Armageddon Expo 2015 – Auckland, New Zealand: Roundup and Gallery
by Tracey Wong · Published · Updated
Held at Auckland’s ASB Showgrounds over the Labour Day weekend, the Armageddon Expo celebrated its 20th anniversary with a host of festivities, exhibits, and panels. Despite the rainy weather, the convention proved once again to be a stellar event, with approximately 65,000 attendees over the preview night and three full days. Natalia Tena, who portrayed Nymphadora Tonks in the Harry Potter films, was among the celebrity line-up to mark the occasion.
MuggleNet was in attendance to cover the event, and below you can find photos and transcripts of some of the highlights. You can also visit our @MuggleNetLive Twitter page for more coverage of the expo!
Main Stage Event (October 25):
— MuggleNet Live! (@MuggleNetLive) October 25, 2015
Q: What would you rather have as a pet: a dragon or a direwolf? .@NatTenaLady: I mean, who doesn't want a fire-breathing, flying pet?
— MuggleNet Live! (@MuggleNetLive) October 25, 2015
Note: Contains some mature dialogue and content.
Audience Member: Aside from being Tonks, who is your favorite character in Harry Potter?
Nat: I like Emma Thompson's character [Trelawney]. That's my favorite, definitely.
Audience Member: How did you react when you heard you were going to be in Harry Potter?
Nat: That's the thing, I hadn't read any of the books or seen the films. But I was really excited because by the time that I had auditioned - this is the second time - I had read them. Because the first time, I didn't know what was going on - I thought Voldemort was a country, so that's how well the audition went. But the second one I definitely got it, and I was really excited just to be part of it. And I was in Ireland, and I found out when I was on a beach, and I had really bad reception, and I was like, "My agent is telling me something important! I think... is it... did I get the part?" I don't know, so I had to wait until I... I had this excitement building up, and I had to get on a train all the way back to London, and it's only then [that] I found out. So it was pretty amazing, but it's only when I kind of got into the world and I went there... and when I went to the first premiere, that's when I realized, "Wow, people really like this a lot. A lot of people are watching me."
Audience Member: I'm a Hufflepuff and I know Tonks is, and I was wondering what house you're in.
Nat: Well, I've been asked this a lot and I realized I think it's a weekly thing, depending on what time of the month it is. Do you know what I mean? So at the moment, I think I'm hitting Slytherin.
Audience Member: What was your favorite thing about filming in Harry Potter?
Nat: The broomstick stuff was amazing. The first day, when you walk into this place, you get your arse plaster casted, which is really weird. Like, "Hey, welcome to Harry Potter! Can you sit on this thing?" and I'm like, "This is weird." And they did my face, and I realized it's so that when you sit on a broom, it's really comfortable. It's amazing. And you're really high up, and it's kind of like those theme park mechanical things, so it does actually move. [It's] really cool. And there's like three really hot men blowing wind at you, and I realized, "This is amazing!" It's great.
Audience Member: Do you prefer acting on set or performing in a band? And will Molotov Jukebox ever come to New Zealand?
Nat: I literally want to come with Molotov Jukebox here so much. I just think it's such a fantastic place. I went to Waiheke Island and tried some amazing wines on Thursday. And Stonyridge and Cable Bay I think put on bands. I mean, that would be my dream, really - to play in a vineyard in that beautiful landscape. [It would be] fantastic. But to answer your question, I need both. So if I start doing one too much... at the moment, this year we're just about to finish the second album. When I get back, I'm going to do my vocals and then it's done, and then Tropical Gypsy comes out in April. So this year, I've been doing so much music that I'm kind of really craving to be someone else and do some acting, you know what I mean?
Audience Member: Who is your favorite person you've ever worked with?
Nat: The person I most have a massive connection with is... I don't think many of you will know, but I'm Spanish and I did my first ever Spanish film two years ago and it's called 10,000 km and it's about a long-distance relationship, with Skype being the third character, in a way. So it was just me and this guy, and his name is David Verdaguer, and he's like... I mean, I do a lot of intimate [censored] with this guy. And so before I took the job, I was like, "He has to meet me because if he doesn't like me, it's not going to work." And the moment we met... he's like a kind of Spanish Woody Allen; he's really neurotic. He's also a stand-up comedian, and I just... and then the director Carlos Marques-Marcet said... we have such a strong bond and hopefully we'll be making a new film soon. And hopefully it will always be that family.
