THE BRUNCH [296-299]
KEVIN AT THE CONVENTION 
KEVIN ANSWERING THE QUESTIONS [301-340]
Photo courtesy of Debbie Cassetta
 Saturday we woke up bright and early. I was comfy in what I was wearing for the day until I stepped outside. It was, oh, about 40 degrees Fahrenheit and I was dressed for 60 degrees, so on went the sweatshirt. Sura and I were to be lookouts for Kevin Smith and guide him to the brunch he was going to attend. We tried to get in touch with him several times, but it was a no go each time. Finally Kev arrived. Sura and I jumped in his car and directed him where to park, much to amusement of the onlookers. I admit, I did it 'cos I was cold, at least in the car we were out of the wind. He went to his room to drop off his luggage, to take a quick shower, and to change. I went to the brunch to talk to the folks there, but as I despise any kind of crowd, I hid in a corner talking to DallasDeb, "helping" her watch the door. I did get the chance to meet Kym Taborn, the illustrious editor-in-chief of WHOOSH!, that was cool.
 I knew when Kev hit the door; the sound level in the room increased tenfold and I saw lights, lots of lights, out of the corner of my eye. I'd spent some time with Kev already, so I stayed put. Besides the crowd thing, I'd seen Kev's effect on people in DC. If you want to find Kev, just find the huddle of women.
I helped put the autograph line together for Kev, Bob, and Danielle. I watched each person's face as they talked to the three guests.
 Kev has a gift of putting people at ease immediately. Danielle was sweet, especially since this kind of excitement was brand new to her. Bob was a dear, as he always is. They're just all so personable and willing to talk about work with us. To them it's "just a gig, man." Steve Sears popped in, and I had a chance to say hello to him and ask a question or two. I did my best not to ask anyone about spoilers, realizing that's a taboo subject. Personally, I just want to know WHEN we'll see Sal, Iphicles, and Ephiny again. The XENA rift wasn't causing me to lose sleep. I was content with learning that there WAS an Iphicles ep in the works.
 All too soon the brunch was over. It was time to gear up for the CON itself. I was armed with my notebook, pen, book bag, camera, tickets, and schedule. I was psyched!
Kevin at the Convention
 Kevin Smith was greeted with a partial standing ovation. His response, "this is way cool!" Zepgirl yelled and waved at him. We got to see the "fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants Kev," the same Kev who does TheatreSports because it's a challenge.
Kevin Answering the Questions
 The first question was from me, I asked "How long did it take you to learn the songs for THE BITTER SUITE (#58) and was it more difficult to act in a musical as compared to a regular episode?" He answered, "It was amazing; it was recorded in a studio in New Zealand, and it was being sent to Joe LoDuca. We were in the studio for about 3-4 hours. We had about 3 rehearsals for about 2-3 days then recorded it in one session. It was actually kind of fun doing a musical, the nature of Xena and such, it seemed to fit very well, a theatricality to it. Yeah, it wasn't any more difficult, it was a lot of fun. Except the dancing, 'cos Kev hates to dance."
 Kev went for the next question on the left before realizing "it's a tennis thing going on" and went to the first person on the right. The next request was for an autograph. Kev had to refuse and it was breaking his heart. The person was in tears, and Kev felt really bad he couldn't sign, but he did give her a hug. His flight was leaving VERY soon after his talk.
 The next person said "I got set up to do this. Actually YOU got set up to do this by Danielle Cormack yesterday." She asked him to sing the New Zealand national anthem. Kev looked around. "Is Danielle Cormack in the house? Serious bum-kicking for Danielle Cormack." The questioner basically dared him to sing. Kev tried to get out of it by saying the New Zealand national anthem was a long, meandering song, but he did sing a couple of songs, "I'm so gonna slap her (Danielle) around." He sang the first stanza. That voice is amazing! It's deep and rich and *sigh* back to the reportŠ The crowd went wild. He told the audience about the All-Blacks, and how they always have someone sing the national anthem before a whole lot of people. He'd always wanted to do it, but singing in America "it still counts."
 There were several comments about his looks, which embarrassed him. He was asked about the God of Love character and what it was based on. "It was Vegas Ares." Then said that at the last wrap party Elvis was the theme for night. Did he enjoy the God of Love? He always plays bad guys and wonders if casting directors see an evil in him that he wasn't aware of. He loves playing something different, but doesn't want to be a wuss. The God of Love was a lounge lizard.
 Did the role of Iphicles lead to the role of Ares? Kevin answered, "They needed someone to fit the wig for Iphicles. I did a movie a few years ago called DESPERATE REMEDIES." (at this there was a lot of screaming, which took Kevin aback). "It did okay in Europe, but it flopped in the US." Erik Grunderman, a producer in New Zealand, asked if Kev would want to play Iphicles. Kev didn't think that it led to the Ares gig. When Ares came along, he'd just finished being in Othello (directed by Michael Hurst) and he had a beard. When he came to the set, he didn't have a beard, so they had to stick one on. "I don't know how the Ares thing came about, but I'm pretty darn happy it did." (Us too, Kev!)
