Mel was nice enough to hook me up with a press pass to check out the final ‘Conversations for a Cause’ panel at Nerd HQ. This one was just with Zachary Levi and like the others, was mainly a Q&A. The crews had already started to dismantle NerdHQ as the panel was the last event of the Con, and Zac was feeling rather nostalgic for the week that was ending. He was apparently running on two hours of sleep and was quite hoarse – all signs of a good Comic-Con – but his typical enthusiasm was definitely there.
He started out by thanking us for coming on behalf of himself and The Nerd Machine, and telling us how he really believes in the relationship between and entertainer and his fans and Nerd HQ is a way for him to get to meet the fans and give them something special. When he started planning the first Nerd HQ, last year, he asked himself what he would do if he had his own con and thought back to how the Chuck panels at Comic-Con were always packed with people who had waited for hours to get in, but there was usually little to no time for audience interaction and questions. So he came up with the idea for Nerd HQ – a place where people could hang out and meet new people and interact with him and other entertainers. The panels were a way to bring a more intimate experience to the audience and provide more time for interactions while also having the charity component (all proceeds went to Operation Smile*) so he could “change as many lives as [he] can”. At this point, he started to get a bit teary-eyed and commented that he was “going to get a horrible reputation as ‘Zac the Cryer'”.
He then turned the panel over to the audience and was asked who would win a battle between Intersected Chuck and Intersected Morgan and what would he and Gomez do if they really had an Intersect. The battle result was easy one – “ME!”, Zac said emphatically. As for what they would do with the Intersect, he thought it would be fun to break into Lucas Films and totally geek out.
Zac then brought a large black garbage bag on stage and dumped it out. It was full of clothes and other stuff and he explained that Nathan Fillion had done an auction of his various possessions and it was a huge hit, so he went and cleaned his closet. The items included an Orange Orange shirt, a Buy More green shirt, a pair of Chucks, a Less Than Perfect script and a bunch more random items, including a pair of Superbowl XLIII commemorative boxer shorts. Earlier, he had warned us that “these clothes have been worn, I hope you’re okay with that” and of course someone asked if the boxers had been worn. Zac responded with “wouldn’t you like to know?!” All of the items were sold to the highest or quickest bidder and the funds donated to Operation Smile.
After the closet cleaning was done, Zac encouraged everyone to get involved with a charity and help people. He also shared, in response to an audience question, that his ideal birthday wish was for everyone around him to be happy (aww!).
He mentioned the new The Nerd Machine videos, Trailer Park Heroes Pt 1, 2 and 3, and an audience member asked who he’d want on his zombie apocalypse team. Who else? Superman (FTW!)…and Adam Baldwin. His favorite Marvel characters have always been mutants. A a kid, he loved Gambit.
Filming starts in England at the end of July for Thor 2. He’s playing Fandral the Dashing (apparently this role is the reason for his new ‘stache and goatee as he told Jay Leno).
When asked by an audience member what actor inspires him most, he replied that it was Tom Hanks, because despite his stardom, he’s maintained a relatable, everyman persona. He also discussed how much he loved playing Chuck because of the character’s heart. Tangled was a dream come true. His advice to fans and friends is to be open to paths that come up along the way of your life, even if they aren’t what you originally thought you’d do.
In addition to just raising money for Operation Smile, Zac would really like to go on a mission trip to see their efforts in person. He’s tried to do this before, but the scheduling just didn’t work out, but he will definitely do it in the future as it’s very important to him.
One last tidbit from the panel was the fact that Zac has toyed with the idea of recording an album and he probably will “at some point”. (Great news for fans who have nearly worn out their DVD copies of the Tangled soundtrack!)
After the panel, Zac did a signing. I ended up at the front of the line as I was sitting in the back of the room. When I got up to the table where he was sitting, I had nothing for him to sign because he’d signed my stuff on Thursday, so I just thanked him for everything that he does and offered my hand. He immediately shook my hand, looked me in the eye, and said “no, thank you!” Now that I’ve met him in person, I can definitely report that Chuck isn’t the only one with heart – Zac is one of the most generous, genuine, and caring people you could ever hope to meet, in Hollywood or anywhere else!
The whole panel is available for streaming on Break.com. I also took some pictures, although they are far from professional! 😉
*Final tallies show that NerdHQ events raised more than $140,000 for Operation Smile! Way to go, Nerds! ~ Mel