I recently attended Boba Fest, a character-based fan event hosted by the El Paso-based convention planners Sun City Scifi.
The celebration featured guest of honor actor Daniel Logan, best known for his portrayal of the young Boba Fett in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, and the animated Cartoon Network series The Clone Wars.
Sun City Scifi cofounder, Jeannine Puhlman, explained that the inspiration to create an event focusing on Logan and his character came about when she first met the actor at a convention in Roswell, N.M. She found Logan to be overwhelmingly nice, and needed to bring him to her hometown. I had been a bit skeptical of the idea of a one-character celebration. That was until I met Logan.
Logan told me he felt the appeal of Fett began with the initial impressive presence the bounty hunter had on the screen, namely the distinct look of the Mandalorian’s costume.
“It’s the uniqueness of the outfit,” Logan said. “I mean, every little boy’s dream was to dress up in that cool outfit.”
As it turned out, this “dream” was something shared by both boys and girls as there were plenty of admirers, young and old, male and female, as well as Fett cosplayers waiting to meet him and show off their fandom. This included those who created costumes especially for the event, active cosplay groups such as the regional chapter of the Mandalorian Mercs, and even those with intricate tattoos whose dedication to Boba Fett was literally beyond skin deep.
It was Logan himself, however, who made all the difference at the event. He was genuinely gracious, enthusiastic, and talkative. He took time to pose with fans, even those who didn’t purchase autographs. I have seen other guests at comic-cons and fan events interact well with fans, but not at this level. For example, when two young fans adorned with the classic Princess Leia hair buns brought him their hand-drawn pictures to autograph, he complemented their work, but joked it needed a little something extra. Before autographing both pieces, he took the time to draw his own pictures of Boba Fett alongside theirs and made sure the girls had a photo of all of them showing off their art together.
This was typical. He wore fans’ helmets before signing them, got up to openly share hugs, answered questions from even the most lingering fan, and repeatedly told people that days like this are what it’s all about. Logan admitted his very real appreciation for his fan base is something he proudly shares with fellow Boba Fett actor, Jeremy Bulloch (portrayer of the adult Boba Fett).
“When people come out and they meet Jeremy Bulloch and myself and see us interact with fans and find out how friendly we are, I think it makes them like the character even more,” Logan said.
As both a fangirl and a mother, I appreciate this attitude.
I try to raise my children to realize that just because a person is in a line of work that tends to shower them with exposure and attention, this doesn’t make them more than human. They are just people who perform for a living. However, this doesn’t mean I would begrudge my daughter the chance to meet or get a photo with the person who brought her favorite fictional character to life.
I’ll be the first to point out the single-day event tucked away in West Texas isn’t as demanding on a celebrity guest as, say, San Diego Comic-Con. In addition, Logan is not as well known to the masses as A-List actors like Harrison Ford or Robert Downey Jr. I do understand the demand on some busier actors, artists, and authors. However, I think people appreciate the human, accessible element of anyone over the rehearsed comments and talking points uttered behind an elevated panel table or podium.
I don’t care what a famous person’s politics, pet causes, or inner-demons are. In fact, I’d rather not know. What does impress me is how they interact with those who made it possible for them to be famous in the first place: their fans.
Logan was a great example of someone who gets it. He knows how important fans are to his livelihood and treating them as equals and not little people makes the difference. He’s not the only one, I have discovered. Here are a few others, who, in their own actions and words, have gained my appreciation due to their appreciation of their fans.
Nathan Fillion. The ultra-busy Fillion does his best to stop for photos with fans, but if time and schedule are overwhelming, as they can be at comic-cons, he created, and apparently hand-signed, business cards to hand out to fans when he is in a rush. “While I would relish the chance to stop for a photo, to sign something, or even just chat, my responsibilities lie with scheduled events organized to reach as many fans as possible who have waited patiently in line, sometimes more than an hour,” the cards read. “Instead, please find my autograph on the back of this card. Tell your friends we met and had a laugh — I’ll back you up.”
Tom Hiddleston. I’ve heard story after story about Hiddleston’s friendly demeanor, but it was the well-publicized photo of him, in full Loki costume, bearing a kid with a Captain America shield on his back, that stands out. The photo was the result of a young fan watching a filming of the first Avengers movie and was fortunate enough to run into Hiddleston. When the mother asked if she could get her son’s photo with him, Hiddleston was the one who asked if he could put the boy on his shoulders. That little unnecessary gesture went viral, proving how a little extra effort can change a fun experience for a kid into a completely awesome one.
Ron Perlman. Many celebrities have done work with the Make-A-Wish foundation, by meeting young fans, but Perlman went one huge step further for a boy named Zachary who was undergoing treatment for leukemia. The boy’s wish was to meet Hellboy, so Perlman, with the help of special effects company Spectral Motion, underwent the entire four-hour makeup procedure to reprise his Hellboy role just for the boy. They also shared a Hellboy-sized meal of burgers, shakes and fries with Zachary and his family, and gave Zachary his own Hellboy makeup treatment. What a class act. You can see some photos of Perlman and Zachary on Spectral Motion’s Facebook site in the “Make A Wish Day with Zachary” album: facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.302834343145044.66502.145844752177338&type=3
Matt Smith. Even though the Eleventh Doctor is not my favorite doctor by far, I can certainly see why fans admire him. In addition to recently pounding the pavement at 2013’s San Diego Comic-Con in full Bart Simpson cosplay, the thank you video to his co-workers and fans regarding departure from Doctor Who was beautifully done. I’ve also seen how he gets down to the eye level with his young fans and talks to them without patronizing. To paraphrase Smith in past interviews I’ve seen, he said it is important to treat young fans well, because he could imagine how bad it would feel to meet The Doctor and have him act “all dodgy” around them. He wants to make sure that doesn’t happen. See Smith’s now-famous video message to his fans.
I know there are others out there I may have omitted, but for them, as well as those listed above, I can only say: Thank you for not being big stars…but for being real people.