Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Star Trek Convention Report - Zachary Quinto and Jacob Kogan

The big annual Star Trek convention in Las Vegas is always an entertaining weekend.  This year Pop Wench Joia and I checked out Sunday's events, starting off the morning with Zachary Quinto and rounding off the day with the incomparable Leonard Nimoy.

Becoming part of any sci-fi franchise with a devoted following is a daunting prospect for anyone.  Becoming part of the Star Trek franchise by successfully taking on the role of one of Trek's most iconic characters is a nearly unfathomable experience.  Yet somehow Zachary Quinto—who, of course, played Spock in this summer's Star Trek reboot—has stepped into this new role with an easy grace and zen-like calmness that's truly remarkable.

Not long after taking the stage, the Heroes villian and Trek hero was faced with one of the most awkward of convention situations—a fan at the microphone was so overwhelmed that she burst into tears and literally couldn't get out a coherent sentence.  If it phased the actor, he didn't show it, calmly asking if she was okay, giving her time to try to pull herself together without poking fun at her and eventually coming off the stage and giving her a big unsolicited hug, which actually helped the young fan pull herself together enough to ask him a question.

During his time onstage, Quinto fielded questions ranging from the regional vocabulary shared by Pittsburg natives (even slipping into a Pittsburg accent for those of us who haven't heard one before) to his earlier stint on the VH1 scripted series So noTORIous (he "enjoyed it while it lasted," but "wasn't sorry to see it go").

Quinto injected humor into his responses to the standard requests for stories from the filming of the Trek movie, jokingly claiming that the cast had all gotten tatoos and rings a la the Lord of the Rings actors and telling a fan who was wearing LOTR ears instead of proper Vulcan ears that she had to leave immediately.  When asked if he'd watched any orignal Trek episodes to prepare for the fight scene with Chris Pine, Quinto smilingly responded that he "didn't need any guidance on how to kick [Pine's] ass," although he did watch eps of the tv show in his trailer.  Pine and Quinto, as he pointed out, had been friends long before they were cast for the movie.

One of Quinto's most interesting and thoughtful answers was a response to a question about the differences between the characters of Spock and Sylar from Heroes.  Quinto said that both characters are "struggling to maintain control" which results in a certain stillness in each of the character's bearings, but that is the only similarity between them because their struggles are "rooted in different places."

[bxA]He also gave a very thoughtful and sincere response when asked what it was like working with Lenoard Nimoy during the film.  Although he's fielded this question before, Quinto explained that he and Nimoy hadn't discussed the details of playing Spock, and it was more about getting to spend time with the legendary actor and getting a feel for him and what he brought to the role.  Quinto described Nimoy as a "good friend" now, someone with whom he still speaks and has dinner when possible and said that working with him was one of the highlights of making the Trek movie.

With his calm stage presence, gently humorous attitude, sincere answers and appreciation for fan support, it would be hard for anyone to have walked away from Zachary Quinto's appearance without liking him and feeling that the iconic role of Spock is in good hands.

Fourteen-year-old Jacob Kogan also won himself a slew of new fans during his time onstage.  While fielding questions about his role of young Spock, his current schooling and his aspirations, Kogan showed himself to be unusually mature and well-spoken, while still retaining the irreverence that a teenager should have.  Demonstrating a surprisingly strong stage presence, he joked about how exhausted he was going to be from running across the stage to field questions and about the reactions he got at school when he returned from filming with the "Spock" haircut and no eyebrows (he said he should have had the haircut modified before going back to school).

One of Kogan's best answers came when a fan asked which actors he admired.  The teen's response was that he admired any actor making a living on the big or small screen or onstage who was doing it because they loved it and treated it as a craft instead of doing it for fame or money.  He was also realistic about his chances of returning to the franchise.  While Kogan was clearly enthusiastic about the idea of appearing in the next movie in another flashback or picking up the role when he's older and a young adult Spock is once again needed, he didn't hesitate to say that he was skeptical that another flashback scene would be needed.

After a short break, it was time for the original Captain Kirk and Spock to take the stage.  That report to follow tomorrow . . .

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