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Paley Fest 2014: The Veronica Mars Panel [PHOTOS] 

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Photo Credit: © Kevin Parry for Paley Center for Media

If opening night of Paley Fest 2014 were a bonfire, all you would need was the chocolate and graham crackers because we had plenty of marshmallows. The TV Fest kicked off with a bang as swarms of dedicated Veronica Mars fans (also known as “Marshmallows”) showed up to celebrate the return of their favorite teen P.I. and her much loved friends.

The Panel

Rob Thomas
Kristen Bell
Percy Daggs III
Jason Dohring
Francis Capra
Chris Lowell
Enrico Colantoni
Tina Majorino
Rob Thomas
Moderator: HitFix’s Alan Sepinwall

The show first visited the Paley stage back in 2007 and now thanks to the fans, it has returned on the eve of its big screen debut. And while we had to wait a few more hours to see the movie, they did give us a taste of what it was like behind the scenes with the By the Fans:The Making of Veronica Mars documentary. Seeing some of my favorite characters come back together again made me downright giddy and from what I can tell, I wasn’t the only one.

In every shot, the cast appeared truly excited to reunite and repeatedly expressed how genuinely grateful they were to the fans who helped to make the movie a reality. They actually met, talked to, shared doughnuts with and celebrated with their fans, often of their own accord, which obviously just made me love them even more. Nevertheless, after the video, Tina Majorino, Percy Daggs III, Francis Capra, Chris Lowell, Ryan Hansen, Enrico Colantoni, Jason Dohring, Kristen Bell and creator Rob Thomas took to the stage and were greeted by deafening applause.  I wish I could transcribe the entire panel for you, but for the sake of time, here’s a snippet about each panelist:

Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars creator) – As the genius mastermind behind Veronica, Rob had a lot to say about the show, the movie, the actors and the roller coaster that has been the Veronica Mars adventure. But nothing struck me more than his revelation over the origins of the much-loved and still-worshiped Veronica/Logan pairing. They started as adversaries and thanks to a fateful motel balcony, we discovered that the line between love and hate may be even thinner than you think. But don’t worry if you didn’t see it coming, because according to Rob, neither did he! Yep, our beloved LoVe was never part of the plan. But thanks to the crazy chemistry between Kristen and Jason, Rob and his team rerouted the course and the rest was history.

“The truth is, we never had any intention at all for Logan to end up with Veronica. He was hired to be the obligatory psychotic jackass. In the writer’s room, sitting around watching dailies, we would all gather around, and it was like, ‘We want to watch that. We want to watch those two onscreen together.’ And that’s how it built. We were watching the same thing you were and going, ‘Wow. More of that, please!’ And fortunately, we had the ability to make that happen.”

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Photo Credit: © Kevin Parry for Paley Center for Media

Kristen Bell (Veronica) – Kristen was obviously the belle of this ball and although she claimed “Veronica’s weapon of choice is her wit”, I think the same can be said for Kristen. She was smart, funny and repeatedly expressed her gratitude to the fans for giving her the chance to bring Veronica back to life:

“A lot of passion and a lot of hard earned pay checks went into this, we’re not flippant about it. That’s fucking radical.”

While she admitted that Veronica is the most comfortable character she has played, Kristen also fessed up to being hesitant at first about jumping back in to the role with the same ease she felt in 2004. But she quickly informed us that didn’t last long.

“About ten minutes into my first scene with Jason, all that evaporated and I realized that it was just as easy.”

Photo Credit: © Kevin Parry for Paley Center for Media
Photo Credit: © Kevin Parry for Paley Center for Media

Jason Dohring (Logan) – Winner of the “awww moment” of the night definitely went to Jason. While he’s more serious and reserved than Logan, the sentiment and reverence he expresses for Kristen are more Logan-like than you’d expect. When asked about their on-screen relationship, Jason stumbled at first, only to be helped by Kristen, showing that their connection is not just on paper.

Jason: “I think it’s interesting that, despite all his privilege and all that, I think that a lot of people hurt him in his life, and she understood that part of him, when she saw me and what I was going through, and I could see that she had a bad relationship with her mother. I just look at her and I just feel it, man. I try to make it this deep, philosophical thing, and she just smiles at me and it’s game over.”

