TAMPA MEGACON 17: Ruth Connell, Alex Kingston, Katie Cassidy, Stranger Things Panels
The third day concluded Tampa MegaCon 2017 but the reduced hours didn’t mean reduced enjoyment. The main convention floor was still full, people hurried to get their photographs, took advantage of the Cosplay hospital and attended various panels, including the tea making. Panels included Ruth Connell, Alex Kingston, Katie Cassidy and the most popular panel since Friday’s events…Gaten Matarazzo and Caleb McLaughlin from Stranger Things.
Ruth Connell had always loved films and television before she worked on them herself. “I have all the copies of Empire,” she boasted and that’s quite a feat. The monthly magazine first started in July 1989 when she was ten.
Magazine issues aren’t the only things Connell collects as the audience soon found out. She pulled out a drawstring bag from her purse and opened it to reveal small bottles of shampoo, body wash and tiny soaps.
“It’s a thing that I do now. I take things from hotels.”
In order to reward audience members who are brave enough to ask a question, Connell takes something out of her bag. Most of it were toiletries but she also had bracelets from her favorite charity. My Hope Chest helps breast cancer survivors have re-constructive surgery. “We want for every woman who wants that to get it.” Each questioner also gets a hug.
Of course, no Ruth Connell panel is complete without all the Supernatural questions. The first one spoiled anyone behind on the series by revealing that her character died. When the audience member complained about the death and how she deserved better, Connell answered, “Yeah, motherfuckers!”
Another audience member had trouble with the microphone because of the height. When she apologized, Connell asked, “You’re apologizing to me for being short?” Then, the five foot and three inches high actress laughed. The actual question was about a possible appearance on Wayward Sisters.
“That would be so cool. The spin-off looks amazing and they’re casting it more broadly,” Connell answered referring to the cast that’s more feminine and darker than the original series’ cast. She didn’t rule out a return to Superntural either.
“Warner Bros. keeps everything. You never know when you have to go back and do a flashback.”
Connell does have other projects. “There’s a chance for George (Clooney)” to be in Looking for George where he’s the title character. There’s a television pilot created by Georgia Dolenz, Open House. Connell described it as “another angry character.” She’s still proud of her 2016 film, Hara Kiri, “It’s a love story…happens to be two boys.” She’d also love a role in The Handmaid’s Tale.
Watch Connell and the Tampa audience perform V Club Mega dance:
“I love playing women with strength because women are strong. Maybe the ingénue role isn’t the image that we want to send to young women now,” Alex Kingston answered before giving the audience member a banana. Every questioner received a banana.
“I’m glad you’re concerned with our audience’s potassium intake,” remarked Moisés Chiullán, the Master of Ceremonies for the weekend.
“It’s not the potassium, it’s the banana,” she retorted. Well, the Ninth Doctor did say, “I like bananas. Bananas are good.”
Despite 37 years of roles, most questions revolved around River Song on Doctor Who. One tried to pin down her favorite Doctor.
“I can’t answer because they’re all the same person, he just comes in different shapes and sizes…and as far as River is concerned, it’s the same spirit. It’s the same person inside that she loves. When she comes to meet her second wife, it’ll be the same,” Kingston explained. “Well, of course, it’s a spoiler. It’s a teaser that I want to throw to the BBC!”
“If River had to go on adventure with a companion she hasn’t met, it’d be Rose.”
“Would she be jealous?” asks someone since Rose loved her husband, too.
“No, River shares!”
The only regret that Kingston seems to have with her River performance was the last episode with her character’s parents.
“He (Steven Moffatt) hadn’t really figured out River’s journey or feelings about” her parents’ departure, she explained. “I wish that had been explored…why can’t I just go back and get them?”
Kingston would love a limited series with River as the star and knows just how it should begin, “the opening shot going through a magical bar and showing River having a martini with Captain Jack (Harkness).”
“I can’t take David Ramsay down. I don’t think anyone can. His arm is the size of my body,” Katie Cassidy pointed out when discussing her intense daily workout routine that includes boxing. She demonstrated some of her moves on Moisés Chiullán who presided over almost every single panel.
Apart from her acting, Cassidy also has a lifestyle brand, Tomboy KC. She wants to expand it into clothing, including men’s clothing.
“Sharknado? Sure,” she said, agreeing to the possibility of being in it. “What’s that?”
Audience and Chiullán fills her in on the successful Syfy film series.
