Veronica Mars Reunion Kicks Off PaleyFest 2014!

A long time ago, we used to be friends. To the Marshmallows of the world, those 9 words would make you think of one show: Veronica Mars. It’s a common tale: A show is beloved by many, but not enough to keep it on air, and it is cancelled well before its time. It happened to Firefly; it happened to Pushing Daisies; it happened to Wonderfalls. It also happened to Veronica Mars. Thankfully, when you mix together a fantastic writer and creator, Rob Thomas, a cast that has always maintained that they would absolutely be game to make a Veronica Mars movie, Kickstarter, and a whole bunch of fans who, for years, have been dying to say “shut up and take my money!” the result is not only a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign but a green light to make the Veronica Mars movie a reality.

Fast forward a year and you will find me waiting to interview the cast of Veronica Mars before watching them officially kick off PaleyFest. On the panel was show creator Rob Thomas, actors Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars), Jason Dohring (Logan Echolls), Enrico Colantoni (Keith Mars), Ryan Hansen (Richard “Dick” Casablancas, Jr), Chris Lowell (Stosh ‘Piz’ Piznarski), Frances Capra (Eli “Weevil” Navarro), Percy Daggs III (Wallace Fennel), and Tina Majorino (Cindy “Mac” Mackenzie). The panel was moderated by Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall.

LZsCCSF - ImgurThe entire cast were in great spirits as they took to the red carpet. It was mentioned that the Kickstarter idea wasn’t one that was shared with the entire cast, so many of the actors weren’t sure if they would be apart of the film. “I just wanted to make sure I didn’t have to pay the $10,000 to be in the movie,” joked Chris Lowell, referring to one of the Kickstarter perks.

Rob Thomas has talked a lot about the pressure he felt to bring back as many of the characters as possible and to make this the best possible movie for the over 91,000 Kickstarter backers, and the rest of the fans. Percy Daggs quipped “I had the NAACP on speed dial!” and when I spoke to him earlier that evening and asked if we would see him in the sequel (hoping somebody might leak some information about one!) he said “They better not cut the only brotha out of this movie!”

There was discussion about whether Veronica Mars is a geek or not. As a show, I made the argument that by being the cult classic it is, it fits well in the geek culture because it’s well-known that geeks know what is cool before everybody else. I discussed my theory with Frances Capra. “We have another link to the geek culture which is that Rob originally wrote this series as a noir series, and we all know that noir is fairly rooted in geek culture,” he offers, comparing it to Batman Noir. He notes, in the film, geeks will notice there are some allusions and jokes pertaining to the “bat cave” and other geek references. “I do feel Veronica was a geek,” Capra continues, “there is no way you could deliver that much wit, there’s no way you could get through [high] school being that ‘cool’ without being a geek.”

I ask him then if he feels she has changed. “Veronica is an adult now, so you can’t encapsulate an adult life with such a silly, short-minded term like ‘geek’. It’s so much bigger than that. Veronica is revolutionary, she’s a phenomenon, she’s a force of nature, so when we see her, best believe though she still has all the geeky wit. I hear it. I see it.” I’m not sure I could have said it better myself.

I asked the cast about their theories about what each of their characters did after the shows cancellation 7 years ago, before they knew a movie would be made. Chris Lowell jested: “Piz started teaching Chemistry, got diagnosed with cancer. Started dealing meth with one of his students… oh, that’s not this show? Wait, which carpet am I on? Do I even need to be here?”

Percy Daggs put a lot of thought into where he saw Wallace going. “You wondered how successful he was as a college [basketball] player; whether he made it to March Madness; whether he tried out for an NBA team, or something like that. Mechanical Engineering, he struggled but you wonder how far he made it in that,” continuing after a thoughtful pause, “Those two things are something I wondered about. Also the relationship with his mother and father. I just kind of wondered but I never made any determinations in my own mind about what it could be because it’s Rob Thomas so I just thought about it, and lastly I wonder if he stayed in Neptune, which part of me kind of thought he did; I thought he would stay in Neptune.”

