Comic Con FanX welcomes guests from many demographics

Published: Wednesday, April 16 2014 6:05 p.m. MDT

From “The Walking Dead” stars Chandler Riggs and Jon Bernthal to the Monkees’ Mickey Dolenz to the Power Rangers and the recently announced appearance of the 1966 Batmobile, the Salt Lake Comic Con FanXperience will attempt to appeal to fans from many demographics.

FanX, which kicks off at the Salt Palace Convention Center on Thursday and runs through Saturday, boasts a lineup of more than 100 Hollywood stars, authors, artists and other guests. In preparation for this weekend, two celebrity guests — actress Drea de Matteo and artist Rob Prior — spoke with the Deseret News about their careers, their personal lives and their excitement for the convention.

Drea de Matteo

Drea de Matteo spent most of her childhood in the theater. Her mother is a playwright, which gave the New York native plenty of exposure to acting as a child. But it was directing, not acting, that sparked de Matteo’s interest.

“I wanted to make films because my mom was a playwright and because I had to be around so many actors all the time,” de Matteo said. “I was a child and wanted to just go play in the backyard — play house. Instead, I had to watch all these adults play house.”

With hopes of becoming a big-time director, she enrolled in film school for college. It was there that de Matteo said her acting career began, almost by accident.

“I partied too much in college and didn’t take my schooling as seriously as some might,” she said. “I ended up having to act in my films last-minute, and that’s how I started acting.”

Soon thereafter, she landed a role in the pilot episode for HBO’s mafia drama “The Sopranos.” However, her first role on the show was not a consistent one and she appeared sporadically.

“They didn’t think I was Italian enough to play the part,” she recalled. “The part … was just three lines for one day. I just found one of my checks, actually. It was $400 for the episode.”

After a second audition, de Matteo said “the creator of the show started to fall in love with the character” and she was eventually promoted to being a series regular, landing the part of Adriana La Cerva.

De Matteo, who currently appears as Wendy Teller on FX’s “Sons of Anarchy,” is also known for her work on “Desperate Housewives” and NBC’s 2004 “Friends” spin-off, “Joey.”

Though her appearances on the small screen have occupied a large portion of her life so far, de Matteo said her family is her highest priority.

“It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” said de Matteo, a single mother of two. “I thought parenthood was going to be hard. I didn’t realize that I was going to be doing it on my own and how hard it really, really is with two little kids.”

At the end of the day, de Matteo hopes she will be remembered for her most important role — a good parent. “People ask me what I do for a living. I would never want to say, ‘I’m an actor,’” she said. “I’d much rather say that I’m a mom — and that’s the thing I’m most proud of.”

Rob Prior

“What if I lose my right hand? What am I going to do?” That was a question that really bothered artist Rob Prior as a child.

That fear prompted Prior to completely stop using his dominant hand for two years. During that time, he taught himself how to do everything with his left hand, including writing and painting.

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