Between 7th and 9th of May 2010 I attended Starfury: Echo 1, the worlds first Dollhouse convention, at the Thistle Hotel, Heathrow, London. The guests attending were Tahmoh Penikett, Fran Kranz, Enver Gjokai, Dichen Lachman and Miracle Laurie who also brought along her fiance (also an actor) Christopher May.

Saturday and Sunday of a Starfury convention follow pretty much the same pattern. Photo shoots in the morning, guest talks in the afternoon, autograph sessions in the early evening which lead to huge party sessions that go way into the night.

On the Saturday night is a fancy dress (costume) competition, which is judged by the guests, and this is the night that the guests tend to hang out at the bar and on the dancefloor. Sunday night is the closing ceremony where everyone gets emotional.

Many of the questions and stories told in the guest talks on the Saturday are repeated on the Sunday as people can’t always make both sessions (especially people like me who steward during the day), and consequently the talks merge into one and I can’t remember what was said on what day. So I’ll merge the talks into guests rather than days.

As I mentioned in the Friday report Enver Gjokaj is just a natural actor, he entertains without any apparent effort. Many of the questions revolved around everyone’s favorite imprint, Kiki. Enver told us that the inspiration for this came from a wrap party where he just started doing the dance. Unfortunately Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancheroen were witnesses and, as happens when you reveal a talent to a Whedon, you end up doing it on the show. Tim Minear came up with the whole episode specifically so that they could get Enver to do the dance. (Enver showed us later that night just what a good dancer he actually is, but no Kiki unfortunately.)

On the day of filming, there were a lot of extras for the night club scene. When they blocked the scene, Enver didn’t do the full dance, so when they started shooting the extra’s didn’t know what they were in for. They were told, this guy’s gonna be doing this crazy dance, you look over at him, but just from the corner of your eyes, he’s just some crazy guy doing a dance. They didn’t reckon with the power of the Enver-Kiki dance and the extras were just staring at him, mouths agape on the first take. The directors yelled cut, and then no, no, you need to just glance at him. Twenty takes later, they wrapped the scene and Enver asked director David Soloman if they got what they wanted, “yeah,” he said, “we got it on take five!” That rascal.

When asked if he had taken anything from the Dollhouse set, Enver told us about a suit that he had worn that he had really liked. It was an outrageously expensive designer suit and he had asked Fox if he could buy it from them, but they point blank refused. Then Fox stared selling of props and clothing on eBay, and Enver kept an eye out for the suit appearing, and when it did, he bid on it and won it for a couple hundred bucks. A fraction of the price he had been willing to pay Fox for it, and an even smaller fraction of what it is worth. I kinda love that story. A lot.

Both Enver and Fran Kranz were a little in awe of Olivia Williams. They both spoke of her with much admiration and respect. Enver was very conscious of his English accent when acting with her. Fran, the hyperactive one, who had to work with her the most, was particularly in awe of her. Fran (as you can see from this video) is always screwing his lines up, laughing and, one would imagine, generally goating around on set. Olivia would just stand there, still in character, waiting patiently for him to compose himself. Which of course, just made matters worse.

Fran spoke a lot about the scene where he and Adelle are stoned. She would tell him, “Darling, you’re doing pot, this is more like mushrooms.” Oh to be a fly on the wall at her college parties.

Fran and Enver (both out of work at the moment) also talked about how it was hard to find satisfying work after having got their big break on a Joss Whedon show. None of the scripts they receive or parts they may go up for are on a par with what they have already done. They have been spoiled by Joss’ words and the roles he has given them. This is a familiar theme with Whedonverse actors, especially the younger ones.

Tahmoh seemed a lot more comfortable in a group setting than when he was on his own. Unfortunately I missed his talk with Miracle, but caught him in the group talk at the end of Sunday which was genuinely the best talk of the weekend. The story about the sock (the skin-coloured garment worn to cover up one’s manhood when doing nude scenes) and the shower scene I will tease you with, but not repeat. You’ll just have to come next year and see if he’ll tell it again.

He did tell a great story about a fan encounter one time when Battlestar Galactica was just in it’s first couple seasons. I won’t even try and tell it as well as he did, but the basics where, he was out in a shopping mall with one of his cast mates when this one huge, huge body builder of a guy (and you’ve seen Tahmoh right, if he thought the guy was huge….) kept looking at him and eventually the guy started to walk over to them with a real mean look on his face. Tahmoh thought he was going to have to fight this guy, the way he was walking over to him and got ready to defend himself, so he was surprised when the guy just geeked out and was all “Oh my God, you’re Helo, right from Battlestar Galactica, oh man, I love that show”. Tahmoh told him he thought he was coming over to fight him, the way he looked and the guy said, “oh no, that’s just how I look.”

The jedi chefs were mentioned, Tahmoh is a jedi-chef of some years standing (if you don’t know about the Jedi Chefs, go to www.jedichefs.com and when Jedi Chefthis picture appeared online some of his friends back home got a little concerned about him. He received a long email from a friend basically saying, “I don’t know what you’re doing out there in L.A. Alcohol, drugs, whatever, but we’re concerned about you and we’re here for you if you need us.”

I missed both of Miracle’s talks unfortunately, though I did catch small parts of it from my position perched outside the green room. Miracle and her fiance Chris May have a Ukulele band, Uke Box Heroes, in which they do covers on the ukulele. Miracle just has the most beautiful voice. You can check them out at www.myspace.com/ukeboxheroes. Chris, also an actor, had a small part in the Buffy episode, Life Serial, he has recently appeared in Heroes. As Chris took the stage so that they could perform a few songs, Miracle remembered a tweet of my friend Kirsty’s where she had said she would like to re-enact the scene between Buffy and Chris’ character, so Miracle called her up on stage so she could do just that.

Finally, Dichen, sweet as ever, was cajoled into telling the embarrassing story of her first ever Hollywood premiere experience by Gossi. After moving out to L.A., her first job was a sci-fi channel original movie (yup we all know how badly those work out) Aztec Wrecks. Naively, Dichen thought this would be kind of another Jurassic Park style movie and was very excited about it. Even when she got to the set and saw the dinosaurs, she thought they must just be props and they would CGI then so they would look awesome for the finished film. Wrong. As part of the deal the film was to be shown theatrically and it opened at a theatre on Sunset Avenue. Dichen rang the cinema ahead to see if she would need to book tickets in advance, they said, no, just come along. So she did. And she watched the film, in an empty cinema, with a homeless person. Poor Deech.

So those were the talks, and I’m sure I left a whole boatload of stuff out. I was going to include the parties in this, but I think this blog has gone on long enough as it is, so I will try and write those up tomorrow.

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