“So, there’s a tornado of sharks? Can I be a shark?”
After finding out that wouldn’t be an option, Cassidy changed her answer to, “Then no, I don’t want to die.”
Cassidy is open to being on America’s Ninja Warrior, “Sure”.
She was also asked about Supernatural.
“When they killed me off…all these people love killing me off, the contract I signed, I could still be on the show if they hadn’t done that,” Cassidy said before later adding since deaths don’t always mean an end to that character, “And we all film in Vancouver…”
However, most of the audience wanted to know about Arrow and what might happen for her character. One questioner laid out how Black Siren could be redeemed.
“I really hope they decide to do this…there is a chance of redemption for her…I think that it would be interesting and really hard but a lot of fun at the same time.”
There were some questions she had to refuse.
DC or Marvel?
“I’d lose my job!”
Arrow or The Flash?
“I love my job!”
Sunday afternoons are typical a time for napping or activities that don’t require much exertion. Attending a convention where sleep becomes a minimal necessity because there’s too much fun stuff to do doesn’t improve the situation. The audience really couldn’t be that faulted for their lack of energy but Gaten Matarazzo and Caleb McLaughlin weren’t having it.
“Come on, get up!”
“Can we put on the Pokemon theme?” asked Moisés Chiullán. The host of the panel was rewarded with the opening notes. The boys demonstrated how they wanted jumping around and more active dancing. When the song finished, the crowd was better. Even though they’re the stars of Netflix’ biggest series, they are just teenage boys who’d love to discuss Marvel and DC.
“I want to be Peter,” McLaughlin (Lucas) announces. Matarazzo (Dustin) corrects him that he’d be Miles Morales who’d take over after Spider-Man dies “which I hope to be in the far distant future because I love Tom.”
Much later, an audience member would ask who would win if the Avengers battled the Justice League. The immediate answer was Avengers but then, both agreed that Justice League was “over powered” especially Superman.
“What if Spider-Man had kryptonite infused webs?” Matarazzo argued but both changed their answer to Justice League.
The boys are kept grounded by their families and charity work. McLaughlin admitted that he still sometimes had his phone taken away. His father responded by applause and cheers from his front row seat.
Matarazzo founded CCD Smiles that helps others with Cleidocranial dysplasia (CCD). There is no cure for the condition that affects teeth and bones. The condition is permanent and he revealed Sunday that he would have more oral surgery this week.
McLaughlin has been trying to get his social media followers to “Embrace Your Face”.
“If you don’t have the confidence in yourself, no one will,” he told the audience. “I like to inspire people and give them someone to look up to.” He also talked about the need to help children orphaned by war.
The boys also have that closeness that feels like they are BFFS forever, When asked about a favorite off-screen moment, Matarazzo mentioned the class field trip to the aquarium in Atlanta.
“I didn’t go,” McLaughlin complained. “Your favorite moment and I’m not even in it.”
“I forgot you weren’t there.”
They look at each other for a moment and Matarazzo amends, “It would have been better if you were there.”
Despite being told not to ask anything, there were questions involving season two, including those Ghostbusters costumes.
“It’s not like we’re wearing them to fight monsters. No, they’re Halloween costumes,” Matarazzo explained. Shortly after, a Ghostbuster comes to the microphone to ask, as a Hoosier, how they prepared to pretend being in Indiana.
“The show takes place in Hawkins, Indiana. Is that even a real place?” Matarazzo asked.
“No,” the Hoosier admitted,
“There you go,” McLaughlin answered. There was a similar question about the how the boys dealt with such different technology in the ’80s. Their response was to point out how much had changed just in their lifetimes. Since 2001, house phones went from a necessity to a rarity and cellphones are capable of just about anything. Those vast changes in technology makes the ’80s technology not seem so long ago.
“If you could be any other role, what would it be?” asked a younger member of the audience.
“Hopper!” cried both boys at the same time, followed by, “Twinsies!” Hopper was also their favorite adult character on the series.
They also refuted the current issue of Entertainment Weekly. It claims the new character, Max, causes tension in the group.
“She comes in pretty smoothly,” McLaughlin said. “She enhances the chemistry.”
“She doesn’t do anything to be really unlikable,” Matarazzo added.
“The panels are my favorite part,” Matarazzo told the audience. After three days of seeing Stan Lee in person, being sung to by just about every celebrity in attendance, being given various prizes and laughing until it hurt, most of the audience would have to agree.