C2E2 2023 Photos, Part 2 of 4: Actors!

us with Chris Evans, all doing jazz hands, and he is smiling SO brilliantly.

Chris Evans! Yes, Chris Evans! Yes, THAT Chris Evans! Yes, really!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

My wife Anne and I just got home from the latest edition of the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Exposition (“C2E2″), a three-day extravaganza of comic books, actors, creators, toys, props, publishers, freebies, Funko Pops, anime we don’t recognize, and walking and walking and walking and walking. After its 2010 inception, we attended every year from 2011 to 2019, then took a break due partly to the pandemic and partly due to guest lists outside our circles of interest. This year’s strong lineup lured us back in, much to our delight…

…though we took our sweet time deliberating whether or not to take the plunge again. We committed a mere three weeks before showtime, and we’re glad we did. We needed some time away from home and cheerfully added three more guests to our jazz-hands photo gallery, including the esteemed gentleman pictured above.

Admittedly we assumed Chris Evans’ autographs and photo ops would be sold out within seconds of going on sale. This was absolutely what happened with his autographs. While I bought our weekend passes and Anne prepaid for some of our moments with guests, she was shocked to find Evans still had photo slots available. She added that to her cart without telling me, and, well, here we are with a memory we never expected to happen.

Saturday of the show, Evans’ photo customers were divided into 21 groups. We were in the 21st and final group, which means we must’ve gotten in under the virtual wire. Based on past experiences, we expected the schedule to be tossed out the window, pandemonium to reign, violence to ensue, and everything to take well past midnight and beyond, assuming Evans didn’t break down somewhere around Group 15, collapse from emotional exhaustion, and force all remaining tickets to be refunded. Though the listed photo appointment times did indeed become more of a guideline than a rule as the hours went on, credit is owed to Epic Photo Ops for vastly improving their communication and organizational skills compared to past C2E2s, especially the gentleman on the microphone who patiently kept it all running. All 21 groups made it through the gauntlet with a Chris Evans experience to call their own, and without having to stay hours past closing time.

(I have no idea whether the same held true for his mighty autograph line, which was scheduled to commence after his photo ops were done. We didn’t stick around to watch.)

Though Evans was our final photo op of the weekend, our itinerary began Friday afternoon with a superhero from a different company: Zachary Levi, a.k.a. the star of two Shazam! films. You’ve likely known him as TV’s Chuck, or as the voice of the roguish Flynn Rider from Disney’s Tangled. Or maybe as that one guy from the Heroes revival that everyone agreed to forget. Heroes was never my thing, so don’t look at me. His panel at Dragon Con 2019 with other Shazam! cast members was a blast, so there’s that.

Us with Zachary Levi, who's doing jazz hands with mock Bob Fosse seriousness.

He opted for Serious Artiste Jazz Hands mode, which is a perfectly valid way to go. And he did so without a moment’s hesitation.

Not every photo was about jazz hands or fancy photography studio backdrops. One of Anne’s high-priority actor-autograph themes is meeting folks who’ve been in various Superman-related films and TV shows. We’ve met several cast members from Smallville, but have a few names outstanding. After a few past failed attempts, she finally succeeded in saying hi to Erica Durance, who joined in the fourth season as Lois Lane and stuck around for the rest of the series. She was also invited to The CW’s Supergirl for a recurring role as Our Heroine’s mom, then reprised Lois one last time in a chapter of The CW/DC crossover event Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Anne posing with Erica Durance at her autograph table.

We were worried she’d cancel, but her appearance earlier in the day on a Chicago morning show confirmed she’d made it to town.

Several booths down from Durance, I indulged one of my own high-priority actor-autograph themes: folks from the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Several castmates have graced this site in past convention write-ups, but this was my first opportunity to meet Marc Blucas, who was a regular in the fourth season as Buffy’s coworker/boyfriend Riley, a reasonably nice guy compared to her other beaus. Unlike Angel or Spike, he very rarely tried to damage or murder her. Though they called it quits by season’s end, he returned later in the series to reveal he’d found someone better for him, and that they were happily married…and also coworkers, though minus the dysfunction.

