With the ubiquity of Twitter and Facebook, fans are connected closer than ever before to the actors and creators of their favorite media. One of the highlights of visiting a convention, be it the massive San Diego Comic Con or a small, local sci-fi shindig, is getting to meet these people we essentially cyberstalk. There’s a certain karmic joy that comes from talking to a celebrity, especially one you’ve spent a considerable amount of time watching while binging on Netflix.

I’ve been going to cons for a long time – I’ve got a 10 year streak going on at Dragon*Con, along with an SDCC visit and other smaller gatherings under my belt. I have a binder filled with personalized 8×10 glossies and a lot of memories.

Now, if there’s one thing that I’ve noticed in all that time, it’s that working the convention circuit must be a tough gig. Long hours of shaking hands, signing pictures, and talking on stage. It’s enough to tire anyone out, and I’ve met my fair share of guests who just wanted to move the conveyer belt of fans along so they could go home. And who can blame them?

But from my personal perspective, you can guarantee that if I’m standing in line to meet someone, it’s because I admire their work. I’ll gladly wait for several hours just to take the opportunity to say “thank you.” If it’s someone I particularly admire I’ll try to come up with a witty one-liner to break the ice, and to possibly make their day a little better. It’s the least I can do for the continued enjoyable entertainment they’ve brought me.

Now, regardless of how that person responds to me, I’m content just expressing my gratitude and moving on. Every once in a while however, I get to meet a guest that really floors me with their generosity, kindness, and true dedication to their fans. That’s the sweetest icing on the cake.

So, I’m here to present you with a list of some of the nicest celebrities I’ve ever met. Note that this doesn’t encompass all of them, and is in no particular order.

Gigi Edgely

8360351874_aa0c2f3f53_zI had the pleasure of meeting Gigi Edgely for the first time at Dragon*Con 2005, my second year at nerdvana. The convention has grown over the years, but back then the “Walk of Fame” (the collection of guest tables) was located in the back section of the main dealer’s room on the bottom level of the Marriott Marquis. You had to fight through a slow-moving crowd and endless tables of merch to find your way there, suffering from the collective body heat that was completely canceling out what little air conditioning there was.

Once you made it to the back however, all of the guests had short lines and were perfectly content just hanging out and chatting with everyone. In the far corner was the table for Gigi and her co-star Raelee Hill. Now, at the time I also happened to be wearing a leather vest and leather pants. Yes, I was doing a John Critchon costume. On top of that, I weighed significantly more back then. So needless to say, I was sweating up a storm. Meeting these beautiful ladies in-costume certainly didn’t help matters either.

As my nerves worked up, I actually turned around and started walking away. But I stopped, took a deep breath, and headed to their table. Lucky for me, they ended up being absolutely pleasant as could be. It made me extremely happy and for just a few minutes, not self-conscious. Now, I’ve got nothing bad to say about Raelee, but I specifically remember Gigi smiling from ear to ear and fake flirting with me, just to be nice.

This wasn’t the only encounter I’ve had with Gigi. She’s gone to D*C for a number of years, and every chance I get I’ll stop by and just say hello to her. She continues to be an incredible person to talk to and just be around, and to this day I consider visiting her a highlight of any given year. Don’t believe me? Check out these photos to took of her and fellow writer Chris:

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How can you not love her?

George Takei

8359401213_4cc100c2ee_zI met George on a whim at Dragon*Con 2006. The Walk of Fame was in a larger hall that year, and I didn’t see a line for a his table. In situations like this, I always figure “why the hell not?”

Little did I know I’d be standing there for the next 15 minutes chatting with Sulu. I’ll be the first to admit – I’ve never been a big fan of the TOS. It just was a generation behind me, and I was raised on TNG. I’ve got nothing against it though, and have enjoyed most of the movies. So, I still had an appreciation for who I was talking to.

George was incredibly conversational, and was asking tons of questions about, well, me. It was kind of like going on a first date in a coffee shop. He asked me where I was from, my Dragon*Con experiences, what I did for a living, what my future held, how many siblings I had, and what my hobbies were (I remember telling him “Star Trek”). As I recall, I don’t think I asked him more than one question about this time there. In the end, he gladly signed a photo and I was on my way, albeit in a bit of a haze.

A lot of people probably just know him as the guy who has a quadrillion Facebook followers for posting age-related pictures and memes, but I’ll always remember him as one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met.

Edward James Olmos

I met the Admiral we all admire at Dragon*Con 2008. I was in line with James and we were pretty stoked to meet such a commanding figure and generally stand up guy. After getting our autographs, he spent a considerable amount of time just talking to us, as seemed to be the case with everyone. He told us some set stories after we mentioned a BSG episode we enjoyed, and had a big smile the whole time underneath his epic mustache.

You really get a warm feeling talking with EJO. It’s like talking to your grandfather whom you know has years of knowledge to impart on you. Even outside of the convention circuit he’s a great guy. He’s involved with a number of charities like the Water Keeper Alliance, and is continually receptive and kind to all of his fans.

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Later that evening he attended the annual Colonial Fleet party, along with the rest of the visiting BSG cast. Everyone there recalls him getting into character and giving a very rousing speech that sent the crowd into a frenzy. It was quite the night.

The next day I managed to get a picture with the whole cast. My direction to everyone as I stepped into frame, given the prior evening, was to “look really hungover.” Some of them picked up on it, but Eddie couldn’t stop from showing his heartwarming grin.

