Dominic Monaghan appeared at London Film and Comic Con 2016, where he took photos with fans, signed autographs and participated in 2 Talk sessions.
Movies, Comics and Spectacular Atmosphere.
From 29 to 31 July 2016, another edition of the legendary London Film And Comic Con was held in London, where we have the opportunity to meet original cosplayers, autograph hunters, lovers of movies and of cult series, mythomaniacs and simply curious people wanting to have fun in a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere, where everyone could find their place.
For me, the best part of large conventions like this is precisely the possibility to greet in person and take a photo with big screen stars as Famke Janssen (Jean Grey in X-Men and James Bond girl), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye in the Avengers) or Sylvester McCoy (Radagast in the Hobbit), and to be in the presence of cult film legends that have marked an era, as Rutger Hauer (famous for the legendary Blade Runner, Dolf Lundgren, action hero in films like Universal Soldier) or Kenny Baker (the actor who gave life to R2D2 in the Star Wars saga, RIP).
And there we also encountered Dominic Monaghan (LOTR trilogy, the Lost series, and many more roles we love) who doesn’t go to so many conventions. He was obviously one of the most popular stars. Hundreds of fans wanted to approach him, get his autograph or take a picture with him. Many people brought with them huge posters, games and DVDs. Some LOTR related that were already signed by the other main cast, and needed his autograph to be complete. Therefore, the buzz around his table was amazing at any time of day. The excitement generated grew at times.
The first thing we did on Saturday after arriving at the Olympia, headquarters of the convention, and after conquering the long line perfectly managed by Showmasters volunteers with British precision, was to obtain a number for the virtual queue for our meeting with Dominic. To give you an idea, we received a number in the 300s, and were there at 10 in the morning.
Of course, we were hovering around the place where our favorite actor was signing, to see if he was really there, but we struggled to get a photo through lots of people who stood between us and him.
And indeed, he was there, behind his desk dominated by a huge poster with Charlie’s photo, as he signed his fans’ valuable items, or the pretty photos provided by the organization, half hidden by a large box. And you may ask: What I was in that box? Maybe you guessed it! Lots of #BeCurious stickers of all sizes, that he offered to everyone that passed. A great detail for the fans! Dominic really knows how to treat them. Amazing, isn’t it? These kind of things make our love for him grow and shoot to the moon. After spending some time watching one after another fan getting their autograph, with our Virtual Queue ticket treasured, we took the opportunity to stroll around the grounds, and learn first-hand all that the con had to offer.
We wasted no time since the area was beginning to crowd. So we searched our favorite actors, and started queueing to meet them. We were lucky, because with not much time in between, we got the autographs of Harold Perrineau and Michael Emersson, two of the main actors and co-stars alongside Dominic’s fascinating series Lost. Both were super friendly with us, and we could talk a bit with them. First mission accomplished!
During the rest of Saturday, we had a great time stopping the best cosplayers to take photos with them, visiting the exhibition of the original costumes from the movie Suicide Squad, walking through autographs queues to see all the cinema and wrestling stars in the flesh, and ultimately, knowing first-hand the coolest ambience of a great convention, returning occasionally to see if our number was called to get in line for Dom’s autograph. However, there were too many people with a number before us, so we had to return to the hostel without being able to meet him that day. It was an intense day but we thoroughly enjoyed it. We would have another chance to meet Dom the next day.
Finally, Dom’s autograph.
Sunday began even earlier than usual. Anxiety for not having arrived in time to get the autograph of Dominic the day before meant we were willing to go to the convention site without going through the breakfast table to get our Virtual Queue ticket earlier: It was the last day of the convention, and I could not leave without my autograph (no way!). Therefore, we arrived very early, and immediately went to the table to grab a VQ ticket for Dominic’s autograph. This time, we were fast as lightning, and we got a number around 100.
And now, we were in the area of signatures sooner rather than later! Soon our number was called to queue, and we went through to a table where we could choose one of the beautiful pictures of Dominic’s characters: there were some LOTR as Merry, other from Lost, among the ruins of the plane crashed on the beach in his role as Charlie, some of Simon Campos in Flash Forward, and one of X-Men, where he played the mutant Bolt. But I saw none of his show Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan, where as you know, he meets the more fascinating animals on earth on their travels. But I came prepared.
