Part two of my chat with Wil Wheaton who guested on last night’s episode of Leverage. (Read part one here)
Now that we’ve all seen the Leverage episode, can you talk more about the incident you referred to on your blog?
Wil Wheaton: Yes, sure. We were shooting a bunch of footage for the security cams where you see Chaos outside. There’s that scene where you see Chaos standing outside Sophie’s apartment building, getting ready to take those flowers in, and we were shooting it in an actual apartment building, on a real street, with people walking around and somehow this woman got past our PAs. She was going into the building and she walked right up to me and wanted to see these flowers and who were they for, and could she smell them, and you know where did they come from, and I thought, well let’s see, if this was really happening, this guy would stand here and he would be charming and he would engage her and talk with her, and answer her questions and then just send her on her way to be as unremarkable and unmemorable as possible. So that’s what I did and played that out with her, and then she left and I looked around and went right into the building behind her.
Acting on a television show, you have to do the same beats over and over again and you kind of establish a rhythm and then stay with it so that you can get through and finish the day. It’s very rare that you get an opportunity to have something completely unexpected happen and just play with it and incorporate it as part of the reality of the show. Back in the old days, if we were filming on film, they would have cut the cameras immediately because it’s just too expensive to keep the film rolling. But we’re shooting on a Red camera, so that wasn’t even an issue at all. And it was a really fun, really memorable moment. In a filming experience that was just wall-to-wall awesome, that was one of the things that is really going to stay with me for a very long time.
These past few TV seasons, we’ve been seen a growing number of hero geeks from Hardison on Leverage, Chuck on Chuck, Rodney McKay on Stargate Atlantis — even Sam and Dean Winchester rely on their computer research skills to help save the day. Seems like it’s a great time to be a geek!
Wil Wheaton: One of my first columns at Suicide Girls was called “Have the Geek Inherited the Earth?” I examined that because I remember growing up and feeling like I was the only kid on my block and in my school that was into Star Trek and there were a few kids that were into Dungeons and Dragons but we were at a parochial school so it was something you had to really kind of keep on the down low as they say. I didn’t know anybody else that played the Ghostbusters soundtrack and recreated the entire movie from memory like I did, playing all the different characters and stuff. I was really a geek.
I remember I had one of those, here’s how computers work, pop-up books that I bought at a bookstore. I carried the thing with me everywhere I went and pretended that it was a laptop before laptops existed and I’d go to restaurants with my mom and she’d be like, ‘what are you doing?’ I’d be like, ‘stop mom, I’m talking to Norad,’ because I had just seen War Games. And back then I felt like I was the only one and I endured the tormenting that we all endure in school, and felt like I was alone. If you fast forward to the last few years, because of the ubiquity of Internet culture and the ability for us to find other people who are like us, it doesn’t feel as lonely and it doesn’t feel as hopeless is it did in the 70s and early 80s.
ON CONVENTIONS AND SCI FI SEEPING INTO MASS CULTURE
You know, one of the reasons I love going to science fiction conventions and comic conventions is because I can find other people who are just like me and we are in an environment where not only is it OK to dress up in a costume, but you want to impress people with how hard you worked to put the thing together, and that’s awesome. That sort of thing didn’t really exist before. So I think it’s probably a little bit easier now, especially if you’re a kid growing up today and you watch Robot Chicken and then you find out that Seth Green who makes it loves the same things you do, it kind of takes the edge off a little bit. And I think that that does sort of like mitigate a little bit what the whole geek experience was like.
I think that with the advent of personal computers and the success of like the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and the Batman reboots and things like that the giant conglomerates in the studios are realizing that there’s more of us than they thought and we’re now a viable market. So I guess it’s a very long way of saying that it’s probably a little bit easier now than it was you know when I was growing up, but I bet you if you were to find some of the kids who are teased today, and some of the kids who are still in school who are trying to get people together to watch Dr. Who, they would probably tell you that it sucks and that it’s hard, because I think that’s just kind of . . the fires that forge geekdom are stoked by the cool kids, and I think that’s going to be like that forever. And I guess I just hope that it’s getting easier for people now than it was for me when I was a kid.
AND THE GEEK SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH
I remember when I started blogging in 2000 and all the traditional media, whatever you want to call it, were all sort of sneering at us like how dare you try to come and play on our baseball field. Your gloves are ugly and you’re fat and stink like manure and we were like, uh you know we’re doing the same thing it’s just in a different medium, but you enjoy that giant wooly mammoth, keeping standing in that tar pit, we’re going to be over here and I just think it’s great that we, who started this whole blogging thing, that we’ve carved out our own little section of the world and I’m so excited to be part of this.
Leverage photos courtesy of TNT