LeakyCon Boston Day One: Stanislav Yanevski, Louis Cordice and Podcast Panels, ‘Harry and the Potters’ Interview and More!

Oct 12, 2019

Posted by: Dawn Johnson

Actor Interviews, Fan Events, Fandom, Fans, Fun, Ianevski, Ianevski Interviews, Leaky, LeakyCon, News

On Friday, the majority of the Leaky Cauldron team converged for the first time at LeakyCon 2019 in Boston. Coming from the South, Midwest and across the pond, we began our travels early Thursday (no Floo Network mix-ups involved, thank you!) and finally met up at the Seaport Hotel directly across from the Seaport World Trade Center where Mischief Management is hosting the 10th anniversary LeakyCon convention.

After happy introductions (because Potter people are Potter friends) and a few frenzied hours reviewing the schedule and fine-tuning our coverage, we parted with the plan to reconvene early Friday morning. As the day dawned, there was a crisp October wind blowing through a light drizzle, but the sight of Leaky Con signs leading the way immediately warmed our spirits!

We discovered these magical program guides on the way to the check-in station. Both useful and collectible, you’ll definitely want one if you’re attending.

And be on the lookout for the cauldron (it has a hole in it!), perfectly staged for a photo op!

With the panel “Spotlight: Stanislav Yanevski” coming up on the MainStage, we took a quick peek at the Marketplace, home to Artists’ Alley and purveyors of Harry Potter merch, and ran into Leaky’s own Sydney Dean, as well as Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall. 

We also saw some incredible Viktor Krum cosplay–the perfect set-up for the panel!

By then we were excited to finally see Stan on the MainStage, and he did not disappoint! He revealed that he went to school with Harry Melling (Dudley Dursley) before he read the books or became familiar with the films. That being the case, he had no idea why classmates were so excited about the “shark scene” after he was cast. 

Talk turned to his portrayal of the Bulgarian seeker, and he discussed preparing for the Yule Ball, underwater and maze scenes. 

This led him to enthuse about the big Hermione reveal in Goblet of Fire. The reactions were all genuine!

As for his brief part in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Stan revealed that director David Yates originally had much more planned for Viktor and Hermione, including a scene at Bill and Fleur’s wedding in which Krum won Hermione back, but it was deemed too happy for such a dark film, leading it to be cut.

He mentioned that dream future projects would include the fantasy and action genres and discussed how fans have suggested he could play Bane in Batman–conveniently, opposite fellow Potter alum Robert Pattinson. Looking back at the films and other Potter characters, he would have enjoyed playing Harry Potter (of course) or Snape.

The panel ended with questions from the audience, and one fan asked what superpower he would like to have. (That’s like magic, right?!)

Finally, a fan asked if Stan ever went “full shark.” We’re not sure what that means exactly, but his response was definitely an entertaining end to a fantastic panel!

Leaky editor Amanda Kirk also attended the “Blessing Hermione: A Conversation with the Harry Potter and the Sacred Text Team” and  “Are the Unforgiveable Curses Unforgiveable?” and panels.

Vanessa Zoltan, one of the duo behind the Harry Potter and the Sacred Text podcast, flew in from London after leading a Harry Potter pilgrimage in the South Downs.  But her enthusiasm shone through the haze of jet lag as she shared her approach to reading and seeking life lessons from the books: “The more time we spend with it, the more gifts it can give us. If we can make ourselves vulnerable in front of the text, it can give us gifts.”

She added, “I think we should all be playing and dressing up for cons. It’s not just a kid thing.” (Stay tuned for our coverage of the delightful and sophisticated cosplay this weekend!)

A highlight of the afternoon was the Welcome Ceremony, featuring generous welcomes from many important figures in the Harry Potter community. We heard from author Mark Oshiro, Brian Ross of Draco and the Malfoys, Katie Bowers, managing director at the Harry Potter Alliance (HPA), Lori Earl, director of This Star Won’t Go Out (TSWGO) and, finally, LeakyCon founder Melissa Anelli.

Brian Ross of Draco and the Malfoys spoke about the magic of imagination:

“Reading a book is usually a solitary experience. It’s powerful but it’s solitary. Then we came together at this con and I was blown away by people’s enthusiasm and kindness. We all had this thing that was personal but we were able to share it with one another. What struck me was creativity of fellow Harry Potter fans. We have strong imaginations. Like when Dorothy is clicking her heels. What are you doing? Why do you want to go back to Kansas?! Explore this place!”

Harry Potter Alliance Managing Director Katie Bowers spoke passionately about how the Harry Potter series has empowered global activism, noting that the HPA has persuaded Warner Bros. to make all of the Harry Potter chocolates sold around the world Fair Trade. She called the audience to “keep lifting each other up and being heroes.”

Lori Earl, director of This Star Won’t Go Out, reminded us that “the lessons we learn from all that Harry went through, all that his friends went through…teaches us that love is more powerful than death.”

Finally, LeakyCon founder and CEO of Mischief Management Melissa Anelli celebrated the incredible community of Harry Potter fans, recounting a poignant story about 9/11:

“As uncertainty fell around me like a horrible dark cloud, the only thing that worked was the Internet…and a community of HP fans kept me going, and has kept me going…in the nearly 20 years since. That caring is why LeakyCon is here. Thank you for being part of a world that accepts people, that makes us feel like we all have a place to call home in a sometimes crazy and horrible world.”

