The event was taking place at the New Beverly Cinemas in mid-city Los Angeles, not far from the Fairfax district. We got their a little early and watched some of the presentation from Mark Ryan, talking about his upcoming graphic novel, The Pilgrim, which actually looks pretty interesting. Once the panel was done, some of the Slither folks started sauntering in, like Nathan Fillion and James Gunn. I also saw someone in the audience who looked very much like Smallville‘s Michael Rosenbaum, which ACTUALLY turned out to be him. The celebrities got a good amount of attention and schmoozing in (as they’re wont to do), but eventually we all sat down to see Slither. I hadn’t seen it since it was in the theater, and it was just as funny as I remember it.
During the screening, the film itself stopped abruptly, to which James Gunn joked that it was the "director’s cut". Nathan Fillion said they could act it out, while James Gunn told a story about Michael Rooker’s first date (which I won’t repeat). When the film resumed, it looked like it was about to sputter out again a few times, but made it all the way through, thankfully. Once the screening was over, Michael Rooker, James Gunn, Gregg Henry, Nathan Fillion and Tim Williams (who orchestrated the music for the film) all took the stage for the panel, which was lively and hilarious.
Nathan Fillion began by saying he did and said things in Slither that he had never done or said before, such as "isn’t this a little too much KY?", which got a good resounding laugh from the audience. James Gunn told us he got upset a few times during filming, specifically during the field scene due to the crew flattening the wheat stalks inadvertently, as well as the scene in the bathtub wherein the water turned out yellow for some reason, which looked awful on film.
James Gunn also said he didn’t get mad at the actors because, "actors are like infants, you can’t yell at them." They all went on to discuss improvisation on the set. Apparently, there was a small amount of improv on the set, mostly from Nathan Fillion and Michael Rooker. Gregg Henry couldn’t improvise too much because he already had quite a bit of dialog (much of which was AWESOME).
Nathan Fillion then spoke for a little bit about how it was his idea to do the behind-the-scenes featurette on the Slither DVD. He said, because of Slither, he never looks at a script again if it says, "Exterior – Night – Woods". Apparently he was caught unawares as to just how long they would be shooting outside in those woods at night, and he didn’t seem too happy about it.
Someone then asked James Gunn about what he’d have liked to have seen for a possible sequel. First, it would have taken place in Las Vegas and would have included the three surviving characters from the first film. The three characters, Bill Pardy (Fillion), Starla Grant (Elizabeth Banks) and Kylie Strutemyer (Tania Saulnier) would still be suffering mental instabilities caused by the events of the first film. He also hinted at a relationship between Bill and Kylie, but I couldn’t tell if he was joking or serious.
Then someone asked what they all were currently working on. Michael Rooker said he had recently worked on both The Lena Baker Story and Bolden!, a movie about Buddy Bolden, "the first Coronet King of New Orleans." James Gunn said he’s working on the script for Pets, but wouldn’t go into much detail about it. He also said he’s working on two internet projects -one for the Xbox and a secret web series- both of which would be debuted at ComicCon 2008. Gregg Henry is currently on The Riches on FX, as well as writing new songs.
Nathan Fillion recently finished Chilled in Miami, and mentioned briefly that he’d just worked on Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, but gave little details about the specifics except to say, "it’s about a supervillain, the girl he falls in love with at a Laundromat, and the superhero who’s a pain in his ass." He also said he’d just sold a pilot to ABC about a pair of brothers who open a repo company, possibly to be entitled "Repo Brothers." I hadn’t heard a THING about this piece of news, so it’s kind of a biggie, in my opinion. Tim Williams then said he was working on the music for the Xcom game Rise of the Argonauts as well as music for the upcoming Watchmen film.
The cast then talked about the makeup about, especially Michael Rooker’s horrific makeup, which he called "sadistic." It took apparently six to eight hours to get into the suit used in his final scenes in the movie, and he was in the suit for up to twelve hours at a time filming (using a pot to go to the bathroom). Apparently, Michael Rooker had ear surgery as a child, and the anesthetic wore off during the surgery, resulting in tremendous pain. He said wearing the suit in Slither was worse than that by comparison.
I’m not sure it was me or not, but Michael Rooker seemed quite inebriated, but maybe he’s just randomly rambunctious normally, I don’t know. Sometimes he was funny, sometimes he was confusing, but most of the time he was hilarious, an example being how to properly show a director how to tie up a child during a movie. Nathan jumped on this, saying "hey, let me show you how to tie up a kid."
Apparently Michael Rooker was a "problem" on the set as well, though I’m guessing this is a running joke. James Gunn had called people who had worked with his actors before, such as Joss Whedon, and got glowing reviews of each of them. When he asked people about Michael Rooker, however, people would go "well…" and then go on about what a problem he could be. This was pretty dang funny in its own right, so again, I’m guessing this was merely a joke at Michael Rooker’s expense.
Then, in a tender and serious moment, both Nathan Fillion and James Gunn said that they had a ton of good times on the set and made good friends with each other as a result, and you could see this in their camaraderie on-stage. James Gunn said he’d worked on several films (I believe he said he directed five or six) and he’d only kept in close touch with two people from them. Apparently they see each other all the time and hang out quite a bit, which was nice to hear.
Eventually, Michael Rosenbaum got up to leave, which drew ire from the gentlemen on stage. Rosenbaum turned around and said, "This movie has been out for a *censormode*ing year!" and then continued to walk toward the exit. This was just too damned funny, but it did signal the apparent end of the panel.
Overall the panel was great fun. You could tell that the people involved in Slither‘s creation and execution not only loved the film, but had tremendous love and respect for each other as well. It was like watching a group of old friends just hanging out and talking about old times, which made it a very fun and comfortable experience overall.