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August 18-31
VOL.14 ISSUE. 26


Nathan Raine
Published Thursday September 17, 05:05 pm
Your inner child’s gonna go wild at the SCEE

Saskatoon Comic and Entertainment Expo

September 19-20

Prairieland Park


Take that, bullies!


The things that once got some of us shoved into our high school lockers back in the day are now staples of pop-culture coolness — and there's even meeting grounds for people who love them to get together and celebrate in person, rather than in an Internet chat room!


One of those places is right here at home, as the wildly popular Saskatoon Comic and Entertainment Expo (SCEE) returns for another year.


For those unfamiliar with the comic-con / fan-expo concept, here’s a primer: fans of a particular sub-set of pop culture gather to dress up, meet experts and personalities, buy / trade / play with merchandise, get autographs and take photographs with someone you’ve mistaken for Joss Whedon.


Emily Expo, the hostess, spokesperson and self-described mascot of SCEE, says the possibilities for fun are nearly endless at an event like this.


“It's entirely what you make of it. If you're into science fiction, you'll find lots of comic books, celebrity guests. If you're into more fantasy, card play, gaming or whatever corner of pop culture, there's really something for everyone,” she says. “You can celebrate the things you love and have grown up with, and enjoy them with like-minded people.”


This year's expo features some distinguished stars, including Billy Boyd (Pippin from The Lord of the Rings), Giancarlo Esposito (Gustavo Fring from Breaking Bad) and the legendary William Shatner (Captain Kirk from Star Trek, as if you didn’t know).


“It's a great chance to meet some of your favourite celebrities,” says Expo. “A lot of these people are extremely busy with their filming schedules, so to take the weekend off of work to come to the expo is a pretty cool thing.”


The point, says Expo, is that no matter your actual age, you'll be sure to find your inner child here.


“The big thing for me is just seeing how happy it makes people. You see little kids get excited when seeing a Power Ranger, and you see the same thing with adults. They get that same sense of childlike wonder and joy,” she says. “It's really heartwarming to see that positivity and nostalgia come out in people.


“Pop culture has that effect on us, whether we know it or not. And at the Expo, you can celebrate what you're into without being worried about being stuffed into a locker.”





Within just a handful of years, Scottish-born and -raised Billy Boyd went from humble book-binder to starring as a major character in one of the biggest movie trilogies in cinema history. Now, Boyd is forever immortalized as the ever-hungry, clumsy, Orc-slaying hobbit Peregrin “Pippin” Took in The Lord of the Rings. Boyd also busies himself with his alt-rock band Beecake, which he’ll be bringing with him to Saskatoon. (They’ll play at Louis’ on Sept. 19th.) Before dropping in to Saskatoon, he checked in with Planet S to chat about his life-changing role.


Being a relatively new actor at the time, landing this role must've felt like a long shot. What was your casting process like, and meeting with Peter Jackson?


I first heard about it from my agent. Everyone I knew was auditioning for it; everyone knew about it. So I went and met the casting director, and we read some scenes. Then they sent [the tape] to Pete Jackson. About three weeks later, Pete was touring the world looking for actors. I met him, and we spent about an hour doing scenes together. About a week later, he called up and offered me the part. That's it. I’ve done a lot of auditions that’s been a lot more difficult, a lot more time consuming, meeting the director like eight times. That’s one of the things Pete Jackson is great at: making decisions. You couldn't make those movies if you were indecisive. He makes a decision and goes with it.


It sounds like you and Peter Jackson found an immediate rapport?


Yeah, I suppose so. He obviously knows what he’s doing. He knew that it would be a year and half straight of shooting, so we couldn’t have any prima-donnas on there. Everyone had good work ethics and got along well. Pete likes human beings, he likes real people. Everyone was there just trying to make the best film possible.


I've read that you're quite a practiced martial artist, fencer and surfer, all of which might be considered manly things. Was it difficult to play a defenceless hobbit? Did you have to de-train?