C6FbCCD - ImgurDuring the panel, Tina Majorino said that she found herself thinking about Mac especially when she would be in her office at her computer. “I am not a computer person, so I will often have trouble, with an app or something and I’d say to myself ‘Mac would know how to do this, I wonder what she’d be doing right now”.

Enrico Colantoni stated matter-of-factly about what he assumed happened to Veronica’s father: “Keith would have probably gone to prison. There is no denying that — well, he might have been acquitted.” He said in the scope of the show it doesn’t matter that much about what happened to Keith because its more about what happened to Veronica. “It makes sense that veronica just left Neptune. Finished her college education at Stanford, and went on to Columbia Law. The movie deals with what happened to her. It doesn’t really deal with Keith so much. We don’t want it any other way. We don’t want to deal with Keith in prison.”

When asked if Papa Mars might find love he answered simply “He’s committed to 2 things: helping the underdog and protecting his daughter. That’s it.”

The movie is about Veronica, and as we have seen from the trailer, Logan is in trouble and needs he help, again. When I spoke to Jason Dohring about his character Logan and asked him what it was about poor Logan. The man has now had 2 girlfriends murdered and he has been a murder suspect twice in his young life, what was it about Logan? “Because Rob Thomas is writing this f–king show, I have no say!” he joked. He talked to me about why he loves playing Logan Echolls, “This character is so fun because he can be so volatile. You know, there is always a punch and a kiss, possibly right around the corner, which is great.”

It was revealed in the panel that Logan and Veronica weren’t originally supposed to ever end up together. Rob Thomas said “The truth is, we never had any intention at all for Logan to end up with Veronica. He was hired to be the obligatory psychotic jackass. In the writer’s room, sitting around watching dailies, we would all gather around, and it was like, ‘We want to watch that. We want to watch those two onscreen together.’ And that’s how it built. We were watching the same thing you were and going, ‘Wow. More of that, please!’ And fortunately, we had the ability to make that happen.”

Being an old-school superfan from back in the day I knew that Logan wasn’t written in the show to ever be a love interest, but as Thomas said, the chemistry and the dynamic between the two characters was irresistible. I asked Dohring about it. “It was so unexpected. I think that was sort of, the fact that it was never written that they should be together, then after the sixth episode it was like [the writers said] ‘You guys are going to be together’ and we were like ‘There’s no f–king way, we’re not going to do that’ and they said ‘Ok, you’re going to kiss her in three episodes and we were just like “alright…?” You know what I mean? So, it came to a super shock to everybody, even to this day, who goes through the seasons because it was never intended — it wasn’t like, sometimes the bad boy will say “hey, I don’t like you but [*wink*] maybe later’ you know? There was none of the ‘maybe later’ thing; it’s like I’m bad and that’s it. The writers were like ‘its just too good, we have to do it’ and I was like ‘alright, fine’ then I got to do this whole other aspect of him. It was great.”

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Those who were at, or saw photos of the cast at San Diego Comic Con last summer may remember seeing Chris Lowell in a “Team Logan” shirt while Jason Dohring donned a “Team Piz” shirt. We talked to Jason about LoVe and how Logan and Veronica are still recognized as one of televisions favourite couples and what he thought about it. “I think a lot of people who want them to wind up together, and there are some people though who honestly care for Veronica so much that they don’t want her with somebody so volatile, which I understand too, you know? I get it both. I think at the base of that is Rob’s pen.”

But Logan wasn’t without his competition. In the end of the third season of the series Veronica found herself with wholesome, good guy Piz. I asked Chris Lowell to give us the top 5 reasons Piz is better than Logan for Veronica:

1. Criminally Handsome
2. Well-endowed, physically.
3. Modest, obviously.
4. Haven’t been accused of murder, repeatedly. That’s kind of a good one.
5. I work for this American life.”

