Highlights from Comic Con 2014 panels: Firefly, Doctor Who, William Shatner, and Sean Astin

Categories: Nerdery

Photos courtesy of Steven Cohen and Stacy Schwartz
Last weekend, we camped out in panel room 100 during Comic Con 2014 to catch the best talks with some of the convention's biggest stars. Here are the highlights from Sean Astin, William Shatner, Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin, and Robert Englund's panels just for you.

See also:
Seeking out Wizard World's D-List

Steven Cohen
Sean Astin -- all-around nice guy -- chats with his fans.
Sean Astin

"So this is Minnesota. This is a weird state." Sean Astin greeted the audience and was shocked that not only are there already youngsters going to prom, but that the fishing season has started up again. He even had some parents of a fan get his autograph for their son who would rather be out casting flies than meeting the Lord of the Rings star at Comic Con.

It turns out Astin might've liked to be considered for another role in Lord of the Rings, but the filmmakers were convinced he'd be the perfect hobbit. "They're so sure I'm Samwise," he says. "I'm reading the book, and I'm like, all I see are fat hobbits!"

After playing a drug addict at 19, he says his metabolism got messed up and hasn't been the same since. He's been proactive about his health and his weight, and has run the Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago marathons. However, for Lord of the Rings, Astin needed to tip the scales at 200 pounds by eating... and eating... and eating.

During his time in New Zealand for Lord of the Rings, he'd grown close with one of his makeup artists who suggested they go out for a friendly game of tennis. The next day, director Peter Jackson showed up on set with a newspaper -- Astin was splashed across the cover, racket in hand. Astin said that Jackson just shook his head. No more exercise besides carrying Frodo up that ginormous mountain. "I carried the weight of the entire franchise," he joked, referring to his heft... and his costar.

What got him back on the health track? An earthquake on the south island of New Zealand happened while he was shooting off fireworks with Elijah Wood. Right afterwards, he checked on his family, laced up his shoes, and went on a nine-mile run at 2 a.m.

Is Astin coming back for that highly anticipated Goonies sequel? He got a little hesitant and non-committal when answering the question, so it's anyone's guess. "If they make it," he said. "It will be good."

You will, however, see Astin in a few more comedies in years to come. The actor says he's growing a little weary of the dramatic roles he's known for. "I've done so many serious things, and the world is such a complicated place," he says.

He's even slated to have a couple movies showing at Cannes this year, Ribbit and The Surface. Astin unknowingly gave a huge spoiler alert for Ribbit -- which is about a poisonous tree frog who's hypnotized to think he's actually a prince trapped in an amphibious body. His daughter's in the film as a princess, and at the end of the film they kiss and she goes, "Ewwww." Astin quickly backtracked. "Oops!" he said. "Forgot I'm not in a group of friends here -- it just feels like it."

Random notebook dump:

What really struck me about Astin -- after having seen several other panels throughout the convention -- was that he is completely and wholly dedicated to his fans. Unlike most of the other celebrities, Astin made sure that everyone standing in line to ask a question actually got to speak. He's been in show business since he was a kid, and while that can turn out badly for some child actors, Astin's proven that he's got a good head on his shoulders with acting chops to match.

Also, Astin has a crazy memory for passages not only from the films he's been in (he could recite Sam Gamgee quotes perfectly 'til the cows came back to the Shire), but also Shakespeare. He's also totally down to transition into different voices -- especially when kids ask questions. From Special Agent Oso to Raphael from TMNT, he could change into character at the drop of a hat.

Fun facts:

To wind down, he and his wife watch Friends, which he describes as "kind of like an opiate." He even watches his old Goonies costar Martha Plimpton on her current television show Raising Hope.

Astin prefers the low-key pronunciation of Smaug, not "SMAAAUUUG," as he demonstrated for the audience.

Reminder: Astin's father is John Astin, a.k.a. Gomez from the original Addams Family television show. Sean even led the audience in an awesome sing-along of the theme song and had the entire crowd snapping along.

Favorite fandoms growing up?

Back to the Future, Raiders of the Lost Ark... and Smurfs.

Favorite part from the Lord of the Rings books?

"Not Tom Bombadil." This got a huge laugh from the audience, because seriously, who likes Tom Bombadil and his never-ending songs?

Favorite scene from...

Encino Man? Giving Brendan Fraser a bath was the first scene that popped into his head, "A classic by any standard."

Goonies? "Kissing the girl... and the pirate ship."

Rudy? "There was no kissing in that one, so probably sacking the quarterback in front of thousands of screaming Fighting Irish fans."

And finally, what's Astin's favorite cocktail?

A Gibson Martini, which is his father's drink of choice. "It's more the onion than the alcohol though."

Continue onto page two for our highlights of the William Shatner, Doctor Who, and Firefly panels.

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