Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Riske Business: Celebrities I Met at Flashback Weekend

by Adam Riske
One of my favorite weekends of the year is coming up. Time to reminisce.

You F This Movie! old-timers might remember that I wrote a series called the Hall of Kick Ass years ago recounting my experiences meeting celebrities, usually at conventions. I stopped because I ran out of stories. Now I have a new batch to share. I’m always fascinated by stories of fans interactions with celebs at conventions so if you have any of your own, please share them in the comments! And now the list…
Amanda Wyss (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Better Off Dead) – One of the perks of being friends with the fantastic Heather Wixson is she’s a host at Flashback Weekend. So when you walk the con floor with her, she’ll stop and chat with some of the celebrities with whom she’s later doing a panel. Amanda Wyss was one of those people. While I was over there, I asked her what it was like to work with Kevin Costner, her co-star in Silverado. She said he was a great guy (it’s confirmed) and a total jock and, more interestingly, that the cast of Silverado still stays in touch with a group email. The world seems like a better place knowing this exists. She said the cast was very close and that Brian Dennehy pulled her and another younger actor aside once on set and told them that it’s rare for a shoot to be this much fun and to enjoy it. Now I want to meet Brian Dennehy! If you see Amanda Wyss at a convention, stop by and meet her. She’s about the nicest person you’ll ever meet at one of these.
Andrew Divoff (Wishmaster) – Andy is the best. I call him Andy because he once called me brother during a Wishmaster panel. I normally don’t ask a question during a panel, but I couldn’t resist being one of those “I have a comment more than a question…” guys at the Wishmaster panel. I just wanted to say thank you for Wishmaster. Since that convention, I have bought a Wishmaster ring from Andrew Divoff’s Facebook store (which he shipped to me with an autographed 8x10 as a gift) and scoured the internet for Andrew Divoff’s Wishmaster beer that he brews at beer fests in California. It’s called Djinn’s Hellabrew. Patrick and I are mildly obsessed with it. I want to buy a case and drink it on a rooftop like the guys in The Shawshank Redemption. Nothing makes you feel more like a man than kicking back with a couple of Djinn suds.
Bill Moseley (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, House of 1,000 Corpses) – Bill Moseley was one of the first celebrities I ever met at a convention back in 2005. It was during the summer and I was wearing a Chicago White Sox shirt or hat when I met him. Being from around the area and with the Sox being amazing in ’05 (they won the World Series later that year), Moseley goes “Go Sox!” in Otis/Chop-Top voice. We got to talking about the team (I remember him saying at one point “Scotty Pods, man”) and it was awesome. But it was also scary. He was so nice and that almost creeped me out more than if he said “There is no fuckin’ White Sox in your fuckin’ future.”
Bruce Campbell (the Evil Dead series, Bubba Ho-Tep) – I was so excited to meet Bruce Campbell and shook after I met him. Campbell’s public appearance persona is to act like Ash, i.e. a wiseass. I learned it’s fun in a crowd but not as much fun 1:1 when you get his autograph. It felt weird like when the waitress is mean to you at Ed Debevic’s or you’re being called out by a stand-up comedian. I remember I asked him to make my autograph out to “Yo, Riskdog” (I was young and stupid) and he said to me “Probably doesn’t work too well with the ladies, right?” and I felt really dumb and sad. On top of that, I was having my picture taken with him and my friend was having issues with my camera and he teased us about that. I’ve heard Campbell’s dialed that back over the years because he learned people feel awkward when he does that to them. I’m not sure, because I never went back to meet him again. It wasn’t a terrible experience, but it made me feel weird about the guy when I didn’t before. That’s the risk you run by meeting a celebrity you like. If the meet is disappointing, you’ll never get it out of your head.
Dean Cundey (Jurassic Park, Back to the Future) – Dean Cundey is the cinematographer of many movies I love like The Thing, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, Road House, Casper, Apollo 13, Slamma Jamma and more. I didn’t meet him exactly at Flashback Weekend, but I sat right next to him when I was eating breakfast at the restaurant in the hotel. The entire time I was eating my eggs I kept thinking “I’m such an asshole. This guy has shot some of the best-looking movies ever and I’ve done nothing near as cool in my career. Why is he eating breakfast? He’s a legend. There should be something better than food for a man like him.”
Miko Hughes (Pet Sematary, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare) – I grew up on movies where Miko Hughes played the kid in the film. Meeting him felt like when you bump into someone you went to school with from kindergarten through high school. When I met him, I had in the back of my head that I needed to know he was okay. That was the goal of getting his autograph for me. Pet Sematary, Jack the Bear, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, Apollo 13, Mercury Rising…this young man has been put through the wringer. He was very nice when I met him. I think he said he’s a musician or a DJ nowadays and in my head, I was like “No, you’re not. You’re just a little boy.”
Pat Healy (Compliance, The Innkeepers) – Pat Healy is another actor that grew up around the Chicago suburbs so we got to talking about that when I met him. Like Amanda Wyss, I also asked him a Kevin Costner question because he worked with him on Draft Day. The two had a scene where they were speaking to each other over the phone. I asked if he really spoke over the phone with Costner. He said no and continued that sometimes two actors will really have a live conversation for a phone scene but in this case, it was a recorded message that Healy was acting opposite. Healy was selling a cool Cheap Thrills shirt at his booth. I bought it and felt guilty not also paying for an autograph but I was just in it for that shirt and Costner story.
Tony Todd (Candyman, The Crow) – Tony Todd had a cool table at the convention because he was burning incense and I’m all about that shit. I brought him a Hatchet poster to sign (I had a bunch of signatures on it already…it’s the perfect con poster for collecting horror celeb autographs) and while I was talking to him I mentioned that I had a Candyman poster that Clive Barker signed. Once I said that, he spun my Hatchet poster around disappointingly to give it back and said: “You should have brought THAT ONE!”

