Photo’s of Benedict Cumberbatch from Saturday the 5th of April at the Cumberbatch Experience panel at the Adelaide Oz Comic Con. I will post more later. I have written a rather long report about my experience below the cut.
I never really do reports, I went through setlock, various plays/stage door experiences, being an extra on Little Favour etc without doing it. Usually other people did it and they were much better at it anyway. I went to Oz Comic Con in Adelaide Australia over the weekend and thought I would throw in a small report this time, lots of people have said things, but I feel like my personal experiences and take on things might be interesting to some? I am Australian so I was really happy to hear that Benedict was coming to Oz Comic Con. I have met him a few times before and talked to him a bit, so I already knew what a lovely person he was. It was great to see that nothing had changed.
The first time I saw him was when I got my first autograph on Saturday morning. I got him to sign this large Sherlock poster, I saw that he was wearing the usual outfit and he looked really tired. As I got to the table he turned and asked for someone to unscrew his water bottle lid and he then leaned over and signed the poster without really even looking at me, when he was finished he went right back to the water and I was feeling pretty tired myself so just walked away, I was cool with it, he was signing so many autographs, so after that I set my expectations low, I was happy enough just to get something signed.
Next was the photo with him, this time he seemed wide awake and really happy, when I walked in he had a big smile, I said “G’day mate” like a true Aussie and I felt totally embarrassed, I actually never ever say that and I have no idea why it came out then and there… he threw his arm around me and asked how I was, I told him I was great and asked how he was, he said he was having fun which made me happy. They took the photo then he thanked me, I thanked him and left.
I had the experience ticket so I went to his panel later that afternoon that was only for the 300 people who had that particular ticket. I was really close to the front for a change! He came out and started drinking wine, he seemed to be in a really good mood. I think a lot of people have talked about what he said so I won’t go in to it too much, there is a DVD being released with the panel on it also. I took some photos in the first five minutes, which came out okay considering that the camera I had isn’t the best. I really did laugh that he had a bug in his wine and was too hot. It was a real, “welcome to Australia” moment.
I would like to mention the mental health thing and him seeing a shrink. He really made it clear that he wasn’t depressed or traumatized by the fans or something (I’ve read people suggesting that). He just wanted to clarify that his mind was in the right place and did so. Mental health is important and he thinks there should be more emphasis put on maintaining it, which I totally agree with. His panel was great, I had heard most of what he said before but it was great to watch it all live.
The Meet and Greet was my next step. Luckily I managed to get a ticket, there weren’t many and I never get tickets to things like that so I was really happy. We were put in groups of ten and taken to these round tables where we had wine and cheese etc. My table was full of lovely people so I felt lucky in that regard also. Benedict came in along with Stephen Hunter and John Callan from the Hobbit. As Benedict could only be at one table at a time they thought they would rotate tables which was amazing. We had John first and he was hilarious. I felt really comfortable talking to him, he was very entertaining. Stephen was next; he showed us a ring that was made for him for being in the film, it was really awesome to see it. His stories were interesting also. Benedict was with us next, he sat next to me which was pretty surreal, I had met him before, as mentioned, but to sit at a table next to him and chat with him was an experience that I never expected to have. He talked about how tired his arm was and how sore his cheeks were from smiling in all of those photos, he said he would get a massage later so it was all good and that we should talk about anything other than the day. No one was pushy at the table so it was a little silent, he started eating our cheese and was swirling his wine so vigorously that I just kept staring at his hands. He talked about how great the wine was and how he had visited the valley where they make it. He drank white but said he prefers red, the white was apparently chilled and he wanted a cold drink. He also had them turn on the air con even though to me it wasn’t hot at all lol. Someone suggested that it was good that he chose Adelaide after he mentioned liking to get away in nature. He said that someone in Malaysia had asked where he was going in Australia and when he said Adelaide they said that it was boring, he had replied, “it sounds perfect then”. He was happy to be somewhere quiet before going to Melbourne and Sydney (I do hope he visits other places because we really do have some amazing nature).
I asked him if it was his first time in Australia, I figured that it was because I’ve never heard of him being here before. He confirmed that he had never really been to Australia except that his plane did land in Melbourne once on the way to New Zealand but he didn’t leave the airport. A girl from New Zealand was at our table so she asked him how he found it and so he talked about New Zealand for a really long time. I had no problem just sitting and listening to him talk. He really does waffle, which I love about him, even in this situation. He talked about the places he visited there and how James McAvoy had recommended it to him. He talked briefly about being there for the Hobbit and said “when I played Saruman… oh fuck no, not him.” That was pretty funny.