Then I said to him “If I may add one: none of your girlfriends have been murdered” and he nodded sternly, “Yes. Good one. Never dated someone that’s been killed. That should maybe go to the top of the list.” Of course once Jason came down the line we had to ask him the top 5 reasons Logan is better than Piz, and shared Chris’ answer about being more well-endowed. “And that’s true, but it’s the motion, Chris… it’s all about the motion,” Dohring said with a smile on his face, and jumped into his answers: “1. He has the ability to perhaps love a little better — the highs and lows, the highs will be better, albeit the lows might be lower, but the highs might be higher, more in love or something like that.” It is at this point where I feel his answers go from ‘Why Logan is better than Piz’ to ‘Why Jason is better than Chris’ as he continues:

“2. Better looking than Chris
3. Out bench presses Chris
4. Can kick Chris’ ass
5. Smoulder can burn holes through Chris’ eyes”

There were lots of jokes and laughter throughout the red carpet and panel, but one thing was certain, and that is the cast were so honored to be able to get back into their beloved characters and give us more Veronica Mars.

It has been 7 years since the cancellation. I asked the cast how easy it was for them to slip back into their characters shoes, so to speak. Percy answered first, “I still wear size 10, it was easy, it was breezy. It was cool because I’ve got a lot in common with Wallace Fennel in some aspects so he’s a character that is close to my heart and somebody I think I know pretty well. Shaving off my hair didn’t change anything, and me and Kristen have a good chemistry as far as that relationship, so I just knew who he was, so it wasn’t hard.” Chris felt the same ease with it, crediting Rob, saying “It was a piece of cake, only because of how talented Rob is as a writer. He has such a unique voice that he writes in such a way where you can only say his words the way he wants them to be said and I think that makes our job very easy.” It seems to be a unanimous thing among the actors I talked to because Jason had no problems getting back into the troubled shoes of Logan Echolls: “I think this is a character I really associated with right from the beginning and fully understood, you know what I mean? Like, his force, his charm, his wit, his looseness. I just love it, dude.”

For veteran actor Enrico, he compared it to going home. “It felt like going back to the old neighborhood. Things have changed, people are different, but you look into somebody’s eyes, it doesn’t matter how much time goes by, you’re still connected. We were very connected while doing the television show. As long as Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero wrote this script then the world is in tact and as actors it’s the easiest thing to come back: Know your lines and don’t bump into the furniture.”

I asked Enrico if, despite him being on other popular shows in his career, fans still approach him and recognize him as Keith Mars. “I never got tired of real Veronica Mars fans coming up to me,” he said right away, continuing “[TV on] DVD was essentially a new thing around then, so word of mouth spread like wildfire. I would be in Italy, I’d be in London, I’d be all over the world and people would gasp and say “Are you Papa Mars?” and I’d say “Yeah!” that kind of wide-eyed sort of appreciation that you don’t often get warrants a sit down. To really see the reaction and see what this show did for those fans really brought that little twinkle in their eye. You could see it and its rare.”

On a final note, a message to the fans, the Marshmallows. When I asked Percy if he had anything to say to the fans he burst out in song singing the words “I love you!” continuing, “I love the fans! Thank you, Thank you, thank you. I’m forever grateful for not only supporting us on the television series but supporting us in a film. I don’t think I will ever experience the kind of love from an audience quite like I have from the Marshmallows.” You can listen to Percy’s message to the fans here: 

I could write so much more about what a great group of people this cast is, and what a perfect show Veronica Mars was and is, and how fantastic the whole night was, but I haven’t had the chance to watch the Veronica Mars movie yet, so I am going to do that. The movie is out now at select AMC theatres in major cities in America. You can also buy or rent a digital copy at this online outlets: Amazon Instant Video, Best Buy Cinema Now, iTunes, Sony Entertainment Network, Flixster, Xbox Video and Vudu. See the official site for links and details.

Were you a Kickstarter pledge? Did you enjoy the movie? Team Logan, Team Piz, or Team Neither? Sound off in the comments! (but please give warning to any SPOILERS!) You can check out the photos I took at the event. All of the photos used above are © Kevin Parry for Paley Center for Media, unless otherwise stated.

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