by Andrew Costa Mesa
Recently, Andrew had the opportunity to attend Oz Comic Con in Sydney, Australia. As part of this event, he was able to attend a dinner with Daniel Portman, who plays Podrick Payne on Game of Thrones. Andrew graciously agreed to write about his experience for the FoCC Blog.
After buying my ticket for OZ Comic Con in Sydney, I noticed that they also offer private dinners with celebrities from some of the shows that are popular with Comic Con fans. Among the choices were dinner with Robert England or a cast member from Teen Wolf. The Comic Con in Melbourne held three months earlier offered dinners with Lucy Lawless (“Xena”) and Robert Patrick (“Scorpion” and “Terminator 2”). The event I picked offered a dinner with two cast members from “Game of Thrones”: Daniel Portman (Podrick Payne) and Keisha Castle-Hughes (Obra Sand). Keisha cancelled. The dinner ticket, which cost AUS$200 (equivalent to US$150) included a three course meal and, I would later discover, two hours of conversation and company with Daniel. Before the dinner, I assumed the nine of us would just have our three course meal, then Daniel would pop in for a brief “hi, thanks for being fans of my show, bye!” and then he would leave. I was wrong! The rules for attending the dinner were no photos and no autographs, but to bring a good attitude and plenty of questions. At the end, we would all take a group photo.
I got to the hotel at Darling Harbor in Sydney in which the restaurant where the dinner would take place was located. At first, several of us, including those waiting to have dinner with other celebrities, were waiting at the lobby. Finally, we lined up, show our printed e-mail confirmations, and we were escorted to our tables.
One by one, other Daniel Portman fans arrived at the table. When all nine of us were seated, I decided to take my drink ticket and go to the bar to pick up a glass of white wine. When I returned to our table, lo and behold, Daniel Portman and his friend were there and Daniel was seated next to me. As he noticed me returning to my seat he said “Hello, (pause, looking at my name card on the table) Andrew!” We shook hands and I told him it was nice to meet him. He then introduced himself and asked us to introduce ourselves around the table and to say where we were from. Daniel is from the U.K. I was the only American and all but one of the rest of our party were from various cities in Australia. The other person was from South Africa. Daniel then asked what we do for a living, which I thought was pretty awkward, only because I assumed that the rest of us have jobs that are not as interesting or glamorous as Daniel’s! I was the only one other than Daniel that had some connection with show business. I told him I work for film festivals in the Los Angeles area, as well as work for American Cinematheque, which shows movies in Hollywood and Santa Monica. Others had jobs in factories, advertising agencies, longshoremen and so forth.
As the evening wore on and we were being served our three course meals, Daniel did most of the talking. At first we had questions as to what would come up in future episodes of “Game of Thrones.” Daniel would also discuss the realities and politics of being in show business and mentioned to us one bizarre incident in which recently a fan asked for a selfie while they were taking a piss in a urinal in the men’s restroom. He also talked about politics, Brexit, the future of the European Union and Donald Trump. The fan from South Africa at my table was concerned about Trump winning the U.S. election. Later, as we got off of politics, he asked us what do we do in our spare time. I told him I like to volunteer and work in political campaigns, such as Hillary Clinton’s campaign (Oops! Politics!). I also showed Daniel my Game of Thrones pen that I got as swag at last year’s San Diego Comic-Con.
At the end, we all posed for a group photo and then it was time to say our goodbyes. He gave all of us hugs and we were on our way. A couple of weeks later, our group photo was e-mailed to us. The fan from South Africa is the lady to Daniel’s left.