Fans may not know Charles Martinet’s face, but they know his voice.
“Oh, it’s a-me, Mario!” Martinet said to a crowd gathered for the red carpet kickoff to FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention’s fall 2019 edition, which began Thursday at the Salt Palace Convention Center.
Martinet punctuated his words with a little leap and a triumphant fist in the air, copying the signature move of the Nintendo video game icon whose voice the actor has supplied for 28 years.
The fans who arrived early for Thursday’s kickoff cheered loudly for Martinet and the other celebrities — a lineup that included Nickelodeon star Kel Mitchell (“All That”), voice actor Jess Harnell (“Animaniacs,” “Transformers”) and four alumni of “Power Rangers.”
An estimated 100,000 fans are expected to meet more celebrities — a roster topped by “Spider-Man” star Tom Holland — listen to panel discussions, walk the vendor floor, and show off their cosplay skills at the convention, which runs through Saturday.
For the celebrities visiting FanX, it’s the interaction with the people who love their work that makes the event enjoyable.
“I get to meet wonderful Mario fans and Luigi fans, and people who love video games and have a passion for what we do,” Martinet said before walking the red carpet. “I get this extra pleasure of meeting generations of people who say, ‘Oh, my goodness, you were the voice of my childhood, and now you’re the voice of my kid’s childhood.’ That’s a tremendous honor to me.”
Patrick Renna, who as a child actor starred in the 1993 filmed-in-Salt Lake City baseball comedy “The Sandlot,” has seen fans from three generations.
“It’s wild when you meet someone who wasn’t born when the movie came out, but they love it so much. It’s a good sign that the movie still holds up,” said Renna, who recently had a recurring role on the wrestling series “Glow.”
Pearl Mackie, who played the companion Bill to Peter Capaldi’s The Doctor on the British time travel series “Doctor Who,” said conventions give actors a mental boost.
“As an actor, when you do screen stuff, you don’t necessarily get the immediate reaction from people,” Mackie said. “It’s not like doing a play, where people immediately applaud or they laugh, if it’s good. Meeting the fans, it’s just wonderful to know what my character’s meant to them, what the show has meant to them over the years.”
Linda Ballantyne, a voice actor best known as the title character of the anime classic “Sailor Moon,” said the adulation at conventions can be a contrast to how she’s treated at home. “My children ignore me, and say, ‘What’s for dinner?’ I tell them, ‘You know, there are people out there who actually like me,’” Ballantyne said.
Being a voice actor allows a level of anonymity among fans, said Arryn Zech, one of the stars of the animated web series “RWBY” (pronounced “Ruby”).
“I told someone that I liked their cosplay, and they’re cosplaying as my character, and they’re like, ‘Thanks. OK,’ and they just walk off,” Zech said. “I’m like, ‘You’re going to feel bad about that later.’”
Celebrities like this stuff, too, Martinet said. “I’m a Mario fan, too. Sharing that moment of fandom is extra kind of fun. It’s a ‘wa-hoo’ kind of a thing,” he said, using Mario’s trademark cheer.
FANX IS BACK
The FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention — a gathering of fans of science fiction, fantasy and other genres in movies, TV, comics and other media — returns for its fall 2019 edition, with celebrity appearances, autograph and photo sessions, panel discussions, cosplay contests, artists, vendors and more.
Where • Salt Palace Convention Center, 100 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City.
When • Now through Saturday, Sept. 5-7.
Admission • Three-day passes are $65, $105 (VIP Junior), $115 (Gold) and $305 (VIP); one-day tickets are $25 (Thursday), $45 (Friday) and $55 (Saturday), at fanxsaltlake.com and at the door.
Information • Full schedules at fanxsaltlake.com, or on the FanX app.