Fan Expo Canada is held annually in Toronto, usually at the end of August, with this year being one week later. I try to attend every year, and especially knew I had to once all the Harry Potter stars were announced! Amidst all the scheduling changes, cancellations, re-bookings, NEW bookings, and four refunded/re-purchased photo-ops later, the weekend had finally arrived.
Friday (My “Day One”)
Started the morning bright and early with a coffee and a good book to get in line 1.5 hrs early for Tom Felton’s Q&A panel. Morgan Hoffman from InnerSpace hosted the celebrity panel (which was originally supposed to be for Sunday, but had to change to Friday last minute due to Tom’s filming schedule).
Tom likes playing bad guys, thinks it’s fun to play a “little git”. He saw Chamber of Secrets recently and couldn’t watch himself to which Morgan made him blush with a comment about how cute he is with the bleached blonde hair. His favourite Harry Potter film to act in was the Half Blood Prince and had a tough time getting out his one line with Michael Gambon during the shooting of that major scene up in the tower. Apparently Michael joked to him something to the effect of taking his time, because they’re paying him a lot per day to be here and he could use a Ferrari.
When asked about visiting Canada, he shared that he’s actually come to Canada for 5 years since he was 21 to go fishing on the St Lawrence River. He loves Canada as we share the “passion of other North American countries and the politeness of other non-North American countries.” During the Q&A section, while fans squealed at being called “lovely” by Tom, he smartly turned some very Potter-specific questions back on the questioner, asking them what they would do with [whatever magical item they were asking about].
What a fantastic start to my Hogwarts weekend!
The next panel we made our way to was “What Scares You?”, hosted by the Horror Writers Association. (I was bummed to have missed the “Scary Stories” panel right before this one) This panel featured 5 authors, moderated by a 6th horror author. Based on the description in the guide, we thought it would be more of a discussion than what it ended up being. Of the 60 minute panel, 5-10 was getting seated late. 10-15 were long introductions of each of the panelists, and the remainder were long questions that they just kept going down the line each answering the same question one at a time, rather than it be a conversation. The guide said “audience members are encouraged to express their fears as well”, though there was absolutely no chance for anyone to ask or add anything.
Walked around for the rest of the afternoon until it was time to end my long first day of the Expo with a Phelps Twins Q&A panel at 7pm!
I truly wish I had recorded the entirety of James & Oliver Phelps’ Q&A panel (though I’m sure many others have and that it exists out there). Hosted by self-proclaimed huge Harry Potter fan Morgan Hoffman once again, the panel was an hour of non-stop laughs as the twins opted to not sit down throughout the entire time.
It was fun to see James & Oliver play off each other during this Q&A. Oliver speaks very low & softly, but has more to say. When asked if their characters had influenced how they are now, James shared that he used to be very shy and quiet. But jokesters can’t be so sullen so becoming Fred Weasley helped him break out of that shell. “Having fun. Life’s too short.”
I also got the sense that Oliver is very entrepreneurial, like his character, with his big ideas. From his own personal site/brand jopworld, when asked about ideas for a spinoff Oliver had a very fun/quite plausible idea already thought up. It would be a comedy show set in the joke shop and run by George and Ron. The shop’s safety alarm? Fred’s ghost.
Earlier in the evening, someone had asked who was the cuter one to which, with no hesitation, James raised his hand and said “I am.” Later on, someone asked what their patronus would be. Oliver said a sloth, as he sat down and slouched all the way down in his seat. James says, “A hedgehog.” Oliver asks why, and James answers “Because they’re cute!”
All questions relating to the fate of their characters in the series garnered quite a lot of laughs every time James would imply about Fred’s outcome. During the filming of that emotional scene in the final movie, James apparently fell asleep while Oliver was crying because of eucalyptus being blown into his face right before filming. Which star intimidated them the most? Gary Oldman, for James.
