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COMIC-CON 2010: ‘Green Lantern’ and the wide-eyed kid -- sweet emotion or staged promotion?

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The big question after the ‘Green Lantern’ panel: Was the kid in the audience a studio plant?

If you missed it, during the audience-question portion of the panel a youngster came to the microphone and asked the film’s star, Ryan Reynolds, what it was like to recite the Green Lantern’s oath, the rhyming bit of comic-book lore that is a touchstone part of the character’s mythology. Reynolds played along -- ‘It sounded something like this...’ -- and he recited the oath with a mix of playfulness and mock solemnity. But when the overhead screens flipped back to the boy at the microphone the audience -- and the panelist -- saw a look of awe on his face that made for a swell of emotion.

I was the moderator on the panel and I can tell you that Reynolds, for one, didn’t see it coming. Backstage before the panel he told his handlers he didn’t want to do the oath on stage (Geoff Johns from DC had hoped the star might consider it) and then when the youngster blinked into the cameras, Reynolds seemed genuinely touched (of course, though, he IS an actor).

I had brought a copy of ‘Green Lantern: Rebirth’ with me on stage (I was going to hold it up during the opening introduction of Johns) and Reynolds had no idea I was going to hand it to him and suggest an autograph for the little guy. So that part was ad-libbed...

The little boy, whose name is Connor, was brought backstage to meet Reynolds and the star was even skeptical. ‘I thought it was a studio plant, completely, but then I met the kid and his dad and it was all the real deal.’

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So that’s the story. Real or staged, the exchange between audience and actor was stirring. ‘For me this is the first time I’ve had a role where my nieces and nephews knew about the movie before it came out,’ Reynolds told me back at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel. He and the rest of the ‘Lantern’ team were scrambling to catch a flight back to Louisiana and the set of ‘Lantern,’ which is in final days of shooting. ‘This convention is the beginning of the public seeing me in this role.’

Mark Strong, who plays Sinestro in the film, said the wide-eyed address from the audience was the most memorable part of a whirlwind day

‘I almost started weeping, and I’m not joking,’ Strong said. Then he added: ‘Was that all real?’

-- Geoff Boucher

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