Remembering Kevin 'Ares' Smith
Like many fans in the Xenaverse, I was very saddened by the recent death of Kevin Smith. I had loved watching him as Ares. He was a rare treat as an actor. I don't know that anyone else could have done the job as well as Kevin.
I guess one of the reasons I felt so sad was that I had the chance to meet Kevin at a convention once. He was probably one of the most likable people I have ever met in my life, and he was one of the few celebrities to have ever made me feel 'star-struck'. This is my story of meeting Kevin.
I went to the Hercules and Xena convention in Orlando, Florida in May of 1999. It was both my first time in Florida and my first convention. I was fascinated by everything I saw: other fans, merchandise, and of course the celebrities! Kevin was one of the celebrities who agreed to be there, and not just one day, but BOTH days of the convention.
On Saturday morning, I had kept myself busy in the merchandise rooms. I missed the first few minutes of Danielle Cormack's part of the program. Later when it was Kevin's turn, I made sure to be in my seat in plenty of time to not miss anything.
I didn't realize that the fans could ask the actors questions. When Kevin came, I remembered how there were 2 questions that I really wanted to ask. I ran to the question line and waited patiently for my turn to ask Kevin my questions. The closer in line I got, the more nervous 'butterflies-in-my-stomach' I felt.
There were funny moments along the way as I was waiting, though. One lesbian woman said he was a sexy enough man to make some of the audience consider a change in sexual orientation.
When it was finally my turn, I asked him about the facial hair for some of his roles. As Ares, God of Love, in Hercules alternate universe episodes, Kevin had a hairless face. In a few of the same episodes, Ares, God of War, was there and had all facial hair. If I remember correctly, he said that for the filming of those episodes, the hair was glued on and there was even a blooper to be found with it almost coming off.
My next question was to ask how much input Kevin had on the character of Ares. At that point, he'd done him for a long time and knew the character. I wanted to know how much of that was what he brought to the character versus what was in the script or what the director said.
Kevin gave an answer of explanation. I forget exactly what he said, but it prompted me to ask him if he was encouraged to improvise with his character. He said that improvisation was definitely encouraged.
My reaction to talking to him even just a little bit was so strange. I remember gesturing from my heart and thanking him for being there. I did feel star-struck, maybe even adoration at first sight. I had this urge to give him a big bear hug, but I restrained myself.
Later, I went through the autograph line with my color glossy of Ares for Kevin to autograph. When I got near him at the table, I thanked him for answering my questions. He kindly replied that without the fans to ask him questions, he would not know what to say.
The second day of the convention was Sunday. I had gone to the restraunt to get something to drink. I was walking back to the convention and Kevin passed me on the sidewalk. I was in the own little world at the time, so I almost missed the 'Hello, Mate' that he said to me.
Then I stopped dead in my tracks realizing just who had spoken to me. I shouted 'KEVIN!' as I realized it. That made him turn around and look at me. Since I had just come back from the restraunt, I thought that must have been where he might have been heading. I didn't want to disturb him if he had to eat because he was going to go on stage soon after that chance meeting. I mumbled something like 'See you at the convention'. He answered a cheery 'Later, Mate' or some such goodbye and we parted ways.
I listened again to his part of the convention when it was time. That whole weekend everything I enjoyed about the convention was related to Kevin. I was on a Kevin high. Finally it was time to go through the autograph line again. I chose for that day for Kevin to autograph my copy of Robert Weisbrot's Guide to the Xenaverse.
When it was my turn to give him the book to autograph, he was looking at it while quite some interest. It had been a while since he'd seen the book. I made a comment that I enjoyed his observation of villans having the attention span/memory of a goldfish. He signed my book, but before I walked away from the table I held out my hand. He shook my hand while I said 'Thank You' with as much meaning as I could put into two little words.
So that is my story of meeting Kevin Smith. I know I did not know him as a close friend would, but I consider myself fortunate to have met him at all. He had a manner that made people at ease with him, that they liked Kevin and not a god of War. After hearing him talk over the weekend, I felt him to be a man who really loved his wife and children and was happy in his life.
I am glad he shared his talents with us for a time. I know he will be missed.