Kristen: “You’re on to something, though. There’s something, an intangible, that we’re lucky enough to have when we work together. But it’s also like wounded birds recognize other wounded birds.”

Jason: “Yes, it could have been said like that.”

Enrico Colantoni (Keith) – He may only play her father on the show, but when it comes to Kristen and Enrico, it’s clear that their bond is real. When a fan brought up a memorable scene from season one where Keith learns he is Veronica’s biological father, Rob jumped in to point out that the scene in and of itself was in fact boring. The dialogue was basic. The movement was simple. The scene on paper was forgettable. But it was the raw emotion that both Kristen and Enrico brought to the characters that made the scene one of his favorites.

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Photo Credit: © Kevin Parry for Paley Center for Media

Ryan Hansen (Dick) – Undoubtedly the cast clown, Ryan had the audience laughing the whole night. But unlike his alter-ego, Ryan isn’t totally a…well, Dick. When Kristen mentioned that she was freezing during the panel, Ryan was the first one to give her the coat off his back to keep her from shivering. And it was this mix of charming and childish that kept Ryan on the show. After being asked, Rob admits that Dick has done horrible things to Veronica throughout the show and that they are things that Veronica would not normally forgive. However, Rob and the writers so enjoyed writing for Dick that they just couldn’t let the character go and his ambivalent arrogance pulled him through all three seasons.

Chris Lowell (Piz) – Don’t get me wrong, when it comes to the show, I am 100% Team Logan. But when it comes to real life, I can’t help but be Team Lowell. He’s funny and self-deprecating and when it comes to his character, he knows Piz takes a back seat to the Logan/Veronica romance. Which is exactly why when it came to the movie, Chris joked about not being so sure he was going to make the cut.

“Honestly, I got this email from Rob, I knew about the Kickstarter video, and I legitimately had come to a place where I was ready to accept that I would not be in the film. I was getting everyone in the cast’s address so I knew where to send the anthrax. But then Rob sent me this email saying, ‘Hey, by the way, I think we’re gonna make this film. There’s actually a role for Piz.’ I’m thinking, ‘He is killed. He’s the victim.’ He’s like, ‘No, it’s actually a substantial part.’ Honestly, to have the opportunity to work with these guys is the greatest thing in the world, so I jumped immediately, like everybody else on this stage.”

Francis Capra (Weevil) – I can safely say that Francis may have been more excited to be there than anyone else. He was downright giddy and enjoying every moment. But the one that really struck me was when he shared that he and Jason are the closest and would hang out the most during the interim. Could you imagine walking in to a bar and seeing Logan and Weevil sitting together?! My mind would explode. Side note: Francis also does a spot-on Jason impression. The pout. The eyes. The nod. It even had Chris Lowell cheering.

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Photo Credit: © Kevin Parry for Paley Center for Media

Tina Majorino (Mac) – Looking downright stunning and rocking her new short ‘do, Tina joined the cast on stage to admit that she is far less tech-savvy than her alter-ego Mac and that has often led her to think of her character over the years. And it’s undeniably endearing that she admits to wishing Mac were there whenever her computer froze or she couldn’t get an app to run. Don’t worry, Tina, I think the same thing too.

Photo Credit: © Kevin Parry for Paley Center for Media
Photo Credit: © Kevin Parry for Paley Center for Media

Percy Daggs III (Wallace) – The relationship between Veronica and Wallace is one I have always loved. From start to finish, it was genuine but it was also completely platonic and never crossed that line in to “what if?” And apparently, I’m not the only one to feel that way. Daggs admitted that he too loved the platonic nature of the relationship, if only because it meant he still had a job. And when asked if he was worried about having a role in the movie, Daggs joked that he had the NAACP on speed dial, garnering the biggest laugh of the night.

Overall, the panel was a huge success and for all of you who haven’t hit the theater yet, fans or not, I highly recommend it. The movie does a great job of catching up newbies while giving us die-hards the trademark lines and references for which we been so patiently waiting. Veronica Mars is in theaters now.

Photo Credit for the Following Images: © Kevin Parry for Paley Center for Media

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  1. Heather M

    Nice! Love that you got to go! I watched the movie last night & I’m ready for season four now. 😉

    1. Cortney Persiani

      You and me both! And I think a rewatch of seasons 1-3 is necessary in the meantime!

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