 Someone made a comment about his accent and Kev asked if it was hard to understand. A chorus of "no's came from the audience. Is he married? Yeah, for 14 years. This led to a steady round of clapping, which seemed to surprise Kev.
 Someone said "nice shirt". "I'm doing the Tour de France after this." She then asked if acting was what he'd wanted to do from childhood. Kev replied that he'd really wanted to be an All-Black and that he still hadn't given up hope. He started acting when he was about 24 or 25. It was a nice surprise. "My kids want to be actors now." But they think they'd get to be on XENA.
 Does he like working on the HERCULES or the XENA set better? Kevin responded that they're two different shows, and the relationship between the characters is different. With Hercules Ares wants to kill him. With Xena it's a seductive relationship, he wants to win her back. And he enjoys them both. With Xena and Hercules it's like there's a sign on my butt that says 'kick it' I mean, I'm the God of War, "but I just get slapped around."
 A little child gave him a drawing of Ares, God of War. "That's so cool." He leaned down and gave the child a chance to get a picture with him.
 Do you have a trainer or do you work out on your own? His agent, Robert Bruce, is an ex-professional wrestler. Kev started training with him a few years ago; they get up at four in the morning and train a couple of hours then Kev goes off to the set. Robert pushes Kev along, "He still kicks my butt. Take a number. Line up."
 What's your favorite XENA episode? "I used to say TEN LITTLE WARLORDS (#32), because of the effect of Ares without any powers. What effect does that have on someone who's always had powers? And it's still my favorite, but I kinda dug the FURIES (#47) because that was me on the poles at the end, oh yeah. Don't ask me to do any backflips. That was me."
 Do you have any sons? "Yeah, I've got three sons. They're six, four, and three months. But if you add them all together, that's ten."
 How does it feel to overpower Xena? "In the early shows that's the only time that Ares overpowered them. Now they're sort of equals. If he overpowers her it's a temporary thing."
 What other projects do you have? "I fly out in about two hours. I get back about 5:00 am and I've got to go straight to the set. So I do this 'til the end of March, then Danielle Cormack and I shoot a picture. I guess unless I get killed, there'll be more Ares after that. Better save some Hind's blood out for me."
 In the animated movie Ares was kind of a wuss. Was it fun? Oh, yeah, I turn into a sheep. In New Zealand it's the butt of many agrarian-based jokes. The sheep says, "you don't want to make me ma-ah-ah-d". Kev went on to say that it's an ongoing joke between the Aussies and the Kiwis. "It's not like we sleep with sheep everyday." Laughs from the audience. "He senses he's gone too far." More laughs from the audience.
 Did you have any marital arts training? "My martial arts training is a stuntman called Ben." The only training Kev's had is boxing. That kicky stuff is new to him. If you see someone "doing an amazing thing. Pretty sure, it won't be me."
 How do you like working with Lucy? I've worked with Lucy since 1989. It's nice to go onto a set the first time and go into a friendly environment. Kevin (Sorbo) and Lucy take great care with the show, and take responsibility for the quality of the show. So it's great, as an actor to work at that level of intensity. She's a whole lot of fun.
Photo courtesy of Debbie Cassetta
 More comments about the shirt. Kev didn't understand the phrase "working that shirt", then asked if it was American vernacular. He then imitated a gay man. "Don't go there."
 Where do you draw your inspiration for the character. I think it's a cathartic exercise. "I'm the biggest wuss in day-to-day life". Kev mentioned that he's got a house full of broken equipment that he's "too embarrassed to send back. When I get to be bad, I get to work that stuff out." I could pay $100 an hour for this.
 Is it hard for you to change your voice? Accent-wise? "No, because growing up we watch American TV all the time." Kev said he slows his speech down a bit. One time he spoke to Hudson and when he was done she said "What the h*ll did you say?" Kev then dissected the accents. The English-type accents are frontal, kind of whiny. The American accents are at the back. He went into the Ares accent for a second.
 The next person said "Nice pants." Kev immediately came back with "Thanks, I made them myself. I've got a machine up in the room." She then asked if he went on-line. Kev said he did go on chat (IRC) one night with a friend. But he wondered how folks really would know who he was. What Kev didn't realize is that the friend who showed him the chat room was a regular at the time. We trusted him when he said Kev was in the room with him. Shocked yes, doubtful of his identity, no. (I got on-line and in chat about a half-hour after Kev had been on. The room was still in shock that he'd been there.)
