Comicon day 3: The legends speak
This Memorial Day weekend, the Phoenix Convention Center is home to the Phoenix Comi-Con; a seemingly insurmountable heaven for geeks and nerds alike.
The State Press will be highlighting the four-day-event with coverage ranging from guest speakers, to exhibits, special announcements, and competitions.
Saturday: Live long and prosper
For thousands of Comicon attendees, Saturday was the day dedicated to the legendary icons Leonard Nimoy and Stan Lee.
At 2:30 p.m. after a brief introduction from voice actor Vic Mignogna, Nimoy took the stage in front of a crowd of over 4000 people.
His hour-long speech, accompanied by a slideshow of photographs, was heartfelt, sincere, humorous, and enlightening. Nimoy discussed his childhood and entrance into the world of theatre, how he secured his famous role of Spock, and his experiences as a photographer.
Nimoy led the colossal audience through his first involvement with acting and a mantra from that play which emotionally impacted him.
“I first stepped out on that stage when I was eight years old for a production of “Hansel and Gretel”, and I played Hansel,” he said. “This theatre had a beautiful embroidered curtain and there was a forest scene and at the bottom, in very beautiful Gothic letters it said, ‘act right your part; there all honor lies,’ and I took that very seriously and feel that it was very important to do an honorable job in the parts that you play.”
Nimoy went on to share a personal insight that his role as an actor gave him at the age of 17.
“I thought if I can do this kind of work for the rest of my life, helping people understand their lives, illuminating the lives for people in the audience I would consider it very important work; I would consider myself blessed to be able to do that,” he said.
Nimoy expressed his brief naivety during his early acting career when during an audition he truthfully stated he didn’t know how to ride a horse for what he would discover was a western themed production.
“You’ve got to learn very quickly when you’re an actor and you go and audition, whatever they ask you ‘can you do’ you say yes,” he said. “’Can you drop off a ship 100 feet in the water and swim 300 yards, kill a shark and climb back onto the ship?’ yes - I’ve done it many times.”
Nimoy talked about how his involvement in the play “Death Watch” propelled his career and eventually landed him on a series called “The Lieutenant,” produced by Gene Roddenberry, which eventually gave him his role as Spock.
“When [Roddenberry] called … and asked for a meeting, I thought okay now he’s going to audition me or whatever,” Nimoy said. “I got there he showed me around the various departments: showed me the sets being built and the costumes being designed. He showed me the props, the communicator and phaser, and the makeup department and he said ‘you’d be wearing pointed ears’ and I thought oh.
“Anyway I realized he was now selling me on this job, and I could have it if I wanted it; all I had to do was keep my mouth shut and I could go to work.”
Nimoy said the idea of Spock was a little scary, but what attracted him was that it was an alien with a human mother and a Vulcan father who wages an internal war between emotion and logic. He said he liked the idea of portraying a character who tried to live his life through logic, and suppress the emotional side of his persona.
He also discussed the birth of Spock’s iconic phrase, “live long and prosper,” along with the Vulcan greeting. The episode “Amok Time” is when Spock must return to Vulcan in order to fulfill a marriage agreement.
“Spock was in heat, it happens once every seven years as you know that; quite an event actually – well worth waiting for,” Nimoy joked. “I said to the director we should [create] something Vulcans do when they greet.”
Nimoy then described a Jewish practice which he modeled the famous hand gesture after.
“A few days after that went on the air, I had it coming back to me on the streets; Kids, bus drivers, police, waiters in restaurants,” Nimoy said laughing.
Then 27 minutes into his performance, Nimoy’s cell phone rings. He answers it and his wife is on the line. “I’m talking to a couple of people,” he told her.
The crowd then greeted his wife and Nimoy related her message of “have fun everybody.”
Laughing at the occurrence, Nimoy quipped, “that’s the first time that’s ever happened.”
Wrapping up the discussion about his acting career, Nimoy said, “all I wanted was to make a living as an actor; I set out to be one more good one, I believe being a good one if you’re going to do it and let’s be as good as we possibly can.
“I had a great, great run,” Nimoy said. “And honor, well I do have four Emmy nominations, and several lifetime achievements, and four honorary doctorates, and plenty of popularity.
“But Victor Hugo reminds us that popularity is the crumbs of greatness,” he said. “Do I have an identity issue? Of course, if someone yells Spock on the street it’s my head that turns.”
In his closing remarks, Nimoy wished “for all mankind the sweet and simply joy that we have found, and I know that it will be. We shall celebrate, we shall taste the wine and the fruit, celebrate the sunset and the sunrise, cold and the warm, sounds and the silences, and the voices of the children.
“Celebrate the dreams and hopes that have filled the souls of all decent men and women, we shall lift our glasses and toast with tears of joy,” Nimoy said. “Friends, I mean it sincerely when I say to you, may each and every one of you live long and prosper.”
Nimoy left the stage with over 4000 standing ovations.
Then 45 minutes after Nimoy departed, Eureka creator Jamie Paglia took the stage and introduced Stan Lee.
Paglia often restated questions for Lee as the Marvel founder said voices coming from microphones were often inaudible to him.
Lee had an audience of about 3800 and, unlike Nimoy, fielded questions from them during his entire hour-long spotlight segment.
The State Press asked Lee if he could give the creation backstory to a recently canceled cartoon series starring Arnold Schwarzenegger called “The Governator.”
“Somebody came to me and said to me that Arnold is kind of a fan, and now that he’s not governor anymore why don’t we do an animated cartoon?” Lee said. “Somehow it all came about that we were going to do a cartoon series called the Governator, and Arnold Schwarzenegger was very excited; we went up to his office and had meetings.
“We were going to do stories and then sketches with all pictures and story ideas – it was going to be good,” Lee said. “Then this happened, and unfortunately we’re not going to do that cartoon anymore,” he said referring to the recent Schwarzenegger scandal.
“However, we’ve got the cartoonists, we’ve got the animation studio, we have everybody who was ready to go so instead of letting it go to waste we’ll try and think of something else,” Lee said.
The State Press also asked if Lee would be willing to give a hint towards the villain of the upcoming 2012 movie “The Avengers.”
Before Lee could answer Paglia responded saying, “I would actually have to hold him down to make sure he didn’t.”
Lee then stated, “I don’t know: If I did I would probably tell you because I can’t keep a secret.”
Another question asked by an audience member was what Lee’s secret to longevity is.
“Intensive worrying,” he said.
His answer was met with laughter, and then he explained it further.
“For an hour every day you lock yourself up in a room, because you don’t want to be disturbed, and you do intensive worrying,” Lee said. “Now the minute the hour is over you stop, and until the next day at that time you don’t worry about a godd-mn thing.”
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