Wizard World has been wowing fans all over the world with its conventions all over the country. With it's collection of iconic stars that represent fandoms all over the spectrum, it continues to connect people of all ages to places where we can all Nerd-out together.
And one of it's featured stars, Thomas Ian Nicholas, spent some time with us to talk about his career(Rookie of the Year, American Pie, Walt Before Mickey), his music, and why Hollywood needs to hurry up and make a Legend of Zelda movie.
NON: You have been in some awesome films in your career. Even as a child, you were an actor on Who's the Boss. Did you know as a kid that you wanted to be an actor?
Thomas: For sure. I got some of my first experience of acting when I was five. It was basically being on the set as an extra. That's how I got my first taste of acting. Thanks to an opportunity, essentially getting my mom out of a jam. We had come to LA so she could pursue her career in acting. She was casting in some smaller indie films. She got a call late at night, "We need an altar boy for a scene, 6AM tomorrow!" I remember her waking me up before school and saying, "You're not going to school today, you are coming to work with mom." That's how I made that decision, after that day I told my mom, "That was fun, I want to do it again." And it all steamrolled from there.
NON: You have played a lot of different roles in your career? Do you have a favorite character that you've played?
Thomas: You know, I've been asked that question a lot recently. In order to answer that question, it would have to be very specific. Some roles are fun because of what I get to do, some roles are fun because of what the character is, some are fun because of where we get to shoot them...so there's no possible way to have a favorite role or character. I just enjoy the creative process, I do everything I can to stay in that space. That's my motivation, to bring every character to life, so it doesn't feel like work.
NON: So you're obviously a big movie fan. Tell us a few movies that every movie fan should have in their collection.
Thomas: I'm always surprised when people haven't seen the classics. I can understand if you didn't see The Shawshank Redemption while it was in the theaters. I was a fan of that movie while it wasn't doing well at the box office. Later, it became everyone's favorite film. And then I was like, "Well, I saw in seven times in the theater(laughs.)" I use to drag my friends to go see it. There would literally be like us...two of us in the theater watching the film. But, when it comes to what happened after to the movie was an enormous success. That's the funny thing about movies sometimes, once something becomes successful we have no recollection of its failure. Playing Walt Disney(Walt Before Mickey) is an example of that. His name is a household name. There isn't a person in the world who doesn't know his name. Yet, Walt Disney himself, failed miserably. He was bankrupt, living on the street in Kansas City, before he came to California with only forty dollars to his name. And then he failed again and had a character he created, Oswalt the Lucky Rabbit, stolen from him. The first Mickey Mouse cartoon didn't do well, but through his own perseverance he finally found success. Even when he first released Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, people laughed at it because it was a cartoon feature. But, against anyone's wildest dreams but his own, he succeeded. And everyone forgot about his failures(laughs.)
NON: That's such a great story about perseverance and just not giving up on your dreams.
Thomas: Yeah, that's the only difference between people who have failed and people have succeeded. People who are successful have failed more.
But, I'm also surprised when people haven't seen The Godfather or Star Wars IV. What about 2001: Space Odyssey. It's crazy that people have not even seen E.T.
NON: Do you have a dream role? Or is there someone who would love to work with?
Thomas: I'd love to work with Francis Ford Coppola, Spielberg, Lucas, Christopher Nolan..this list goes on and on. When it comes to dream roles, I am playing something now that is different. Something that I almost didn't get to play even though I'm producing this film. But, the director/writer didn't see me as the role that was created. I had to fight and prove that I can do the role and that I had the history and experience in my life to draw from. I think I surprised him with some of the things from my history and m life that he wasn't aware of. He screen tested me for it and eventually won the role. I love losing myself in a character. We showed some clips to some people that we have worked with before.
They would say, "I thought you said Tom was in this. Where is he?" The director/writer would say, "He's right there...that's him. He's the main guy that you have been watching for like seven minutes(laughs.)"
I just love losing myself in my character. It's happened a couple times where my mom is watching and I have to tell her, "Mom, I'm right there. I've been there the whole time(laughs.)"
NON: Not only do you act, but you also have a band. Which job is more fun for you?
Thomas: They are both fun but in different ways. But, the one thing that is same is that I would never choose one over the other and plan to do both for as long as I possibly can. But speaking of dream roles, I would love to play Bruce Springsteen in a biopic.
NON: I'm glad you brought of Bruce Springsteen. Is he on of your influences when it comes to music?
Thomas: Yes, but I also feel like I resemble him looks wise. But, I feel like I sound more like Dave Grohl(Foo Fighters.) My band is more like Foo Fighters. I also think John Mayer is an awesome song writer. I also love Switchfoot. I'd love to do a tour with them at some point.
NON: So tell us a bit about Wizard World!
Thomas: I've been a part of Wizard World in all its cities, I love this convention. I was in Sacramento last year and we started pre-selling this book that we are going to adapt into a film called Handbook for Mortals. We sold so many that it opened up at #34 on the USA Today best seller list. We haven't started production yet because there are so many moving parts to making a film. I've been to quite a few conventions but Wizard World is definitely at the top of my list. I love the people and they have been so supportive of this upcoming project.
NON: Since we are talking about conventions, is there anything that you Nerd out too?
Thomas: Oh my gosh yes, since we have been doing these conventions, we have made it a tradition to do escape rooms. It started last year in Philadelphia, it was a mini-escape room. Now it's let to this addiction of escape rooms. I'm a gamer also. I love video games as well. We have now done over 60 escape rooms across the country(laughs.)
NON: Sweet! So also mentioned video games. What are you playing?
Thomas: Well, my son started playing also, he's six. I just introduced him to Super Mario. I had it on an older console and it was still like the side-scrolling type of game, as opposed to when the world opened up on the N64 version. We played Star Wars, but the Lego version. It's like a hybrid of a 2D and 3D world. I felt it was a good introduction to video games for him. It was like Disney Infinity, but we felt we would just run around and get nothing done(laughs.) Lego Star Wars was great because it kinda forces you through this path and you have to do stuff. But for me personally, The Legend of Zelda is my favorite game of all time. I've played every version of that game prior to being a dad, which was six years ago. But, the last game that was on the Wii, it got kinda boring because of the travel time. You had to travel everywhere, and it took too long to travel(laughs.) I think the Legend of Zelda is why I like escape rooms. It's pretty similar, you go into these dungeon type escape rooms and you have to figure a way out. There are puzzles to get the door open and find the key. The ULTIMATE escape room would be a Legend of Zelda themed escape room. I would probably cosplay as Link when I went to that escape room.
NON: That's an awesome idea!
Thomas: But, seriously, when are we getting a Legend of Zelda movie? What is the hold up(laughs)? We live in a day and age when CG is no problem...let's go guys...let's get this movie done.
NON: I know right?!? Would that be difficult to do? There is so much material.
Thomas: True, but it's basically a rescue the princess story. Look, when they did The Lord of the Rings movies I thought, perfect...hire Orlando Bloom to play Link. The Legend of Zelda, let's do it. Then after the film trilogy was over, I was like, "Wait, what's going on? Why can't we do this?"
Thomas Ian Nicholas will continue to be a part of the Wizard World circuit including Madison during the last weekend of November.
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For more on Thomas Ian Nicholas and his band, click here.