Audience Member: Have you ever had a role that you've regretted doing?
Nat: Not really because even... there was one job once - I don't want to talk about it because it's so depressing - I had a really hard time. It was horrific. I mean, I've done a lot of weird jobs - I've cleaned hotels at five in the morning, like toilets for hours on end - and that was worse than all the bad jobs I've done in my life. But it also made me... you learn something. Do you know what I mean? That's such a good thing to have. It's like I've learned this about myself and about the craft. So there's always learning, right? I think it's good.
Audience Member: If you could do any scene out of the Harry Potter books and put it in the movie, what would it be?
Nat: I would have liked to have had more fights with Death Eaters, personally. And Dementors – I'd like to have a scene with that. [If it was] in the book, that would have been cool.
Audience Member: If you could combine any two universes like Game of Thrones or Harry Potter, which one would you combine?
Nat: Batman. Batman is bangin'. Umm... I don't know why, all I can think of is Walking Dead. I don't know how that would work – a zombie Batman would be terrifying.
Audience Member: What's your favorite Harry Potter book and movie?
Nat: I think my favorite Harry Potter book is the last one. I couldn't wait for it to come out; I was so excited. And in fact, the day it came out and the day I started reading it, I was meant to go and see my mate's play. It's a big thing, her first play, and I lied. I said I had to study. I can't remember what I... I just lied. I apologized later, but I [wanted to stay at home and read the book]. So that one, and then I think the best movie for me is the first just because it's such a beautiful introduction and it's still quite light – it hasn't gotten dark yet, and I really like learning about the houses and all that stuff.
Audience Member: Do you have any advice for someone aspiring to become an actor?
Nat: I think I would say that you need to have another passion massively. Like for me, it's music. But if I didn't have music... I mean, I've always... I've been playing the piano since I was five, but I would still have something else. Even if I didn't have a band, I would still have something else. Because if you just... it's very hard and it's very lonely and sometimes you just don't get jobs, and you ring up and you're like, "What am I doing wrong?" and it's like, "No, feedback is great. It's just..." and it's not even about you. Like apparently half the time... and I've been on the other side when I've cast people and basically it's a bit like speed dating – as soon as the person walks in, it's pretty much [an] immediate yes or no. You're in the yes or no pile before you've even started saying anything because obviously they've got an image in their minds. So because of that constant rejection, it's really good to be obsessed with something else and have another... because otherwise they can smell desperation, do you know what I mean? The only way I can make an analogy of it is imagine you're at a bar and this guy is trying to chat you up, right? And he wants to have sex with you, but imagine... he wants to have sex with anyone, not you because he's desperate. Do you know what I mean? It's that difference. And it's like you've got to be careful because they can smell it, you know? Weird advice, but hope it helps.
Audience Member: Do you have any pets?
Nat: I've got two cats. And also, I used to breed lots, so I've had like actually 32 cats. But I'm more of a dog and rat person; I don't know why I've got these [censored] cats. [laughs] But they're amazing. I do love them.
Audience Member: What scene in Harry Potter made you most feel like a wizard?
Nat: Wand practice. We had wand practice and I was like, "This is what it's like at Hogwarts, isn't it?" It was great and it's the kind of trying to learn the physicality, obviously, because if you're an adult witch - which I was - you don't need to say the spells; it's about how you flick the wand. And we did a lot of that, and it's a bit like fencing, really. It was great. I really enjoyed that bit.
Audience Member: What was it like working with the younger members of Harry Potter?
Nat: Oh, it was lovely. Unfortunately, I didn't have many scenes with them in Hogwarts and stuff. I had more with the adults and my husband. David [Thewlis], he is amazing. I loved hanging out with him. He made me laugh so much. He nearly got me into so much trouble. Just before we started shooting, he'd just make me laugh. I was like tears streaming down my face, trying to look serious because there [are] Death Eaters coming.
Audience Member: Is Jon Snow dead?
Nat: No, he's a zombie Batman.
