Archive for category Awesome Con

Awesome Con: Interview with Johnny Alonso

Photo of Robin Lord Taylor and Johnny Alonso

Robin Lord Taylor and Johnny Alonso at Awesome Con. Courtesy of Johnny Alonso.

Earlier this month, I was in Washington, D.C., to cover Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman at Awesome Con. Prior to that fascinating panel, I wandered through the Exhibit Hall, passing by the autograph booths where many fans were lining up. I knew that actor Johnny Alonso would be at the convention, but it was a pleasant surprise to find him standing at one booth in particular. He and his camera crew were engaged in a friendly chat with Gotham actor Robin Lord Taylor!

“I decided to drop by and say hello. [I] wished him a happy birthday,” Alonso shared about his encounter with Taylor, who keeps generating a lot of buzz as Oswald Cobblepot. “So I said when are you going to get me back on the show?”

Fans of Gotham might see Alonso return as bass player Kazz, thanks to Taylor’s conversations with the writers about next season.

Photo of Pat Cuadros and Kevin Tan

Pat Cuadros and Johnny Alonso, Awesome Con. Credit: Pat Cuadros and Kevin Tan.

Alonso has other promising projects in full swing, both of which are under the direction of Derik Wingo and Kipp Tribble. Chronology, a film starring Billy Baldwin and Danny Trejo, already premiered in Poland. He’ll also start filming on Coffin 2 in Los Angeles this summer. The sequel marks the return of his shady character Trick.

For the full details on these updates and Alonso’s interest in The Walking Dead, be sure to view the entire Blogcritics video, courtesy of Kevin Tan.

This article was originally published on with minor edits here. The Youtube video of the interview is on my channel: Special thanks to Robin Lord Taylor, Johnny Alonso, Kevin Tan, and Tony Cuadros.


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‘Once Upon a Time’ Actresses Kristin Bauer, Merrin Dungey, and Victoria Smurfit Are More About Fun Than Darkness

Caution: Spoilers about the fourth season of “Once Upon a Time.”

Awesome Con brought Kristin Bauer, Merrin Dungey, and Victoria Smurfit to Washington, D.C. this past weekend. The three actresses wreaked quite a bit of havoc in Storybrooke and Fairy Tale Land in the latest season of “Once Upon a Time” as Maleficent, Ursula, and Cruella de Vil. Yet you’re more likely to count these three women among the most amiable professionals in the entertainment industry. So how is it that they are able to play dark roles with such talent?

Laughs Abound as Count Gore De Vol Interviews Kristin Bauer, Merrin Dungey and Victoria Smurfit at Awesome Con. Photo: Pat Cuadros

Laughs Abound as Count Gore De Vol Interviews Kristin Bauer, Merrin Dungey and Victoria Smurfit at Awesome Con. Photo: Pat Cuadros

“It’s a freeing experience,” Victoria Smurfit chimes in, leaning toward one of the two microphones at the table. She sports long blond hair, a much different look than that of the number one enemy of dogs and dog lovers everywhere, Cruella de Vil.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Awesome Con Recap: Jess Harnell Discusses Disney, ‘Animaniacs,’ and Challenging Co-Stars

Jess Harnell's Voice Still Rings True at Awesome Con. Photo: Pat Cuadros

Jess Harnell’s Voice Still Rings True at Awesome Con. Photo: Pat Cuadros

(Update 6/2/15: Sharper photo from Robbie Hott)

Jess Harnell is an interesting figure to behold. I’m not quite sure what I envisioned regarding the appearance of the voice actor whose resume encompassing roles from the “Animaniacs” and even the recent “Transformers” franchise. I admit I wasn’t expecting someone who describes himself as looking like he “should be in a Def Leppard tribute band.” With his dark shades, long hair, and dark clothes (admittedly with that rocker flair), Harnell fits that description on the mark.

Harnell shows no signs of becoming bored in a career spanning 28 years. In fact, he was elated about lending his voice to the Disney theme park to a number of characters. At this point, he broke out with the voice of Ariel. I should mention that as he answered questions from fans, Harnell kept sliding in and out of different voices: channeling the Cowardly Lion, Ironhide, and even Albert Brooks. He performed part of his memorable song of the U.S. states and their capitals, as done by Wakko on the “Animaniacs.”

