It’s going to be a busy afternoon in the main Ballroom at the Anaheim Convention Center, with WonderCon panels for films ranging from “Prometheus” to “The Amazing Spider-Man.”
I’ll be live-blogging the panels, technology-willing. It’ll be just like you were here, only you probably won’t be damp from Southern California rain.
1:26 p.m. The panel begins with a video from “Tim Burton,” who apologizes for being unable to attend. Apparently he’s a dried out corpse in London. We’ve been promised a new trailer and a new scene from the movie. If I pause, it’s to watch clips…
1:28 p.m. Seth Grahame-Smith takes the the stage. He says this is weird for him, because he’s usually at Cons as a fan, rather than as the writer and screenwriter of something like “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.” He urges us to pray for Tim Burton. Benjamin Walker (Abe himself) and Timur, the director whose name I won’t be able to spell, take the stage.
1:30 p.m. Timur Bekmambetov.Yes. I did a cut-and-paste. But now? Clips!
1:34 p.m. Have you ever wanted to see Abraham Lincoln firing multiple guns at multiple vampires while running across a train shuttling towards a burning bridge? We now have. Have you ever wanted to see Abraham Lincoln drop-kick the head of a deceased vampire? We have. This movie is going to be utterly goof-tacular.
1:35 p.m. “I just get drunk and throw darts at a wall until I hit two concepts that make no sense together,” Grahame-Smith says of his inspiration. He came up with the idea in 2009 on book tour for “Pride & Prejudice and Zombies.” He saw bookstore displays for Abraham Lincoln biographies and “Twilight” next to each other and… Inspiration! He says that Abraham Lincoln’s real life story is a super hero origin story.
1:37 p.m. Ben Walker insists that he did a lot of research, including reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, though he admits that that was more about Lincoln’s politics. But he also read “The Melancholy of Abraham Lincoln.” He says, “It’s really a period movie that just happens to have some vampires in it.” Grahame-Smith predicts people will come for the kick-ass action movie, but we’ll actually get some subconscious history from it. The crowd laughs nervously.
1:39 p.m. “He’s a bad-ass,” Walker says of Lincoln. “As an American I want to know that my leaders are strong… and have the capacity to cut some heads off,” Walker adds.
1:40 p.m. “One of the big contributions that Tim made was protecting the idea that we wanted to do this unapologetically,” Seth says of Burton’s contribution, swearing that this movie is “muscular” and “aggressive” and “straight-forward” and that they didn’t wink. “He had the balls to trust these guys,” Walker says, praising Burton’s courage to trust Timur and Seth.
1:40 p.m. “Yes. Victory is mine. Take that, Lindelof!” Seth says, learning that his book is over at Disney’s Hall of Presidents. He continues to swear that the research was exhaustive and he compares it to getting the language of Jane Austen right for the zombie book. He found inspiration in the letters that Lincoln wrote.
1:43 p.m. Fan wants to know how faithful Timur was to Seth’s book. Seth got to adapt his own book, saying that you have to “murder some of the things you love” in translating the book. The book lacks a central villain, but they invented Adam, the character played by Rufus Sewell, including another character played by Anthony Mackie. “My book didn’t have a kick-ass train sequence at the end of it. I forgot to write that part,” Seth says. He also had to put his faith in Timur, who insists that he wanted to keep the tone of the book, even if he changed some elements. “We’ve added vampires, yes, but we’re also using Lincoln’s life,” Walker says. “There’s only so much play you can have, because we know what Lincoln did,” Walker says.
1:46 p.m. “I admire anyone who can get that many people to pick up a book and read,” Seth says of “Twilight,” calling it good for literature and movies. But he promises that his vampires don’t sparkle.
1:47 p.m. They’re intentionally releasing the movie on the summer solstice. Or they’re coincidentally doing it. Unclear. “I guarantee you it is the only vampire movie this summer with a president killing in it,” Seth says, distinguishing his movie from other vampire properties. “I wanted to pay respects to the vampires I grew up being afraid of. I wanted vampires that would be worthy of getting their heads chopped off and scary, no-nonsense villains,” Seth says.
1:49 p.m. Could President Obama be a Vampire Slayer? And what would his weapon of choice be? “I think Obama could pull it off… He’s tall. He’s in shape. He’s got a little bit of a badass quality to him from time to time,” Seth answers. Walker says Obama’s weapon of choice would be… Diplomacy!
