Friday, November 28, 2014

Walking with the Dead at Connecticut HorrorFest by TrinityTwo

Editor's Note: Trinitytwo had a wonderful time at Connecticut HorrorFest. For some reason Black Friday seems to be a really great day to share what she thought!

(Click to embiggen this and all photos... if you dare)

     The very first Connecticut HorrorFest happened this past August. It was an excellent little Con put on by Horror News Network. In fact, in my opinion, it was the definitive quality over quantity experience. It was held at Waterbury’s Courtyard Marriott Hotel; a small space compared to larger cons, but jammed packed with a very cool array of special guests. Linda Blair, who had been slated to appear, unfortunately had to cancel at the last minute due to personal reasons. However, Connecticut HorrorFest still boasted such Horror royalty as Halloween’s Michael Myers, Tony Moran; Friday the 13th’s Jason Voorhees, Ari Lehman; Paranormal Activity’s Micah, Micah Sloat; American Horror Story: Asylum’s Pepper, the beautiful Naomi Grossman; and Day of the Dead’s Steel, Gary Howard Klar among many other notables.

     My children exposed me to AMC’s The Walking Dead in the beginning of Season 3 and although I resisted at first, I must admit I have become a huge fan. Michonne’s “pets” were going to be there signing autographs and so was one of my favorite characters from the show; T-Dog, the fantastic IronE Singleton. Connecticut HorrorFest had a special VIP package in which for $150.00 a maximum of ten guests could enjoy breakfast, a Q & A, and a photo with IronE. I simply couldn’t resist and bought three tickets as my son and daughter were going with me. Was it worth it? Absolutely!! IronE Singleton was simply awesome.

     Although my memory isn’t perfect and this wasn’t a formal, taped interview, I would like to share some of the more interesting topics we discussed. When IronE came in, he walked over to me and gave me a big hug. We exchanged pleasantries and he moved on around the room, giving each VIP a hug and a smile and some face time. There were only five VIP guests that morning and it really felt like we had IronE all to ourselves. Horror News Network’s Christine Caprilozzi was this VIP experience’s event coordinator and she broke the ice by asking IronE the first question. She asked him what it was like working with Michael Rooker, who played Merle; especially on the rooftop scene in Episode 2. Any fan of the show will immediately recall the racially tension-packed rooftop scene. IronE responded by saying that Rooker is an amazing person. He was so excited to be working with the legend. He shared that Rooker met with him before the shooting of that particular episode and wanted to make sure that it was ok with IronE that he would be spitting on him. IronE told us he said something to the effect of: yeah, man I want this to be real. After each take IronE told us he received a new shirt and there were about 15 takes. One of the guests piped in saying “You left my favorite character on the roof to die.” IronE denied that at once saying T-Dog didn’t do that. He went back and simply dropped the keys. That’s T-Dog being clumsy. If anyone’s to blame, it should be Rick because he handcuffed him to the pipe. We all shared a laugh.

     IronE got back to the topic of Michael Rooker and told us how after a grueling weekend at a Con, Rooker drove an extra hour from the airport to attend a party at IronE’s place and although he had been going all weekend, he was still the life of the party. IronE said he really didn’t have to do that. It really was great to work with a legend like him. Another guest asked “What would it be like if you had actually saved Merle? Do you think he would have killed you?” IronE answered thoughtfully that T-Dog went back for him. And no, you can’t kill someone after they just saved your life. A guest piped in “Merle probably would have punched you in the face.” IronE laughed and said we’d have punched each other. I chimed in and said “You’d win in that fight” and we all laughed some more. Another cool question was “What was your favorite weapon?” IronE said he favored the chimney poker. He thought it was pretty original and if used correctly you could stick the poker right though an eye socket into a walker’s brain. I asked him who his best friends on the set were. He told us that he was friends with everyone, but his closest friends were Jeffrey DeMunn and Scott Wilson. Another question asked was “What was your favorite episode?” IronE said everything in the first season was his favorite because of the friends he made on the set and the stories they shared. He said Season One Episode 2 was his very favorite because it was the start of everything. He said at the time the cast didn’t know history was being made so that made it special. He mentioned that he was told when he originally signed on the show that he would only be appearing in 2-3 episodes.

