This is the story of how two TORn discussion board members got a chance to party with the stars this weekend. Jordan the discursive and myself (Cheshire Cat), discussion board members, arrived in Milton Keynes on Friday afternoon. Jordan had flown in from the U.S. especially for the Collectormania 6 event and we were looking forward to a weekend of fun. Little did we know just what a blast it would be.
Friday afternoon we ambled around some of the Collectormania stalls and sneaked a peak at a few of the celebrities who were there signing autographs. This year it was very much a sci-fi event with many Star Wars and Star Trek people in attendance.
Saturday morning we took a leisurely stroll down to the event at about 8.30ish, to join to queue to meet Billy Boyd, C6s biggest LOTR attraction this year. We found ourselves behind 215 other people who had already got there before us! Still, we were easily guaranteed a chance to see him later that day with our virtual queue tickets. So we headed off to meet some of the other LOTR contingent. First of all, Bob Anderson sword master – he looked a little dazed by the whole proceedings but was really quite charming and when I asked if we could take his picture, he gave the warmest of smiles. He signed my Production Notes and we moved along. Sala Baker was a surprise guest this year. After Miranda Otto had pulled out of the event at the last minute we werent expecting a replacement, but it was lovely to see Sala again. After numerous meetings, he has become quite an old chum. The advantage of going to a convention like this with someone who has flown thousands of miles to attend, is that people remember our faces and we soon became recognized. We are also firm believers in talking to these people as human beings, making intelligent conversation and chatting in a relaxed manner. This way they are happy to talk to us for a good long time.
We met Nathaniel Lees, Ugluk the Uruk-hai, who turned out to be an attractive gentleman with the most lovely deep, rich voice. He was charming and great to talk to. Thomas Robbins who played Deagol was an absolute hoot. When he heard the Alabaman accent of jordans he started imitating her with an incredibly accurate and funny southern accent. The rest of the weekend would bring a hail of Hi Sugah! every time we came across him. How yer doin Honey? He was a charming person with a fantastic sense of humour.
Soon after, we are having a little chat with Sala and as we turn around a familiar face is coming towards us. RICK! There was Rick Porras ambling around in the crowd. We recognized him instantly having had a brief chat to him at the TORn Oscar party in Hollywood and we told him how nice it was to see him again. He was relaxed and enjoying the atmosphere.
A while later we join the queue to meet Royd Tolkien, great grandson of J.R.R. We had seen him on the stage at the Oscar party and now we were honoured to meet him in person. He is so polite and pleasant to talk to. We asked about his experience at the Hollywood party and he said it was mad, but great fun. We let him know that we were looking forward to seeing him again at the Q&A session the following evening and he admitted that these things scare him to death! He hates appearing on stage and having to talk.
By this time Rick Porras had taken a seat between Royd and Billy Boyd and although many people probably didnt even realize who he was, he was happy to sit and watch the proceedings.
After lunch, we finally got to see Billy. By this time the Collectormania staff have handed out over 880 tickets for the virtual queue. There were going to be a lot of disappointed people that day, this was 2.15pm and he was up to the 200s. Anyhow, we get our turn but by this time they are enforcing a No posed photographs rule to try to hurry the queue along a little quicker. As jordan has travelled so far for the express purpose of meeting Billeh, he is good enough to chat to her for a good long while and she gets a hug and a kiss. Mission accomplished!
Now on the Saturday we just had the Collectormania Party to look forward to. This is jordan the discursives report from that party which we posted on the TORn Discussion Board the following day in a haze of giggly excitement:
We had VIP tickets, which entitled us to go into a small, smoky, crowded rooms and pay too much for drinks. After an hour or so of this, we decided to step outside for some air, and to see the specialty cars that were on display for the party. They had the Starsky and Hutch car (CC had a ride, or rather a screech around in it!!), the Batmobile, the Kit car, and a James Bond car. It was great fun to sit outside and watch people tearing off for rides in those cars!
So we’re sitting, just watching the people, and up walks Nathaniel Lees (Ugluk) and Thomas Robbins (Deagol)! I called out “Hi Nathaniel! Hi Thomas!” They both turned towards us and yelled out “Alabama!” Thomas started swearing (just joking around) in a Southern accent – it was sooooo funny! They went on through to a private room, so CC and I returned to watching the cars and the people.