IMG_2748John Barrowman

If you’ve ever been to San Diego Comic Con, you know what a zoo it is. Your senses are overloaded with events, people and cool shit to buy. On one such day in 2009, my then-girlfriend/now-wife and I were walking past a table when we saw a sign: “John Barrowman Signing.”

Being big Doctor Who and Torchwood fans, we immediately grabbed a ticket and waited for a short while. Given the staggering amount of people there, we didn’t get much of a chance to talk to Captain Harkness, but after looking into his eyes and shaking his hand – there’s something crazily magnetic about the man.

As he wrapped his arm around me for a photo, and I around him, I slightly caressesd his shoulder without realizing what I was doing. After the picture was taken, he turned to me, stared into my eyes, and smiled in only a way he could…

Alright, I’m stopping now. This is turning into an erotic fanfic. Needlessly to say, John Barrowman is an awesome (and handsome) fellow.

Dan Harmon

I’ve know about Dan for a long time. Back in the day, I reveled at the short videos posted on Channel 101, laughing my ass off at the antics of Computerman and Laser Fart. In more recent years, when Community was first announced, I watched it from day one knowing he was the creator. There’s something about Dan you can’t really place a finger on. He’s funny, quirky, offensive, downright mean, and lovable all at the same time. I think his mind is this swirling, creative vortex of ideas constantly craving outlets for him to be able to survive.

379352_10151245002643149_180339823_nWhen Dan got fired from Community (in a way only he could), he took to creating a podcast called Harmontown. It’s a comedic gold mine, let me tell you. By the way, all the credit goes to my wife for discovering it, because she’d been listening to it for quite a while before I knew anything of it.

In 2013, as a part what he called his personal therapy, Dan and the gang took Harmontown on tour, and one of the announced stops was close to us. Once that info hit the feeds, my wife bought tickets for her, myself and James and anxiously awaited the date. I was excited to go, just to see Dan, but I hadn’t listened to any of the podcasts so I felt like I’d be out of my element.

I wasn’t. The show was fucking hilarious. I don’t cry often when laughing but this was one of those times. Dan was in rare form and very drunk – well, the drunk part not being so rare. After the show, he stood around for a good 4 hours while a line of fans formed for the chance to meet him. We’re not talking thousands of people here though, maybe a hundred. And as it turned out, we were there for a good portion of those 4 hours, until about 2am.

Now, most people probably would have closed up shop after a while, but not Dan. As we got closer (and indoors), we noticed what the wait was all about – he was spending so much time with each person just talking and shooting the shit. When it was our turn to chat with him, he was so pleasant and down-to-earth. We talked for a few minutes about our love for Community, and then Indiana Jones (I don’t remember why), followed by him asking if we were having kids, since we mentioned we had recently gotten married.

He then graciously signed a poster in only a way he could – with a diatribe about the name of our future child followed by “pee poop pee poop.”

After we left, he remained, until the last person had met him. He did that every night of the tour, from what I know. Says a lot about a guy, you know?

Liam McIntyre & Manu Bennett

9726123009_01e6424240_zThis is the most recent event, but also one of my favorites. Last year I got the chance to meet Liam McIntyre and Manu Bennett, stars of the show Sparactus. It’s a show that started off as a guilty pleasure and ended up being an amazing series. You should watch it if you haven’t already.

Now in the first season, Spartacus was played by Andy Whitfield. He was absolutely stellar in the role and a primary reason why the show was so freaking good. Sadly though, Andy passed away about a year later. The creators decided to continue the series in spite of this, so they ended up recasting the role. Thus came in Liam, who ended up doing a fantastic job despite the massive shoes to fill. It seriously can’t be easy to be in a situation like that, but he commanded the role while deeply respecting Andy’s legacy.

Another fan favorite on that show was Crixus, played by Manu Bennett. You may know him better as Slade Wilson from Arrow (which I hadn’t seen yet when I met him). Low and behold, they were side by side at a table and I was giddy as a schoolboy. First I met Manu, who despite his dominating stature, is a complete and utter gentleman. He was very gracious, but the thing I really noticed was his attentiveness. He looks you straight in the eye when he’s talking to you, and is the type of person that likely always considers what they’re going to say next. While I was there he also recorded a long video greeting for a friend of a friend who hit some hard times. He’s a really upstanding guy.

After that, I got to meet Liam. Dude was just as nice as could be. I’d been wanting to tell him how much I admired him for taking on the role he did, and how much we collectively missed Andy. It was actually a fairly difficult thing for me to say, because I didn’t want to come across as weird, but he was incredibly kind. Little did I know, he’s also an avid gamer. We chatted about Borderlands of all things, and then he offered me one of his Tim Tams, a chocolate biscuit from Australia. It was crazy delicious.

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As I got the obligatory photo and shook hands with him, I left feeling high as a kite. It’s such a great thing when the people we admire turn out to be awesome human beings.

So – who’s the nicest celebrity you’ve ever met?

Bonus Round: Cast of Fringe

After donning our Fringe costumes at the panel this past Dragon*Con, we did a quick photoshoot then headed to the Walk of Fame to collectively meet Seth Gabel, Michael Cerveris, and Jasika Nicole. They took pictures with us, pictures of us (they they tweeted), asked about our outfits, and comped all our autographs.

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What amazing people. It was an honor to meet them.