With more and more movies being filmed in Worcester, more and more celebrity guests are popping up at comic con with ties to movies filmed in, you guessed it, Worcester.
Case in point, FAN EXPO Comic Con held last weekend in the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.
Easily the biggest comic con in Massachusetts, FAN EXPO Comic Con’s guests included Ron Perlman, who stars in the eagerly anticipated Netflix original, “Don’t Look Up,” filmed, in part, in Worcester; Robert Patrick, who co-starred in “Honest Thief,” which was filmed extensively in Worcester; and Brendan Fraser, who got his big break 30 years ago in “School Ties,” which was filmed in parts of Gardner, Leominster, Southborough and Worcester.
In addition, Patrick and fellow FAN EXPO celebrity guest Michael Rooker (who wore a tutu and swirled a white laced, Mary Poppins-inspired parasol during his well-attended panel Sunday) are both alumni of “Rock and Shock,” the annual horror film convention that originated and used to take place at the DCU Center in Worcester before its untimely death.
Although Rooker is best known for playing Yondu in “The Guardians of the Galaxy” films, Worcester is now officially a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the recent filming of several action scenes for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” downtown.
Coincidently, the Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell holiday music “Spirited,” filmed, in part, at Mechanics Hall, was filming a stone’s throw away from the Comic Con this past weekend.
Although I urged Deadpool, who is a Worcester two-timer (Reynolds was also in “Free Guy,” which filmed, in part, in Worcester), and Ron Burgundy to crash the FAN EXPO Boston, via twitter, they never did. Cowards.
During a “Sons of Anarchy” panel that also included Mark Boone Junior and Ryan Hurst, Perlman said he shot his scenes for “Don’t Look Up” in the Bay State back in February.
Although he is a well-respected and seasoned actor, even Perlman got nervous about meeting three-time Academy Award-winning actress Meryl Streep, who plays the president of the United States in the film, for the first time.
“I’m in a van on my way to go see Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill and the driver was, kind of, looking at me in the rearview mirror,” Perlman recalled. “I had a little wash cloth I stole from the hotel bathroom and I’m pouring sweat and it’s 13 (expletive) degrees out. And he (the driver) says to me, ‘COVID? Are you all right? Do you need to go to urgent care or something?’ I said, ‘No, no, it’s Meryl Streep. Don’t worry about it.”
Perlman describes his “Don’t Look Up” character, Colonel Ben Drask, as “a right-wing crazy (expletive).”
“I play a guy who was a former Medal of Honor recipient. We never really understand what branch of government he served in, what branch of the military he served in. But we do know, at one point, he was conducting these exercise classes on the steps of the Capitol with these young, privileged kids and he called them all a bunch of (expletives). So his career goes down the toilet,” Perlman said. “And he’s been asked to give his life to this exploding asteroid that is on its way to Earth to wipe out the planet. And he’s a fully acceptable casualty after the kind of faux pas he’s made.”
Best known for playing the T-1000, the shapeshifting, liquid-metal morphing killing machine from the future in “Terminator 2: Judgement Day,” Patrick had very kind words to say about Worcester and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
“I lived in Needham, Massachusetts, in 1968. My father went to MIT. He had all the brains in the family,” Patrick said. “1968 was great here. Of course, a lot of hippies in the commons and there was a lot of pot smoking down there. It was the first time I saw snow, coming from Georgia. I was a cracker. Next thing you know, I’m with all these Yankees.”
In “Honest Thief,” Patrick had the small but important role as a FBI chief whom Liam Neeson is framed for killing; Neeson spends the rest of the movie claiming his innocence.
“Working with Liam in Worcester was great,” Patrick said. “And the people in Worcester were great. The crew was great, a little cold being from California, a little chilly. I had a great time working with Liam. Liam is a great actor the rest of the cast was great.”
Patrick — who will play John Cena’s father in the HBO Max series “Peacemaker” — shared with the audience two bits of interesting pieces of pop culture trivia.
“Name one actor who was on ‘The Walking Dead’ that did one episode, played two characters and they both died?” the actor said as moderator Aaron Sagers answered incorrectly, even though the answer was literally in reach. “Robert Patrick.”
Adding new meaning to the old theater idiom, break a leg, Patrick amusingly told a story about how he got his most famous role.
“Some of you may or may not know they were going to cast Billy Idol originally (as the T-1000 in ‘Terminator 2’),” Patrick said. “Now, do you want to know why I have such a love for Harley-Davidson motorcycles? Because Billy Idol was riding a Harley-Davison motorcycle. And he had an accident, his leg was broken. He couldn’t be the T-1000 and I got the job.”
Although everyone else was there to ask Brendan Fraser about his roles in “The Mummy” and “Doom Patrol,” I was able to ask the actor about his role in “School Ties,” a movie that began filming 30 years ago this month with scenes shot at the former train station in Leominster, the Blue Moon Diner in downtown Gardner (which was changed to Skip’s Diner in the movie), St. Mark’s School in Southborough and Worcester Academy (which was used as the place where Fraser meets Amy Locane at a girls’ school mixer, circa 1955).
“It was the first film I ever made,” Fraser fondly recalled. “I have such vivid recollection of making it, the time of the year and being here in Massachusetts and Boston. It felt like we were part of a film that was going to launch these ambitious, like, seven or eight guys’ careers. So we had high hopes. And we also were realistic. It could bomb. We didn’t know.”
In addition to Fraser, the film included unknown actors Matt Damon, Chris O’Donnell, Cole Hauser, Ben Affleck and Anthony Rapp.
“I have a real soft spot in my heart every year when I start seeing the leaves change color. This season means a lot to me. That’s 30 years ago. I started my career here in Boston,” Fraser said proudly as his words were met with thunderous applause.
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