Boston Comic Con was great fun for all The Hobbit fans who wanted to meet cast members Aidan Turner (Kili) and Dean O’Gorman (Fili). Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, including Middle-earth News reader Amanda Capley. But whilst many love the film, few would claim that The Hobbit had saved their lives. Not so for Amanda, for whilst The Hobbit was being made, Amanda became seriously ill and news of the filming helped pull her through.
I caught up with Amanda after her trip to Boston and she told me why the film was so important to her.
Everything to do with The Hobbit/LOTR is particularly special to me because it’s been my escape from real life. I absolutely love my life, but for quite a while now (particularly the last 18 months or so) I have been really sick. I spent over 90 days inpatient hospitalized in 2012 and in the past 12 months I’ve had 7 major surgeries (almost dying after the first one). The only thing that has kept me from insanity and major depression has been escaping to Middle-earth. Being able to watch Peter Jackson’s production blogs, following the cast’s antics on Twitter, seeing all the interviews and the behind-the-scenes footage, they all take me away from everything happening here. My condition and all the treatments/surgeries, etc. bring me A LOT of pain and anything to take my mind off it helps. To me, The Hobbit has quite literally saved me in so many ways. It was about the time that they started filming that my disease took a turn for the worse. In a way the timeline of my own journey has followed theirs.
So was she a devoted LOTR/Tolkien fan before she became ill?
Believe it or not, I was not a fan before The Hobbit started shooting. I actually only found it because I was a huge Aidan Turner fan and once he was cast I became very interested. What could have made him leave his television show, Being Human, where he and his character were loved by so many? I realized this had to be something big! I will be forever grateful for finding this amazing fantasy world! I truly feel it has quite literally saved my life!!
Of course, she simply had to go to Boston Comic Con. Looking back on the weekend, what had she enjoyed the most?
My favorite part of the entire Con had to be meeting Aidan and Dean at their tables for autographs. On Saturday morning I met up with two of my good friends and fellow Aidan enthusiasts, Jen and Mary Owczarski (aka the Vision Sisters, who run the fan site “Aidan Turner Corner”). After making our way through crowds of various characters and creatures, we found the tables where Aidan and Dean would be signing…Before long they both showed up and Aidan even said, “Hey guys” as he passed the three of us. Once the initial shock of seeing them in-person passed, we moved into Aidan’s line. Jen and Mary were kind enough to take pictures for me as I spoke with Aidan (and later Dean) and I returned the favor for them as they chatted with Aidan. I was extremely lucky when it came to being able to talk with Aidan and Dean. There were no feelings of being rushed and I was able to say everything I wanted to say to them. They were both so kind and interactive as we spoke. I didn’t have huge expectations for this part because at cons these usually consist of “Hi, name, sign, bye”. Needless to say, we were beyond pleased with our experience!
How wonderful, but surely a bit nerve-racking as she hadn’t expected to be able to talk to them much?
I didn’t practice what to say because I was completely unprepared to spend that much time with them! However, everything seemed to come out just fine! I was able to tell them why The Hobbit meant so much to me and how much their hard work on it is appreciated. Dean seemed to be listening very carefully and said that The Hobbit team was really good about connecting and reaching out to the fans. When I mentioned watching the production blogs Aidan pointed out how he wasn’t in them very much. He said he would always hide behind things when the blog camera came around. Aidan also told me that it was “inspiring as an actor” to hear what I had to say.
Did she see Aidan and Dean differently now she’d met them?
I do view them a bit differently now but all in good ways. Since I’ve been a fan of Aidan’s for so long, I felt like I knew a little bit of what to expect. However, I was not entirely sure what to expect from Dean. Both of them were so amazingly sweet and kind! I think that I probably view them more as people now rather than just faces we see in movies or on TV. I also have much more respect for both of them after seeing how far they go out of their way for the fans. None of the other celebrities were allowing photos at their tables or had a Q&A panel (and you know, they had to have been tired during the panel as it was at the very end of the whole Con). They were up for fun poses during the photo ops and always seemed genuinely interested when listening to what fans had to say. Everyone I spoke with who had worked with them (the photographer and assistants, a really nice staff member) talked about how nice and down-to-earth they were as compared to other celebrities they had worked with.
From all the photos Amanda’s been tagged it seems she made a lot of friends at Comic Con! How was it that they all bonded so immediately?
It’s true! I’ve never felt so popular in my life! I met some truly amazing people over this past weekend. I’ve always felt that one of the most magical aspects of our fandom is how fast we can become friends over our shared interest. All of the people I hung out with (with the exception of Jen and Mary) were all people I had never even spoken with before. It was really amazing how fast we all bonded and I have a theory about it. While it’s wonderful to talk to people online about The Hobbit/LOTR, Aidan/Being Human, Dean/The Almighty Johnsons, there’s something even more special about being able to do this in-person with a group of fans that are just as crazy about it as you are! There weren’t many of us who claimed to have the privilege of this in their everyday lives. To be able to come to an event like this and talk as in-depth as we wanted about any of these topics was a huge deal! I really enjoyed myself!
What about The Hobbit panel? It looked great fun!
Yes, it was hilarious and such a good time! There were many funny moments throughout the hour-long panel. We learned exactly how Dean hurt his leg from Aidan (“He fell off a fake goat!”), heard a story about Dwalin/Graham McTavish’s sensitive side, revisited the “who would win in a fight question” (to which Dean answered, “I said that we would just rather have a beer. But then Aidan said ‘I would kick Dean’s ass’ ”), witnessed Dean’s incredible skill at remembering names, and various other bits of information and odd facts. I really enjoyed the entire thing and there’s not one particular part I can pick out as my favorite.
Amanda even got the chance to ask Aidan and Dean a question at the panel. What did she think of their responses?
Of course I have to say I loved their answers to my question regarding the best advice they could give to someone about life in general. In short, Aidan said it was important to be happy and Dean advised us to “Always trust yourself.”
And does she have her own philosophy on life?
First, I strongly believe in the Laws of Attraction, meaning whatever you think will become a reality. Positive thinking can change the course and/or outcome of many events.
Even more important than positive thinking, I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. No matter how bad something may be, there has to be a reason for it happening. This reason may not be very clear at first and it could even take years to fully understand why it happened. With everything that has happened to me medically, I have to believe that. I have been forced to change my path many times and it can be hard to cope when things occur that are beyond your control.
Finally and perhaps most importantly, no matter how bad things may seem always remember to remain strong and push through. This quote comes to mind, “Everything will be okay. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” I had the absolute worst year of my life last year and my battle not over yet. However, look at what I got to experience this weekend! Live life to the fullest and don’t be afraid to take chances! Don’t ever give up when the road seems too dark because you never know what is waiting for you just around the corner. I think I will leave you all with a quote that has gotten me through a lot of hard times recently: “So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
Amanda continues to battle with her illness and has returned from Boston to another round of surgery. Let’s hope Boston Comic Con marks a turning point in her fight against her disease.
Everyone at Middle-earth News would like to wish Amanda well and thank her for sharing her story with us. We hope she is able to start enjoying the life a young woman should live and that next December, when The Desolation of Smaug is released, her local cinema shows The Hobbit: AUJ in 48fps as well, so Amanda can enjoy the film in the format she was too ill to see last year.