As a biologist and animal lover, I wanted to get signed a photograph that had to do with his show, which I brought well protected in a folder, because for me, it is very valuable what he does with this show, and I admire him for it.
Arriving at his side, I was so excited I could barely utter a word. I didn´t even know how to begin. But I had some courage to ask him to sign my picture, where he poses with a yellow python snake, so beautiful that I could not resist. And without hesitation, he signed it. The truth is that we had little time to talk, but at least I could tell him that I liked his show. For me it was a very special moment, like a dream. And he was so close and friendly that we went away very happy with our #BeCurious stickers in hand.
The adventure had come to an end, and our mission was over, but the good memories will always remain. From here, I would like to thank Dominic for being there with all of us, and being friendly and nice to everyone, despite the stress that I suppose comes with attending such a convention. I send you a hug, Dom. Do not ever change.
Photoshoot with Dom
At 10:30 am on Saturday, Dom had to stop signing autographs because it was time for his first photo shoot, we had booked it in advance, months ago, so we were there early.
And I can assure you that, for me, it was the most exciting experience in a long time. The photos were made in a kind of closed studio, and it was impossible to see from the outside what was going on. The queue formed outside, and was entering the room where Dominic was doing his session, and it progressed quite quickly, so it was necessary to be prepared. If I tell you I almost had a heart attack, to set foot inside the small studio, surely you can believe it.
And there he was: Standing there, right in front of me, with that irreverent black T-shirt on which was written the word Irritant, her blond hair standing out against the blue background of the set, and the completely lovable figure whose body language we know perfectly, just five meters from where I was. As you can imagine, the impact was great. Too much for my heart.
Dominic kindly greeted each and every one of the people in the queue who had come to take the photo, and posing with a calculated professionalism, he made picture after picture, changing his expression with each person. Given how difficult it must be to assimilate everything that is happening during the day and how busy he was, it’s quite a merit to always be with a friendly gesture, 100% kind to fans.
My encounter with him came much earlier than expected, and it happened so fast that I hardly remember anything. My friend had to tell me what she had seen, because I could hardly get out of cloud 9. Arriving at his side, he shook my hand, looked at what was on my shirt and said something, but I did not know what, until my friend said he had asked if it was from Spain.
Some people posed with him in a fun way, emulating one of his characters, or hand painted with the phrase “not Penny’s boat” as he’s known for the series Lost. I only had the courage to say yes to everything, to pose a second and enjoy this surreal moment. Simply I put the worst of my circumstances face, to take a photo of the most average. But it was worth it.
And I have the proof in my hands: That fantastic picture that will remind me every time I look at it that I was beside him, his hand on my shoulder, with the nail of his thumb painted to match the flower of my hair (Let me take this poetic license to fangirl … : P)
At the end, I remember his pretty voice telling me “nice to meet you”, and then I left the place, with virtual summersaults in my head, not knowing if this was a dream or pure reality.
Saturday Talk: Dom and his career.
On Saturday afternoon, we were fortunate to attend a talk starring Dominic, which discussed some of his experiences, history and a lot of interesting aspects of his career. To begin, I have to say that it was a pleasure to hear him speak, as he is usually quite receptive to answering questions and seems to enjoy openly.
He began by explaining how he got into acting, explaining that for his 12th birthday he asked his parents for an agent. How did a boy at such a young age reach to that conclusion? He gave us the answer: the magic of cinema. He explained that he was born in Germany due to the work of his parents, his father being a teacher for the army, and his mother a nurse. He remembers himself, his brother and a friend of his brother renting the film Star Wars. All those special effects, lights, colors, etc really hit him. Moreover, he realized that Han Solo and Indiana Jones were the same person, and this realisation was what made him decide to become an actor. The films that most caught the attention of young Dom were Raiders of the Lost Ark and the Star Wars saga.
Regarding the LOTR trilogy, for which he is remembered and idolized, he said that neither he nor Billy Boyd nor Orlando Bloom were paid much for participating in it. Other more well known names did, such as Elijah Wood. It’s worth remembering that before this opportunity, he had only participated in one popular series on British television, Hetty Wainthropp Investigates. This trilogy being a worth while opportunity, he happily accepted the work despite the pay.
