The halls of the Salt Palace Convention Center in downtown Salt Lake City were full, with thousands of pop culture fans clamoring to attend celebrity panels featuring Danny Trejo, Robert Englund, Arthur Darvill, and John Cena, among others, during day two of Salt Lake Comic Con.
Here’s a wrap-up of some the celebrity news coming from SLCC ’16.
Millie Bobby Brown
Brown, who has seen almost an overnight jump to stardom with her role as Eleven in the hit Netflix original series Stranger Things, wowed the crowds in the Grand Ballroom with an unexpected amount of personality.
The 12-year-old British actress bantered with the panel moderator Paul Draper and audience members alike, telling stories of the trouble she and the other pre-teen actors got into on set and offering anecdotes on trendy hairstyles.
“I also like inspiring people because whoever has short hair, you guys look awesome and can so rock it,” she said, referencing the shaved head she sported for Stranger Things.
Finding stardom at such a young age hasn’t changed her home life at all, she said. Even though she’s quickly becoming a household name, she’s still humble in her own house.
“My brother keeps me in a headlock still,” she said with a laugh. “He’s like, ‘You’re not a celebrity in this house!’”
Netflix announced there will be a second season of Stranger Things, but Brown refused to comment on whether or not Eleven would be returning. Given the popularity of the character, though, it’s easy to assume directors Matt and Ross Duffer will want to have her back.
“What’s special about this experience … is you get some candid time with me,” Cena told the crowd of wrestling fans on Friday.
Convention-goers tend to skew toward comic-book and sci-fi films and television shows, but there’s a significant population of pop culture fans who love the World Wrestling Entertainment. Since John Cena is both a wrestling superstar and a fledgling actor, his appearance garnered thousands of attendees.
When one audience member asked him about his favorite internet meme, Cena laid a harsh truth on the table.
“I guess (I like) the meme that says, it’s a picture of me, and it says, ‘No more John Cena memes, please,” he said.
“I’m truly grateful the internet has made me the butt of all these jokes,” he added. “Thank you, internet!”
Cena claimed he was kidding, but when the topic of internet memes popped up again later during the panel, he acted out his response to seeing his image popping up on viral videos.
Sitting down, Cena pulled out his phone and stared at the screen. After a few seconds he made an annoyed expression.
He also touched on his acting career and which of his films is his favorite so far.
“I dug Trainwreck a lot,” he said.
“Maybe, looking back on it, (I) might have shown a little too much of myself,” he added – a reference to his nude scene in the film. “But you can’t take that one back.”
Best known as Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter film franchise, Lynch happily answered all Harry Potter fans’ questions, her tone and demeanor not unlike the character she portrayed in the movies.
She admitted to getting along with animals better than she did with humans (she is always trying to be a cat, she said). And she was candid about having an eating disorder during the time she was first cast in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
But it was her advice to the people who may be a little different – as Luna Lovegood was – that struck a chord with a sizeable chunk of the crowd.
“Those things that make you odd are often your superpower,” she said, garnering applause. “You have to change your perspective and see that as your strength.”
Englund, known widely for his depiction of Freddy Krueger in the A Nightmare on Elm Street films, answered questions about his career as the knife-handed baddie in the decades-long franchise. But before delving into his past in horror, he let the audience in on some of his current projects.
He announced he’d just finished filming a movie, featuring Lin Shaye, called The Midnight Man.
“It’s a subset of the horror genre – the movie about the game children shouldn’t play: "Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary,” he said as he turned 360 degrees on stage.
The audience erupted in applause.
He also wrapped a recent film called Nightland,” which focuses on a retired gatekeeper of a portal to purgatory who gets summoned back to the job.
“I’m kind of like a contemporary Van Helsing,” he said, his voice taking on an eerie cadence, “because we must seal the door again because we don’t want the Night People to come into our world.”
But it was his third announcement that piqued the audience’s interest – mostly because he wouldn’t reveal it.
Englund said he’d been working on a project for roughly eight months that he that he’s simply not allowed to talk about.
“But let’s just say all you gamers are going to be happy,” he added.
Englund focused a large portion of his panel on reminding people that there are many great horror movies currently available, but audiences need to seek them out. He urged fans of the horror genre to dig deep and look for the diamonds in the rough.
“There’s so many terrific movies, and we keep discovering them,” he said. “Every once in a while they bubble to the surface like that first Conjuring or … Don’t Breathe.
“I think, in a good way, we’ve all gotten a little dark again,” he added. “We also have to look for the new-act people – the people that are working low-budget and smart. … This is the kind of homework you have to do with the new horror.”
Salt Lake Comic Con continues Saturday at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City.
Follow Matthew on Twitter and Instagram, @MatthewJGeek; "like" him at Facebook.com/MatthewJacobsonGeek; email him at MJacobson@TheSpectrum.com; call him at 435-674-6234.