Audience Member: Tonks could change her nose, so I was wondering: If you could change your nose into anything, what would it be?
Nat: A unicorn – it would be amazing. Would it? Maybe not. I don't know. I suppose cat noses are quite sexy, aren't they? Are they? I don't know. A unicorn or a cat? [laughs]
Audience Member: Was it hard fighting the Dementors in Harry Potter?
Nat: What's hard is obviously pretending to [fight] all this stuff when it's not there. Do you know what I mean? I had to pretend to fight this fire snake. It was invisible, and me and David Thewlis were like... it was really cold, it was three in the morning, we were outside the twins' house, and we were like, "Okay, uhh..." That was really tricky, actually. But David Thewlis helped me. We had a lot of fun, and you do eventually get into it by using imagination.
Audience Member: With so many prices with different hair colors, I just wondered how many times you had to redye your hair.
Nat: They didn't dye it. They used wigs in the end because of the fact that they never knew what scene they were going to shoot. If I had purple hair and then they had to switch, it would be more complicated. So what they did was in the morning, they would put some wash-through dye in the front bit and they'd put the wig on and make that sort of blend in really well. They were so good at wigs in Harry Potter.
Audience Member: I was just wondering what the atmosphere on the Harry Potter set was like.
Nat: It was very charged. There [were] a lot of people. It felt very kind of... even though obviously it's a massive big thing, there was always... because there [are] kids involved, there's a lightness and fun and playfulness, you know? Especially because of the way [that] the director gives you notes, especially if he's giving notes to a group of you that includes younger people, it's much nicer that they give you their notes in a different way, and that's really lovely. But there is always that sense of this is a really beautiful... we've got to get the details right, and that was definitely there.
Audience Member: I was just wondering, what or who was your inspiration to get into acting and/or music?
Nat: Music is because I basically begged my mum for piano lessons from the age of four and my mum was... you know, kids are fickle; they change their mind and whatever. So I begged her for a year, and she was like, "This girl really wants to do it." She was happy; she just wanted to test it, you know? So I started piano lessons from then, and I always wanted to play music. But acting is a bit different because I loved it, and I loved stories, and I loved telling stories and that stuff. But acting, I didn't understand it in the same way. It wasn't as immediate. But then I went to a really amazing – I'm so lucky – incredible kind of artistic school called Bedales and there they had a theatre. And I loved it, but I never thought it would be something I could make a living of. Do you know what I mean? And I always played the [unintelligible] in the characters and that's brilliant. And I used to smoke a lot, and I used to get caught a lot, and they wouldn't let me go back to London on the weekends if you got caught smoking. And then if you got caught smoking while you were punished, that was bad, and I've been nearly suspended a few times. And I had a cigarette from the drama department on the weekend, and the drama teacher was the one [who] found me. I was like, "Please don't tell anyone!" And he really liked me, "Don't worry, just go into the barn," and there was a room full of little kids, who were like ten, and me, and I was like, "Are you joking? Am I babysitting? What is this?" And I had dreads at the time and piercings. And this lovely woman – who I now know and she's a great casting director – gave me a script and I was like, "Okay?" And I read it, and it was about a boy. And it was completely... that drama teacher... and I'm still friends with him. He's amazing. So just because this one drama teacher wanted to give me a chance and not get me punished, I got a job. It's amazing.
Audience Member: What was it like filming the final scene in the Harry Potter movies? You know how it was all coming to an end? How did it feel for the entire cast?
Nat: Unfortunately, I didn't really get a sense of it because you know the scene that me and Lupin... actually, that was just us on our own, so it was really kind of separate. And that was actually my last day, but everyone thought I might be back in again. So there was no celebration. It was like, "Bye! See you next week, maybe." There wasn't even a proper farewell. But luckily, my band Molotov Jukebox played at the premiere; that was awesome. So that was my way of saying goodbye. But yeah, I didn't feel that kind of... that I wasn't able to say goodbye to it like everyone else, in a way.
Audience Member: On the Harry Potter set, have you ever been involved in or known of any pranks that have been played between the cast?
Nat: No. Maybe that was more for the kids, that they did that... obviously, they were growing up together. And I came in quite late, do you know what I mean? And I'd kind of come in for random days, so it wasn't the same sense like them. Because they had school then, on set. They had a little school [to] keep up with their education. So I think it was a bit different for me than for them, unfortunately.