A curiosity about the filming of LOTR, is that Dominic saved a lot of diaries written by his own hand. He is thinking about publishing some of these one day. Orlando Bloom also took 1 photograph during the filming of LOTR every day, with an old polaroid. He has told Orlando he should publish these too someday. If at any time these are published, I hope we will be the first to know, because it seems very interesting to hear firsthand from their personal point of view, the ins and outs of this legendary saga. He also told us that it was, and still is, very normal for people to confuse Dominic with Billy Boyd and Billy with Dominic. Even on the set of filming of LOTR, people who worked with them said “uh, Dombilly” or, “Billydom!” To call or refer to them. And even now in his social networks sometimes people refer to him saying “Hello, Pippin!”. He doesn’t mind, he’s very close to Billy so considers it an honour.
He also had a nostalgic moment as he said that, after the last film of the three, The Return of the King, he realised as each of his teammates was taking a plane in different directions, that in reality the fellowship had each gone their separate ways. Going back is like going back to your old school, the place is the same but the feeling can’t be brought back. There had been some very intense years, at a very young age for Dom, which made the actors much united. He still stays in touch with many of the cast though, and runs into them all the time. He recently had a reunion with Viggo Mortensen and Billy Boyd in Los Angeles, where he got a little bit drunk but it resulted in some amazing reunion photos that he has posted on his instagram! As you know, he is a fan of social networking, in which he is very active, and he reminded everyone to give his Instagram account a follow, which call to mind is @dominic_monaghan_. He tried to convince Viggo to make an account arguing that in social networks one person can have direct contact with the people who follow him, just putting a photo and seeing what people write about it.
After LOTR, he didn’t know what to do, but had to make a decision if he wanted to continue to pursue acting. He could not return to Manchester because he would have to start again and there would not be a lot of work there. In fact, he decided to go to Los Angeles. He had to sleep for a while on a couch at a friend’s house. He had no money for a car or for a phone. Which was a severe problem, because how would agents get in touch with him if they did have work? It was a difficult stage in his life, until he reached a new opportunity: the innovative series of J.J. Abrahams, Lost. Then, through his character Charlie, he climbed back up that life rollercoaster, and again he was at the top of his career. For him, his life and career are constantly up and down: One day he was on the crest of the wave, at the top, and it seemed that he could assume he had launched his career. But that story ended and he had to start again. Again he climbed to the wave, and after a while, the new project also ended. Which led him to think “that’s it?” “It’s over?”. To dramatize these statements, we listened with bated breath, he said that if he had not been an actor, he would have been a very bad acting teacher, the kind that resented not having succeeded himself. For all that, he was glad to have been able to carve out a career in acting, which has also been much better for us. He reminds everyone that life is simply like that, with ups and downs, and it is the same for everyone, including actors like himself who are just people too, after all.
Another question he answered was what animal he would like to be, and he replied something very mystical: that when he dies, he would like to plant a tree on his remains, because trees are the most amazing creatures on earth, but if he was able to return in an animal form only, he would return as a humpback whale, to wander the seas. Which it seems to me, personally, a very deep and beautiful.
He also had occasion to speak of his television show, Wild Things With Dominic Monaghan, which invites us to follow him on all kinds of adventures in search of the most amazing animals on the planet. He spoke of his most interesting experiences, from his travel to Cameroon, which was the one that most impressed him, because of the lovely and welcoming people that live there. And also in terms of animals, he loved Madagascar, where he was to meet the only venomous mammal, the Aye Aye, which is really almost like a teddy bear. He also commented that he collaborates with SOS Orangutans, and that people need to protect orangutans in their environment. For this question, he gave away a signature Be Curious tshirt, saying it was the best question of the day.
When the conversation ended, I was silent, absorbing everything I had heard and enjoyed moment by moment. I loved his sincerity and ease of word even to discuss some sensitive and very personal issues. And I left there very satisfied, having been lucky enough to be there that day to learn more about the motivations and experiences of this unique actor, who, with his wise words, shows us daily that he is also a lovely person who really is worth following.
Sunday Talk: LOST.
