mixed feelings about AI. “If AI can help cure diseases, it’s a good thing. But I think it’s going to hurt artists,” she said. “We have to moderate people profiting off other people’s art, stealing voices.”

“Both of the [casts] felt like a family from the get go,” she said of The Powerpuff Girls and Teen Titans/Teen Titans Go! casts. My daughter Rose asked Strong which animated character she’d most like to portray in live action and she said Raven and Harley Quinn. Strong also said that the Teen Titans Go! voice actors were very much like their characters in real life.

Over at the Hero Stage, Garrett Hedlund was discussing his leading role in 2010’s Tron: Legacy, which was the sequel to 1982’s Tron. Although Hedlund is not appearing in the third Tron movie, Tron: Ares, which is filming now, he’s still excited about the film. “I think it’s going to bring so many people back to the grid,” he said. He’s still hopeful that a direct sequel to Tron: Legacy will happen (it was originally going to film in 2015, but then Disney cancelled the project), saying that he would “absolutely” do another Tron film if asked. Although he did reveal that the Tron suits were very hard to shoot in, because they were tighter than wetsuits and the lights on them would often break. Hedlund told an amusing story about the day he played a practical joke on the Tron: Legacy set, including on Daft Punk, who composed the film’s electronic score, when he asked the cast and crew to sign his script, but it was a gag pen that shocked anyone who tried to use it. He said the joke was on him though, because he didn’t get any actual signatures on his script, as it wasn’t a working pen.

Hedlund is also a singer/songwriter and said his initial backup plan was to be a photojournalist and that he used to con his way into concerts and even backstage, pretending he was a professional music photographer.

Maggie Lawson
Maggie Lawson
Maggie Lawson and Timothy Omundson
Maggie Lawson and Timothy Omundson
Corbin Bernsen
Corbin Bernsen

The panel for the USA Network comedy show Psych was as amusing as you’d hope it’d be. Three cast members appeared: Timothy Omundson (who played Carlton “Lassie” Lassiter), Maggie Lawson (who played Juliet “Jules” O’Hara), and Corbin Bernsen (who played Henry Spencer, the main character’s father). The show ran for eight seasons, from 2006 to 2014, and was followed by three TV movies, the most recent one coming out in 2021 (with more films planned). Even though it has been a decade since the series finale, Lawson and Omundson have hosted a Psych podcast for six seasons and the cast are all on a text thread named “Psych Fam” and they text each other all the time.

“I am so moved meeting all of you,” Lawson said to the fans in the audience, adding that “Psych was a huge gift.”

Omundson, who suffered a major stroke in 2017 and has been recovering ever since, said: “Ultimately we all became artists to change people’s lives and impact them positively.”

The actor admitted that he had trouble keeping a straight face acting opposite star James Roday Rodriguez.

Lawson, Omundson, and Bernsen joke about rebooting Gilligan’s Island, but with the Psych cast.

A running gag in Psych is that a pineapple of sorts appears in every episode somewhere. Bernsen embraces this. “I just bought three more pineapple shirts on eBay this morning,” he said.

Summing up the experience of being in Psych, Omundson said, “We were having the time of our lives with people we loved.”

Charles Martinet
Charles Martinet

Charles Martinet is best known for voicing Mario and Luigi in most of the Super Mario Bros. video games and he does some of the voices during his Q&A. Kirby is his favorite Mario character to voice. “They all come from inside my heart, my silly sense of being,” he said of his characters. The 68-year-old actor seemed to be a gentle soul and admitted that the last movie he saw in the theater was 1989’s Born on the 4th of July and that the violence was too much for him. He also doesn’t like to makes jokes at other people’s expense and said his passions were food and travel.

“For me, life is a spiritual journey, everything’s a lesson,” Martinet said.

Another veteran voice actor followed, Peter Cullen, who was introduced by the moderator as “the voice of our childhood.” Cullen immediately did his iconic Optimus Prime voice, a part he still plays in the modern Transformers live action movies. Cullen said that as a kid he used to talk to farm animals, especially cows, in a German accent, which helped fuel his interest in voice acting. He also did for us the voice of The Predator, which he said was inspired by a sound horseshoe crabs make.

Then we attended the Kid’s Costume Contest, which Rose took part in dressed as the Pokémon character Ball Guy.

Charlie Hunnam
Charlie Hunnam
Ron Pearlman
Ron Pearlman

I’ve never really watched the biker drama Sons of Anarchy, but still briefly checked out the Q&A with the show’s Charlie Hunnam and Ron Pearlman, mainly to see the latter. Both actors had worked with the aforementioned Guillermo del Toro on Pacific Rim, with Pearlman also starring in the Mexican director’s two Hellboy films. Both actors praised Del Toro. “He’s tough. He makes you work hard,” said Hunnam, before doing a spot on impersonation of the director. Pearlman worked on Del Toro’s first movie, 1992’s Chronos, and said they lost a third of the film’s budget just prior to shooting, but Del Toro rose to the occasion. “He’s the most curious man I’ve ever met. He’s the most well-read man I’ve ever met,” said Pearlman. “But he’s fucking Mexican and likes bar jokes.”