Another girl at the table thanked him for his comments about mental health, she works in the field and really liked what he said. He told us (I forget his exact words but this is the gist of it) he just wants to stay grounded and wrap his head around things, he still doesn’t understand why people would want to pay to come talk to him, he gets that we all want photos and autographs but he wants to see the fans as people as he wants us to see him as a person. He said his favourite thing is just being able to sit and talk like in the meet and greet situation, he doesn’t think we are weird and he likes to “eyeball” us all. At this point he took the time to look directly in to everyone at the tables eyes for a few seconds, he did me last as I was sitting next to him. It was a kind of strange moment but I really loved the reasoning behind it. I kind of froze and stared deep in to his eyes. Needless to say I drank my glass of red in about 2 seconds after that. He did mention at that time that he liked meeting fans at the stage door also but that these days it’s not really possible. He asked that it be put to the fandom somehow that he will not be stopping at the stage door for Hamlet. He said, no matter how long people wait or how far they have travelled, he just can’t and won’t. I know that it is disappointing to some people but I completely get it. He mentioned how long the days are and something about not being able to get to everyone so it’s just not possible. He was apologetic but he is trying not to burn himself out and I believe people should respect that. He likes doing conventions and will most likely do many more so that is the best time to get an autograph and a photo and have a chat to him (his words paraphrased).
He was so down to Earth and very real. I work in film and used to be a journalist, I’ve met celebrities of all kinds and he is definitely a rarity amongst them. Very inspirational and intelligent. I can’t remember everything he said exactly, I know there was more, we weren’t allowed to take pictures or record anything so I have no record and was very tired. I know he heard my sister commenting under her breath about him stealing our cheese which he denied he was doing jokingly and then when she told him to take it he was like, no, no! When he asked us why we weren’t eating someone said that we all didn’t want to look gross eating in front of him so he said “I will look gross by myself then” and dipped a cracker in the dip (enormous amount of dip and then he double dipped lol). Someone asked if the convention people weren’t feeding him or something and he said no, no, they are! He did walk off with a plate full of our cheese that he had collected.
It really was a great experience. His bodyguard Ty came and spoke to us next, he was a lovely man also, very funny. Luckily he hadn’t had to deal with any fan attacks or anything. I heard about something the next day but I’m not sure about the details so I won’t go in to that. When Benedict left he blew kisses and did his kind of round heart hand sign, it was such a great evening and I met some very nice people.
The next day the photo was up first, I had two tokens because of my ticket and when I walked in the lady shouted out, “this one has two!” Benedict threw his arm around me, smiled and said, “there has to be!” I said that I always have ten chins in one so I need two and he laughed and nodded, I don’t know, I think he understood me somehow… He pointed at me in the second pic so I pointed back, he leaned over right in my face, I thought he must have tripped or something, but he smiled and said “thank you”. I stumbled out, realizing that I had screwed up my face in both pics because he made me laugh with his nodding and own laughter… In the end the photo’s were pretty bad but I don’t really care. I feel incredibly lucky to have them in the first place.
I got my autographs next (some hours later). While queuing some Daleks came out and entertained us, they were saying how we all thought we were lining up for Benedict Cumberbatch and yeah, they should let us think that. Then they were saying the Cumberbatch fans would be enslaved or exterminated. It was rather amusing.
When I went in Benedict said hello using my name and asked me how my day was going, my name was written on the little card next to the picture I wanted signed. I took a really long time to answer him and felt a bit silly. Next I had him sign a picture for a friend of mine who was with me at Setlock. For a reason I won’t go in to, I felt it was important to get her his autograph. He asked me to clarify the spelling and spelled G E N Y out aloud after I told him the story. He made sure it was done properly and then thanked me for coming.
After that I went to his panel, on Sunday it was open to the general public so it was a bit of a disaster. I remember someone saying to cumberbatchweb that he doesn’t have many fans in Australia, they needed to see Oz Comic Con… It was badly organized at this point, people who waited the longest barely made it in. I only just made it in and was relieved. I took some photos but could only see the screen so they weren’t fantastic. There were over 3000 people at the panel and he could only be on one stage at a time so it was simulcast on stage 2 (directly behind the main one separated by a curtain). He was hilarious and impersonated so many people, at the end he walked around to stage 2 which made everyone’s day after the chaos involved with getting in. Seriously Oz Comic Con, he is a popular man, allow people to queue if they are willing. I hope they learned their lesson for next time. Apart from that the con was run very well and the volunteers were lovely.
So I waffled on a bit myself and I’m sure I forgot a lot of stuff. To sum it up I had a great time and really appreciate Benedict coming down under. It meant a lot to the people there, we don’t get much down here because we are so far from everything. He really is a great person, he inspires me a lot and it’s always great to thank someone in person for that, as Benedict would say, to “eyeball” them and connect in a way that is more real.
Bring on the Sydney event next weekend!