This Halloween weekend (Oct. 31st through Nov. 1st), Tacoma’s 6th annual Jet City Comic Show will take place a mere four minute walk from campus at the Greater Tacoma Convention Center. The event will feature hundreds of well-known comic book creators, actors, authors, and cosplayers, many of whom will take part in Q&A panels and meet-and-greets for their legion of Washington fans.
On October 14th, I had a phone interview with one of the actors slated to appear at the event, though his is a name you probably won’t recognize—Vernon Wells. Who is he, and why should you care?
Through my interview with the underrated actor, I learned that he’s had major influence in shaping the quintessential “theatrical villain character” in action films. Anyone who’s obsessed with baddies over the boring “hero” archetype will certainly be interested in learning more about this film star.
Wells has been acting for 35 years and has been involved in over 170 films. He got involved in Australian television and movies in the 1970s and early 1980s.
His first Australian film was the cult classic Mad Max: The Road Warrior (1981), about a hero named “Max” (Mel Gibson) seeking revenge on a psychotic gang leader “Wez” (Vernon Wells), the man who killed his wife and son.
In 1985, Wells got involved in his first American film Commando. He played the dangerous ex-soldier “Bennett” who seeks revenge on a young Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Wells told me that making films in America is much safer than making films in Australia, because America uses stuntmen and advanced technology. He explains his favorite scene in Commando, “The fight scene I love because it was so brutal. The fact that none of us were hurt in the entire thing, I thought it was incredible.”
When Wells came to America, he also experimented with comedy. He played the Lord General in Weird Science (1985) and cyborg Mr. Igoe in the sci-fi comedy Innerspace (1987).
Wells is not only an iconic villain to adults, but kids as well. As the futuristic crime lord Ransik, he was the first human villain in the Power Rangers Time Force (2001) TV series.
Wells’ favorite scene from Power Rangers was the first time his character discovered that his face was distorted and destroyed by the acid. “I am walking down the lane, and it is raining and I stop in front and I look at my reflection, and I suddenly see the monster that I am.” This scene was meaningful to the actor because it humanizes his character.
Wells has also been involved with dozens of independent films. He played a good guy in the film Circle Man (1987), where he took on the role as a mentally-challenged boxer. He was also involved in the horror film King of the Ants (2003) a horror film in which he played the role of “Beckett” and was once shown at the Tacoma Film Festival.
Wells has also done voice acting for video games and animated features. He did voice acting for the video game The Ultimate Spider Man (2005) and for titles coming out next year like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. He also did voice acting for the animated Adult Swim sitcom Drawn Together.
Now that you have an overall knowledge of Vernon Wells, you can gain a deeper insight on the man behind the evil persona at the Jet City Comic Show. Wells says, “Fans are always pleasantly surprised because I play mean and vicious characters but when they meet me in person, they are surprised that I am laid back, relaxed, and quiet.”
For more information on the Jet City Comic Show and were to get your tickets, go to jetcitycomicshow.com. Ticket prices are $10 for a 1 day pass and $18 for a 2 day pass. Vernon wells will be located in Booth 110. If you want an autograph with Wells, it is $20 for your own item of $30 for a 8×10 poster of your choosing.