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‘Toronto ComiCon 2016’ Entry: 3 — Celebrity Interviews

‘Toronto ComiCon 2016’ Entry: 3 — Celebrity Interviews



Toronto ComiCon 2016 Interviews:

A true Con experience isn’t complete without celebrity appearances. Whether it’s an autograph session, photo op, or Q&A, celebrities are essential to a proper Con. Toronto ComiCon was kind enough to invite Popoptiq to an early morning interview session where I discussed movies and television with some of the weekend’s headliners.

In the early hours before Toronto ComiCon’s second day kicked off, I sat down with Karen Allen (Raiders of the Lost Ark), Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers), Tovah Feldshuh (The Walking Dead) and Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: The Next Generation). In true Toronto ComiCon spirit, each actor was more than happy to answer questions about the most iconic roles on their pop culture resumes.

**Walking Dead Spoilers

Casper Van Dien

Casper Van Dien

Almost 20-years after Starship Troopers’s release, people are still picking apart the film’s subtext. Van Dien had this to say about the popular notion that Starship Troopers is a pro-war film,

Everybody dies. Where’s the pro?

Van Dien says he still encounters people claiming Starship Troopers is fascist and that a lot of people out there don’t get it.

That’s the brilliance of the film, the fact that it’s 20-years old and people are still asking questions like that. That’s amazing. That’s a tribute to the genius to Paul Verhoeven

He has an incredible way of getting people to think. He’s one of the smartest men I’ve had the privilege to meet, understand and watch and be directed by. I love him.

Casper said that he takes issue with filmmakers dumbing things down for audiences.

When we are forced to think, it’s a better thing. That’s one of the things about Starship Troopers, for me, it’s still a movie that brings up a visceral experience and a lot of people get impassioned about it.

Van Dien on Starship Troopers taking on a life of its own.

To this day, almost 20-years later, somebody will go, HEY RICO! And I’ll be like, YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO! I’ll get people doing that all the time.

By the time his oldest daughter was ten, her classmates went out of their way to point out her dad’s infamous nude scene. Van Dien said that his daughter confronted him about the scene on a drive home from school. 

I had to endure the longest three-minute ride of my life.


Karen Allen

Karen Allen

Allen was asked, at the time of your casting as Marion Ravenwood if you had any feelings on whether Raiders of the Lost Ark would take off?

There’s no way to ever know that about a film. That whole process is rather mysterious. I knew it was Steven Spielberg who was at the beginning of his career, everything he was doing was getting a lot of attention. And George Lucas was right in the middle of the Star Wars saga. You knew it was going to get a lot of attention. You didn’t know if it would be positive attention, negative attention or indifference. When we were making it we had a sense it was a special kind of film.

If you could go back to 1981, what would you tell your younger self about the role?

Relax a little more. Because I hadn’t done a film remotely like that before, it was a little overwhelming to me at the time. They built extraordinary sets. I was filled with wonder at where I was and what my surroundings were.

What was your experience like returning to the role, as a veteran actor?

So much better. That’s not to say I didn’t have a wonderful time making Raiders because I truly did, it was a really great experience. All those years later, 30-years later, I felt like I was home. It’s a wonderful experience to go back and work with people you’ve worked with before because all that initial stuff, trying to get to know people and getting to get to know personalities, getting comfortable in your own skin in a world of new relationships, that’s all done. So you can start from a different place

It was important to address the elephant in the room. Allen was asked about the rumours that she will reprise her role as Marion Ravenwood in Indiana Jones 5

It’s a mystery, I don’t think its been determined yet. They made the big announcement, I suppose there are other things that will follow. So far fingers crossed, I would love to be in it.


Tovah Feldshuh

Tovah Feldshuh

Feldshuh spent two seasons playing Deanna Monroe on the extremely bleak series, The Walking Dead. I asked her if she slipped out of the character as soon as the cameras stopped rolling.

You take it home, cause you’re a human being. So before I go to sleep, if I’m shooting the next day,  I watch something about The Walking Dead. If I’m done shooting that episode and being sent back to New York then I watch Downton Abbey. If you’re any good at this, the body doesn’t know that you’re making believe.

Feldshuh on her character’s unfortunate end.

The saddest day of my life artistically was when I got a call from Scott Gimple and he said, “Don’t take a long lease.” It’s always so astonishing to be told you’re going to be let go because that is how the series propels and remains number one. They introduce you to a character, they attach you to a character. You’re not going to die until people don’t want to lose you. Hershel’s not going to die until you want him to live. It’s one of the hooks

Feldshuh mentioned that unlike theatre, a recurring TV role doesn’t provide the actor with a character’s full arc.

When you’re doing a series you don’t have all this information. So you say, what makes this person tick? Operating well in a series without a full deck of cards is a very interesting challenge.

Feldshuh said that her Walking Dead character, Deanna Monroe, is partially based on Hilary Clinton.

She’s a very brilliant woman and she doesn’t lose hope. I didn’t carry a gun until season-6. I was lucky enough to be gifted with that part, a part of hope.

*Feldshuh is set to return to Toronto this coming June. You can find her starring in Golda’s Balcony at the Greenwin Theatre from June 5-19.


Jonathan Frakes

Jonathan Frakes

Sci-fi Television’s special effects have come a long way since Star Trek: The Next Generation’s mid-80s debut when as Frakes put it, “We used models in front of felt.” I asked Frakes about the evolution of CGI in sci-fi television.

You are now limited only by your own imagination. Especially on a show like Agents of Shield, where they have a budget that you can really create some wonderful stuff with. The limitations are only in your imagination, and if you have the right artists, and the right visual effects producer and supervisor it’s worth its weight in gold.

On his legacy in the world of Star Trek

I always feel like I was the lucky one. I got to be on this particular show, on this particular franchise, and to play this particular role. I’ve been blessed with long life friends. I just had dinner with Patrick and Levar, Brent, Dorne, Marina and Gates and Will and de Lancie, they’re my friends. That part has been as wonderful as this part (ComiCon).

They’re my dearest of friends. It worked out strangely. I’ve been on shows where it’s not that way. We’re life friends, we’ve stood in each others weddings, we’re godparents to each other’s kids.

Of course, there can be  no Ying without a Yang. Frakes was asked what the worst part of the job was. Without a moment’s hesitation, he answered,

The costumes. They were merciless. Sweaty. Miserable.

Frakes believes that Star Trek: The Next Generation’s strong writing and storylines are the reason it continues to resonate after 30-years. When asked if he felt a large responsibility taking on something that means so much to people he responded,

I didn’t really understand the place that Star Trek had in the popular culture until the resistance of The Next Generation was felt by all of us in the beginning. It was a very, reluctant, reticent audience which took about three seasons to shake off.

I asked Frakes about his career as a TV director.

If you’re not doing a pilot, your job is to come in and make the best version of their show. It’s like directing school. You go from class to class and you make different shows in different ways.

Frakes mentioned that he counts The Next Generation episode, The Offspring, and an episode of Leverage he directed titled The Office, as a couple of his favorites. However, before stepping away to do more interviews, Frakes flashed a bright smile and stated,

The best is yet to come.

Frakes is set to begin directing episodes of The Librarians’ third season.