Last week I attended Walker Stalker Chicago. I had a killer time, in fact, I think it’s the most stress-free con I’ve ever been to. Mad props to the organizers of this event, people are definitely keeping people happy. What made this seriously epic was hitting the con with my bestie Shelley. We all had so much fun and so much to share. Shelley wrote all about the con itself. So check out her article on that if you’re planning to attend next year.
There were tons of highlights, more than I can count really. For one, I love that the organizers didn’t cheese out on space. It’s like night and day chumping your way through a cattle drive vs. enjoying a comfortable stroll. Another thing I really like about this con is they have so many celebrities you can actually make your way to all of them. Lines (compared to some other cons) are fast and you can get a picture for under $50.
Let me be the first to tell you, one of the weirdest (and funniest) highlights was becoming the proud recipient of a red paint money shot (of the head-to-toe variety) from celebrity artist Rob Prior, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A super big thanks to the Comic Book Men who cleaned me off like a toddler after breakfast. Fun fact, I left the paint on my Chuck Taylors, as my little souvenir. Moral of the story, don’t stand close to Rob Prior when he’s jamming out and painting.
Travel Tip: Want to know where to stay for Walker Stalker Chicago next year? I stayed at the Hyatt Regency right there at the convention center and it was pretty darn handy. Check out my full review here. It’s a win.
Walker Stalker Chicago 2016 Celebrity Interviews
We spent two days table hopping to some of my favorite celebrities to ask them questions about their projects, their work with The Walking Dead and other films / TV shows and of course, about the Zombie Apocalypse.
I had a ton of fun with interviews, The Walking Dead Experience, my boy Dave Solo’s Live interview stage and his panels, and the whole overall con. PS check out Dave’s podcast Walker Nation. This guy is the real deal. LOVE the Live Stage. Get to the stage a few minutes early and you can be right there, practically pulling up a chair. The Panels are great too. No waiting two hours to get in. It’s really just a well run operation.
In no particular order… here are the interviews and some fun facts.
With Josh Mcdermitt AKA Eugene from The Walking Dead
Fact: The Walking Dead was Josh’s favorite show before he was ever cast or even auditioned for it.
On weapons and A-Team for a zombie apocalypse
My weapons would have to be of blunt force so here we go; ax, hammer, machete, an antique iron and a crow bar.
My A-Team would definitely be Michael Cudlitz, Norman Reedus, Andrew Lincoln, Mr. T and Seth Rogan.
With Corey Brill AKA Pete from The Walking Dead
I spent a decent amount of time talking to Corey. He is fun to chat with and really funny. When I needed a break from the day I would wander over to Corey’s booth and have a few laughs. He’s good company.
Fact: Corey Brill is not the asshole he is made to be in The Walking Dead. Let’s recall, he played Jessie’s angry hubby and scrapped with Rick (ultimately landed him well, dead).
Fact: Corey is quite charming and funny.
On how to play the bad guy
Find the suffering in the character and sympathize with the role. When the writing is good there’s more of an acute performance. I like a little mood music, some Barry Adamson.
With Michael Traynor AKA Nicholas from The Walking Dead
Fact: Michael is hilarious. He’s also from my home state Florida but spent a good portion of his life in Maui. He definitely had the Hawaiian vibes going for him. Our shoes also match. Because we are obviously awesome.
On preparation for the scene that made Nicholas the biggest asshole ever
You want to know how I pulled off that moment, it’s an ancient tradition of tight underwear. My balls were tight. I did it in three takes. I wasn’t hired to be cuddly and cute.
With IronE Singleton AKA T-Dog from The Walking Dead
IronE was one of the more inspiring talents I met at Walker Stalker. This man is full of life, love, and gratitude. He shares an incredible message to every one of equality and love. If you ever get the chance to sit in on a panel with IronE, don’t pass it up.
Fact: IronE grew up just a few minutes away from the quarry from season 1. He never even knew it was there. He also just wrote a book.
On his favorite film location in Atlanta
I love the quarry. I grew up pretty close to it but had no idea it was there. You see I’m from the hood, and we didn’t go to places like that. I love that location because you know it’s where I would run into people from my hood.
It was a big deal when I graduated college. Everyone in the hood was talking about it. But when I landed a role for The Walking Dead, it was like there I was. Now, doing something positive with my life, and people seeing that. People I know from the hood see that positive outcome and I hope I can inspire them.
This guy is the sweetest, he’s on my radar and should be on yours too. Definitely going places fast. Keep an eye out for his new show on Showtime, Roadies June 26th 10p.
Fact: He was/is a huge fan of TWD comic books long before he was ever cast or auditioned for the role as Tobias in Fear the Walking Dead.
On his favorite character from TWD, what he aspires to do and his zombie apocalypse plan
My favorite character would be Morgan. He’s the one you’re drawn to from the first episode. He was the warning trigger. I loved the standalone episode. I love what he represents. You have to believe in something when the world is decaying, you have to stand for something.
