Television’s newest heroes — some of them Reborn — assembled in the gargantuan Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con for EW’s Brave New Warriors panel, moderated by EW senior writer Lynette Rice.
This year, the panel featured Michael Cudlitz (The Walking Dead), Zachary Levi (Heroes Reborn), Sam Heughan (Outlander), Jordan Gavaris (Orphan Black), Kevin Durand (The Strain) and Rob Kazinsky (The Frankenstein Code).
The six actors discussed their lives as leading men, shared their fondest (and most bad-ass) memories from their set, and recalled their sensitive childhoods — before they became TV’s toughest warriors. Here were some of the highlights:
— Sam Heughan’s accent. “Can you just keep talking for a while?” cooed Cudlitz.
— Once the guys took the stage, they all (with the exception of Gavaris) quickly deduced that the most bad-ass thing each one did this season on their respective shows involved some sort of murder. Cudlitz cited The Walking Dead’s “Abe-sh*t” scene in the construction site from last season; Durand admired Vasiliy’s bare-hands approach to killing vampires on The Strain; and Heughan said that an upcoming battle on Outlander hasn’t yet been shot, but will likely take top spot for him, as it’s “pretty much the biggest battle in Scotland at the time.”
— Surprising or not, sensitivity was rampant through our panel of fierce men as they remembered their childhoods as wimpy kids. Kazinsky confessed that he ugly cries to The Green Mile and The Lion King, though Gavaris countered, “I think that’s part of being a warrior — empathy.” Cudlitz was once a singing soprano — not tenor — in a school choir; Durand played Pinocchio and Aladdin in a storybook show in Toronto; and Heughan, after playing a Scottish game of “Kiss, Cuddle, Torture” with a childhood admirer, found himself never being chased again after a clumsy romantic accident. Levi, to no one’s surprise, spent his childhood opting for video games and counter-culture choices: “I would pretend to be Gambit, when all of my other friends wanted to be Wolverine.
—The panel took a serious turn when the question of sexism in Hollywood was brought up. Moderator Lynette Rice asked whether any of the guys had experienced sexism in the workplace, and Kazinsky took the opportunity to share a story about being taken advantage of when he was first starting out in Hollywood. “It went on for a long time, and it was complete harassment. I understand the fear that people have about coming forward about something like that, because especially as a man you feel like you should be able to handle a situation like that, but when you’re a young kid in this industry, you often can’t. It was terrifying to see how easily it happened…And men aren’t the only perpetrators of this crime. It’s power that is the perpetrator of this crime and those of us who have dreams find those dreams exploited by people who can grant them, and that’s scary.”
—Kazinsky’s emotional story was echoed by Durand, who shared his own similar experience; Heughan, who cited his Outlander co-star Graham McTavish’s encounter with a fan looking up his kilt; and Gavaris, whose speech calling for an end to the “mythology of the man” was a major highlight of the panel.
—Each warrior shared his dream role after an audience question. For Kazinsky, it’s Barry Allen or Wally West; Heughan dreams of being in Aliens or The Walking Dead; and Gavaris opts for “a country music star,” theoretically happy to play any one of them — except, he says, Kenny Chesney.
Check out the entire video panel below!