When it comes to selecting celebrity guests for FanX: Salt Lake Comic Convention, event co-founder Dan Farr says it mostly comes down to one thing: which guests will offer the best experiences for the thousands of devoted fans that attend the FanX events.
“I think sometimes we see people as one dimensional — we see them on TV and kind of see them in a certain role, but when you start looking back, you see what’s behind the curtain and there’s so much more to them — you can see them as so vibrant,” Farr said in a previous interview with the Daily Herald regarding FanX celebrity guests. “You see how really talented these people are, that’s why they’re so successful — they have so many different talents.”
But more than just talent, Farr said he hopes the celebrity guests that attend FanX bring an enthusiasm and gratitude for their eager fans that can create the “Ultimate FanXperience” the event is named for.
“When people ask me who I’m a fan of, I become a fan of people after I meet them … I’m a fan of how they treat people,” Farr said. “During events, I like to have vicarious experiences seeing people get so excited when meeting someone who means a lot to them. That, to me, is my fan boy experience — seeing other people have their experiences.”
Among the guests hoping to create those special fan moments this time around are actors Casey Cott, largely known for his role as Kevin Keller on the fan-favorite series “Riverdale,” and Sebastian Roche, a seasoned actor who has garnered fans and praise through the years for work on shows such as “Supernatural” (as Balthazar), “The Man in the High Castle” (as Martin Heusmann) and “The Vampire Diaries” and “The Originals” (as Mikael).
A Casey Cott original
When it comes to Casey Cott’s acting career, he’s quick to note that a lot of it comes from being in the right place at the right time.
“I stumbled into it at 16,” Cott explained of his love for acting, noting the fact his brother shares the same career. After performing in high school, he decided to pursue drama in college, eventually graduating from the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama in 2016.
It was during his last semester there that he landed the role of Kevin in “Riverdale.”
“It’s kind of been a crazy 10 years,” Cott said of the time since he made the decision to act. “It’s been a bonfire since then of madness, but really fun.”
Cott’s role as Kevin in “Riverdale” started as recurring, but it wasn’t long until he became a regular part of the cast.
“It’s crazy we’ve been doing it for four years,” Cott said of the show and his time as Kevin. “ There’s no other modem of acting other than a television series where you play a character for so long. It just gets more and more fun when the writers find something new to bring out. He’s a blast.”
Cott was quick to describe Kevin as “a fun, young, kind of puppy dog, boppin’ around,” but ultimately as a character that can bring a lot of happiness to a show with dark undertones.
“He’s a fun character to play because he sheds joy wherever he goes,” Cott said. “Even if it’s through being sad, it’s still kind of funny. It’s fun to make people laugh and smile.”
It didn’t take long for “Riverdale,” a show based on the characters of Archie Comics, to find a strong following, which of course in turn propelled the series’ actors into a unique spotlight.
“It was like all of a sudden being like a public entity,” Cott said of the transition. Though paparazzi especially still shake things up, Cott said the best thing for him has been to find a new normal, a concept he dubbed a “Casey Cott original.”
“I think the more you just kind of normalize in an abnormal situation, the less anxious and more at peace you feel about the situation,” he said.
For him that includes limiting social media, finding new hobbies and trying “to live a pretty normal life,” from joining a book club (where they’re reading the New York Times Bestseller “My Year of Rest and Relaxation”) to playing plenty of Madden on the Playstation.
As to his upcoming trip to FanX, Cott said he’s “super excited to get out there,” and “hopefully tons and tons of people come.”
“This is the first time I’ve ever been to Utah before so I’m really excited,” he explained. “I find that these conventions, one of the coolest things about them is that they’re all so different. Even just within diff regions of the U.S., the fans are all so different.”
The hype surrounding FanX hasn’t missed Cott, and he said he’s looking forward to meeting as many as come.
“The cool thing about fans is they have a passion for the things I’m also passionate about,” he said. “It’s really cool to just have an interaction where there’s automatic mutual common interest. The conversations flow really freely and it’s fun to nerd out about random things. … That passion makes it great.”
Experiencing Sebastian Roche
Though originally from across the globe in Paris, France, the mountains of Utah are a familiar sight for acclaimed and prolific actor Sebastian Roche, who will be making his way once again to the state for FanX next week.
Roche’s life and career have taken him around the globe, including several of his teen years spent with his family traveling on a boat, but despite all the adventure, his end goal has always been to act.
“I knew that I wanted to be an actor when I was very, very young,” Roche said.
And though his start in the career of his choice was delayed by travels, “I knew this was what I wanted to do, and I worked as hard as I could to make it,” he continued.
“I went to a wonderful drama school in France, but realized France was not really the country for me and I moved. I was going to move to London but ended up in New York and never left.”
From there on the East Coast, Roche began to build his impressive body of work from the stage to television and film, never failing to recognize that his success came largely from the support of fans.
“Whenever I come (to conventions), I always look forward to meeting (fans),” he said. “They’re the ones who really keep our fandom and our careers going. I always love to meet new fans.”
And that excitement for Roche extends to FanX.
“I’ve been to the city (Salt Lake), but haven’t been to FanX,” he said. “Utah is a beautiful, beautiful state, actually. The landscape and nature is just absolutely beautiful. I’ve been to Park City and Sundance and skied in the area at Deer Valley. I’ve been to Arches National Monument and shot a movie there three or two years ago. It really is one of the most beautiful states in the country, and people are really, really nice there. … I’ve heard about (FanX) for a long time and I’m really looking forward to seeing what it’s like.”
When it comes to what fans can expect from Roche’s visit, it’s plenty of interaction.
“I like to give as much as I can because they’ve been so generous with us; they’re the reason we have careers,” Roche said, explaining that he loves interactive panels and “a big show” as opposed to the typical question-and-answer format, as well as the chance to greet anyone who stops by.
“The biggest takeaway is always a very humbling experience,” he said of time at fan events. “I’m always humbled by how kind and generous and giving the fans are. ... Another takeaway from it is we’re all equal. I’m no more exceptional than they are, I just happen to be on a screen which is broadcast all over the world. But I’m just the same kind of person. We do the same things. It’s only exceptional because a large number of people see me at the same time but that’s about it, we’re all the same.
“There is sort of a cult of stardom in this country,” Roche continued, “but what we have to realize is though there are some ‘stars’ that are interesting and do interesting things, it doesn’t take away from the fact that anyone can do interesting things. We’re just more in the forefront because of media and internet. I still consider myself an artisan of my craft. I don’t consider myself a star; I’m just a worker. I equate myself as being the same as the people who come to see me. It’s as simple as that. It’s a craft and nothing more, and the life that you lead is the life that you lead, but at the end of the day it’s just a job.”
A job Roche has spent years honing his abilities in through his life experiences and travels.
“I truly believe that traveling is one of the most important things in one’s life. Seeing cultures you don’t know and new landscapes really broadens the mind. … I think that my life experiences shaped me as an actor. It really has enriched what I can bring as an actor.”
Whether on the stage or on the screen, though life experiences can lend depth, continuing to act, according to Roche, is a product of passion.
“I think a real actor continues acting because the passion is so strong,” he said. “For me, I think real actors are those who are passionate about acting, not those who want to be famous. The passion is what motivates them makes them want to be better.”
Both Cott and Roche will appear at FanX: Salt Lake Comic Convention, set to run at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City Sept. 5-7. For more details on the event, or to purchase tickets, visit fanxsaltlake.com or read continuing coverage of the convention at heraldextra.com/comiccon.