What might have been an awkward moment (like an earlier request to have the twins freestyle rap) ended up being one of the funniest moments of the evening. They were asked to tell a joke, and Oliver had the hardest time thinking of a good – appropriate – one to tell. This went on past other questions as he continued to wrack his brain for a good one and finally triumphantly tells us one about two slugs. To which James leaps up at the end of it and chastises his brother for getting it wrong. “Snails!! Two SNAILS!”
After the long day yesterday, I was definitely going to try and take it easy for Saturday. It’s always the busiest day of the expo so I avoided the chaotic South building completely.
The weeks leading up to today were filled with photo-op ticket purchases, refunds, and re-purchases… all leading up to this moment where I would get a chance to meet all four of the Harry Potter stars.
At over $300 for this moment, I’d like to think I could have enjoyed it a bit more than just the 7 seconds I was rushed in to take a picture, and rushed back out. All I wanted was to be able to shake their hands, actually look at them in the eye and say hello. I didn’t want to be *that* girl who held up the line of course, but in hindsight, I wish I did take a few extra little selfish seconds. I wish the organizers had taken that into account, based on how much they’ve charged everyone for this experience, to not herd us through like cattle. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love LOVE LOVE the photo and the 7 seconds of meeting them. I just felt like the organizers treated this, and us, as a big cash grab – to see how many people they can get through that line and to pay that much.
And speaking of which… the Hogwarts Reunion. Also a phenomenal opportunity, especially given that it’s Rupert’s first convention EVER. But I know there were a lot of people angry that the organizers were charging for extra tickets on this panel, and that it was cheaper on the original date of Friday evening.
Once again hosted by Morgan Hoffman, now decked out in her Gryffindor gear, she introduced Rupert Grint, Tom Felton, James & Oliver Phelps to the stage. After a couple opening questions from Morgan, they opened it up to questions from the audience with a few caveats: One question limit, no photography/video while asking question, and no asking stars to say hello to so-and-so (thankfully learned from the previous days’ panel questions, I’m sure).
There were a lot of topics covered during this hour, but a few highlights that stood out in my head:
- On fanfiction: James thinks Jo’s word is golden. He prefers that and doesn’t need fanfics. Oliver said his friend sent him a photo of someone reading fanfic about them on the subway and that it was graphic. Tom countered with how it’s the photos that are graphic, having seen one where he and Dan are naked on a bed. He stresses that he does NOT ship “Drarry”. Rupert says he’s read some, and it’s weird.
- Fave set from the movies? Oliver’s first reaction was the Great Hall (I wouldn’t blame him!) but then changed it to the joke shop because it was a fully working 5-storey tall shop from the inside and out. Tom’s was the Chamber of Secrets even though he never filmed in there, and Rupert’s was the giant chessboard set.
- Ron/Hermione? Rupert played it cool about Ron ending up with Hermione while Tom teased him mercilessly on who he’s fooling, that there was so much chemistry between the two of them.
- What would they do with a timeturner? Rupert would go back to the 4th movie and re-think that hairstyle (to loud cheers and laughs). James said he’d go back to the 4th movie TO relive Rupert’s hairstyle.
After a hectic and busy Friday & Saturday, I was definitely going to take it easy on Sunday and do some morning shopping in the South building for a couple of hours. Picked up some graphic novels and comic books (the new Archie!), and a bunch of fantastic artwork from artRuss. (I just love that Snape “Always” print!). I also managed to get Don’t Stop Believin’ stuck in a number of people’s head with my awesome Hogwarts tank.
All in all, this year’s Fan Expo Canada was fantastic with the Harry Potter stars line-up and it’s definitely a memorable weekend for me, but the constant last minute scheduling changes and crazy costs made it a very frustrating experience. I won’t go into all of it again here, but I know I wasn’t alone in the frustration of all the sudden changes and cancellations, not just for the Harry Potter stars but other guests as well.
Anyone else make it out to Fan Expo this year? Did you enjoy your experience?