Interview: Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion on comic-cons and their new webseries 'Con Men'
Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk are together again in “Con Men,” a new web series written by them and produced by the fans! Funded by Indiegogo donations, the show will start with three episodes and build from there.
A decade after the show that catapulted him to cult status was canceled, Wray Nerely (Alan Tudyk)makes a living off his iconic character by traveling around the country to comic book conventions and other pop culture events. Meanwhile, Wray’s buddy Jack Moore (Nathan Fillion) lives the life of an A-list star. The series light-heartedly takes on the personalities and colorful characters that populate the con circuit.
HitFix Harpy spoke to Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion about this new project and all the convention hijinks that inspired it.
HitFix Harpy: Conventions are such a huge part of geek culture these days. Can you describe a little bit what the premise of “Con Men” is?
Alan Tudyk: It centers around an actor named Wray who was on a science fiction television show called “Spectrum” that was cancelled ten years prior. It lasted 14 episodes and then was cancelled by a network. Wray’s career has stalled and he takes every free weekend to go to science fiction conventions where he’s invited because of “Spectrum.” The show follows Wray as he goes to different conventions. There’s one episode where he’s recording his voice on a video game.
Wray’s good friend Jack Moore played by Nathan has gone on to be – he was the captain of the ship and he’s gone on to become a really successful movie star.
This sounds oddly familiar…
Alan: Yeah, you know. There’s certainly autobiographical parts to it. But they’re fun stories. His story is drawn from experiences that I’ve had and other people I know within the convention world. And it’s a funny take on conventions.
Nathan Fillion: A peek behind the curtain in a parody. A parody look – paradoxical?
Nathan: That’s not it.
Alan: It’s palladium.
It’s definitely that one. Now, for most people when they think of Comic Cons they just think of San Diego and nowadays New York. But there’s this whole world of second tier conventions run by companies like WizardWorld. Is there a fictional version of that in this show?
Alan: The small cons are definitely the ones “Con Man” tends to focus on. There are the first three episodes are the ones we’re looking to fund on Indigogo. But I’ve written as many as 12 as stretch goals that we can fund all the way up to. They’re 10 minutes each In those we don’t have a a fictional Wizard World. But if I was to make more I think there’s be more time to do that type of thing to get into more of how all of that structure. I would like to have a Con out there that is sort of the greatest Con to go to. I call it the ChakaCon. But Wray is not quite at the tier where he can get invited to the ChakaCon where everything is great and wonderful. But right now the show does focus on the smaller conventions and those are the ones that I’ve had some of the most interesting experiences at.
That sounds like a story. Do you have a weird conventions story you can share?
Alan: There was one in Australia and this convention does not exist anymore. Oddly, in Australia amateur wrestling is attached to a lot of the conventions. So you have sci-fi people plus amateur wrestling. They don’t have names and their characters are not quite formed. I met a guy and he’s like “I’m the Tattooed Marauder.” And the guy had two tattoos. They were very small. And another guy decided to show the Tattooed Marauder his katana skills. Ending up cutting the guy’s eye. Bled all over the ring. So the staff took him into the lunch room. There was blood everywhere. It looked like a slasher film. So the room is full of the smell of blood and that metally taste in your mouth and the staff says to us, “Why don’t you get some lunch? We set up meat and boiled eggs over there for lunch.” Meanwhile the Tattooed Marauder is sitting there in a sweaty pile. So sometimes there’s consequences that can end in a bloody pile of, you know, I think bloody lunchmeat says it all.
Bloody Lunch Meat is totally the name of my new cover band. For the most part though, what’s the convention experience like with the fans?
Nathan: I’m always amazed at people who know so much. They say “Why don’t you have any photos from this project?” And I’m like oh, I forgot I did that project. How did you know I did that project? The tenacity and the level of intelligence of these people. I meet a lot of people at these Cons and I’m confident 70 percent of them are smarter than me.
Alan: It’s a wonderful experience and you never know what’s on their mind. But that is the opportunity in television, in film. There is no audience that we get to participate with and interact with. The reason I got into acting was the audience is right there and if you did something great they were right there and you knew it.
Nathan: This is a very different world. If you want to know what’s in the minds and the hearts of the fans a convention is the perfect way to do it. I mean Twitter’s great. The connection you can get online and social media, that’s fantastic. But seeing them. When they get close to you and they start quivering and shaking because they’re so tense or so excited, I mean, that’s incredible an incredible energy and not to be underestimated. It is a phenomenal experience and Alan and I love it. We love the experience. We especially love doing them together.
Nathan: Alan was over in London at a convention and he called me up and said you have to come do this. I’m going to call the promoters right now and have them call you. I love doing the conventions. I love even more doing them with friends and meeting great new friends while you’re there.
So how does that work with the Con regulars? Do you guys call each other up and say “Here’s where I’m going to be this year,” and set up like an after party to go get drunk and do karaoke?
Alan: Absolutely, we’re doing it right now. I’m got the “Firefly” cast in an email chain saying “Hey which ones are we doing this year? Who’s going to this one? I’ll be in this one. I’ll see you there. I’m gonna try to do that one but I will definitely be at this one.”
Do things ever get tense behind the scenes during Cons?
Nathan: Okay, we were at the convention in London that I mentioned earlier. Alan and I went to do the panel and we talked in front of a group of audience. They asked questions and we talked for an hour. On the way back had us wait for about ten minutes. Just to kind of rest and relax and wait for people to get back in your autograph line. So we’re sitting there chatting with Elijah Wood. What a nice guy, he’s friendly. And a woman came up to us who was involved with the convention in some way or other. She said “I need to talk to you right now.”
She told us there is a problem and I’m thinking something is terribly wrong. She said, “Listen guys, you’ve got people in line right now and they are crying because they don’t think they’re gonna get an autograph.” We’re not gonna leave people in our line and not let them get an autograph. We’re not gonna stop at four o’clock on the dot and say we’re out of here. In this convention world a big line up is a big deal.
Who would you guys want to wait in line to meet?
Alan: Tom Hiddleston, Cary Elwes, Zachary Quinto. Benedict Cumberbatch, Brent Spiner. Anyone from the original Star Wars cast.
Nathan: Yep, definitely. On all of those.
Get more information about "Con Men" and/or make a donation over at Indiegogo.