Review and Photos by Andrew Horan

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The line-up for Toronto Comicon 2015 appealed to both young and old genre fans with stars from classic and contemporary sci-fi, fantasy and more.

The biggest disappointment was Moreana Baccarin canceling her appearance due to a scheduling conflict. However, fans were forgiving since she’s currently shooting the long-awaited big screen version of Marvel anti-hero Deadpool.

While Toronto Comicon may not be on the scale of its sister event Fan Expo, several major names including Dr. Who/Guardians of the Galaxy star Karen Gillan and beloved Walking Dead star Chad L. Coleman put in appearances.

The show floor also expanded with more vendors, ranging from small independent stores right up to Toronto geek culture mainstay Silver Snail. The larger artist’s alley also saw many artists providing drawings, crafts and more.

The Toronto cosplay community was also out in force. The costumes embodied all elements of nerd culture, from comic books and video games to anime and many obscure characters.

Toronto Comicon this year also welcomed several cosplay models including Zombie Bit Me, Karli Woods, Lee Scion and more.

Former Walking Dead star Chad L. Coleman had the first Q & A session of the weekend. The charismatic star took the time to plug Treadwater; the new multimedia property he serves as an executive producer on. The character of a cybernetically enhanced mercenary is also based on him.

Though he expressed admiration for all the characters on The Walking Dead, he said that The Governor was a personal favorite.

“A lot of the show, some people don’t catch it, but it’s really all about real life,” Coleman said. “So you see a guy like the Governor and who do you think he’s patterned off of? Someone like Hitler; (a) really charismatic dude. He can pull people and then just go off the rails. So, I find that very intriguing and interesting.”

Former Stargate SG-1 star Christopher Judge said he would have to start doing more late evening Q and A sessions. Fans of the show know that his character Teal’c was a man of few words, something that ended up getting him trouble with director and co-star Peter DeLuise when he dozed off while shooting a scene.

“I fell asleep during a wide shot and I heard, DeLuise, DeLuise has a very distinctive voice and I hear, ‘Chris? Are you sleeping?!'” Judge said imitating DeLuise’s voice. “I immediately sat up and said, ‘No, I’m concentrating! I’m meditating!”

He explained that he covered dozing by saying that he was getting into character. This led to them writing it into the next episode.

Day two of Comicon kicked off with a panel by veteran stuntman Dicky Beer, best known for his work on classic sci-fi films such as Return of the Jedi, Terminator 3 and more. It was his work on Jedi that lead to his rescue by Carrie Fisher following a stunt where crew members were supposed to help him up after getting knocked down and left for lunch. He was dressed as a Gamorean Guard, the hulking pig-like beings in Jabba the Hutt’s palace, had limited mobility and couldn’t remove the costume’s head.

Fisher noticed he was missing. Meanwhile, he was left re-breathing his own air and he passed out.

“Next thing I knew, Princess Leia pulled off my head and is slapping me on my face,” Beer said. “She came back to the set and realized that that they left me. So, she actually saved my life. I probably would not have made it if she hadn’t come back.”

Because of the secrecy surrounding Marvel’s properties, J. August Richards was mum on whether or not his character Deathlok/Michael Peterson would be returning to Agents of SHIELD. Richards was an avid comic book reader as a child and when he found out he was going to be playing the cyborg superhero, he was ‘ecstatic’. It also served him well in researching the role, though he ultimately came up with his own unique take on the character.

“I wanted to stay true to the character we created in the first episode (of AOS) and that bond between his son, being a single parent, that meant the world to me. And I was like, ‘Whatever happens from here on out, I gotta play a father to son!'” Richards said.

Richards wasn’t the only Joss Wheedon alumni at the event. Former Buffy the Vampire Slayer Amber Benson was also on hand. The laidback Benson plugged her book series The Witches of Echo Park. Joking about the Caesar she had with her lunch became a running gag through the panel.

Former Beverly Hills 90210/Charmed star Shannen Doherty shot down her temperamental image by being incredibly warm and engaging, hugging several audience members and taking part in an impromptu sing-along. She even answered a question with tact and diplomacy despite that it centered on former 90210 co-star Jason Priestley’s autobiography, which portrays her in a less than flattering light. She readily admitted the reason why she was such a diva as a young woman was she was thrust into the spotlight at a young age.

Day three wrapped up with back-to-back panels from former Star Trek: Deep Space Nine star Terry Farrell and Karen Gillan. Farrell was a true highlight with her funny and engaging presence. She shared an amusing story about first meeting her DS9 co-star Michael Dorn.

“Somebody actually wanted to set us up and he came into (a) party and he had a girlfriend and I was like, ‘Pig! You want to set me up with this guy and he has a girlfriend? What an asshole!'” Farrell said. She met him again a few years later and still thought he was an “Asshole, but a charming asshole!” Farrell added. Despite the rocky beginning, they ended up forging a long-lasting friendship.

Karen Gillan’s Q & A session could have benefitted from being held in a larger room but the Scottish star held the capacity audience spellbound as she talked about her time on Dr. Who as well as Guardians of the Galaxy.

The Dr. Who episode ‘The Girl Who Waited’ gave Gillan one of her biggest challenges since she had to play younger and older versions of her character Amy Pond.

“When I put on the prosthetics on to make myself look older that really helped with the performance,” she said, adding “And I realized that I don’t age very well. So I’ve been really healthy ever since!”

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