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London Film and Comic Con – Buffy, Stargate, Baywatch, Friday the 13th and more

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Sunday at London Film and Comic Con brought many brilliant talks, more cosplay fun and a couple of hilarious photo opportunities.

First up was the Buffy the Vampire Slayer panel with actors Alyson Hannigan (Willow) and Alexis Denisof (Wesley).

Hannigan talked a lot about how much she loved being on the show and, in particular, playing Willow. ‘That was such a gift,’ she said. ‘I enjoyed every part of it and any turn Joss [Whedon] threw at me I was so grateful and happy to take it on.’ Having done some emotional and dramatic scenes in Buffy but also done a lot of comedy, then and since, she also said that the combination of both drama and comedy that Buffy brought was a big factor in why she loved it so much. ‘We got to do it all,’ she said.

Though there was part of it she wasn’t entirely pleased with: the much-loved musical episode. Dubious as to her own musical talents, she said: ‘It’s a fantastic episode – I just wish I wasn’t in it.

On his character Wesley, Denisof said: ‘It was interesting to have my mind shift over time as the character became more woven into the universe that Joss created.

On the start of the show, Hannigan said that people didn’t really know where the show sat. Was it a comedy? A drama? ‘They didn’t know what we were so they just left us alone,’ she explained, adding that ‘we had this great fan base off the bat.

Out of the different ‘versions’ of Willow she got to portray throughout the show, Hannigan said that normal Willow as evil Willow was the most fun, and when the pair were asked what other character from the show they would have liked to play, she responded: ‘I feel like I got the best role.’ Denisof added that for a while he was annoyed that he didn’t get to do anything scary – until he saw how early the actors had to get up and get make-up done in order to do it. Then he didn’t mind so much.

On Joss Whedon, Denisof noted that Joss would be the first to admit that he’s a teenage girl trapped inside a man’s body… and thank God he does because he’s a fantastic teenage girl’.

After the Buffy panel there was time for a walk around the venue to take in the genius cosplay and, whilst having a wander, I stumbled across the opportunity to turn myself into a lifesize action figure, courtesy of the lovely folks over at Feel the Force Day. (Check them out at @feeltheforceday to find out more.)

Over at the second stage, Robbi Morgan and Tom Morga were on hand to discuss Friday the 13th, kicking off the chat with a hilarious comment from Robbi upon seeing ‘Jason’ in the crowd (thank you cosplayers!). She called out to ‘Jason’ and said ‘I knew your mum!’, to huge laughs from all in attendance.

The pair talked about how popular the film is still and Robbi joked that ‘they all love watching me die, over and over…’ People were, perhaps unsurprisingly, interested in her iconic death scene and she explained that that particular scene was only shot once. And the fake blood they used was sticky and stained the skin so as soon as she was done, she was whisked away on a scooter to get it washed off.

When I asked the pair what their favourite scary films were, Tom mentioned Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, explaining: ‘That struck me pretty hard’. Robbi added two that really scared her: Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, and What’s the Matter with Helen? (which she was also in).

Robbi admitted that she’s a bit of a scaredy cat herself. ‘Making Friday the 13th was a lot of fun – until I went to see it,’ she said. ‘They added the music… holy shit! I mean, that’s when I started having nightmares!

Pamela Anderson was up next discussing both her work as an activist and her acting career in Baywatch and Barbed Wire, among other things.

On her cameo in the recent reboot of Baywatch, she said ‘to look at The Rock and think “this is Mitch” was very odd’. She added that it was nice to go back but she missed the charm of the original TV show.

On Barbed Wire, she said that there was a lot of drama – largely to do with her husband at the time getting banned from the set. ‘It was so much drama. I’ m just surprised we got it done,’ she said. Though she did seem to enjoy herself. ‘I learned a lot about guns. It was fun. I would do it again, for sure. But maybe something a little more subtle and dramatic.

Anderson also noted that she was really enjoying being at the comic con because it’s such a lovely personal event so full of human connection.

Though she might be known for her role in Baywatch, Anderson is also a very vocal activist, for animals and humans. She’s using her celebrity status to her advantage and fully acknowledges that she continues to surprise people, adding: ‘If I form a full sentence, I’m a genius.

For the first of two Stargate panels, Chris Judge, who played Teal’c on the show, came out looking delightfully colourful and all smiles – a vastly different look to the character he portrayed. He was all jokes and laughter with the audience who started asking the expected geeky questions.

Judge admitted that he was a big fan of the original film and actually knew Kurt Russell because he’d been on set when Judge was in Bird on the Wire (which starred Goldie Hawn). Russell was then filming nearby while Judge and co were filming the Stargate TV show pilot and he visited the set to ‘wish us well’.

What Judge was known for, though, was being the prankster. He says he performed numerous pranks over the years on set, including duct taping people to chairs and locking them in rooms or trailers. One rather epic one involved him having his trousers changed into ‘stripper pants’ so he could pull them off and reveal a G-string with the Stargate logo on just as co-star Amanda Tapping was entering the room after shooting a very emotional scene. The director couldn’t understand why the entire crew were laughing, or the shocked expression on Tapping’s face, because the camera angled so that it was looking at Tapping’s face over Judge’s shoulder – which was still entirely as expected.

Immediately after the Chris Judge talk (but sadly not at the same time), was one with his Stargate co-star, Richard Dean Anderson, who played Jack on the show (and, of course, MacGyver).

He talked about the show and how, at the beginning, he liked to improvise with his lines. He explained that he wanted to put his own flair on it but was taken aside and told that what he was doing was disrespectful to the writers – and, he admitted, he was ‘naïve’ enough to have not even considered it. He eventually found the right balance, he says, and what we got was the result.

When people asked specifics about the show, he laughed them off, explaining that ‘those of you who know me know I haven’t got a clue what she’s talking about’. And when asked what Jack and Sam would be doing now if they were still about, Anderson smiled and responded: ‘the nasty . . . two horndogs’. Though he went on to explain that the way their relationship played out was largely due to respect for the Air Force and their codes of conduct. ‘I was superior to her,’ he explained, quickly adding ‘in rank only, believe me’.

So have we seen the last of the man on our screens? ‘There are some chums from Vancouver who are developing something with me in mind,’ he says. ‘It may or may not happen . . . we’ll see.’

After all the talks there was just enough time for me to meet Groot before heading home. Not a bad end to the day!

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