SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake Comic Con co-founder Bryan Brandenburg called it “a day of miracles” when a Dick Van Dyke panel cancelled two days earlier was held after all on Sept. 22.
The Salt Palace Convention Center Grand Ballroom filled with excited cheers as a crowd of fans stood up and watched Van Dyke take the stage, dancing to his seat at a small table centerstage.
“I feel like a rock star,” Van Dyke said following the enthusiastic entrance provided by his fans.
Opposite Van Dyke at the table was Salt Lake Comic Con co-founder Dan Farr, who led the panel.
“People ask me, ‘Who’s the unicorn guest that you want to get to Salt Lake Comic Con?’ He’s sitting next to me right here,” Farr said.
The panel started with a video reel of highlights from Dick Van Dyke's career, including clips from “Mary Poppins,” “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and “Diagnosis Murder.”
“I’m exhausted just looking at that film,” Van Dyke said after taking the stage.
The celebrated performer talked about his recent experience acting in “Mary Poppins Returns,” which is scheduled for release on Dec. 25, 2018 and includes a Van Dyke dance number.
“I got to do the old guy again, and I thought, ‘Well this time, I won’t have to put on any makeup.’ But still they put all kinds of junk. I said, ‘Do you realize you’re making up a 91-year-old man to look like a 91-year-old man?’” Van Dyke asked. “But I had a lot of fun.”
The renowned actor also talked about his hobby doing computer graphics animation.
“I love to play with it,” he said. “You never get to the bottom of it. It’s the kind of hobby where hours can go by, and you say, ‘It’s 3 in the morning!’ You just really enjoy it and keep doing it.”
Van Dyke answered several fan questions throughout the panel asking about various experiences from his acting career.
Actor and comedian Rob Schneider, another guest at this year's Salt Lake Comic Con, made an appearance in the fan question line, asking Van Dyke how he survived so many comedic falls throughout his career.
“I watched all the good guys. I learned how to tuck and roll,” Van Dyke answered. “I fall down all the time, and I never hurt myself.”
One fan asked which was Van Dyke's favorite character to play in all of his movies.
“I think probably Bert is my favorite character,” he said. “The most fun I ever had was on the five years of the Van Dyke show.”
Other fans asked about specific dance numbers, such as the challenging “Me Ol’ Bamboo” from “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”
“I remember we did something like 30 takes because each time jumping over the thing, a guy would miss,” Van Dyke said.
His hardest dance to rehearse was “Step in Time” from “Mary Poppins,” Van Dyke said.
“They made all those rooftops out of plywood on the back lot, and we were out there for a week in 98-degree (weather),” he said. “I think I lost 15 pounds just getting through that, and then of course, it took days to do it.”
He also talked about how he was blown away when he saw how the animators for “Mary Poppins” added the cartoon penguins to his dance number in “Jolly Holiday.”
“I did the number with just the animators telling me where the penguins were and how big they were and all that. We were just miming, and when they put the penguins in there, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” Van Dyke said.
Another fan's question asked how Van Dyke feels knowing the impact he has had on generations through his acting career.
“It’s a feeling I can’t even describe. Everything that happened at each step was not planned — I didn’t sing or dance or act or anything — and just one thing after another, it was like learning to fly,” Van Dyke said. “I don’t regret a minute of it. I’ve just had the best time I can have.”