1:52 p.m. The new, plot-driven “Lincoln” trailer, which we just watched in 3-D is much more convincing that there’s a full movie here.
1:53 p.m. Damon Lindelof takes the stage for “Prometheus.” He recalls his first experience watching “Alien” and not eating anything for three days for fear that a creature would burst from his chest. “I can’t believe that I now get to share the stage with the man who made that film,” Lindelof says, introducing Sir. Ridley Scott.
1:55 p.m. “It’s been a long time since I’ve done science fiction, which doesn’t mean that I wasn’t trying,” Scott says. Scott says that while “Prometheus” has the DNA of “Alien,” the story evolved and took off into a different universe. “If we’re lucky, maybe they’ll be a second part to all of this, because the film really does leave you with some nice, open questions,” Scott teases.
1:56 p.m. Time to see the full “Prometheus” trailer.
1:59 p.m. Fantastically intense trailer. Lots of plot. Idris Elba with a weird Southern accent. Goo. Mark Strong. Michael Fassbender. And still no real answer for how the movie ties in with “Alien.”
2:00 p.m. Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender take the stage. They’re both very pretty. Fassbender wishes us a happy St. Patricks Day.
2:01 p.m. Charlize was in Malaysia during monsoon season when Ridley Scott sent her the script for “Prometheus.” She had to climb to a hill-top to get reception and she agreed before finishing. “Same thing, minus Malaysia and the monsoon,” Fassbender says. “Each page there was something new and there was something unexplained. You could never put your finger on anything,” Fassbender recalls. “With the master at the helm, it was just an amazing opportunity,” Fassbender says, hoping that the finished product will do the fans proud.
2:02 p.m. How do the actors explain it the movie? “I told them it was a romantic comedy, so they’re going to be shocked,” Theron says. “I’m just trying to find love in all the wrong places,” Fassbender cracks.
2:04 p.m. Scott explains that having the script in place was the most important thing, pointing over to Damon. “We all know it’ll be my fault if the movie sucks,” Lindelof says. Scott recalls that his casting process usually begins with a general two-hour discussion about bigger things than just the script. He’s looking for a partner and to craft an ensemble.
2:05 p.m. “I love being around actors and I think that’s when I’m at my best. There was something about this cast that really was a driving force for me in wanting to do it. Everybody BUT Michael Fassbender was really great,” Theron says of being in an ensemble. Heh. Fassbender smiles. It seems that Fassbender is playing a robot in the movie. “We discussed it. It wasn’t like it was going to be a reveal of any sort. The fact that David is a robot is revealed early in the film,” Fassbender says, just in case you believe that they actually just spoiled anything. Fassbender’s character is a butler robot, designed to service the crew. Oddly, he says that he developed the character’s mannerisms from diver Greg Louganis. Hmmm… Not sure what that means. It sounds like his character has a sense of humor.
2:09 p.m. This movie is shot in 3D. It’s not a conversion. People cheer. “It’s absolutely beautiful,” Scott says. He praises his partnership with his cinematographer. Scott admits that he’s always come from the visual perspective anyway. He’s full of praise for his production designer, his costumer, the special effects team, etc. “It looks absolutely beautiful,” he repeats.
2:10 p.m. Questions coming in from Twitter. The first query is about the advances in CG and how they impact Ridley Scott’s work. Scott recalls that the original Alien was an extremely tall man in a rubber suit. “There was no other way of doing that then,” Scott says, remembering how hard it was to put the head on him. This movie refreshed Scott’s love for science fiction and he plans to make more sci-fi soon. He says, however, that being able to do anything you want produces the challenge of “How original are you going to be? Otherwise, it’s just more of the same.”
2:13 p.m. “It’s a combination of musk and chillis, sometimes mixed in with a little mint,” Charlize says when asked what Michael Fassbender smells like.
2:14 p.m. “For me it was a real pleasure coming back,” Scott says of returning to sci-fi. “On behalf of all of the fanboys and fangirls here, we’re enormously appreciative that you have,” Lindelof tells him.
2:18 p.m. Second viewing of the “Prometheus” trailer. VERY intense.
That’s it for this panel. Coming up next? Some Battelshipping and some Snow Whiting.