A few minutes later, we saw Nathaniel standing on his own a few feet away from us. We walked up to him to say hello, and he gave us a nice smile, and then asked me for a light! I handed him my lighter, and the three of us struck up a very nice conversation. He told us about his family, about his various homes, and about his background in the theatre (he was trained at the Globe!). He told us some funny stories about getting on his makeup each morning before filming would start – he said they would be awoken at 2 am for a 7 am start!! Once they turned into Uruk-Hai, he said no one would even really speak to them, because they looked so menacing! In his words, “We were a gang! Even Viggo wouldn’t mess with us!”
After a good 10-15 minute chat with him, he excused himself to go get a drink. CC and I had big grins on our faces, and again, went back to sit down and watch people.
A few minutes later, Sala walked out of the VIP room. We were seated maybe 15 feet from the door, and we didn’t want to speak to him or annoy him, but he saw and walked right over to talk to us! He asked me for a cigarette, and when I pulled out my pack, he looked at the brand, and said “You’ve got to be £$%”£$^* joking! You’re a %^*^£$%&^ legend!” Seems we like the same brand. 😉 He stood and talked to us for a long time, maybe 15 minutes or so. Various younger girls would come up to speak to him, and he was kind to them, but he never moved away from us. He seemed genuinely glad to stand and talk with me and CC. Needless to say, we were thrilled.
When Sala started getting cold (it was really a cold night), he went back inside, and CC and I went back to watching people.
Then, a few minutes later, Royd showed up! *swoon* He was talking to a group of people, so we didn’t bother him. But after a while, CC and I decided to leave, because it was getting late and it was really cold. We walked past Royd, and I just touched his arm, intending to say hello and goodnight. He turned from the people he was talking to, and talked to CC and I for again, 10-15 minutes! We had such a lovely conversation with him, talking about where he lives, whether he had fun at Collectormania, etc. Turns out he lives sort of close to where CC lives, in the northern part of the country.
After talking to him for quite a while (*swoon*) CC and I really needed to get going. We said goodnight, and he suddenly just grabbed me in a big hug, and then gave CC a big hug! *SWOON* We walked back to the hotel on rather wobbly legs!!!
Sunday morning, following a leisurely breakfast we wandered back to the main C6 hall, said a cheery good morning to all the guys and wandered off to do some shopping. The Question and Answer session was to take place at 5pm and it would be our last event of the weekend. We were pleased to see the Q&A was to be attended by all 6 LOTR guests Billy, Sala, Thomas, Royd, Nathaniel and Bob Anderson. It was a lot of fun. The guys kept us entertained for well over an hour answering questions politely and humorously. At one point a rather sheepish looking Billy Boyd turns to the audience and says Do yer mind if I go fer a pee? When he walks back on stage a few minutes later, he is carrying a glass of yellowy coloured liquid and grinning he takes a big gulp to a hail of Eeeewwwwws from the audience. Hes wicked! They were questioned about the night of the Oscars and I asked what they thought about the TORn party. Billy said he thought it was amazing but was sorry that hed missed most of it. He really had quite a disastrous evening.
As Royd had expressed such a dislike of answering questions on stage, we did of course make it our mission to ask him one! Jordan gets the microphone, and in her obvious Alabama accent asks him a question. He peered through the glare of the stage lights to where she was standing and wailed You promised you wouldnt!!! It was very funny! Thomas, seated next to Royd, then shouts out a Its Alabama! Hi there Honey! We seem to make something of a name for ourselves at these things.
The Q&A was great fun. At one point an oldish lady stands up to ask a question at the back of the auditorium. She says she wants to ask Bob a question at which point Sala says Hey, its your wife she wants to know what time youre getting home! It is indeed Mrs Anderson and asks him the most lovely question Is it true that you have been presented with a hat that says Grumpy Bob on it? Bob has to admit that its true and tells us the story of his nickname. Hes a hoot.
A little boy in the audience asks a couple of questions and a little later on the organizer brings him onto the stage to meet the guys. After receiving a big hug from them all, he is invited to sit on the spare chair next by Thomas and he stays there for the rest of the evening. The guys are so kind to him and he was over the moon! What a great night for him.
A charity auction, hosted by Billy Boyd rounds off the evening with a great deal of money being raised for an Epilepsy charity he supports. He sells off signed photos, Weta t-shirts and a sake dish signed and shared by Elijah, Dom and himself at the ROTK premier in Japan. He even auctions a kiss with Thomas, which raises £110! As the lady makes her way to the stage, Thomas is seen limbering up his lips and acting as if hes warming up for a marathon. What a giggle. When she arrives on the stage he grabs her, dips her and gives her a big smacker on the lips to howls from the audience.
Finally our exciting Collectormania weekend was coming to an end and it was time to head home but carrying so many happy memories. Jordan and the Cat weave their Collectormania magic once more. A great time was had by all.