Actor Mackenzie Gray as Jax-Ur in Man of Steel. Gray will be at M-Con this weekend (Sept. 16-17) in Nanaimo.

Comic fans, gamers converge for Nanaimo’s third-annual M-Con

Canadian actor Mackenzie Gray in Nanaimo for convention

Canadian actor Christopher Plummer, playing Cyrano de Bergerac in Toronto, took off his big nose in his dressing room and asked a 15-year-old Mackenzie Gray if he needed to be an actor.

“He gave me this breakdown of how it’s a small room and there’s not very much space and you have to need to be there and it has to be in your bones and blood because if it’s not then you are just taking up space in a crowded place,” said Gray, who called it a slightly terrifying lecture.

Gray promised Plummer he’d give 100 per cent at all times, that he’ll need to be an actor and if he couldn’t do that, he’d walk away.

“He said, ‘I look forward to sharing the stage with you one day,’” said Gray said, who considers it a defining moment in him becoming an actor. He’s kept a framed poster Plummer signed for him as a reminder of that promise and did end up sharing the stage with the actor, last working with him on the Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

“I’ve never let that promise down,” he said.

Gray, who grew up in Toronto, has had a 40-year acting career, while also writing music and directing. He’s tackled roles like Dr. Frank-N-Furter, in the 21st anniversary theatrical revival of the the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Jax-Ur in Man of Steel, the Eye in the TV series Legion, and Dr. Curdle in the Archie Comics-based show Riverdale. His IMDb profile says he’s a 16-time Leo Award best-actor nominee and recently won two leo awards for his work on the TV series Spooksville and Bitten.

“There’s a nickname for me in Vancouver, which is dial-a villain,” he said.

The sinister characters and villains are usually interesting, well-written and tend to drive the plot, he said about the pull to the roles.

“Conflict is drama, right? So you provide the conflict, so you’ve got to be substantially full of evil or darkness or a mission or whatever it is to drive the plot and move the story forward,” said Gray, who tends to crack jokes on set to keep things light.

Fans can catch Gray this weekend at the third-annual M-Con convention at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, an event where people can dress up as their favourite characters, connect, play games and peruse vendors.

This year the event is bigger, according to general coordinator Marc Gervais.

There will be about 50 vendors, as well as panels with Gray and Nanaimo actor Adrian Hough, who played in Assassin’s Creed III; a free-to-watch outdoor medieval battle hosted by Medieval Chaos; cosplay groups; and a walk-off for costumed conventioneers. Cloud Head Games will have virtual reality games set up for people to play and there are several tournaments, including Overwatch, League of Legends and Super Smash Bros.

The event is also kid-friendly.

“It’s going to be a ton of fun and it’s for all ages,” Gervais said, adding it’ll open a lot of people’s perceptions about what these events are. “A lot of people think of it as Comicon and it’s about comics and it’s about geeks and nerds and it’s about all technology that they don’t understand. But I’ve seen where people have walked in not knowing it and understanding it and not really liking it to walking out embracing it. There’s something for everyone.”

Admission is $20 for a day pass, $30 for the weekend and money raised goes to the Children’s Wish Foundation. The event is at the conference centre Saturday from 10 a.m.-8:30 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

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