Me doing jazz hands with Marc Blucas!

Instead of chatting about Buffy, we segued into a discussion of Disney vacations. I’ll explain my end of things in a forthcoming entry.

Saturday brought in one of the biggest names from the Buffyverse: David Boreanaz, frequently known as “TV’s Angel” in the DVD commentaries for his five-season spinoff. Despite the times he tried to murder Buffy, his series found its own place in my heart, especially during season 3 when I began feeling parallels between his surprise foray into fatherhood and my own unusual experience along that path. Viewers may also know Boreanaz from costarring in twelve seasons of Bones or his current Paramount+ series SEAL Team, which began as a CBS primetime show and has plans underway for its seventh season.

Me with David Boreanaz, both doing jazz hands.

I passed on a chance to meet him at Wizard World Chicago 2015, but that show was severe guest-list overkill. There was just no way to meet everyone there.

Ahead of me in line was a gentleman who’d paid for four (!) photos with Boreanaz so he could get four different poses. They took one ordinary pic without a hitch. Then the guy asked if they could do that thing where you make a heart with two hands, each of them contributing a hand. This seemed odd to Boreanaz, but he gamely acquiesced. I have lousy hearing and couldn’t hear the guy explain his third request at length, but whatever it was, Boreanaz clearly wasn’t getting it. The guy gave up and they did another ordinary pic. The fourth pose required so much explanation, and was likewise so not clicking, that someone from the camera crew stepped in and insisted they needed to keep the line moving. One last ordinary pic later, Boreanaz apologized as the guy walked away not entirely smiling.

A few beats later came my turn. I asked if we could do jazz hands. He was fine with that. Pose; click; done. He said to me (loosely paraphrased), “Thank you for that. I get jazz hands. I can do that.” I thanked him sincerely and moved aside for the next fan in line.

(The Moral of the Story: you have to keep your photo-op requests simple — no elaborate or esoteric requests that take longer than three seconds of setup. Bada-boom, bada-bing. Learn from a professional, kid.)

We don’t ask every celeb to do jazz hands. Some macho actors out there won’t countenance such a display of vulnerability. Some have a certain image to maintain. And one of our rules of thumb we’ve adopted over the years is we don’t ask elderly actors to do jazz hands. We’re happy to meet them and leave it at that — keeping it simple in a different way. That was the case Saturday morning as Anne met Bonnie Bartlett and William Daniels, who’ve been married for 71 years (maybe 72 — I don’t know their anniversary). The two of them were regulars on St. Elsewhere and worked together when she recurred on Boy Meets World, where Daniels became known worldwide to Generation Y as teacher-turned-principal Mr. Feeny. They were here for the con’s big Boy Meets World cast reunion, one of several being held at various U.S. cons of late.

Our generation better knew Daniels as the voice of K.I.T.T., the super awesome sentient sports car from Knight Rider. He was also John Adams in the musical 1776, Dustin Hoffman’s dad in The Graduate, and, for you obscure superhero trivia fans, the star of the 1967 Batman knockoff Captain Nice. Anne and I also knew Bartlett from Little House on the Prairie, where she became the wife of Mr. Edwards, the Ingalls family’s down-to-Earth neighbor.

Anne with Bonnie Bartlett and William Daniels!

Daniels turned 96 on Friday. Most of us would feel extraordinarily blessed just to live 70 years, let alone be married that long.

…so yes, we were okay without jazz hands here. Anne actually asked for Bartlett’s autograph as a gift for her grandma, a fellow Little House devotee. Bartlett confirmed she gets autograph requests on behalf of fans’ grandparents all the time.

(Maybe decades from now we’ll see if the same goes for Chris Evans once he’s reached his Avengers: Endgame final age.)

To be continued! Other chapters in this very special MCC miniseries:

Part 1: Cosplay!
Part 3: Comics!
Part 4: Convention!
Epilogue: Chicago!

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