Tonks and the Aurors closed out the Welcome Ceremony in spectacular fashion, playing a stripped-down version of the anthem “Harry Potter’s Alive!”

Next up on the MainStage was the “Spotlight: Louis Cordice” panel. Cordice revealed that he got his start standing in as the double for Alfred Enoch (Dean Thomas) until he grew too tall. This experience inspired him to pursue acting–and the call came just in time! He had an audition for Nickelodean that went badly, and the news that he had won the part of Zabini stopped him from quitting the industry altogether. 

Looking back on the series, Cordice offered some thoughts on the lesser-known character.

Though he experienced success as Zabini, Cordice reflected on his choice to pursue other work after the Potter films ended, saying:

“Even when I was filming I was working with my dad alongside acting. Everyone wants fame, but when you’re young, as actors – especially young actors – when you get a chance to be in something big, some people don’t want it. I didn’t want it at that time.”

Now that he’s made it through his 20’s, a challenging time in which he endured the death of his father, he’s had a son and plans to one day own a recruitment business and get back into the film industry. In particular, he’s interested in comedy–a perfect fit given that the panel then took a decidedly comedic turn.

Cordice noted, “I had the worst wand. You could’ve just snapped a twig, painted it black.” He also went on an extended tangent about aliens. (Check out AlienCon, Louis–you’d love it!) 

To cap off the rabbit trail and the hour, Cordice demonstrated the “storm Area 51” Naruto run, and the audience was delighted!

Following the panel with Louis Cordice, editors Amanda Kirk and Dawn Johnson stayed at the MainStage for the “Podcasting with Potter” panel, featuring representatives from PotterCast, MuggleCast, Harry Potter and the Sacred Text and Potterless.

It proved to be an interesting, wide-ranging conversation spanning topics such as podcast origin stories, critics and political activism, relevance and content, canon, McGonagall and Crimes of Grindelwald, advice for podcasters, favorite podcasts and ideal guests. 

Frak from PotterCast divulged that he started out as a MuggleCast listener, but when he heard Melissa Anelli come on as a guest during one episode, he realized PotterCast were “his people.” 

John Noe and Melissa reminisced over originally planning to call the podcast CauldronCast. (Definitely doesn’t have the same ring…) Harry Potter and the Sacred Text got their start running a class analyzing Jane Eyre, which led to discussions of podcasting after people from around the world began to join–and share their personal stories. Then a friend suggested, “Maybe you should do it with a book people actually want to read.”

They also discussed maintaining integrity in their work as they strike a balance between speaking on important issues and entertaining the audience. MuggleCast commented:

“Being an adult now, understanding a lot of the political stuff that was just in the back of my head when I read them the first time…now it’s very clear that there are a lot of similarities, that J.K. Rowling was commenting on a lot of the things that we’re seeing.”

Harry Potter and the Sacred Text added:

You realize how rich [the books] are because it feels like whatever’s happening the world, it’s relevant to the books…it feels so expansive and so beautifully specific, it feels like it can reflect any tragedy that we are going through.”

After advising aspiring podcasters to find an angle, know their audience and love what they do, the veterans shared their picks for ideal guest. Melissa Anelli chose Lin Manuel Miranda, Potterless opted for Dan Radcliffe and MuggleCast voted for Jessica Rowling, Jo’s eldest daughter.

And while Kirk and Johnson attended the podcast panel, Leaky editors Emma Pocock and Kim McChesney headed to the press room to interview Wizard Wrock band Harry and the Potters. While there, the musical duo discussed their new album, Lumos, and how its theme directly relates to what’s going on in the world. They also couldn’t resist turning the Q&A into an infomercial for Snitchwitches. 

Then, while preparations for the evening Wizard Wrock concert began, Amanda Kirk headed to the “Fantastic Scores and Who Conducts Them” and Potter trivia panels.

We also caught more cosplay and merch during the late afternoon interim!

Finally, it was time to close out the night with an epic Wizard Wrock concert. Lauren Fairweather took the stage first!

Draco and the Malfoys followed with a rousing set inspired by the life and times of Hogwarts’ resident rich kid with an entitlement complex, Draco Malfoy himself.

Tonks and the Aurors took the stage and kept the energy high, killing their renditions of wrock favorites.

And last, but by no means least, Harry and the Potters kicked off the closing set by leading the enthusiastic crowd in a sacred pledge.

They played well into the night, going over their allotted time by almost half an hour. (No worries, though, they procured a time turner from the proper authorities.) They revisited old standards and also introduced new hits from their summer album.

And finally, in a fitting end to a magical day, Harry and the Potters played out the night with the reminder that “the weapon we have is love.” (Oh, and a conga line. That’s what happens when you ask for an encore at a Potter convention!)

We’ll be back at LeakyCon Boston all day Saturday, so stay tuned to all our social media platforms–Facebook, Twitter and Instagram–for the latest details on panels, interviews, copslay and merch. We will be covering a selection of panels, interviews with Chris Rankin, Dan Fogler and Luke Youngblood, the PotterCast/MuggleCast MainStage “battle” and, of course, Leaky’s own “19 Years Later” panel! 

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.