Hey guys and girls, your friendly neighberhood Ringbearer SuperScott here. I heard about Sean Astin’s book signing in Philadelphia and figured it was too good of a chance to pass up. I drove over from New Jersey and made good time, despite the pre-Thanksgiving rush. The location was listed as a school, although you never would have known it- the school is built like a tower. Quite a sight.
Anyway, sat down in the end of the aisle about halfway down the theater. My thinking was this- I can run down to the stage and take pictures without jumping over people AND there was a second mic set up. My bet was that they were going to have a Q and A after his speech.
We waited for a while. Then finally out of nowhere, during his intro, he walks down the aisle on the other side of the room and the place goes crazy. I didn’t expect him to be traveling with his family- his wife Chris and his two daughters were also along for the ride! We were given a long introduction by a lady from the Philadelphia Film Commission and she told a story about how Sean has a history with Philly- he shot part of Kimberly there. One infamous scene even included Sean having to run, in the winter cold, down a dock…naked. Poor guy. He said the only that it was “Cold……..veeeeerrrrrrry coooolllld. The only thing that was steady was the steady cam.”
One of the first things I realized about him was the fact that he is EXACTLY like he is in all of the interviews I’ve seen- he’s very funny, very laid back and in general, just an engaging personality. His speech primarily revolved around his writing of the book and why it was a sort of spiritual need. All of the emotions he had pent up during the course of the past decade and a half were relieved after this. As a writer, I can understand this sort of fulfillment.
He did tell a very funny story about the patriot behind the phrase “I have but one regret and that is that I have but one life to give for my country.” He was reading this book to his daughter, who was enthralled with it apparently, and they found out he had been a school teacher who was asked by Washington to be a spy. He confided in his brother and his brother said, “No. Absolutely not. You’d be a terrible spy.” Sure enough, he was caught and hung. Sean said he was quiet and he looked at his daughter and asked, “What did you think of that?” She replied, “He should have listened to his brother, he was a really bad spy!” (The place cracked up).
The funny thing is that during the speech, both of his daughters made their way to the stage and started drawing in coloring books while their dad talked. Even a tough guy like me will admit that it was pretty cute.
Sean took questions after about a half an hour and I bolted to the front. I was like 8th in line, beaten only by the front row people. He gave a thesis statement on Tolkien and the enviornment to one girl and said his favorite people to act with were (aside from himself) Ian and Elijah.
I’m not one to get nervous around celebrities, but when I got to the microphone, I have to admit, (since he had moved to the steps to sit) being five feet away, I had to keep myself calm. As a radio person who has been interviewing famous people since freshman year of high school. This was Rudy before me, Samwise the Brave- the man who brought to life two of the characters that have motivated me to make more of myself.
So first thing I said was, “Sean, I’ve been a big fan of yours since Rudy…”- and the place went nuts, chanting (he hadn’t mentioned it). I told him how happy I was for him when I saw he was going to be playing Sam for Lord of the Rings. I also told him that there was a quote in his book that also gave me a kick in the butt when needed (a quote about how he was told by a famous cinematographer that aspiring filmmakers only use 16 mm while real directors use 35). He thanked me for sharing that, because it meant it had hit home the right way. He also encouraged me and other filmmakers to use digital rather than film because it was cheaper and more conducive.
The rest of the questions went smoothly. One lady asked his older daughter which scene she didn’t like with her dad in it. I thought it an odd question. But the response made sense. “There was one scene…with Rosie…and Daddy kissed her…I didn’t like that…”
The best moment though of the interviews (aside from the one I asked) was one of those fans who makes well-adjusted geeks nervous. He said he had been to Middle Earth. It took a while for him to explain that he had visited New Zealand. He propped his boot up on stage and said it had walked over Mordor and he suggested to everyone to to go there.
In classic William-Shatner-at-the-convention form, Astin pauses, kind of looks around, and replies, “Well…are you back from Middle Earth yet?”
I about died.
The line for him for signing was huge. There were probably around 600 people in this very spacious school, and I was closer to the end. People were patient, despite the warm temperature. When I approached, he looked up, smiled, shook my hand and said “We meet again!”. He signed my books with the quote “Dear Scott-There’s good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for!”
I then got my picture taken, shook his hand, told him that I get to work with him one day and he smiled and said, “I’ll see you on the road.”
You know…I think I may just. He added as an afterthought to my autograph- “Good luck in your film career”.
I wouldn’t have traded my experience for all the Samwise speeches in the world. For once, I met an actor who not only lived up to expectations- he surpassed them. He seemed like a generally good guy and a family man. I waved to his wife on the way out and said to her “Thank you. You have the patience of a saint.” She smiled.
A good night was had by all.
I have a few pictures that I’ll hopefully have developed next week. You can use this report if you’d like. Hopefully I’ll have a report from the Shore concert at NJPAC in a few weeks. Happy Thanksgiving!
I attended Sean Astin’s book signing today in Bloomington, MN. Before the signing Sean gave a pretty interesting talk about his work on LOTR. He even talked about one of his other films – Rudy.
Sean mentioned that he bought his first LOTR book at a Barnes and Noble bookstore. He also said that among his favorite scenes filming from the LOTR trilogy were the scenes in the Mines of Moria, and on Mount Doom from the end of the third film.
Sean also elaborated more on the tale of when he cut his foot during the scene where he runs after Frodo at the end of FOTR. He said it healed up pretty quickly, just a day.
During the filming of Rudy, Sean said he took some pretty good hits making the films strenuous football game scenes.
At the end of the talk, I was lucky enough to catch him as he went off into the crowd. I told him I thought he was “awesome”, and he said “Thanks,” and we shook hands. Defiantly a memorable moment for me.