Gary Lockwood
Gary Lockwood

Perhaps the less said about the Q&A with Gary Lockwood, the better. The American actor is best known for playing astronaut Frank Poole in the 1968 masterwork 2001: A Space Odyssey, as well as playing Lt. Cmdr. Gary Mitchell in the Star Trek episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” which was the third episode in the first season of the original series. While he did talk about his friendship with 2001 director Stanley Kubrick (“I loved Stanley Kubrick. He was the smartest, brightest man I knew.”), he spent a lot of his cringe worthy interview bragging about all the women he’d slept with, including all the birds he shagged while living in London during the swinging ’60s. Lockwood has been married four times, first to future Hart to Hart actress Stefanie Powers, and he boasted about all the other women who had to have abortions because of him. “I had this Black guy from the ghetto who did abortions for me,” he said, eliciting uncomfortable reactions from the audience. Lockwood said the doctor told him, “I ought to put you on retainer,” because he was performing so many abortions for him. It brought to mind the sad scene in 1966’s Alfie, in which Michael Caine’s title character has to arrange for an illegal abortion for the married woman he’s knocked up. There’s nothing wrong with being pro-choice, but Lockwood’s flippant manner on the subject was off putting. As much as his stories about meeting Peter Sellers were of interest, we decided to leave. Our final GalaxyCon Richmond 2024 event was a small discussion about the 60th anniversary of Doctor Who, in which author Dr. Travis Langley (Doctor Who Psychology: Times Change) went through all the Doctors and discussed them one-by-one. Doctor Who actors Karen Gillan (Amy Pond) and Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams) were originally scheduled to be at GalaxyCon this year, but cancelled due to scheduling conflicts, so it was nice to have the show represented in some small way.

While we spent a lot of our time attending Q&As, there’s much more to GalaxyCon, including a convention floor filled with geek-friendly vendors selling comic books, art prints, toys and collectibles, and much more. There’s also an area where you can pay for autographs with celebrities or pay to do photo-ops with them. The only autograph we got was Anthony Michael Hall’s. As everything was winding down on Sunday evening, almost all the celebrities had left the autograph area and wrapped up their GalaxyCon experience. But I found Brent Spiner still at his table, talking to a police officer (but with no line of fans). While his assistant encouraged him to leave, Spiner said he insisted on staying until very end. Artist Robbi Rodriguez, who co-created Spider-Gwen, had a stand where he was selling his art prints. We had bought some prints from him the year before and this year I talked to him about Spider-Gwen and his GalaxyCon experience.

Gwen Stacy was already an established character in Marvel Comics, going all the way back to The Amazing Spider-Man #31 in 1965, but the Spider-Gwen version (aka Spider-Woman or Ghost-Spider) was created by Rodriguez and writer Jason Latour for Edge of Spider-Verse issue #2 in 2014 as an alternate universe version of Stacy. The character was a big hit and in 2015 headlined her own Spider-Gwen comic book series. Spider-Gwen found a much larger audience with 2018’s Oscar-winning animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which Rodriguez consulted on, and 2023’s Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, with a third film in production and Spider-Woman centered spinoff in the works. Go to any con and you’ll find many Spider-Gwen cosplayers. She’s my daughter’s favorite superhero and she dressed as her for Halloween several years ago and even once got a haircut to match the character.

“We never thought it was going to be this big,” Rodriguez told me about creating Spider-Gwen. “We always thought it was going to be a one and done situation. I always used to joke that when we first did the first Edge of the Spider-Verse [issue], ‘Oh yeah, I’m going to see that in the dollar bin a year from now.’ She’s gotten so big. As her dads, she’s grown so far beyond us. It’s amazing. Even like other cultures adopting her as an icon for them. That’s fantastic. That’s beyond our wildest dreams that this ever happened.”

While Rodriguez is open to working with Marvel again, his current projects include drawing an issue of Birds of Prey and a backup story for an issue of Detective Comics (both for DC), as well as doing the art for the new IDW horror series Golgotha Motor Mountain.

I asked Rodriguez what his experience was like attending comic book conventions, and in particular GalaxyCon, as an artist. “It can differ between shows,” he responded. “Some shows respect you, like this one does. This is the first show where you are treated as an actual guest, not just a commodity. Especially for the bigger companies that run these conventions every year, GalaxyCon is the one show where I truly feel like they want me to be here, not just a name on a placard to sell tickets or as we say, to get asses through the door. They take care of me. GalaxyCon is probably the best show in terms of that, outside Heroes, those are the two ones.”

At her Q&A, Tara Strong spoke about why she enjoys attending events like GalaxyCon.

“You go to a con for this exchange of light and energy,” she said, adding that it really helps her to understand the impact of her shows on fans.

“I leave here much more grateful than I could ever imagine,” Garrett Hedlund said during his Q&A about his GalaxyCon experience. “These weekends are beautiful gifts.”

www.galaxycon.com/pages/galaxycon-richmond

Subscribe to Under the Radar’s print magazine.

Support Under the Radar on Patreon.



Comments

Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published

URL

Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

There are no comments for this entry yet.