Sharp Dwarvish Axe hews Expo media

Sam Maggs had the toughest job in Edmonton on Tuesday night: moderating a question period with John Rhys-Davies, who played Gimli in The Lord of the Rings.

At a media preview for the sixth annual Edmonton Comic and Entertainment Expo running Friday through Sunday at the Edmonton Expo Centre, the English actor talked for an hour – and only answered four questions. Maggs, the best-selling author and BioWare writer, staunchly surfed the waves of verbiage that rolled forth from affable Rhys-Davis, charming the minds off reporters in what came off like a media blogger love-in. At his at loquacious best on a number of topics, the actor (who also starred as Sallah in the only good Indiana Jones movies) shared a story about an experience he had in the South of France. He’d been talking with an ex-soldier from the French military. This person had fought in Iraq and Afghanistan alongside Canadians and Americans.

“I had made some platitudinous remark about the mad world we live in,” Rhys-Davies said. “And he looked at me straight and said, ‘Yes John. And that is why we need people like you. So that people like me can still dream.’ That was possibly the highest compliment any actor could ever get. Just marvelous. And also, from a Frenchman. I mean, let’s face it, the French don’t much care for us Brits.”

He of the Dwarvish Axe talked about many things, but one of the standouts was manners: Manners in working with other actors, but also in the context of working with children.

“Ironically,” he said, “it’s the same thing.”

Sam Maggs

Asked how he and Orlando Bloom (Legolas) enjoyed such rapport on the set of The Lord of the Rings movies, he brought up acting legend Peter O’Toole, who was known to encourage other actors “to try to steal scenes away from him.”

“I guess what I’m trying to say is that making people comfortable is important,” Rhys-Davies said. “And making your fellow actors secure and willing to take risks is also important.”

Near the end of the night there was a weird collection of moments after Maggs asked what Rhys-Davies was working on next, and he tried for the next 10 minutes to describe a script he’d written. A brief summation is possible: It’s a dramatization of an existential anthropological study on gender politics during the Neolithic period of the hunter gatherer era of our human evolution … or devolution … or something like that …

Find out more when Rhys-Davies hosts a panel at the Expo on Friday at 5:30 pm; He will be also around for autograph sessions and photo-ops throughout the weekend.

There’s a whole gaggle of geeky wonders here. Celebrity guests include Alex Kingston (Dr. Who), William Shatner (Star Trek), Anthony Mackie (The Avengers), plus KISS rocker Gene Simmons. If you haven’t experienced Edmonton’s prominent comic-con, it is quite remarkable. In addition to the aforementioned celebrities are many local creators and artists passionately representing Alberta: Actor Eugene Brave Rock (Wonder Woman), FX artist Travis Shewchuck (Fargo), and visual dynamo John Gallagher (Flash/Supergirl), to name a few.

You can also be sure there will be many fans elegantly dressed as other fantasy characters from the various genres of pop culture – they call it cos-play. And even if you’re dragged there and pre-decide you won’t have a good time because it’s just “nerd stuff,” you might be surprised. There’s something for everybody.