Now your turn! Leave a comment below on the celebrities you’ve met at conventions.


  1. A couple years ago, a majority of the actors/actresses from "The Monster Squad" were at a horror convention. One of them was the great character actor, Tom Noonan. He was by himself and didn't have a handler and there wasn't any sign about autograph/photo pricing. I talked to him for a few minutes and he signed my DVD and we took a selfie. I was about to leave and then Noonan said kind of dickishly, "Are you gonna pay me?" I felt embarrassed. I was a novice to the convention experience and usually there is a handler in charge of transactions. Since there wasn't one and no indication of pricing, I naively thought it was free. I paid him and went to find a place to curl up and die.

    1. Omg...that would have ruined my day. He should have had a sign up.

    2. Luckily, that's been my only negative experience with celebrities at conventions. Jen and Sylvia Soska are sweethearts, and Tom Holland(writer/director) was very nice.

  2. years ago, when i was a young buck, maybe 15, probably younger, i managed to convince my father to let me go to the big city (Montreal) with a friend to a small Star Wars convention (that was a couple of years before the prequels). i don't remember much of it, but i remember meeting David Prowse (the guy in the Darth Vader suit). being my first convention, i didn't to look for handlers or price tags or anything like that. i was young and innocent. so, i got up to David Prowse, hand him some Star Wars book for him to sign, take my book back, and i start turning around he ask for money. being french-canadian and barely speaking english at the time, i said something along the line of 'i don't understand'. then, i don't remember if he looked annoyed or had pity on me, but he let me go without paying. i was super happy to meet the guy and have his signature. meeting a celebrity like that was a big deal to me, being from a very small town, 2 hours bus ride from Montreal.

    another one, after i had moved to Montreal, we finally get a proper Comic Convention. it was nowhere near what it is today, but they had a couple of big names in comics, so i went. first thing saturday morning, i got there to meet Darwyn Cook (legendary comic book writer and artist). there's a very small line (2 or 3 people at the most). i get up to him, hand him my copy of DC The New Frontier (adapted as an animated movie
    as Justice League The New Frontier). i ask for a signature (they were free, but commissioned art cost money) and start talking to him. not 2 words in, some dickhole cuts me off and ask for a commission. his handler tells him they don't take any more request, he replies something then leave. Darwyn Cooke finish signing my book, even adding a small sketch of Green Lantern's head, and i leave, pissed at the other guy. years later, my friend met him outside the same convention, during his cigarette break. it was around the time he was doing Parker. he was apparently super cool to talk to. i was sad when he died a couple of years after that. he was a great comic creator.

    after leaving Darwyn Cooke, i go to Mike and Laura Allred. there was nobody when i got to them (it was still very early), so i had more time to talk to them. i had a broken arm at the time, from a stupid accident, and we joked around about it. Mike Allred joked that i should tell a better story to impress girls.

  3. Didn't happen at a convention, but I ran into Bruce Campbell at an airport in Medford, Oregon, a couple of years ago. I was waiting at the baggage claim and heard a familiar voice nearby, which turned out to be Ted Raimi, talking very excitedly to Bruce Campbell about a movie he had just seen. Anyway, I had pretty much decided I wasn't going to intrude on their conversation, but then Ted abruptly walked away to take a picture of a poster on the other side of the baggage claim. So I seized the moment and walked over to Bruce to say...well, something. He saw me approach, nodded at me, stuck out his hand to shake mine, asked me my name, and told me it nice to meet me. I think I blurted out something about being a big fan and then retreated to my original spot. He was gracious, but he was definitely not in "entertainer" mode. Very low-key. Just a normal guy picking up his friend from the airport. I wish I could've met Ted, too, but it somehow just didn't seem appropriate.

    I had another chance encounter with Bruce a few hours before a book-signing event for Hail to the Chin. I was in an otherwise empty Barnes & Noble with my family when my then 3-year-old son said he was hungry. Bruce, appearing out of nowhere, walked by us on his way out the door, smiled, and said, "Buddy, we're ALL hungry." That was pretty cool.