You know what, I don’t think anyone has ever asked me that before — and honestly, yes it was difficult. I was really good at the sword thing. There was a swordmaster on set named Bob Anderson, who sadly has passed away now, but he was a master of swords in modern film. He taught Errol Flynn, Darth Vader. He trained us and was like, “Gosh you’re really good with the sword.” And then when we got on set I had to be the worst. It was painful, it was really painful. I wasn’t allowed to be good with a sword on LOTR. I just had to throw stones, really. I was good at throwing stones.


I want to ask you about Peter Jackson. Going into LOTR, he was known more as a small-budget, genre-film / horror movie director. Did you have any doubts that this was the guy to pull this off?


Not really. Before I met him, I was a fan of his films. I knew his movies; they were some of the first I had on video that I would watch and re-watch. Then when you meet him — just his knowledge of film, you knew he just wasn’t just one type of director. When he made those early films, he did the special effects, he edited them, he shot them. He knows every part of filmmaking. I think that’s the part that made it possible. His interest in every aspect, and then getting who he thinks is the best person for each aspect, so he can let them do their thing.


So it really wasn't such a huge leap?


No, I think one of the reasons it worked is that it was actually made by a filmmaker. It wasn’t made by a career director, some guy using it as a stepping stone to make another studio film. It was made by someone who wanted to make the most beautiful film that you could.


That explains why it doesn't really feel like a big studio movie.


I think so. It definitely doesn’t have that studio feeling, does it? It doesn’t feel like, “Let's make another huge film.” He made Middle Earth, you know? His whole life at that point was about creating the Tolkien universe. And I don’t know if there was another filmmaker who could’ve done that, to be honest.


How did you approach playing Pippin? Was there any room within the role to make it your own, or did you try to remain as faithful as you could to the text?


I approached it in the way I always approach acting — which is, very simply, you write down any facts about the character, even the sex. Once you have the facts, then [write] what people say about the character, and what Pippin says about other characters. Then you have a kind of blueprint of who that character is on the page, and then within those things you carve out your own telling of that character. The character is never black and white. That’s why a thousand people have played Hamlet.


So you weren't afraid of getting such an iconic character “wrong,” and pissing off legions of fans forever?


I suppose there was a bit of that. But we were in New Zealand, and in many ways, we didn’t really think about the outside world. We were so immersed in it. And this was a time when the Internet was still coming up, so we weren’t reading about it every day. We sort of just made it. We worked hard to make the best film we could, but we weren’t making it for a studio. If anything, we were making it for fans of the book.


Was there a moment while shooting that you realized that you were involved in something very special?


There actually was. We took 20 minutes of The Fellowship of the Ring to the Cannes Film Festival. And Weta, the special effects people and the art people, they took some of the set with them. So while everyone else is having parties on a yacht, we built The Green Dragon Bar, to scale. So anyone who went to the bar felt like hobbits because the bar was six-foot high. And then we showed 20 minutes of footage and all the critics got on their feet and were applauding. And I thought, “Oh my gosh, this is unheard of.”


How does it feel to be in the coolest tattoo fraternity in the world? (Boyd shares a tattoo of the Elvish word for “nine” with his other Fellowship actors.)


Yeah that is pretty cool, isn’t it? We have this “nine” Fellowship tattoo — there’s only nine people that have this tattoo. What’s even cooler, Peter Jackson and Mark Ordesky, who’s one of the producers, went out and got number “10” tattoos.


To one-up you?


To kind of be part of it. They thought it was so cool that we got the nine that they wanted to be part of it — but knew they couldn’t be, so they got the 10. I like that.


Finally, I understand you're bringing your band to Saskatoon?


Yeah, we're going to play Saskatoon and Edmonton, which I’m very excited about — I’m excited about showing the boys that side of the world. I made a film in Regina a few years ago and loved the experience, so I'm looking forward to coming back to that part of Canada.  

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