Audience Member: What are your views about Slytherin?
Nat: In general, I think what it is is I don't really like the house division anyway. I know it might be [unintelligible] to say that, but I think that's a bit weird, isn't it? Because you're basically pigeon-holing people into stereotypes, which I don't think is actually a good thing to do in schools. But I suppose it kind of gives people kind of morale and a sense of teamship. But I think everyone has got a bit of Slytherin in them, do you know what I mean? And Gryffindor and all of it. I find it strange that they created that, but it works – we all love Harry Potter, right?
Audience Member: Who is your OTP in the Harry Potter fandom?
Nat: I don't know. Dumbledore and...
Nat: Yeah! Absolutely! You know what? They love each other a lot, man. Bromance.
Audience Member: How did you feel when you find out what happened to Tonks?
Nat: I just hope I had a really good death scene – I think most actors are like, "Yes!" And I lasted until the end, which is good. Yeah, I was just hoping to get a really cool death scene. Maybe on a broom. And I was wondering if I had a big pregnant belly as well. That would have been cool.
Audience Member: Did you want to thank J.K. or [were] you like, "That was mean"?
Nat: I didn't think it either way, really. It was just part of the story. I mean, obviously everyone should want to thank her because she's amazing, generally. So maybe just thank her?
Audience Member: Before you got cast in Harry Potter, obviously before all the hype escalated, as the years progressed, how did you feel? Did you cope with all the hysteria and [unintelligible] to all the conventions and leading up to the end of the series?
Nat: The thing is, I was such a small character that it didn't really affect me in the same way that maybe... I mean, it affected me massively... like for prospective jobs, I'm getting amazing, different, better auditions and interesting scripts. But because I was such a small character, it's fine. It didn't really... do you know what I mean? I wasn't really affected quite on a personal level, on a day-to-day... apart from when I'm with you guys. It's amazing, but it's not like... I don't know. It's not invasive. If you're a much bigger character, every time you maybe go and get some milk, someone is harassing you. So that's different.
Audience Member: I was just wondering how you felt about Teddy Lupin hardly being mentioned in the movies.
Nat: I didn't really mind it. I didn't miss it. Like I said, I would have liked to have a pregnant bump on a broomstick. I thought that would have been cool. But no, I didn't miss it. It would have been nice and I'm sure if it was there, I would have loved it, but it's not something that I thought about missing.
Audience Member: Lots of people didn't like how Ron and Hermione married each other. What are your thoughts on that?
Nat: I think it's inevitable. I think you can kind of see that they're going to get it on. Even when they were very little, there's going to be something there. I think it's cool. Why not? Love is love.
Audience Member: What do you think about the stereotype that with the Sorting Hat, if you're put into Gryffindor, it's pretty much saying you're a good kid, and if you're put into Slytherin, it's pretty much the Sorting Hat saying you're a bad kid?
Nat: Yeah, that's what I mean. I think it's bad. I don't like it. Like I answered before, I don't think it's a good idea. But it works as a tool to tell a great story, you know?
Audience Member: Do you have any advice for someone wanting to get into the music business and write music and things like that?
Nat: Firstly, practice. A lot. Really, really practice a lot, a lot, a lot. But it's basically finding your team, your dream team. If you want to do it as a band... I mean, it depends on what kind of music. If you want to be, I don't know, in a brass band – like my trumpet player plays in brass bands as well – then you just practice loads and you find little pockets of people that do that. But I think if you want to be in a band in the sense of that festival thing, it is really, really hard. You spend a lot of years doing a lot of gigs for free, and you've got to expect that in a way because you've got to earn it; people have to get to know you and the band. But it's your team. We've had like 18 different band members that have come and gone for different reasons – sometimes it's them; sometimes it's us. And now we've got – for me, anyway – the dream team. That doesn't mean we don't argue. [laughs] We argue a lot. But there's a lot of love there and a musical understanding. So I'd say that.
Audience Member: So we heard J.K. is doing the Cursed Child. Are you excited about it? And are you going to go see it?
Nat: Yeah, it might be amazing, right? I heard about it at a convention I did in Canada. I don't really know much about it, but I'm sure it's going to be amazing.
