Modern-Era ‘Wagon Train to the Stars’ Cast Tells All

Photo by Curtis Barton

When Tony Gowell gets his friends together in a room, it’s always a recipe for a good time and a good chat. Friday afternoon at 5:30PM in the Marriott Atrium ballroom, “Tony Lately” sat down for a chat with Celia Rose Gooding, Christina Chong, Ethan Peck, and Anson Mount. Why those four people? Oh, no reason. Just because. You know. It turns out that Gowell also invited about 2,000 other people to sit in on this intimate chat, and his guests did not hold back.

One of the topics on everyone’s mind is, of course, the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, and Gowell gave the group a chance to say whatever they wanted to about it. Gooding, Chong, and Peck gave the floor to Mount to speak. Mount made it clear that we are all just at the beginning of this strike, suggesting that the AMPTP is a “clown car of divergent agendas” and they are all at war with each other. Further, what the AMPTP is selling as a tough stance is really an inability for them to come to the table with any kind of a coherent offer. He said, “This is the last point in time that we have to negotiate away from the robots taking over.”

Mount also stressed that this strike isn’t important just to his industry but to labor in general. He predicted that we are, at some point, going to see a bloodbath like never before as streaming price increases force consumers to choose one or two services to subscribe to. That, he said, will lead to all kinds of mergers and conglomerations, which will eventually force Washington to step in and break them apart.

The rules surrounding the strikes meant that the questions from the audience had to get creative, and we all got a chance to get to know the guests a little more as people. For instance, we learned that Mount doesn’t really cook much for himself except to roast some ducks over a campfire with his buddies and that Gooding is a “GrubHub girlie.” Chong, however, has a lovely recipe for a baked salmon that she serves with stir-fried vegetables or brown rice.

This is the first Dragon Con for Chong and Gooding, so one of the questions was regarding anything that might be on the guests’ Dragon Con bucket lists. Chong said that her bucket list item had already been ticked when she saw someone cosplaying in a Princess Thalia dress. Peck laughed and said that his bucket list item is to NOT get drunk at Dragon Con, while Gooding said that she would like to do the opposite. All that Mount wants is a fully staged production of “Subspace Rhapsody” (a recent musical episode of the “Wagon Train to the Stars”). Gowell extracted a pinky promise that if we managed to pull that off, Mount and friends would come back to Dragon Con.

Gooding had a particularly fun response to a question about being a fly on any wall at any time. She said that she would want to be a fly on the wall when Jay-Z heard Beyonce’s song “Don’t Hurt Yourself” for the first time. Or, if not that, then the moment that Nichelle Nichols met Martin Luther King, Jr., and he convinced her to stay on her classic sci-fi show. She joked that they were two moments that had equal impact on her.

When asked about what they think fandom means, Chong and Gooding said that fandom means love and also accountability. Mount took a typically more philosophical direction with his answer, talking about fandom really illustrating how important storytelling is to us as a species. He said, “I feel so privileged to be a storyteller when I’m at these conventions.”

Seeing how Dragon Con is known for its cosplay community, Gowell asked what kind of costume each of them would want to wear or walk around in. Mount immediately said that he would want to be the Fourth Doctor because it was so cold in the Atrium Ballroom he felt he needed a scarf. Chong, who was in an amazing pink suit, said that she would cosplay as Barbie. Peck said that he would come to Dragon Con as a clown. Just a clown, like a Ringling Brothers clown, with his nose making a horn noise and everything. Gooding, though, said she would like to dress as Tinkerbell because “I, too, need applause or I will die.”

Peck was also particularly excited to learn that Dragon Con has a Magic: The Gathering tournament since he plays MTG to relax. He said that if he finds the time he might have to school some Dragon Con attendees.

The audience was deeply appreciative of the great conversation, and Mount, Gooding, Chong, and Peck took a couple of moments backstage to talk some more about how their Dragon Con is going. Despite freezing his butt off, Mount said, “It’s always good to be at Dragon Con—this is the Mardi Gras of cons” and that since he’s from the South he likes to take the opportunity to meet up with some of his college friends as well.

Chong often brings her dog, Runa Ewok, with her to cons, but it was too far for her to travel for just a few days. She said that she was loving her first experience with the con and seeing all the costumes. “My highlight by far is seeing the Princess Thalia dress. Oh my god, the work, the intricacy that she has achieved is incredible.”

Peck said it’s not quite like coming home to come to Dragon Con, yet, but it is like coming to a really fun amusement park. “I enjoy so much walking around and seeing all the costumes, meeting people that would like to meet me. It is wonderful. I think I’ve learned my lesson and I won’t be hungover every day like I was in the past. I pretty much let go of drinking booze, but I’m thinking tonight maybe I’ll have a couple drinks. … I love being here; it’s my favorite con.”

Gooding is excited to be here at her first Dragon Con as well. “It’s been great… I’m meeting a lot of really talented cosplayers, I’m watching a lot of community interaction within fandoms and it’s lovely to see. And I’m happy to be here. I can’t wait to come back!”

We can’t wait to have them all back many, many more times.

Author of the article

Max sees to the needs of her kitty overlords; polices the grammar on all kinds of published material including signage, menus, and food packaging; and cuddles with her wife while watching her favorite shows (Our Flag Means Death, Killjoys, Sense8, and Doctor Who among them). She continues to be far too excited to be working for the Daily Dragon.