Rhode Island Comic Con was held at the Rhode Island Convention Center and Dunkin’ Donuts Center this year from November 1-3. Nerds and Beyond joined the large crowds of people that were in attendance for an amazing time at the biggest show in the smallest state.
One of the highlights of the weekend was the variety of celebrity Q&A panels that were available for attendees to sit in on. Keep reading for our recap of two of the panels that were not to be missed!
Winter is coming (really), and what better way to usher in the White Walkers’ favorite season than a chat with Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy) and Kristian Nairn (Hodor)? The Game of Thrones panel, aptly titled “One More Trip to Westeros,” was an excellent and insightful journey.
The panel began with a question about how the actors felt now that Game of Thrones is over. Nairn reflected on Hodor and explained that he initially wondered how much he could bring to the character, as he wanted him to be real, not a ridiculed laughing stock. He then realized that he was able to convey something beautiful and human with Hodor, which was very apparent on-screen. Allen, meanwhile, said that he had a specific and unique journey because his character was initially hated and ridiculed (before Theon’s big comeback!). He feels that it’s interesting to look back on it objectively now and is ultimately eternally grateful to have been a part of the show.
Because of what his character went through on the show, Allen discussed how he has a lot of conversations with people now about mental health. He went on to say that in regards to being able to talk about it, being honest, and being a symbol for it, he “can’t think of anything better.”
When asked if there was a character on Game of Thrones that they wish their own character had gotten a chance to have a scene with, Nairn replied that he would have liked to have worked with Charles Dance (who portrayed Tywin Lannister). They were then asked if they would like to have played any other character, and Allen said Ramsey (because there’s a lot of license to do what you like in that role), and Nairn said Varys or Brienne.
Allen, when someone inquired as to which scene in Game of Thrones that they were most proud of, referred back to the scene in season 6, episode 1 where Brienne and Pod show up to save Sansa and Theon. Allen described a moment (which he said was small but important to him) where Theon had been staring at Sansa, but turns his gaze to the ground when she looks over at him. He explained that this small reaction was not planned, he just naturally did it because it felt right, and he really liked how the scene turned out.
Nairn, of course, referred to the infamous door scene. He laughed as he reflected on how many doors were involved throughout various takes, and also explained that there were a lot of emotions because filming fell on his birthday, and those were his last few days on set.
Allen was asked what made him say yes to the role of Theon Greyjoy. He explained how big of a deal it was at the time for someone to have a chance to work with HBO, especially in England! He said that it didn’t seem real to him that he could potentially be a part of an HBO show, as he was actually watching HBO’s The Wire at the time. Interestingly enough, Allen actually auditioned for the roles of Jon Snow and Robb Stark before eventually taking on the role of Theon.
The topic of off-camera moments was brought up, and Allen launched into a tale about a time when he, Richard Madden (Robb Stark), and Kit Harington (Jon Snow) went out to a club (which Nairn was DJing at!) and found themselves in a bit of trouble. Trouble being defined as Allen inviting himself up on stage to do his own “routine” amongst the ladies that were up there performing. Unsurprisingly, he was quickly removed from the establishment.
Nairn, meanwhile, went on to discuss how one of his first days of filming ended up being one of his toughest days on set. As he was new to the acting world, he didn’t really know what to expect. He specifically referenced the scene in which Tyrion presents Bran with his newly fitted saddle, and Hodor then has to carry Bran. Nairn quickly learned about how difficult the repetition of filming scenes can be — eight times!
When asked about their previous knowledge of Game of Thrones before working on the show, Nairn stated that he knew nothing about the book series and hadn’t even heard of it. However, when he told his mother he was auditioning, she “freaked out” and told him to say yes if he got the part. She was the one that encouraged him to take on what ended up being his first professional acting role!
Allen had not read the books, and when he later asked if he should, he was told that they would leave that up to him. Though he did start reading them, he eventually stopped because the direction of the story changed as the show took on a life of its own. He also laughed as he remarked how he looks nothing like the book version of Theon.
Overall, Allen and Nairn’s panel was an absolute delight. It was a pleasure to hear about their experiences working on such a huge and epic series that has meant so much to so many people.