Jess Harnell at Awesome Con 2015 - Photo: Robbie Hott

Jess Harnell at Awesome Con 2015 – Photo: Robbie Hott

As you might expect, working in the entertainment industry is exciting but comes with its share of challenges. Harnell recounted a story of a project with Pierce Brosnan. For some reason, Brosnan would not go close enough to the microphone. Rather, the former 007 actor was turned in his chair, facing Harnell. At one point, Brosnan even stood up and walked around the room!

In voice acting and/or post production recording, the microphone is a pretty key instrument. To remedy the situation after multiple takes, the production crew finally moved the chairs closer and placed the microphones opposite one another. A more difficult scenario to remedy concerned the “Transformers” sequel, wherein director Michael Bay insisted that Ironhide does not have an accent (despite the obvious accent in the first film). Thankfully, character continuity was ultimately observed.

Towards the end of the talk, Harnell stressed the importance of finding your talents and developing them, whatever they may be. He’s optimistic about the contributions from young people. Citing the definition of the word “encourage” as “to put courage in,” he sees his work in kid’s shows as a way to motivate them. Wakko’s song didn’t help me pass my U.S. maps quizzes in school (I drew my own map), but I can see how Jess Harnell’s roles would have inspired children to stay positive, embrace their creativity and imagination, and keep moving forward.

Harnell places his fictitious Def Leppard tribute band “in a bowling alley,” but I wager that the Disney theme park is a setting that is far more befitting of the voice actor.

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Awesome Con Recap: ‘Jurassic World’ and ‘The Wolverine’ Actor Brian Tee is More than a Villain

Brian Tee is known for playing serious villains, but in actuality, the actor is quite pleasant in person. In fact, he spared no expense in poking fun at himself at his recent panel at Awesome Con, in Washington, D.C. “Don’t let the Asian-ness fool you!” he exclaimed, when he broke down the demographics of his California neighborhood into 30-30-30. Math is not his forte, he pointed out.

Brian Tee Discusses his Career on a Recent Visit to D.C.  Photo: Pat Cuadros

Brian Tee Discusses his Career on a Recent Visit to D.C. Photo: Pat Cuadros

Tee admitted that he didn’t apply himself in school until he decided to take an acting course for non-majors. “Easy ‘A’!” he said to an amused crowd. His expectations were unfounded, however, and the new challenges inspired him to excel and work his way to the dramatic arts program at UC Berkeley.

As you may be aware, Tee has a role as head of security in “Jurassic World,” another installment in the highly successful “Jurassic Park” franchise. He couldn’t divulge any spoilers but he promised, “There will be dinosaurs!” The film comes out on June 12th. Another upcoming project is a “Ninja Turtles” sequel, slated to wrap up shooting by July 7th.

The panel was rather insightful, with a selection of quality questions about Tee’s career. He considers his involvement in “We Were Soldiers” to be one of his most important films, due to the poignancy of the story. He also credits it as a movie that contributed to his maturity as an artist.

There seems to be a growing trend of actors, writers, and directors crossing over into other jobs (e.g. actors becoming writers or directors, and vice versa). Tee is no exception, having tried out writing in an endeavor called “Red Shift.” He reflected that “your impulse as an artist is to get your creativity out” and that you have to “build what you want to get there.” The writing experience is not new for Tee; it was a creative process to which he contributed as early as his time on Starz series “Crash.”

So it’s no surprise that Brian Tee seeks opportunities to “break the mold” and avoid the typecasting trap. He starred in romantic comedy “Wedding Palace” as the lead in 2013. More recently, he played a lawyer in television pilot “Love is a Four Letter Word.” “I don’t play a bad guy!” Tee jokes. While the NBC pilot failed to be picked up, the actor is confident that the series may be extended and then released on another platform.

In the meantime, we can look forward to seeing Tee in “Jurassic World” this summer.

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