Walker Stalker Con has a lot to offer every fan who comes to the convention but let’s be honest – one of the best parts of any convention is the celebrity guest list! Not only does Walker Stalker give you the chance to see these celebs in panels and get professional photo opportunities with them – you can meet them at their own booths and have an opportunity to snap a selfie, grab an autograph, and tell your favorite celebrity that you love who they are both on and off screen. It’s incredible!
The 2016 guest line up is amazing, and in Nashville we were lucky enough to see everyone from Austin Amelio and Austin Nichols to Kenny Johnson and our favorite – Tom Payne.
Actually, Tom is sort of everyone’s favorite.
Playing Jesus, a charming character on The Walking Dead, the crowd that Tom drew in made it obvious that he’s already made a lasting name for himself in the fan base.
When asked, Tom Payne said of Jesus “You have NO IDEA how cool my character is.” He went on to explain a bit about how Jesus had the opportunity to kill both Rick and Daryl if he had so chosen to, but he didn’t. He reiterated to us that Jesus IS a good guy, he never wanted to fight or kill anyone, and he adds a sense of levity to the group.
When Tom took the stage for Jesus’ panel he made a grand entrance.
Yes, that is Jesus Walks you’re hearing, that is a stop and pose, and that is an adorable giggle on his face as he walks towards his chair.
The questions for Tom started right away, from the panel and fans alike, he was one of the most anticipated guests of Walker Stalker. Everyone had burning questions from how he felt stealing Norman’s fanbase (specifically the ones who have major heart eyes) to how he feels about joining the cast and everything in between.
Of course, one of the burning questions came from the fans and their desire to know how he felt about the Jesus references. Just as we suspected, he LOVES them! His favorite so far is a WWJD shirt but instead of the J it was just a photo of Tom’s face! He said one of the things he was most excited about for the convention were the fans and what they’d come up with – he was impressed all around.
Tom also joked and said, “I say Jesus a lot like oh Jesus Christ and I can’t say that anymore.“
Tom said, of playing Jesus, “It was nice to come in and take the pressure off of the cast and audience.” Jesus was brought on when stress was at an all time high and emotions were running everywhere. The group, generally, held the fight and kill automatic response to trouble and outsiders. Jesus brings a different dimension to the show. His attitude is more “We can work this out, you don’t have to kill everyone you meet.”
On being a leader, Tom thinks Jesus is better suited as the right hand man, and we have to agree – with his peaceful demeanor (but take note, he’s got more power than he lets on) – he makes a good second in command. Jesus has the potential to be violent, to steal, and to kill – he just doesn’t want it to resort to that.
There was a funny moment when Tom talked about filming in Georgia and being told about all the ticks, heat, snakes, etc – he was quite taken back by all of the things he was warned about. “Everything here wants to hurt me.”
The Abraham’s Army Panel was Surprisingly Emotional.
Abraham’s Army – Abraham, Rosita, and Eugene – had a panel that was full of laughs but also some moments of heightened emotion. The trio joined the cast at the same time which gave their characters, but also themselves as individuals, a special connection.
Michael Cudlitz, Christian Serratos, and Josh McDermitt definitely had some of the best chemistry between them. Their bond as friends enhances the bond that their characters have and it was easy to see. There were multiple times when they applauded one another for their evolving characters, handling of tough situations, and threw in some jokes and laughs along the way.
“The Walking Dead is about real human emotions and what you’ll do to keep family and hope alive.“
That statement sums up why TWD has become so important to fans, it’s not just a television show about zombies taking over the world – it’s a television show about the relationships between people when times get hard and what they’ll do to keep each other loved and taken care of.
The group went through a few big things that brought them closer together but the most recent, and perhaps most heavy, was the recent break up between Abraham and Rosita – Christian said it was sad for her to watch the shift between them after that experience.
It was unanimously decided that Eugene had progressed the most, going from a man who was helpless and needed to be saved to a man who was brave and wanted to be the one helping others. One of their favorite lines of the season was when Rick recently spoke to Eugene, it was a small interaction, but one they said showed the true colors of both Eugene as a character and Josh as their friend.
Rick: “We’re lucky to have you.”
Eugene: “I won’t argue that.“
The Saviors might not have been the bad guys after all.
Okay, we know – Daryl got shot and we all went on a mini riot, like seriously, we were emotional. The hand that pulled the trigger belonged to none other than Dwight, and upon seeing him at Walker Stalker we thought he’d be a character that was shown a lot of distaste. Turns out, he actually believes that people are so afraid that no one will be nice to him, that more people end up being nice to him. The same is true for Alicia Witt as Paula – and while they’re both the ‘bad guys’ – the truth is, they mirrored two of our favorite characters a lot, just from an outside perspective.
Dwight and Rick have a lot in common – their leadership, their need to be strong for the others, and their determination. Paula and Carol were a lot alike – strong and compassionate while still knowing that their own lives were important. Had things ended differently for Paula, her and Carol could have gone on to become friends. Dwight still has hope for his relationship with Rick – perhaps they’ll come together next season.
We took a moment to ask Austin if the zombie apocalypse happened tomorrow, would he be anything like his character in the show and his response was a quick NO. He’d be a better person if the apocalypse was upon us, giving people what they needed, inviting people in for safety – he thinks that’s the way to survive.
