Salt Lake Comic Con celebrity main stage recap

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Salt Lake Comic Con played host to a number of celebrities at the Salt Palace Arena from September 1 through 3. While Mark Hamill needed the nearby Vivint Smart Home Arena with an expected attendance of 20,000 fans, most celebrity panels were held at the main stage in the Grand Ballroom of the Salt Palace Arena.

Day 1

Mark Hamill

Mark Hamill made Salt Lake Comic Con his only United States convention appearance for the year.

With a crowded arena awaiting for Hamill’s entrance, the pre-show included jokes from convention MC Chris Provost, a Star Wars themed dance battle as well as an appearance by the Utah Jazz’s mascot.

Hamill regaled the crowd with stories from filming various parts of the Star Wars series, as well as shared his thoughts on his portrayal of The Joker over the years. He also spoke up about the secrecy around filming new parts.

“It might be annoying, all the secrecy and so forth, but we do it for you,” Hamill said.

Jason David Frank

Jason David Frank, best known for portraying Tommy Oliver across multiple series and movies in the Power Rangers universe, spoke not only about his time as a Ranger, but also motivated his fans to strive for the best.

For fans who struggle with self-esteem and mental health issues, he asked fans to keep a high opinion of themselves because “you’re only worth what your mouth says.”

Paul Draper

Paul Draper, rather than having a question and answer panel, performed various tricks to entertain the audience for the better part of an hour.

His act included catching a bubble blown by a little girl and giving her a solid sphere, to recreating someone’s signature while blindfolded.


Day 2

Arthur Darvill

Arthur Darvill is known for his parts as Rory Williams from Doctor Who, as well as Rip Hunter from Legends of Tomorrow.

Darvill couldn’t reveal much about the future of Legends of Tomorrow.

“There’s a lot of shakeups … and a lot of big twists,” Darvill said.

While Darvill did not rule out a return to Doctor Who, he said he would want to revisit it at an older age.

“It would have to be the most amazing story,” Darvill said. He continued to say that he thought the Ponds’ storyline in Doctor Who was very complete, and he wouldn’t want to do an injustice to it.

Jim Beaver

Jim Beaver’s panel drew a sizable crowd with audience questions mostly covering his time on Supernatural.

However, in response to a question about the rumored Deadwood movie, he said he has only heard the same rumors the fans have.

Another fan asked how he felt about his daughter possibly entering show business.

“How can I tell my kid not to pursue the thing that has given me the most enjoyment in my life?” Beaver responded.

John Cena

WWE’s John Cena walked onto stage after a video reel set to his entrance song from the WWE.

“It is very rare I get to be candid,” Cena said to the crowd.

Cena said that a lot of the divisiveness of WWE fans about his character comes from the fact that his on-screen persona is very close to who he really is.

“Over the years I’ve been on television, I’ve been on TV a lot … unless your character is authentic, it’s not going to be believable,” Cena said.

Evanna Lynch

Evanna Lynch, known for bringing Luna Lovegood to life in the Harry Potter series, spoke to a crowded room about her experiences.

As with any role, there are people who will feel differently about a character’s portrayal. Lynch said that she avoided reading people’s responses to her part as Luna Lovegood.

“I wanted to keep the purity of my own vision,” Lynch said.

Another big focus of her panel was about helping people to embrace themselves for who they are.

Lynch said her inspiration for getting past her own eating disorders was “reading these [Harry Potter] characters who were so brave and messy and weird.”


Day 3

Michael Rooker

Michael Rooker is most well known for his parts as Merle Dixon in The Walking Dead and Yondu in Guardians of the Galaxy.

After spending the first 20 minutes of his panel going through his backpack and throwing items into the audience, Rooker took his first question.

“Did James Gunn tell you that?” Rooker asked in response to a fan asking if Yondu would join the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Rooker then took out his phone and tried to call Gunn but was ultimately sent to voicemail.

Later in the panel another fan yelled “Call Chris!” (Pratt), and while Rooker made a call and pretended to speak to Chris on the phone, the name of the person he called read as someone else.

“If you believed that, I’ve got a bridge I could sell you,” Rooker said.

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