comiccon

What It’s Really Like To Be A Celebrity At Comic-Con, As Told By “Arrow”

I followed around Oliver, Laurel, Diggle, Felicity, and Roy before and after their Comic-Con panel. It was a lot of freight elevators, and awesome cosplay.

1. This is the cast of the CW show Arrow, and I traveled as part of their entourage this past weekend at Comic-Con.

Most people who go to Comic-Con are on the opposite side of the curtain; waiting in lines for hours, battling through the crowds to get geek paraphernalia, and hoping to catch a glimpse of some of their favorite actors.

But for actors attending the convention — such as Arrow’s Stephen Amell, Colton Haynes, Katie Cassidy, Emily Bett Rickards, and David Ramsey — their experience is very different from what the fans observe. That’s something I learned after Warner Bros. Television agreed to let me travel around the convention center with the stars of the CW drama.

I was with them from 4 p.m., while they were in the midst of press junkets, to just a little after 7 p.m., when their autograph signing ended. I took photos, listened in on conversations, and asked questions about their experience.

2. For the badass heroes of Starling City, Saturday started off with going down the line in the press rooms.

Erin La Rosa

It feels a bit like a cattle call. Reporters stand in a single file line, while the actors shuffle their way down to the very end.

3. The press room was at the Hilton Bayfront, which is next to the convention center, and the rooms are guarded by these Secret Service-esque bosses.

Erin La Rosa

4. And while you’re hopping from room to room, sometimes brave fans come up just to say how much they love you.

It’s a little intimidating, especially when someone like Amell is flanked by security guards that can be roughly twice your size.

5. Here, Amell had exactly two minutes to finish an apple, and listen as his manager and agent read out his schedule.

Erin La Rosa

6. Once you’re done doing press and taking cell phone pics, everyone piles into a freight elevator.

Erin La Rosa

When you’re in the elevator, you talk about Topher Grace:

Amell: “The only thing that Emily has ever told me to do, is give me explicit instructions not to introduce her to Topher Grace.”
Rickards: “And then he did, and I looked like an idiot.”
Haynes: “I went to Disneyland with Topher.”

Haynes wins this round.

7. Which is actually a bit like a giant cage.

Erin La Rosa

8. That eventually opens up to the street.

Erin La Rosa

9. Where an enormous crowd of eager Arrow fans are waiting to catch a glimpse.

10. This poor guy lost his hearing that day.

Erin La Rosa

11. Then the actors, their agents, managers, and various other handlers pile in to a plush bus with leather seats: Off to the Con!

Erin La Rosa

12. … To basically get dropped off in an enormous warehouse.

Erin La Rosa

13. Where you walk through the underbelly of the convention center…

Erin La Rosa

14. And pass by boxes, fork lifts, enormous trash bins, and members of the Con crew, like this cool photobomber.

Erin La Rosa

15. Sometimes, if you’re like Haynes, you take a moment to have a little fun along the way.

Erin La Rosa

This is Colton Haynes’ fourth year at the Con. He previously came for Teen Wolf, and said of this year, “We have to wear a lot of green, and be prepared to take your shirt off at all times.”

Amen.

16. Eventually, you make it to this little holding area/green room.

Erin La Rosa

17. And if you’re John Barrowman, you take photos of your sister with Diggle.

That’s Barrowman, who plays Malcolm Merlyn, holding a camera phone as his sister, Carole Barrowman, poses with David Ramsey.

Hey, even family members of famous people have celeb crushes, right?

18. Score some snacks from the craft services table.

Erin La Rosa

19. And meet the littlest Arrow fans…

“Last year in one sentence was, ‘We really hope your show doesn’t suck, we want to like it,’” Amell said of Comic-Con 2012.

20. So magical moments like this photo can happen.

Erin La Rosa

21. Essentially, you’re in that green room to wait for the cast of The Vampire Diaries to wrap up their panel.

Erin La Rosa

Comic-Con is a very well oiled machine. And once one panel ends, the other quickly shuffles in to start the next one.

22. So that the cast and handlers can all crowd in through the industrial-sized doors …

Erin La Rosa

23. And into the backstage area of Ballroom 20.

24. This is what’s waiting for them, just outside the curtain, and it’s what they see when they’re onstage.

Erin La Rosa

Ballroom 20 can hold up to 5,000 people, and the room was packed.

25. And these Arrow cosplayers were front row and center.

Erin La Rosa

Pretty spot-on, right?

26. But before they go onstage, they wait. And wait. Until someone, in this case Warner Bros. Television publicist Ben Brown, announces that the show is about to begin.

Erin La Rosa

27. Then the cast watches this monitor so they can see the exclusive clip that the audience is watching.

28. Once that’s over, the moderator announces your name and you swag-run onstage.

Erin La Rosa

29. Unless you’re a surprise guest, like Barrowman, in which case, you wait some more…

Erin La Rosa

30. For the chance to come onstage, jump on a chair, and wear your Arrow shirt with pride.

Erin La Rosa

The crowd was ecstatic to see Mr. Merlyn appear, needless to say.

31. After the moderator asks some questions, it’s the fans’ turn to step up to the mic.

Erin La Rosa

32. For some fans, like Jonah from the Make a Wish foundation, being able to ask the cast a question is one of the best moments of their life.

Erin La Rosa

Jonah asked how Oliver was going to evolve into the Green Arrow.

“That journey begins with wanting to honor Tommy and wanting to be a different man than he thought I was, when he died,” Amell responded.

33. A little over a half hour later, the panel ends, the cast takes a publicity photo, and exits the stage.

Erin La Rosa

See the live blogging of the panel here.

34. Now it’s time to meet the fans one-on-one at an autograph signing.

Erin La Rosa

35. This is what you see when you walk down to the autograph signing.

Erin La Rosa

36. Sometimes, you take selfies while walking, because you’re at Comic-Con, so why not?

37. You swag-walk past vending machines.

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38. And these bros.

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39. Right before hopping on another freight elevator, crowded with the cast and handlers.

Erin La Rosa

40. When you make it to the convention floor for the signing, this is what you see.

Erin La Rosa

41. And security does their very best to keep fans from swarming you.

Erin La Rosa

42. You pass the cast of The Vampire Diaries … AGAIN.

There’s that one show out, another comes in, thing again.

43. And take your seat, as you watch a sizzle reel from the show.

Erin La Rosa

44. These are all of the people who are waiting to see you.

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45. Fans like this guy.

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46. And this guy.

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47. Sometimes their costume is so awesome, that you kind of freak out a little.

Erin La Rosa

48. Other times, the fans look like their minds are exploding with happiness, just because they get to talk with you.

Erin La Rosa

49. And as a reward, you sign their head.

Erin La Rosa

50. Or their back.

Erin La Rosa

51. Or their poster.

Really, it’s a lot of writing your own name for a good half hour.

52. Eventually, the signing is over, and you get to leave the convention center.

53. Which is a good thing, because everyone is probably pretty exhausted after a full day at the Con.

“Big weekend,” Amell posted.

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