 Could you tell us about being Xena's father? "It's one of those things where a certain amount of ambiguity is useful to us. It's neither confirmed nor denied at this time."
 Do you do your own stunts? "I do as much as I can, it helps the show if people can see that it's you that's taking the fall. But really specialized stuff, the martial arts, the gymnastics stuff, they get a stunt guy to do that. Yeah, I fall down."
 Do you like being the God of War? "Yeah, it's really cool". Did you do any sword fighting previously? "They used to take me in a day or so before to take you through the fights, but as you get more familiar with it, it's like a half hour before the take. It's like learning an instrument, there are licks, certain combinations. Once you get a handle on those, you can go through it pretty quickly. In New Zealand there is a lot of stage work, where you do fencing when you do things like Shakespeare, so that yes, but the broadsword thing, no."
 Do you enjoy adding the satire, the cheesy little tidbits? Kev started to answer, then said "cheesy?" and looked at the woman askance, "Fromage? (French for cheese)." I've got to wonder if that was another bit of American slang he hadn't heard or if he was playing.
 Kev and Charles Siebert decided when Kev started playing Ares that there has to be an element of charm. Yes, he's a bad guy, but you have to have an edge there. If you could be any other character who would you be?"Argo." Then Kev muttered "That was so wrong."
 A German fan came up and asked if he'd written his own songs. Kev moaned and said "and I was horrified to find that someone had discovered them." He then laughed and said that in the 80's he'd been in a progressive rock band called 'Say Yes to Apes' and they used to write songs. They released three albums. Sometimes Kev would run into someone who knew he'd been in a band. He then said that someone at the Burbank Con had found a copy of one of his old albums. "I still actually listen to them." The fan asked if he'd sing one. He then sang a bit of a country song he'd once written.
 What is it like to work with Hudson? "Oh, yeah, it's cool to work with her. It's an interesting dynamic. All that stuff we did (talking about INTIMATE STRANGER (#31) and TEN LITTLE WARLORDS (#32) when Lucy and Hudson were adopting each other's speech patterns. It was really weird. Hudson's really full on." Then Kev talked about her talk Saturday night. "She was naughty last night. 'Do you want to play with me?' What was that about?"
Photo courtesy of Debbie Cassetta
 Someone asked about the beard. Kev shaves it when he plays Iphicles, or like when he played the God of Love. The goatee helps to make Ares look evil. Kev mentioned the glue-on beard. "If you see me not smiling, or talking like a bad ventriloquist, that's the glue-on."
 What's your most embarrassing moment on the show? "There must be an incredible blooper tape." Kev then imitated a conversation between him and a director. "You sure you want to do this? Yeah, it's cool. It's pretty dangerous. Ben!" He added, "I usually try and give things a go."
 Do you have any of Ares' rough nature in you? "Everyone has to access a certain part of yourself (when you're doing an character), I guess it's a bad road rage."
 What's your personal motivation for Iphicles and Ares? Kev mentioned doing Othello and then the problems with the brothers. Then he talked about STRANGER and the line "Dad always liked you best!" He then mentioned watching his kids interact.
 What's it like being directed by Bruce Campbell. Kev talked about college and watching EVIL DEAD. Then he said at the end of the shoot (of WHAT'S IN A NAME? [#H16]) Bruce invited them to the studio to watch EVIL DEAD II with him. "It was so righteous. He's a funny guy."
 Asked about his relationship with Lucy, Kev responded that would bump into her on other jobs. On his first job playing a night club owner, Lucy was 19 and they met then. "It makes it really comfortable on set." (having worked previously with Lucy)
 A little girl asked about his makeup and costume as Ares. He said it takes about an hour in makeup. Then he talked about his pants and how putting them on was difficult at first , but now he's used to them. "So maybe about an hour and a quarter?" Then he mentioned getting into character. Takes an hour and a half to get ready to play Ares.
 The next person asked about practical jokes on set. "Michael Hurst is a fiend." He'll come on set, and there'll be something weird about him. One time he painted his nipples red and stuck his chest out. "It's funny cos the guy's a director; a d*mn fine director." He's one of the authorities on Shakespeare, but on the set he's just playing around. Kev was quick to add that Michael worked hard.
 What do your kids think about you being on HERCULES and XENA? Kev talked about his four-year-old when he's tired or scared calling him Ares. "They play a lot, but in their world Ares wins." Kev grinned while talking about his boys.
 What's the name of the movie coming up? CHANNELING BABY is the working title and they start shooting in about two months (mid-March?) and it'll be released here next year.
 Why is Ares seen on foot? Kev said he grew up in the country, and likes to ride. He'd actually wants to ride. Kev then told a story about an Australian movie he did, McLEOD'S DAUGHTERS.
 Kev had to leave, but took a last question. What's the difference between Ares and Hercules? "Ares is just bad to the bone!"