As for a zombie apocalypse, get to high ground. Be stocked up on supplies, maybe in the desert. Isolate yourself and have only people you trust with weapons. Be careful who you trust.
For My A-Team I would have Batman, Spider-Man, the Hulk, Deadpool and Giant-Man
With Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys on His New Film Dead 7
I was delightfully surprised at what a positive guy Nick came off as. He took something he always wanted to do and made it happen. Just a little reminder that celebrities are chasing dreams outside of contracts. Glad to see that Nick made one of his come true.
Fact: Nick grew up watching Clint Eastwood films with his father.
On making a film that he’s always wanted to do
I always wanted to be in a Clint Eastwood role. I love dark horror and zombies, and I always wanted to write something I could act in. Conflicts in schedule prevented us from doing this sooner.
As for the business behind the production, I had half of the out-of-pocket expense. But I wanted it that way, from beginning to end I wanted to create something no one had done.
We all wanted to take on acting roles. By paying for a lot of the production and coming in at a decent enough budget to make it look good, I was able to get everyone involved.
With Russ Streiner AKA Johnny from Night of the Living Dead
Meeting horror icons like Russ and Judith was like getting a unicorn pony for my 6th birthday (I never got the pony, thanks, mom). Having started my love affair of the horror genre when I was 8 yrs old from sneaking out to watch Gilbert Gottfried and Rhonda Sheer USA Up All Night (mom you should have gotten me that unicorn), I spent pretty much my whole life watching Night of the Living Dead. It’s the film that spawned the zombie apocalypse genre, the pinnacle of zombie horror. I hold it near and dear to my zombie-loving, gore-whore heart.
Fact: Night of the Living Dead was filmed in 35 mm and with a budget of 114k.
On coming up with the concept of the zombie apocalypse in 1968
We had to ask ourselves, “If this could happen, how would it happen?” We needed to understand what it would be like and what ground zero would be.
We never really did establish what ground zero was.
You know we actually made the money for this film from a commercial we did with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It was enough to buy a 35 mm camera.
With Judith O’Dea AKA Barbara from Night of the Living Dead
Judith is an all-American firecracker. This woman has more spunk than a toddler with Kool-Aid. She was so much fun to interview. We pretty much laughed out way through the entire thing. I really hope I get to meet her again soon, and I hope I have as much energy as she when I’m her age.
Fact: In 1967 Judith left Pittsburgh for Hollywood but had to return to audition for the part in Night of the Living Dead.
On what she would bring to a zombie apocalypse and who would be on her A-Team
I would bring a rocket launcher (she demonstrated this), an AK-47, a 357 Magnum, a slingshot and lipstick.
And my A-Team would be my labradoodle Travis, George Clooney (hence the lipstick), my sister Kathy, The Rock (more lipstick) and Kung-Fu Panda.
With R.J. Mitte AKA Walt Jr. from Breaking Bad
Simply put, this man is a doll. I could sit and talk to him for hours. He loves his work, he loves meeting people and has such a humble approach to film, he was an absolute delight to meet. Looking forward to seeing him again for sure.
Fact: He actually moved to Los Angeles from Louisiana for his sister’s acting career.
On challenging aspects of filming Breaking Bad
Being on my “A” game and raising the bar while working with seasoned talent was pretty tough. I wanted to keep all the knowledge I could. I also wanted to make sure I was never holding up the production.
With the Comic Book Men
I kind of just wanted to shut down the con, smoke a bowl and drink beers with these guys all night. They are so much fun to hang with. Now I’m not a huge comic book reader. I know, gasp away. I love comic book art, truly I do. If I had the space I would have a whole room dedicated to it. But I just don’t have the time to read them or anything for that matter.
I used to read them when I was a kid. Every single time we went to the grocery store I got one. That’s the last time I had time to read anything on the reg. But these guys are still killer dudes, and lucky for me there’s plenty of comics in film.
Fact: Bryan’s beard should have its own zip code. All hail Bryan’s beard.
On travel – The Comic Book Men Bucket List
New York City, Roswell, New Mexico, Hollywood, California, New Zealand, Stonehenge, UK, Chicago, Illinois, Atlanta, Georgia. All of these places for obvious reasons.
With Max Thieriot AKA Dylan from Bates Motel
Max is super friendly, even after a long-haul flight. I love Bates Motel and have watched it since the beginning, so meeting Max was a geek moment for me. I remember the Psycho attractions at Universal Studios when it first opened in the 90’s. Being a Florida kid, I used to go there quite a bit. Alfred Hitchcock is something I grew up with and when they made the show Bates Motel, I was elated.
Fact: He flew from New Zealand to Chicago to be at Walker Stalker.
On getting ready for his role in Bates Motel
Working with talented people really takes the acting out. The challenge is when the writing is mediocre. When the writing is well thought out, it really plays itself. I also watch a lot of other shows and movies. I take notes from great talent.
My favorite actors are Brad Pitt, Leo DiCaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis.
Walker Stalker kicked ass. I’m really looking forward to catching it in Atlanta this October. What a fun weekend. If you’ve never been I highly recommend you get this one on your con list.