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NOCC: John de Lancie - From Q to Bronies

Company: Wizard World
Product: New Orleans Comic Con 2013 Coverage

While John de Lancie is a great actor in his own right, it's hard not to believe that his Q&A session at this year's Wizard World New Orleans wasn't at least somewhat tied to his role as Q on Star Trek: The Next Generation, since there were quite a few TNG related events at the show praising the series for its 25th anniversary. While de Lancie only appeared on the show in 8 episodes, each one had a major impact on the series and characters. Not only did the show bookend with guest appearances from him, but there was always turmoil when Q made his presence known. So even though John de Lancie is only considered a semi-regular guest star in the series, many fans feel he is a major part of the show.

Despite the heavy Next Generation presence at Wizard World New Orleans, most of de Lancie's early questions focused on other aspects of his work. One of his first topics concerned his voiceover work on the show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and the documentary he is working on as a result of his experiences.

The actor explained that he was approached to do some voice acting for the show. He went in, read his lines and, quite frankly, forgot all about it. Months later, once the episodes aired, he started receiving fan mail from followers of the show, and when he realized the e-mails were coming from adult men, he was both confused and amused. When de Lancie relayed the story to a friend of his that films documentaries, the friend asked him if he wanted to do some work on the subculture known as Bronies. At first, de Lancie dismissed the idea until de Lancie both met some Bronies at a convention and that same friend sent him a link to a Fox News broadcast that claimed Bronies were "a bunch of homosexuals who live at home on food stamps and disability so that they can watch cartoons in their parent's basement." He didn't understand why anyone would perpetuate this image when the people he had met were normal guys who just happen to like a show that teaches good values and how to be good to people. Just because the show was intended for little girls doesn't mean it can't be enjoyed by all. Well, de Lancie then decided to dispel those views in his documentary called Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony that was first shown this past November.

After this well-received news, de Lancie was asked about his work on the 1995 TV series Legend as Janos Bartok. He talked about how a friend of his who wrote on Star Trek called him up to discuss this steampunk series and said that the show was guaranteed not just a pilot, but a full 13 episodes, and there was a part written for him. He said he really liked the character and setting. His character was based on the scientist Nikola Tesla who is responsible for most of the technology around us, but has received very little recognition for his work.

De Lancie was also asked what role he would like to be remembered for the most. De Lancie sidestepped the question by saying that he really didn't have an answer for that, but used the opportunity to talk about his recent role in Breaking Bad where he played the part of the father to a girl who was hooked on drugs, but was in the dark about her problem. He said the reason that role stands out is because he was approached by someone at a convention once and that person told him that they stopped doing drugs because they hadn't thought about it from their parents' perspective until seeing his role in Breaking Bad. De Lancie explained that he had gotten similar comments concerning Star Trek as a whole, but this wasn't a comment about the show, instead it was about his character and the fact that his portrayal of it helped to change someone's life.

De Lancie was also asked about his voicework given the actor's distinct sound. He explained that he didn't really have any desire to become a regular voice actor because that is a very different line of work, especially since professionals in that business don't just have one voice, they have dozens. When he does voicework, he simply uses his own voice, but the people around him will have different roles and switch between them easily. De Lancie then told a story about going to dinner with a group of voice actors and how amused he was by the fact that they are constantly practicing their art. A conversation with voice actors could sound like there are four or five times more people at the table than there actually are. He did say that people who want to hear him do some good voicework should listen to his recital of Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven" on YouTube.

De Lancie then relayed a story that explained his fascination with the written word. He talked about the fact that he has dyslexia and he received low scores in reading as a child. He not only had to repeat a grade because of this problem, but he also earned a full year's worth of after-school detention. What resulted was him stealing books from the library everyday. He would take them out after hours and bring them on the bus and keep them at his house. He would be surrounded by the biggest volumes of text he could find. Among them though was a book called "The Golden Treasury of Poetry" where he was presented with short poems and pictures that were all in easy to manage segments. With that book, de Lancie was able to teach himself how to read and work his way through his dyslexia.

When asked some questions about Q, de Lancie explained that the character was not only not supposed to be a recurring role, but he wasn't even intended to be in the pilot. When Roddenberry was working on the first episode, he did not want a pilot episode that introduced everyone and got the story going, but the studio insisted. As a result, the original pilot was reworked and extended to include the Enterprise's first encounter with Q and the character was enough of a hit that they were able to work him into several episodes.

De Lancie told a story from the last episode, "All Good Things," where he and Picard are talking about the primordial ooze that is supposed to form and create the predecessors of humanity. He explained that one thing you learn as an actor is to have some secret, something that isn't known to the audience. In this scene, when he reaches into the vat of goo and holds it up for Patrick Stewart's character, he is also moving it around so that it drips out of his hand and into the face of the guy on the platform beneath them that is holding the container of goo. He felt like it was a very Q-like thing to do.

When asked how it felt to be a part of a show where the cast is a close-knit group like Star Trek: The Next Generation, de Lancie said that the others on the set told him that he was their litmus test. Since he wasn't in the show everyday and he wasn't too close to it, they were always interested in his view of the series. So, while he wasn't as close as everyone else, he felt like he had a good place in the group.

As the session wrapped up, de Lancie talked about work he was doing directing orchestras, as well as a sailing trip he was planning on embarking on this April. He said he is going to sail to the South Pacific and the French Polynesian chain and said that, while he needs some limited two-way communication for safety reasons, he wants to be as disconnected as possible. He did say that he is planning on using a device called SPOT. This device sends out a beacon once a day and he is considering working out a way to post his positioning on a social network so his fans can follow his progress.

John de Lancie has been acting for many years and he has shown his ability to play a wide range of roles. He was a very interesting man to hear speak and talk about his experiences. While he tends to play antagonists these days, he is by no means an actor with a limited range. If you ever get the chance to see this man talk, then don't miss the opportunity, you will not be disappointed.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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