Heroes and Villains Fan Fest, London Olympia May 27th 2017

My first guest blogger, Melissa Newman, gives her lowdown on the first Heroes and Villains Fan Fest in London.

I feel like I should start this by making you aware, that I am not what you’d call an expert on tv shows, movies or comic books.
I don’t know the in and outs of the business and I’m more just a fan of watching the TV shows. This past weekend I visited Heroes and Villains Fan Fest in London, an event I am extremely lucky to have been able to attend and am so grateful to the SuperNerds UK guys for bringing me along.

Ben introduced me to Arrow when the season one Blu-Ray was released, in anticipation of season two starting. I must admit, the first season didn’t particularly draw me in, and I felt the acting was quite cheesy. I really must go back and watch season one again, because fast forward four years and Arrow is most definitely one of my favourite tv shows, along with The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. Supergirl is the only one I’m not a big fan of. I still watch it every week with Ben, and I love the crossover episodes, but in general i’m not a fan of her or even Superman (sorry). That’s not to say the show isn’t good, I’m just personally not that into it.

Watching these programmes is a totally different experience for me compared to comic fans like Ben. Any one who listens to the SuperNerds UK podcast will know that comic books are his speciality. He knows near enough EVERY character, so when they turn up on screen it’s like a HOLY SHIT moment and he’s like a little boy on Christmas morning. I get to know the characters as they appear and I quite like not knowing the history and what they’re about. I also avoid trailers/teasers like the the plague! I like to be surprised by how the seasons unfold.

Attending the event, as well as The DC/CW cast members were stars from Constantine, Gotham, Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America.
Saturday the 27th of May had a 4:45am wake up call. I’ve barely slept, but this is a common occurrence for me and especially for such a big event. Tim picked us up around 5:30am and we head for the fan fest. Five hours on the road, and a McDonalds breakfast later, we arrived at the Olympia in London ready and eager to get inside and find out what was what. Ben was due his first interview not long after we arrived so we quickly needed to find out where we need to be. Walking in the first person I spot is Robbie Amell.

GASP! “Oh mahhh gahhhhhd there is Robbie Amell!” known for playing Ronnie Raymond on The Flash. He is adorable, and I love that he was sharing a booth with his wife, Italia Ricci, who played Silver Banshee in Supergirl.

Moving on, we walk past the stage for the panels and there is John Barrowman… in a dress! First of all, who doesn’t love John Barrowman? And second of all, who doesn’t love John Barrowman in a dress? I loved it! He sure does know how to put on a show. Thinking back i’m really gutted that we didn’t get there early enough to sit down and watch his panel.
Ben and Tim rush off to find out where they need to be. I have a walk around the room and spot their first interviewee, Shantel Van Santen, absolutely STUNNING in person. You should all be excited for to hear the interview because it’s a good one, it will be on their next podcast, here’s a behind the scenes photo!

I go upstairs to meet back up with the two nerds, and who is up there…? Stephen Amell! The Green Arrow himself. On the outside i’m cool, calm and collected. But on the inside my brain is fangirling and screaming “STEPHEN I LOVE YOU!!!!” We actually have two guinea pigs at home named Ollie and Diggle. So you’d rightly guess that we are big fans in our house!

I follow Stephen on social media and as well as his looks *drool*, and his great acting ability, he seems so genuinely sweet and grateful for where he is and what he has.
Back with the guys and they’re about to interview, unfortunately I was unable to sit in for this one so I left them to it and made my way downstairs again. I see that Matt Ryan, of Constantine, is about to do a panel and I walk around and question sitting down for it. I look at the queue of people waiting to be told they can sit down and i’m thinking should I join the end of the queue? Suddenly I remembered, I have a press pass. Nervously, I walk over to the front of the queue. “Excuse me, I have a press pass. Can I go straight in?”. You bet your arse I could go straight in, and I could sit on the front row ‘designated press area’. Soon after the guys join me and sit down for the panel. Matt Ryan had been the only actor SuperNerds have announced they have interview with at the time and it was happening straight after. Matt was so lovely, and he answered all of the moderator and fan questions so well. At one point a fan asked “do you believe in demons?” To which he replied “I know a few people who could be demons!”. The crowd laughed in agreement, but the fan questioning really pressed him wanting to know if he does believe in actual demons. I can’t remember the full answer that he gave, but basically he doesn’t. John Constantine is a character, Matt Ryan is the person playing the character.