     IronE was asked what the funniest thing that happened on the set was. He spoke about Norman Reedus and how he has a gross but funny sense of humor. The food that particular morning was sausage but it was gray and long. It was kind of weird looking but IronE was eating it anyway. He said Reedus came by and asked what is that you’re eating, poop? IronE agreed that it looked like poop, but finished eating his sausage. Later, they were filming the scene with the well walker, or as Dale called it “the swimmer”. IronE kept gagging because of the poop reference and the grotesque well walker. The director, Billy, told IronE that he was putting an interesting take on the scene but asked if he could do it again without gagging. IronE laughed and said he couldn’t help it. Reedus had really messed him up. But never fear, IronE told us, he got him back. Soon after this episode, one of the sets was broken into by an animal or squatter who defecated by the fireplace. When the cast and crew got there they knew it was real poop. But Norman Reedus and Andrew Lincoln, who were waiting outside weren’t warned and no one told them. Reedus stepped in it and everyone could see him sniffing the air. He asked them what smelled so bad. IronE happily told us that after the scene was shot they finally told him. Reedus asked why they didn’t tell them earlier to which IronE said with a smile, revenge.

     He didn’t say he was sad about being killed on the show. On the contrary, he had only expected to work a few episodes and instead worked three seasons. He told us that after season one; he began reading his scripts from the back to the front to see if he was going to survive. He was delighted that in script after script, T-Dog lived. They told him a month in advance that T-Dog was going to be killed. He was sad because he wasn’t going to get his hugs from the set and he was going to miss all the wonderful people on the show but he was happy for the experience and ultimately ok that T-dog died. He felt proud that T-Dog was given a “good” death; one with meaning.

     We switched gears to The Blind Side in which he played the nasty thug, Alton. I asked him what it was like being yelled at by Sandra Bullock in the movie. He shared with us how that movie was his big break after acting for 15 years. He talked about how nice “Sandy” was. He told a story about how he was sitting after a scene with some extras and he felt a hand on his shoulder. It was “Sandy”. She had watched the dailies of him doing that particular scene when he was threatening her character and she felt that he had done an incredible job. She told him she was nervous about her response to that scene because he had just given an amazing performance. He explained that she didn’t have to come over, and that most stars wouldn’t, but she is just that nice. An interesting bit of trivia is that he had grown up in the projects and had actually visited those particular projects from the movie in his youth.

     He shared with us the fact that his mother died when he was 18 and soon after she passed, he had an epiphany of how he needed to live his life. He said he felt it was important to give love and kindness and how he believed it would come back to you if you did. He spoke about his upcoming one man show and his future appearances at the upcoming Walker Stalker Cons. Throughout our discussion it was evident that he was deeply religious and extremely devoted to his wife and kids.

     He gave each of us an autographed copy of his book Blindsided by the Walking Dead (review below). We were then able to pose for a photo before it was time for IronE to go out and meet the rest of his fans.

     After our “breakfast” with IronE, I decided to stop by the Decimated Designs booth and get my inner zombie on. It cost $40.00 for a full face treatment and I went for it. Asked whether I wanted to be a pretty zombie or an ugly one, I joked with Kyle, the owner and makeup artist, “Hey, I’m pretty every day. I want to know what it’s like to be horrifyingly ugly for a change.” He did a great job. People were telling me I looked gruesome all day! I was a very happy customer.

     Soon after being “zombified” my family and I visited Moses J. Moseley and Theshay West, Michonne’s Pet Walkers in Season 3. I joked that I was turning the tables on them. They were used to being the “Walkers” but in our photo together, I was the zombie and they were themselves.

