Open the MegaCon doors, Hal


Gary Lockwood (left) and Keir Dullea participate in a Megacon panel discussion. - CAMERON MEIER
  • Cameron Meier
  • Gary Lockwood (left) and Keir Dullea participate in a Megacon panel discussion.
MegaCon Orlando got underway yesterday at the Orange County Convention Center’s West Concourse and continues through Sunday. Though the four-day extravaganza is filled with enough celebrity signings, discussion panels, merchandise booths and cosplay events to satisfy almost every pop-culture taste, it was the 50th birthday of arguably the greatest film ever made that attracted a small but loyal group of cinephiles on opening day.

Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood are attending this year’s event to mark the golden anniversary of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, and they participated in a discussion Thursday evening. Though that is the only scheduled discussion for the actors who co-starred as the film’s lead astronauts, both will be available for photos and autographs for the duration of MegaCon.

“Interestingly enough, [the movie] didn’t affect my career one bit after it came out,” Dullea told me. “I kept on working, and I’ve done a lot of work since then, but the jobs I did after 2001 would have happened all by themselves anyway. But to be in the film, I just consider it one of the greatest honors I’ve ever had that Stanley [Kubrick] chose me to be in it. It will always be the very special experience in my life because it’s unique, not because it’s the most challenging role. It isn’t the most challenging role I’ve ever had. But I think, overall, it’s the most challenging film that I will have appeared in, and that means a lot to me.”

Both Dullea and Lockwood deferred almost all credit for the movie to Kubrick, whom they characterized as a genius. Ironically, Lockwood said the role of Frank Poole was a “piece of cake” but claimed that proved the genius of Kubrick’s creation, which Dullea called a “visual symphony.”

Though the film is so impactful that viewers often discuss it in spiritual terms, Dullea and Lockwood reminded the audience at their discussion panel that neither they nor Kubrick were particularly religious. Yet when this writer confessed to Dullea that the film was about as close to a religious experience as possible for me, he responded, “You’re not alone. A nun at the movie premiere said the same thing.”

But Dullea and Lockwood are just the tip of the celebrity iceberg. MegaCon is featuring 33 official celebrity guests, including Jeff Goldblum, Elijah Wood, Lucy Lawless, Elijah Wood, Paul Reubens, Norman Reedus and Billy Dee Williams. If you’re a Princess Bride fan, don’t miss Cary Elwes, Chris Sarandon and Wallace Shawn. And if sci-fi television is your fix, check out Mitch Pileggi, Annabeth Gish and William B. Davis of X-Files fame. (The latter is smoking, man.)

As Dullea said in 2010: The Year We Make Contact, “My God, it’s full of stars.”

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