Today I was invited to speak about "the old days" of science fiction media fandom at an event called Freecon, held at Hotel Gearin in Katoomba.
Now, this hotel is famously owned by iconic Australian actor, Jack Thompson - and he was there! Not only was he not charging us for the use of his pub's facilities, but he happily talked about his role as Cliegg Lars in "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones".
It was great catching up with acquaintances and friends from my early days in fandom: model-maker Lewis Morley, his partner, artist Marilyn Pride, and cover artist and Archibald Prize finalist/exhibitor, Nick Stathopoulos, among others.
Glowing-eyes Yoda bust, Lewis Morley and Nick Stathopoulos at Freecon.
Freecon attracted about 25 science fiction fans and hopefully will lead to the development of regular events in the future. Many of the attendees are currently planning for the upcoming Worldcon, Aussiecon 4, in Melbourne later in the year.
Jack Thompson discusses his role as Cliegg Lars in "Attack of the Clones".
"May the sauce be with you!" - Jack promotes his own brand of steak sauce.
Jack discusses with Freecon host, Garry Dalrymple, Jack's (hopefully) upcoming role
as Thorin Oakenshield in "The Hobbit", which will be
directed by Guillermo del Toro.
Jack's name isn't on IMDb for the project as of this post, so this news might just be an exclusive! ;) Sounds promising, anyway.
In other exciting news, SF fan Laurie Strathdee is planning a science fiction movie and TV festival in Lawson, in the Blue Mountains, later this year! Watch this space!
Captain's Log: Supplemental. "The Hobbit" scoop about Jack Thompson as Thorin - from my own blog site - has apparently been carried by "Ain't It Cool News" this week, which gave me a bit of a thrill but, yesterday, I noticed that "The One Ring" at theonering.net/torwp/category/hobbit/hobbit-movie/hobbit-casting/ was acknowledging it as some kind of "Ain't It Cool News" scoop by Quint(?) and even running one of my own pics!
Credit where it's due, please, guys. My name is Ian McLean, aka Therin of Andor. Jack Thompson is a huge star in Australia, a recognized talent in TV and film since the 60s. We are very proud of him. I'm a little surprised so few people here seem to be aware of him, but I guess many Aussie films aren't as well known internationally. Check his extensive credits on IMDb sometime.
Captain's Log: Even more supplemental. I've been asked to elaborate a bit on the "scoop" (which has now been hyperlinked back to here from AICN, I'm glad to note). Firstly, none of us in the small audience realized we were going to be hearing any kind of scoop on "The Hobbit". Jack was there to discuss his participation in "Attack of the Clones" - and "Spyforce" (the 60s TV show he did with fellow Australian, Peter Sumner, himself a "Star Wars" alumni) - and I fully expected to see Jack's name on the IMDb "The Hobbit" web pages, when I got home, at least.
Jack Thompson already has a connection to Guillermo del Toro. Jack has been working with the man during the lensing of "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" in Melbourne. It's currently in post-production, and del Toro supposedly pulled Jack aside and said, "I want you to be my Thorin Oakenshield".
There really wasn't much more revealed in Jack's "Freecon" talk about the role, although we did sort of mob him after he left the podium, to congratulate him and wish him well in the upcoming role. It was a weird experience because, after he finished his spiel, he was suddenly "Jack Thompson, local publican", very much at home in his own pub, so it felt a bit like hotel gossip.
Jack did say to me, personally, after I mentioned that I was really looking forward to his Thorin performance, that "You know what it's like in show business - anything could still go wrong..." Here's me hoping he's already signed a contract. None of us thought to ask crucial stuff like that, not realising we were hearing such totally unknown "news".
My fingers - and antennae - are crossed.