Remember how kind and loyal Sean Astin was as Samwise in the "Lord of the Rings" movies? There's a possibility that's who he is in real life, too. You can find out at Twin Cities Con (it's Friday through Sunday, but Astin is not appearing Friday).
The actor's upcoming projects include the second season of HBO's "Perry Mason," and he's beloved for "Rudy" and "The Goonies." He began a recent interview by apologizing that he couldn't talk for long, then chatted amiably for 30 minutes — until he had to run to the set of "Invicta," a movie he was shooting in Vancouver.
Astin, who uses his Twitter platform to advocate for public education, repeatedly expressed gratitude for the convention circuit, where he has signed autographs and participated in panel discussions for 20 years. He also passionately tried to convince a newbie how special the conventions are and spoke about carrying on the legacies of his parents, Oscar winner Patty Duke and Oscar nominee John Astin.
"I had no idea when I did 'Lord of the Rings' what a massive part of my life conventions would be," said Astin, who will join "Rings" co-star Elijah Wood as well as wrestler Mick Foley and others at the event. "The character of Samwise is so warm and open and stuff. It creates that warmth when I interact with the folks who come."
It won't be the first time in Minnesota for Astin, who campaigned here for several presidential candidates and whose mom starred in the cult-classic-in-Minnesota-at-least "You'll Like My Mother," filmed in the 1970s at Duluth's Glensheen Mansion. He visited with brother Mackenzie when he shot "Iron Will" in Duluth in 1993. And he has given several speeches here about mental health, carrying on something Duke began when she shared her bipolar disorder diagnosis in 1987.
"I know the airport so well, that one map with the copper seal in the ground,'" said Astin, who between acting gigs is studying for a master's degree in public policy from American University.
With all of that on his plate, one thing he doesn't have to do is worry about what to do once he gets to the Twin Cities. His off-duty time will be planned by Wood, who has a knack for finding the best restaurants and boutique hotels in cities they visit.
Astin, Wood, Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd — the Hobbits — did seven conventions this year, with Wood planning seven dinners (Monaghan and Boyd won't be in Minneapolis). That reconnection has led to late-night chats and group texts in which they complete the New York Times crossword puzzle. (Wood, like Astin, is currently at work in Vancouver; he's in the second season of "Yellowjackets.")
So, if you're counting along, that's another reason Astin appreciates conventions.
"People feel really strongly that they want to share their experience of 'Lord of the Rings' with us," said Astin. "They want to tell us what it meant to them. They don't want something from us. They want to give us something."
It's a big reason Astin is grateful for the life the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy has made possible.
"There's a lot of ways to make money. Flying to cities all over the world and having people tell you how great you are? You could do worse," said Astin.
Twin Cities Con
When: Noon-7 p.m. Fri., 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun.
Where: Minneapolis Convention Center, 1301 2nd Av. S., Mpls.
Tickets: $25-$55, twincitiescon.com.