Mr. de Lancie hosted the first major panel of the RI Comic Con. While the room began empty, the seats were quickly filled by Trekkies, Bronies, and general fans alike. Many had questions they were dying to have answered, and de Lancie was happy to oblige. Audience queries, from “who’s your favorite pony [from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic]”, to “Would you return as Agent Dark Booty in an Invader Zim reboot” were answered with de Lancie’s trademark wit and snappy sense of humor. Amidst the humorous responses, though, de Lancie shared a number of intriguing tales and tidbits from across his career, which included lesser-known roles in shows like Days of Our Lives and Legend.
A particularly interesting question that arose came about early in the panel: “Do you have any tips for people who want to be actors?” de Lancie used this question to discuss what it takes to be a true master of one’s craft, and how the idea that things come easily for people is little more than fantasy, nurtured by the myths of “celebrity” that the media fosters. The response was used as a springboard into a story from his youth. In particular, he spoke of how he couldn’t read. He struggled with reading. de Lancie was afflicted with dyslexia: a disorder that was relatively unknown at the time. He failed out of two schools, and was one step away from military school. However, his teacher had a particular love of special projects, which included performances of Handels Messiah,or Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. One day, this teacher revealed that the class would be performing Henry V, and that de Lancie would play the role of Hal. So, in order to learn the role, de Lancie would have to both read and learn the role. When he did, people praised de Lancie for his work, which pushed him in the direction of acting. By doing so, he practiced repeatedly, reading out loud to everybody who would listen.
Later in the panel, de Lancie was asked about whether he would perform a more permanent role in a series. de Lancie explained that, at the current point in his career, he would rather work on “tasty morsels”, or smaller projects that he finds particularly interesting. He cited his work on the Bronycon L.A. documentary. He noted that bronies are an unusual community, in the sense that they’re 20-something guys watching a cartoon intended for ten-year-old girls. However, he argues that those who dig deeper will find that 20-year-old guys who don’t want to play shoot-em-ups, or watch violent films are left with little to latch onto. The fact that these people are willing to brave ridicule from the show, extract the positive messages, and live them reminds de Lancie of the earliest Star Trek crowds. Specifically, he noted that the first I was popularized by women after the show ended, and these women would craft the letter-writing campaign to bring the show back. He went back to the idea of “tasty morsels”, and explained that he could spend six months in this subculture and do something to give the Brony community an affirmation of what they’re doing.
The minutes flew by, and it seemed that the panel reached its end almost as soon as it began. As de Lancie bid his adieus to the crowd before him, the buzz in the audience was clear. While the attendees were given many answers to their inquiries, those very answers seemed to be the gateway to even more questions. de Lancie ignited the curiosities of the audience, and left each attendee with new questions to discuss on top of the answers they’ve received.