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NOCC: Totally Down to Earth Star - C. Thomas Howell

Company: Wizard World
Product: New Orleans Comic Con 2014 Coverage

Because of the way things were scheduled at this yearís Wizard World Comic-Con in New Orleans, panels with a lot of really cool people ended up overlapping with other really cool people. As a result, I slipped into C. Thomas Howellís panel a little late, but I was really glad I got to see him speak and wished I had seen the entire panel. Iíve been a fan since his Red Dawn days and enjoyed him more recently in Southland, Criminal Minds, and the recent Spider-Man film. Even though Iíve watched him on the big and small screen for years, it was really interesting to listen to him speak about his past and present.

He talked about comics and in voicing Reverse Flash. He did the Spider-man movie and was a Marvel guy, but then after voicing several DC villains, he became a DC guy. He then realized he just really likes comics. He collected them as a child, but then got away from it. Howell has gotten back into collecting, but primarily Reverse Flash stuff. As he voiced these villainous characters, he discovered he had a real knack for it. Even though they might be lesser characters when compared to the Batmans and Supermans of the world, Howell feels that his job as a villain is to make the hero that much better. He becomes the best bad guy he can possibly be, which really makes the heroes shine.

A fan asked him about his transition from child to adult actor, mentioning how many child actors donít seem to know how to handle the changes. Howell mentioned working with Corey Haim and how he went on to struggle with drugs. As a child actor, you make a lot of money and you don't think it will ever end. They are buying big houses and fast cars and then your run as a child actor ends. It can be very painful and lead to drugs and alcohol and it can only take a few really bad choices to put you on the "naughty" list and itís hard to come back. Itís doable, Robert Downey, Jr. for instance, but itís rare and difficult. Corey Feldman recently released a book talking about the pains and struggles he went through with drugs and a lack of parenting. Howell feels that how you handle it all comes from your stock and your background. Howellís father was in the business as a stunt man, riding bulls for 12 years. He had a good strong family background, and if Howell ever had any issues, his father was the first to remind him of his values and responsibility. Howell believes we are owed nothing, and we are no better than everyone else. He doesnít feel like he is any different than the regular man on the street. His work ethic is such that he would do the best at whatever job he did and that is simply his approach to life, no matter what the job. If he was a plumber, he would be the best plumber around, sporting the biggest plumberís crack you can imagine.

At this point, 70% of his work comes from rehires because he is good to work with. He shows up early, ready to work. He doesnít make demands and if he has a problem on set, itís a real problem. If you are a troublemaker, people in Hollywood will talk and you wonít get hired again. He mentioned how small a town Hollywood is and even though you might make a lot of money, life isnít easy. As a child actor, Tom Cruise and Ralph Macchio taught him about hard work. Tom taught him to have the work ethic that he does, even though they were only in their teens. He was just amazing to work with. Everyone says a lot of things about Cruise, but Howell advises us to keep in mind how hard it is to live under a microscope. No matter what his religion or what people say, Howell stated that Cruise is still one of the greatest people he has ever worked with.

Another fan asked about his film, War of the Worlds and whether he thought to call Tom Cruise when he was making his 200 million dollar version, as opposed to Howellís 2 million dollar version. Howell enjoyed his experience on this movie because it focused more on the relationships, even though it was a film with a much smaller budget. Heís done bad movies and heís done great movies like E.T.. He learned the most on those types of movies that werenít super successful. There are times that you have lots of money and times when you no money. If you are supporting a family, you might take these roles. You don't resent them, but you go and do your best, to set an example for everyone there. It pays your rent and gets you to the next project, because every door in Hollywood is a lottery ticket. It could be good or bad, but thatís part of the mystery and that is what keeps him going.

He is now working on Revolution, but discussed getting older in Hollywood and the difficulties of the reality of aging. Instead of getting the baby-faced parts he got in the past, his manager sent him out for the part of Dewey in Southland. They wanted an aging, 50-year-old alcoholic cop and he was thinking, this is what you are sending me out on? He was a bit disheartened about being considered for the part, but then he got it! If you havenít had the pleasure of watching Howell as the completely unhinged character Dewey, itís truly a treat. And no, C. Thomas Howell, you donít need any wrinkle cream. You like great just like you are. He laughed about aging and said he prefers to keep things real. If Ed Harris isnít rocking a toupee, then he feels just fine with his grey hair.

Now that he has children of his own, he encounters situations like his 6-year-old son, Liam, discussing what his father does when all of the other children are talking about their fatherís careers. Where other children might say their father is a policeman or fireman, his son says his dad sits around in a trailer all day long. When viewed through the eyes of a child, an actorís life isnít always so glamorous.

The host, Dr. Rebecca Howell, mentioned Sick People, which is in pre-production and heís the producer and star of this horror thriller. It is based on the medical field and he plays a doctor. The script was written by a nurse, so she knows the dark secrets of the medical world. The real horror of the film is the decision making process with insurance companies and why peopleís plugs are pulled and surgeries are denied. Itís a different kind of horror, but one that is very real. He loosely based this film on his experience a few years back when his appendix burst and he lost 60 pounds during a lengthy stint in the hospital and such. It was a tough experience to bounce back from and hard to get work. It took him 4-5 years to get back into shape, but that experience is sort of what this script is about. He plays a good guy surrounded by a bunch of bad people, so it will be nice to see him in this type of role. It should be coming out towards the end of the year.

It was truly a joy to hear Howell speak about his long and illustrious career as an actor. I have even more respect for him now and hope to see him again at a future Comic-Con!

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

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