Wands at the ready? To end off this phenomenal weekend, RICC brought us back to Hogwarts with “Avada Kedavra! Wizarding 101” featuring Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley), James and Oliver Phelps (Fred and George Weasley), and Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood). Before we launch into the panel’s details, we wanted to commend RICC on their organization for this massive panel. It was clear as we queued that not everyone who had lined up would be getting to the panel, and RICC handled it flawlessly with only allowing a certain amount of fans into the ballroom at once, the staff communicating effectively on how many more seats were available before sending another group in.
It’s no secret that Lynch had been a Potter fan before her casting — and that Luna Lovegood had been her favorite — but it’s still always wonderful to hear her talk about that love she still holds for her character. She retold a story of how just the year before her casting as Luna, she dressed as her for Halloween, even hand-making her own set of radish earrings. The designers over at WB loved her version so much that they purchased the pattern from her and replicated them for the film and memorabilia later on. “She had a mature mindset,” Lynch reminisced about Luna, “I found solace in her character. Her self-acceptance made it so she didn’t judge other people.”
The Harry Potter cast across all the films feature some true masters of their craft. When asked which of their veteran cast mates they enjoyed working with most, the Phelps landed on Michael Gambon (Albus Dumbledore), and Wright enjoyed David Thewlis’ portrayal of Remus Lupin, her favorite professor from the books, so much she asked him to star in her directorial debut, Separate We Go. Lynch recalled as an actress new to filming the ease and playfulness of Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange) and Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy), and how watching them taught her that acting really, truly is about playing and having fun.
What would a celebrity panel be without one the most classic questions at a fan Q&A: what was the funniest moment from set? The group laughed as they told a few silly stories, one of which being when Dumbledore’s Army is discovered in the Room of Requirement in The Order of the Phoenix. Straight faces were limited, they remembered, with each take getting progressively funnier the more it was shot.
Harry Potter also breaks the hearts of its readers with some fan-favorite character deaths, and the Phelps, despite one of their characters dying in the books, mentioned Harry’s trusty owl Hedwig’s shocking demise as one of the most impactful deaths of the series. Lynch had to tell her mom to take the book and hide it after Dumbledore’s death in The Half-Blood Prince. Wright thought Sirius’ death packed the most punch, and that’s definitely up there for us, too. Speaking of the books, James Phelps loved Prisoner of Azkaban, Oliver Phelps thinks Goblet of Fire is the best of the bunch, and both Lynch and Wright agreed that Order of the Phoenix is number one.
This series is important to a lot of people, and gaining more fans every day, and this panel made it clear it was just as important to the actors in the films. James Phelps felt fortunate to have worked with such a fantastic crew and set that was fun to go to everyday. It gave Wright the inspiration to go to college and study film, the knowledge of the craft of filmmaking enrapturing her. Lynch was amazed by the creativity involved, and she learned that imagination really is a magic power — the ability to see something in your head and then turn it into a work of art.
Lynch also volunteered herself for a role in the films when they get rebooted — she’d love to play Trelawney! And in the same token, she hoped that they would consider an entire series of one episode per chapter, and the crowd certainly agreed. But the question flipped from who they’d like to play to how the characters defined them as actors. The Phelps both agreed that Fred and George were very saturated versions of themselves, while Wright noted there was a blurred line where Ginny ended and Bonnie began. She remembered it took a few years to process the whole experience and realize how significant and formative it was, and to celebrate it. Lynch commended that the characters were so well written and developed, it made the job easier. She wanted to find more individuals like Luna who inspire her and make her want to be better.
The panel ended with the actors revealing their own Hogwarts houses. Oliver Phelps wanted to remain a Gryffindor, but it turns out that the ever-popular Pottermore revealed them both to be Hufflepuffs! Wright mirrored her on-screen character with a sorting into Gryffindor, where she was joined by Lynch per the quizzes, who was happy with her sorting (although she sometimes wished it was Ravenclaw).
It was so great to see these old cast mates together once again, the love for their Potter characters still abundantly clear. It was just like going back to Hogwarts, even if only for an hour.
The Nerds and Beyond team was at Rhode Island Comic Con all weekend, and we had a blast. You can read about our take on RICC as a whole here!