On Sunday afternoon, the long-awaited moment came when three of the main actors in the remembered series Lost would meet their impatient audience: Harrold Perrineau (Michael), Michael Emersson (Ben) and Dominic Monaghan (Charlie). Like any good Lostie remembers, Michael was the father of the strange kid Walt, Ben was the mysterious leader of the Others, and Charlie was the drug addict rockstar. Three iconic roles with some very interesting backstories, essential to understand the complicated plot of the series.
For Michael Emersson it was the first convention, and his appearance generated a warm welcome from the fans. Then the question round began. One of the first questions from the audience, was at what time they realized that the show was going to be so important and legendary. Dominic replied that the pilot was already spectacular, so he realized it soon, and also considered amazing to be involved in that project.
He also said in reply to a question about pranks and fun while shooting, that in Hawaii he had fun surfing, something he had learned in New Zealand in the filming of LOTR, and there was also time for some mischief but mostly everyone was focussed and working hard. Harold said that one of his favorite fun memories was filming at a private airport right next to the backlot where the Lost plane crashed. That was contradictory, and fun. Just wonder: After many sleepless nights to leave the island, escape would have been very easy if they had just walked a few steps. Even the presenter made the joke about passengers of those planes, watching the set as they flight over it.
Someone in the audience also asked them if they had had the opportunity to improvise in their roles.I think the answer to Michael and Harold was no, but Dom said he himself had done it, in respect to the song of the fictional group Driveshaft where Charlie played bass. When he sang the song in the pilot he did it in falsetto, as Prince used to do, raising his voice to a very high tone. In fact, as he had talked to the director, the song should go a bit lower pitch and slower. And he did not hesitate to sing and pretend to play the guitar, to the delight of the audience. In the end, his impromptu performance in the pilot JJ Abrams liked so much, that it remained like that in the final version of this scene (below).
Then he explained the origin of the famous “You All Everybody”: JJ Abrahams, the director, said that Dom should create a song to be sung by his character in the pilot and they had nowhere to start. But at a given shooting time, casually, Dom heard a woman who was trying to sit people in their seats and was yelling at everyone, visibly cranky, “You All Everybody, acting like you are stupid people, wearing your expensive clothes … “and so it arose. That’s it, we have it! He thought. And there was born the legend, the Driveshaft one hit, which by the way, has only one stanza. At some point, someone in the audience sang the famous rhyme, prompting laughter from the audience.
Another interesting and complex question to answer was what character in the series they would have liked to portray. Michael answered John Locke, and said he liked the interaction of his character with John. Harold said Mr Ecko’s character seemed interesting. Dom was the last to answer, but as you would know if you have read his FAQ, it is a question that he does not like very much, because he feels a great attachment to each of his characters, who have a lot of him, as he builds them. Therefore, he first answered Charlie, that he wouldn’t change it, but then also opted for a funny answer: Sawyer because he is handsome, attractive, a ladies’ man, and just like Han Solo, another successful reference to his favourite movie saga.
One of the key questions was whether they had really liked the end of Lost, and if they would change the ending. Dom said that what was done, was done, and if at least a high percentage of the public had liked it, it was fine. He says the amount of people that had liked it was much more than those who were disappointed. Moreover, he insisted that he had not yet seen the end of the series, because at that time he was already immersed in other projects, and needed to concentrate 100% on them. Michael froze for a moment. Staring into space, as did his character Ben, with that face that everyone would recognize anywhere and that was pretty scary. He put the funny note, as the other two had to wake up him with a pat on the back and the classic phrase “you have to go back” which caused the delirium of those present.
When asked the actors if they thought their characters would have had a better ending, Dominic said that for him, the death of his character Charlie was perfect, because then people would remember him. In fact, despite the pain that gives us all the fans of Lost and Dom Charlie’s sacrifice, his death elevated him to hero status and he is, therefore, one of the most beloved characters.
These and many other things told us the stars of Lost, bringing back wonderful memories of the highlights of this cult series. Moreover, this was the final act of the LFCC, the last talk, the last day. After all the emotions experienced, we had only one thing to do: repackaging our bags and go home, with the still fresh memories of the exciting moments of this intense weekend, hoping to return someday and still enjoy the magic film. Goodbye, London, until next year, I hope.