I had sat in on Margot Kidder and Erica Durrance - the two Lois Lanes - and they were fun and interesting, but not compelling. I have long admired Margot's portrayal of Lois. She so perfectly captured a character I had grown up with and used to some extent as a role model of what women could be. But all I can tell you from what she said was that her most terrifying moment doing her own stunts was the Maid of the Mist scene (the pull of the water was much more than she expected); and that when Chris Reeve was first hired for Superman, he was a skinny little thing, and he built that body by his own sweat before filming started.
JM commanded attention from the first moment he walked in. (I have noticed that the more fascinating panels are led by a guest who is standing rather than sitting. This is not universally true, but usually.) He informed us that no question was too intimate or dirty. "In fact, the dirtier the better." Someone reminded him that there were minors present, and he immediately came down off that stance and allowed that people should bear that in mind. Some teen made a remark that I couldn't hear and he said, "Yes, but we aren't supposed to encourage that in you."
Unfortunately, the paper on which I made notes slipped away from me at some point, so I will see what I remember, because he said a couple of interesting and insightful things.
The first question was about a picture of him arranging his mashed potatoes and sausage into the shape of a penis and balls. Why did he do that? He said it's called (correct me if this is incomplete) a 'banger' which consists of (*wails* my notes are gone! I don't remember the English term for 'sausage') and mashed potatoes, and when you put them on a plate, that's what they're going to look like! "It's called a banger, folks!"
Then he pointed at the questioner and said, "And *you're* dirty!
"And I love it!"
He was asked something like (I didn't hear the question) how he became a good actor and he said that the audience teaches him everything he needs to know:
(NOT direct quotes, but very close)
"There is a moment of complete and utter silence, when the audience isn't even breathing. Then you know you have them. They're hanging on your every word.
"Then there's the level where they are breathing. There's a few whispers. But they're paying attention.
"And then there's the level where you hear the rustle of paper. People are looking through their programs. Then you know you're in trouble! You're not doing your job. Then it's time to simplify."
At some point someone asked him to play her guitar. Now there's a guitar which will be treasured hereafter! Anyway, I guess he has or did have a band. He's very versatile and talented in a lot of different directions. He has run his own troupe, for instance. He says he very carefully picked actors who were going to be great or famous but not there yet; that he didn't care about race or sex, but rather who was the best actor for the part. He has done a lot of Shakespere, and I guess loves Hamlet, but someone asked which part he like next to that and he said Henry II, because he feels that the character is usually played wrong - that people assume that Henry was a weak king, but he was not; that he simply lived in a time that kept him from being able to do what he was capable of.
I was very impressed with his versatility. I hadn't known anything about him previously beyond Spike.
In response to some question, he said that all acting is about giving people permission to stare. That people need to stare at the beautiful or the odd; so give them something worth staring at. This is something that I for one had never thought about, and had a 'that's exactly right!' moment of discovery.
There were some other gems I had written on that paper. What were they? I had thought of one other good one this morning, so I expect I will again. When I do, I will edit this post.
I love our boy. You all know that. I wouldn't change anything about him. His modest quietness is a characteristic that we would not have him lose. But he could learn something from watching some of these other panels. I wonder whether he ever does? It would probably be very difficult for him to do so without causing a ruckus.
ETA: I'm reminded of one of the things JM said about acting. He was saying that if the cameraman had his way, all of the acting would be wooden and rigid. They prefer for an actor to come on, hit his mark, and say his lines. An actor like JM, who likes to move around, get down low and reach up high, and dart to the side, is very difficult to film correctly.
Then I asked Raederle what she remembered, and she has added this: (mostly written by her)
One of the first questions went to the effect of, "Do you have any tattoos or peircings?"
"No. But I have lots of scars." (Paraphrasing) "Tattoos always have to be covered up at some point. I think an actor should be kind of like a blank slate."
Throughout the session there were many people, including me, who tip-toed toward the front and took pictures on their knees. Everyone was quite respectable. But he didn't get away without telling us anything dirty.
A woman from the right side of the room asked him to recall his most embarassing fan encounter, and he told this story: While he was outside, in a crowd of people, an elderly woman, seeming around eighty years old makes the most strange request. She first asks him to turn around. He, being "young" and "naive" as James put it, turns around thinking "whatever." Then, she askes him to bend over. Well, being still young and naive, he does so. She grabs him right between the butt-cheeks and says "now clench." The crowd roars with laugher, and James might have blushed just a little. But heck, my vision is blurred.
Another woman (yes, the whole crowd was basically female) asks how you keep going as an actor when you are feeling down. JM goes into a story that brings many "awwwwwwes" from the audience, and he assures them during the story that this was a long time ago an it's not like that anymore.
He recalls being in college for acting at Juliard, and that after performing they told him that he had absolutely no talent what so ever, and that he should give up. He said that he almost committed suicide that day, but he pulled through it, and of course, later showed them how wrong they were.
As is bound to happen, someone asked what it was like doing the sex-scenes with Sarah Michelle Gellar, and if he enjoyed them. JM recalls that it was not something he enjoyed because Sarah had this habit of laughing, and being the lead role, everyone on the set seemed to "follow her lead" in the laughing.
Then, concerning the most embarrassing scene he's done, he immediately said, "Licking Sarah," at the beginning of season 8. He recalls her having a "coat, and scarves and stuff" and he had a "sock" and that the whole thing was very uncomfortable. He says she felt like a sister to him, and kissing his sister was always bad enough, but that is was really bad when he has to lick her. The scene had retake after retake after retake, until finally he said to himself: "You better do it right this time,
or you're just going to have to lick her again."
At somepoint, I forget when or why, but James comments that it's as though "you want me to be gay." This got a lot of laughing and hooting. I'm sure there are Frodo-Spike things out there.
A black woman, looking around age 35ish, made the only comment without a question. She thanked him for mentioning at some point before about how there were somehow no black people living in Sunnydale.
JM says, "Where the hell is Sunnydale anyway?" He also goes on to talk about his own troupe of actors, and that he only picks who is on his set based on talent, and that if you're a black female, but you're the best actor for the part written for the white man, then you'll have that part.