The panel has ended and we head back upstairs and wait to be told to set up for the next interview. I set up the recording equipment for this interview, and get to meet an actor that I really admire. I was so nervous, alls I could think and say was “my hands are so sweaty and he is going to come in and shake my sweaty hand!”. We set up and waited for him to arrive.

He walks in.

“Hi guys!”.

I shake his hand, and my mouth says “nice to meet you, i’m Melissa” while my head is shouting I AM SO SORRY THAT MY HANDS ARE SWEATY !!! The interview was fantastic. I am so honoured that I got to sit in and enjoy it first hand.

Not to get all soppy, but I am truly so proud of Ben! The guy is a natural at meeting people and holding a conversation. I was in complete awe of how well he handled interviewing such a well known actor and someone he really respects. I would have been a spluttering mess, but he was perfect. I hope many more of these amazing opportunities come along for him.
We walked out of the room on a high. The day is going so well and there is still one more interview to go. We mill around the room and get a glimpse of everyone signing autographs. The excitement of being in the same room as all of these people is crazy! Seeing big names and faces all around me like Michael Rooker, Hayley Atwell and Stanley Tucci was so surreal. I’m standing here, and they’re just over there. It’s amazing!

Ben and Tim go off for the last interview, Michael Rowe (Arrow’s Deadshot) so I decide to sit down for the last panel. Mehcad Brooks, known for playing Jimmy Olsen on Supergirl. Straight in again, same seat. Earlier on I mentioned that Supergirl really isn’t my favourite of the DC shows so I felt a bit apprehensive about watching the panel in case I didn’t enjoy it. I could not have been more wrong. He was incredible! He is most definitely an entertainer and really got the crowd going! Such a fun way to end the day. During fan questions, a girl who I would say was about thirteen thanked him for what he was doing for the people of Manchester in light of the recent attack after Ariana Grande’s performance at the Manchester Arena earlier in the week. She got upset and we all cheered for her.

Mehcad held up his microphone “Can I ask you a question? Are you from Manchester?” She replied yes. He jumped off the stage and said “Come over here” and hugged her at the front of the crowd for a good few minutes. What a beautiful person! It was such a heart warming moment and we all sat cheering with tears in our eyes. Once he was back on stage he preceded to inform us that anyone from Manchester can get a free signed picture from him if they come up to his booth. What a guy! So much respect.

After the panel we went to the car and made our way back up to Liverpool. All in all it was a fantastic day. There was no point where I felt it was dragging and that I wanted to go home, if anything it had gone too fast and I wasn’t ready for it to be over! The staff were awesome and it was so well organised. The event was sold out but not overcrowded. I can’t fault it, in any way. It was brilliant. Don’t get me wrong, to attend and pay for photo ops and autographs, it is not a cheap do! As much as I would have loved to meet the likes of Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards, we recently bought a house and we have a lot “grown up” responsibilities so the price to pay for us is not justifiable right now.

For me, this whole event was so enjoyable because I am an avid viewer of these shows and I got to experience then in a way that some people would do anything for. You can see that everyone around you are true fans and for most this opportunity was once in a life time. I went to the toilets before we left and a woman cosplaying The Green Arrow was brushing her hair, annoyed that it didn’t look right for her picture with Stephen Amell. We laughed about it and I told her it looked fine and she would treasure the moment regardless. She laughed and said she’s just happy that she got to meet him and be in his company. As I was walking away she shouted “Hang on!! I know!!! I can be Ollie on the island, that’s what i’ll say!”. Perfect.
Massive thanks to all the HVFF London staff and management who worked so hard to keep us safe and everything running so smoothly too.

Melissa Newman

The full interviews with Shantel VanSanten, Matt Ryan and Michael Rowe are all available on our podcast, which you can find on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or simply click here!

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