“I’d be super nice and kind and help everyone, I’d get a big rainbow hippy bus to hide out in.“
We also had a chance to ask Dahlia Legault what her most exhausting day on set was and she responded quickly with season 6 episode 1. She was running for 16 hours in over 100 degrees temperatures and she had layers of clothing on. She said she got sick during filming.
It just goes to show how much of themselves the cast give to their characters to make sure the fans get the best performance.
Bates Motel is twisted – but there’s always another side to every story.
We spoke with Kenny Johnson before the Bates Motel panel about his character, Caleb, and what he brings to the show.
One of the things Kenny said about Caleb that stuck with us is that he wanted to make Caleb human – wanted to bring a sense of compassion to his character. We talked about how you’re only aware of what happens when he steps into the story, through Norma’s perspective – you don’t know what Caleb went through or what is really happening in Norma’s head on any given day – the story is more complex than the viewers know.
“How do you get people to look at Caleb and see that he’s human?” Kenny uses this question as he acts out his scenes.
That being said, he knew what kind of character Caleb was and Kenny had to create his own type of back story to allow himself to play the character – it’s one he keeps to himself, but we’re glad he did it. Kenny plays Caleb so well that he did, in fact, bring humanity into the character of Caleb, he made us feel compassion towards him.
During the panel, Kenny and Nestor Carbonell spoke of the privilege it was to take on the characters in Bates Motel – and admitted that at first they were a bit skeptical to touch something as huge as ‘Psycho’.
One of the coolest things about Bates Motel is the complexity of the characters and Sherif Romero and Caleb fit that mold perfectly. Romero, while strong and driven, falls victim to Norma as he realizes that he’s hopelessly in love with a woman who is unstable. He knows better, but love doesn’t allow him to see a world without her, he wouldn’t want it. Caleb, humanized now, still has an air of mystery to him – his story has been told in a perspective that almost isn’t his own, it leads you to wonder if what we see is true, or if theres so much under the surface that’s yet to be discovered.
The pair commended each other on their ability to play their characters so well and you could tell that they were good friends both on and off set. The entire cast gets on well, from what the two described, and an interesting thing we found out during the Bates Motel panel is that Freddie (who is Norman) has never seen Psycho in full and he still embodies the character impeccably.
The Vampire Diaries might be coming to an end but Ian Somerhalder promises a great finish.
As Walker Stalker Nashville was happening, Ian Somerhalder let fans know that season 8 would be the last season of TVD. Social media was talking about the statement but what the rest of the world didn’t hear was the tone of Ian’s voice as he explained why season 8 was a good place to end Damon’s part in the story.
Ian loves playing Damon, he loves him as a bad ass and he grew to love his character after he fell in love too – both sides of him were important to Damon’s growth through the series. Ian spoke, fondly, of the show and told the audience a little bit about his favorite moments. Season one was his favorite to film, and he prefers Damon being a villain. It actually took some convincing to get him to embrace the character that Damon became through the show.
“I can’t be a one trick pony, I can’t just be the villain,” Ian said of Damon. It wasn’t until he saw the arc of Damon that he truly accepted the change.
He went on to explain that where most television series’ have 15-17 episodes in a season, TVD has over 20. Ian said that’s what’s been responsible for his weight loss and under eye bags. While it was sort of something he chuckled at on stage – it was easy to see that he knew the end of the series would be closing an important chapter in his life, it was a necessary move for his future – to keep himself grounded.
Ian’s talk on stage was a lot about the craft of acting and what it means to still find something to substantiate yourself with – the fame and fortune is all an illusion and he made sure he reiterated that through his time on stage.
It’s easy to fall in love with Ian as he speaks, his focus is on the crowd, intently, and he makes eye contact with just about every person at least once. He also has a heart for making the world a better place and his passion for it makes you want to change it too.
Ian is involved with many organizations that aim to make this world a better place – one being his own, The Ian Somerhalder Foundation. On top of these initiatives he also wants to help young people be nicer and more compassionate towards one another. He spoke about the internet and how it can be overwhelming, keyboard warriors, and the pressure put on young adults to meet these insanely high standards.
If you want to be truly inspired by a person, don’t miss an opportunity to hear him speak – it’s worth it.
Surviving the zombie apocalypse takes planning.
We also got to speak with Lincoln Castellanos from Fear The Walking Dead and we asked him if he would act anything like his character on the show if the zombie apocalypse happened tomorrow. His answer was smart, well thought out, and showed that he – like many of us – have taken this into thought on our own.
Lincoln specified that surviving the apocalypse takes planning. He said he’d act similarly to Tobias but he’d make sure that he had a well thought out plan to not only protect himself but his loved ones too.
“You never want to find yourself in a corner,” which may seem like obvious advice, but if you look through some of your favorite zombie shows or films, it happens more often than you’d think.
You have to be prepared; not only to survive and fight, but to make tough decisions – there could be a time where you have to leave some people behind – but you’d be doing it to save your loved ones and yourself. What has to be done has to be done!
Lincoln was an incredible person to talk to; if we got to pick we’d recruit him on our zombie survival squad for sure.
The rest of the panels and celebrity guests were just as exciting to speak to and getting this look at our favorite characters through different eyes was an incredible experience.
Walker Stalker may be over for Nashville, but there are a few dates around the US in which the convention will be brought to cities near you, and we recommend that you make the trip and experience this for yourselves!