Audience Member: Do you feel any pressure going from the books to TV or movies? Like Harry Potter and Game of Thrones.
Nat: I didn't feel that much in the Harry Potter one as much because... I had read the books, but I didn't realize how big, really, the film was until I went to the premiere. But I think with Game of Thrones, it did get scarier. Like the third one. I mean, I always suffer severe insomnia when I film anyway, but by Season 3, I was really losing my mind because you feel really responsible and you don't want to let the team down, the whole crew.
Autograph Session (October 25):
VIP Only Panel (October 26):
— MuggleNet Live! (@MuggleNetLive) October 25, 2015
— MuggleNet Live! (@MuggleNetLive) October 25, 2015
Audience Member: What would be your ideal role? If you had to choose something and say, "I could retire my acting career here," what would it be?
Nat: I'd like to play James Bond – I think there should be a Bond woman. Or Doctor Who – that would be cool. Some sort of superhero thing – I love comics a lot, so I'd love to be in something like that. It would make me very, very, very, very happy. Or to be some sort of epic queen, like some sort of queen character. I don't know. Egypt, something like that.
Audience Member: If you lived in a society where everyone has some form of mundane ability – so you can't fly or turn invisible, but you have a mundane superpower – what would it be? So I had someone answer, "The ability to find the perfect parking space."
Nat: Just finding my [censored]. "Oh look, there's my key, there's my phone, there's my life, there's my cat."
Audience Member: [Have you ever taken any props from set?]
Nat: It's usually clothes, like some character thing. Like rings or stuff like that. But from Harry Potter, it was impossible. Absolutely impossible. You can't take anything. I was really close, actually, to try... I mean, this would have been amazing. But in the Room of Requirement, there was an accordion and one of the crew was like, "Nat, there's an accordion in the room," just pointing it out. No one is going to notice – because you walked in and it's just piles of stuff. And I did kind of pick it up, and I started moving it toward my trailer. I was like, "I can't steal it. I can't steal an instrument." It just felt so... I mean, I know no one's going to use it and it doesn't matter and it's probably going to go to some weird room. But yeah, that was close, though. That would have been amazing, doing my gigs with that. From Game of Thrones... hair clips as well! Loads of hair clips. But that's it, yeah. Not really much. They usually give you nice skin products and stuff.
Audience Member: How do you guys get into character? Does it just come naturally and you're just like, "Boom, I'm doing it now," or do you actually have to warm up?
Nat: It depends what it is. If you're doing theatre, you need to warm up, otherwise everything is not going to work. And you need to make the space yours before putting yourself in that vulnerable position that everyone is going to watch. And connect with your team because that's the only way to get you through. Like when I do gigs with my band as well. It's like getting the telepathy there. With film, it's kind of harder, in a way. I mean, I personally go running every morning, and I run more when I've got a day of work. And the way I do my exercise, I have to go over and over it again. If there's an accent, I listen to it over and over and over again. And as soon as I go on set, I grab someone that's willing to go through it with me loads and loads and loads. Because then it's there, and when the nerves start and the camera is on, you can go on autopilot.
Audience Member: [Where possible, do you do your own stunts?]
Nat: I remember I wanted to climb through that fire in Harry Potter and they were like, "No." And I was like, "Please? I can just run through it," and they were like, "No." And then the guy was like, "Okay," and I had to do kind of the smaller one and then my double did the big one. But I got him to crank it up a little bit, so it felt like real.
Audience Member: Do you approach a single-appearance character differently to a recurring character when you're acting?
Nat: I don't think so. I think with the recurring one, what's better is that you get to know obviously more because you keep using them. But then with recurring characters, I find it tricky because if you've been somewhere a long time and then a new director or a new someone comes along and they try to give you notes, you're like, "No, you don't understand. I know my character better than you. I actually do." And that's a bit hard, whereas you're much more open to everything if you're all together starting a project because you're all at a lost. But then sometimes you forget if you haven't been around doing stuff for a while and you go back. It's hard, you kind of blocked them off.
Fans in Costume:
Be sure to check out our report from 2013’s event with Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood) and Robbie Jarvis (young James Potter) here!