Several sci-fi/horror film and TV favorites are visiting the Twin Cities this weekend as guests at Crypticon Minneapolis -- and apparently they're loving the sights while they're in town.
Legendary actor Billy Dee Williams, who has starred in such classics as "Brian's Song," "Lady Sings the Blues" and the "Star Wars" films "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi," told me during a panel presentation that he was impressed with the number of lakes Minnesota has.
"I'm always fascinated with your lakes ... I didn't realize you had 13,000 lakes," Williams said, drawing laughter from the crowd. "If you don't find any fish in one you just go across the street to another."
Of course, the big question on many people's minds Saturday was Williams' status on reprising his "Star Wars" role as Lando Calrissian for the hotly anticipated "Episode VII," so I asked the actor if he'd consider returning should director J.J. Abrams come calling.
"I wouldn't mind being in it, especially if they paid me a whole bunch a money," Williams told me, slyly, drawing huge laughs from the crowd. "I'd be honored actually, if they decided that I could be a part of it. But I don't spend any time thinking about it, to tell you the truth."
Ted Raimi, who frequently collaborates with director and fellow prankster brother, Sam Raimi, said he was having a great time on what he think may be his second trip to Minneapolis.
"Apparently I was here in 2000 but I don't remember -- you can quote me on that. I don't know why I don't remember it," cracked Raimi, whose credits include "Xena: Warrior Princess," "Evil Dead 2," "Army of Darkness," the "Spider-Man" trilogy and the web series "Morbid Minutes," which he writes and directs. "But this time I was very adamant about seeing the city, so I went downtown and walked around for about four or five hours. It was great. It's a great city."
Raimi has been sending tweets from Crypticon Minneapolis all weekend, and was especially impressed with fan's tattoo of his "Evil Dead 2" character, the "cursed" Henrietta.
Minnesota has a special meaning to Kathryn Leigh Scott, one of the stars of the television classic "Dark Shadows," who also had a cameo in Tim Burton's big-screen version in 2012.
"I grew up in Robbinsdale on a farm -- my dad's farm -- it's all homes now since a developer bought the farm," Scott said. "I get back about once a year now. When my parents were alive it was more often, but I still have brothers here and I do try to get back whenever I can."
Other guests at Crypticon Minneapolis, which runs through Sunday at the Doubletree Hotel in Bloomington, included Derek Mears, who played Jason in 2009 version of "Friday the 13," and the Predator in "Predators"; famed Roger Corman movie actress Sybil Danning; and Tom Sullivan, the makeup maestro and prop master who created the Book of the Dead and other key props for the "Evil Dead" trilogy.
"The fans are great here -- overwhelmingly great," Sullivan enthused. "I love coming back. This is my fourth time here."
Sybil Danning and Ted Raimi at Crypticon Minneapolis.
(All photos: Tim Lammers)
Kathryn Lee Scott.