     Gary Howard Klar is another awesome actor who loves to interact with his fans. He played Steel in Day of the Dead, and was someone my son just had to meet. We did wait a while in line but when it was finally our turn, Mr. Klar spoke with my son for at least 20 minutes. He recounted events from the set, complimented George Romero’s directing skill, gave insight into his character and his motivations in playing the role. He talked local CT football; he spoke about the importance of family and how critical it is for young people to be politically aware. One of my favorite things he told us about was his audition for Hit Man in Legal Eagles. He said when it was his turn to audition, the director asked him to scare him. He told us he threw the guy across the table. He got the job. He also spoke about working with Robin Williams and what a talented man Williams really was. Gary Klar was a great guy and a wonderful role model for my son.

     We checked out the vendors, made some purchases, and walked around a few times to see if we missed anything. Later in the day, when we had our fill of Connecticut HorrorFest, my kids asked to say goodbye to IronE. He had made them feel special. In between guests I called to him and waved “IronE, we’re heading out.” I expected a smile and maybe a wave, but IronE came over, hugged each of us and smiled saying “Leaving me, huh? It was so nice meeting you all.” IronE Singleton is a truly cool human being. I want to thank Horror News Network and Connecticut HorrorFest for a thoroughly great day. I felt I got my money’s worth and look forward to attending next year’s event which is slated to take place on July 18, 2015 at The Matrix Conference Center in Danbury, CT.

Blindsided by the Walking Dead
     “From surviving the street to slaying the geeks”
Author:  IronE Singleton with Juliette Terzieff
Publisher:  CreateSpace, March 20, 2013
Format:  Trade Paperback, 208 pages
Review Copy:  Provided by the Author

On the streets of Atlanta, the fight to survive is a daily battle.

From the drug-infested corners of one of the city's worst housing projects, to alleyways filled with ravenous zombies-- Blindsided by the Walking Dead examines one man's battle to overcome the violence, drugs, and crime of the 'hood; starting with a young IronE Singleton determined to succeed despite an abusive mother, an absent father, and the temptations of instant gratification inherent with the thug life.

Football and Faith in God become IronE's allies in his quest to escape and helped him reach for the lights of the University of Georgia's football field and theater stages.

After years of struggle--failed businesses, small roles, and an ill-fated trip to Los Angeles--IronE snags his major breakthrough role, playing the kind of drug-dealing, gun-toting thug he would have become on the streets, in The Blind Side.

When he is cast as T-Dog on AMC's international mega-hit "The Walking Dead", IronE examines through art what humanity is about and what it means to truly survive against all odds. Alongside cast mates Michael Rooker, Norman Reedus, Jeffrey DeMunn, and Andrew Lincoln, IronE fought, gagged, and sweat his way into the hearts and minds of millions around the world.

Trinitytwo’s Point of View

IronE Singleton writes straight from his heart. Film enthusiasts will enjoy his anecdotes from working on the movie, The Blind Side, which was his big break as an actor. Any fan of AMC’s The Walking Dead will love the stories he shares about working on the set, his fellow actors and crew. I especially connected to his point that the show is more about the human condition than the undead. Reading his memoir, I was amazed at his openness and bravery as he unveiled the good, the bad, and the sometimes frightening events that shaped his life. As a mom, my heart ached for the young IronE as he recounts the highs and lows of his relationship with his mother including her addictions and her fatal illness. IronE reveals the stark truths of his life without any sugar coating or excuses and I love the fact that he recounts his own shortcomings so matter-of-factly. He admits to making some serious mistakes but owns every single one of them and, it seems to me, always strives to become a better person in spite of them. For all the hard times he and his family endured, his family always taught him the importance of faith. His faith in God and his ability to focus on the positive is a common theme. I am partial to a line near the end of his book. He is still at an early point in his acting career and has yet to achieve commercial recognition, yet he gives himself a pep talk by saying “Look how far you’ve traveled already.” This struck a chord with me and now when I feel low I remember that line because it says so much. It’s obvious that IronE’s intention is to share his life story so that others growing up in the same circumstances as he did, realize that there is a better life out there. This book is about challenges and choices, faith and love, survival and hope. I would definitely recommend this book to any IronE fan but also to anyone who is feeling down and in need of a pick me up. This book is truly inspirational.


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